"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain

Thursday, May 30, 2013

10 goals for next year

Most people make resolutions or goals at the beginning of the year. As a previous student, and present teacher, I prefer to make them at the end of a school year. This makes even more sense now that I'm moving to new countries between school years. So here is my list of goals for the 2013-2014 school year.

1. Learn Indonesian at least better than I learned Albanian. I was pretty gung-ho about learning this language before I left America. I think I know less now than I did when I came. Here is a vow that I will learn more Indonesian. Hopefully I'll even be able to have a brief conversation in the language. Luckily it is a bit more spoken, and  there are a lot more resources online.
2. Improve on my classroom management. At the beginning of last year this was my second biggest weakness. Albania forced me to work on my flexibility skills, which was my first major weakness. Time to work on this one. I had a very well behaved class this year, but they could have been even better.
3. Be more involved. I think somewhere in the middle of the year I lost sight of what it meant to be a teacher. I started doing less work. Mostly because I was busy with grad school and wanted to spend as much time with my friends as possible. Next year I want to be more involved at school on a large scale. One of my favorite parts of this year was the international fair. I was able to see my work pay off. Next year, I want to be in charge of and lead events, and I want to attend more extra curricular activities. I also want to volunteer if possible.
4. Immerse myself in culture. Try more of the food, try more of the drinks, shop at local markets, wear the clothes, go to events, see the land, learn the history

5. Meet friends outside of work. I love my friends here, but I wish I had more, and I especially wish I had more Albanian friends. These are the people who really teach you a lot about their culture and their history. This is what I love about travelling and what I'm interested in. I want to get more involved in internations or couch surfing so that I can meet people from all around the world.
6. Spend less time on the computer and more time living my life. Blogging is great. It helps me get everything out and process through experiences, but I have to cut back on facebook, youtube, and movie time.
7. Get in shape. Volcano hiking groups, a swimming pool in my building, and I've read about a ton of races in the area. I'm going to go for it this year. I'm going to cut back on sugar, drink less, and try to eat healthier. Too bad the food is going to be so inexpensive and delicious.
8. Do a bit of research on religion. This is something that I've always been interested in. I tried to take 2 courses in college, and they were both cancelled for low enrollment. After learning a little bit about Buddhism I became very intrigued. Although Indonesia is mostly Muslim, I feel like I already know more than I care to about that religion. So I choose to try and teach myself a bit about Buddhism to prepare for my possible winter break trip to Bhutan. Woohooo!

9. Be open to the possibility of a relationship. I don't want to end up in Indonesia for the rest of my life. At least I don't think I do. And dealing with visas for the rest of my life certainly doesn't sound like fun. And the ropes of dating in another culture are more complicated than they may seem to any outsider, but I blocked people out this year, because I was afraid of finding something great, and having to deal with these things. I spent the majority of the year finally getting over my past, and I think I'm finally ready to move forward. So, if it happens, then I'll be open to the possibility, and if not, then I know I'm doing a damn fine job of being on my own and single.
10. Save more money. Given the cost of living and how much I will be making, I need to do better at this. For serious. Those loans are a burden I want to be gone.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My 5 favorite untold stories

Here are some stories I haven't written about, at least not that I remember. They are some of the wackiest, strangest stories from my time here. I hope you enjoy them and that they make you laugh, or cringe, or at least realize how strange my life is.

5. Using the restroom in the wilderness:
At the begininning of May we were lucky enough to have a random Wednesday off from school. Scott, Robert and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and spend the majority of the day outside. We started out with a breakfast of bagels and coffees, and moved on to ice cold beverages while people watching at Shamrock. Next on the list was picking up some wine, so that we could have a bit of a picnic at the artificial lake. It truly was the perfect way to spend our day off.

We headed to the newest wine store we had found, and picked up a few bottles. Knowing this was the plan in advance I had brought a cork screw and some plastic cups with me. On this particular day the artificial lake was extra full, probably because it was a national holiday, so everyone wanted to soak up the sun We went back into the trails to find a nice place to lay down our blanket and pop open the wine. The unfortunate part was that Scott and I both had to pee, and there were no bathrooms in sight. Being an avid camper this was no problem, there were lots of trees all around, and I'm pretty good at doing the "gypsy squat". We attempted to find an area where there were no people. Scott went over behind a section of trees and I tried my best to find another area, however I couldn't, as there was a man that seemed to be following us and slowing down to watch us. What a creeper! Once Scott had finished he yelled for me to come over claiming it was a decent area, and him and Robert would protect me from on coming lookers. As I squatted down and began to relieve myself I noticed a syringe and needle nearby. Not okay! I'm not one who can typically stop mid-stream, and I knew that I was already exposed. I tried to finish more quickly and then noticed another 2 syringes with needles in them.

Luckily after this were were able to run and get rid of the creepy guy following us, and to find a slightly secluded area to lay our blanket down and sip on our wine. I needed those drinks to attempt to forget the yuckiness. I still cringe at the thought.
Artificial Lake

4. The night I almost got beat up by 12 year olds.

So back in January Cortney made a resolution to go out more. This tended to lead to us all going out, going home at like midnight and her and Kevin staying out until 10am the next morning. For Robert and my birthdays we decided to actually go out and stay out.  We started with dinner at Taiwan center, followed by beers at my favorite brewery, which led us to Cargo (our then favorite "club") and on into the block to find somewhere to sing karaoke. The karaoke bar wasn't very interesting that night, so a few people opted to go home and the rest of us ended up at Whiskey bar (where I drank zero whiskey.) For the majority of the night I felt like I was in the background of some awful movie where the people go to a crazy bar. We danced on the tables, we danced on the bar, and we definitely dirty danced with the bartenders. Basically we were the last people there and decided it was time to head home, given that it was about 4:00 in the morning. Keven walked a few of our friends home in one direction, and me and Cortney decided we were fully prepared to handle our 20 minute walk home with my pepper spray in tow. Outside of the bar, we stopped briefly  to dance with some 12 or 13 year old boys who were selling cigarettes. Take a minute to think this over. 12 year old boys. Selling cigarettes. At 4 in the morning.

They began to hustle us a bit to stick around and hang out with them. It was pretty clear they were looking for money. We began walking towards my house and were immediately followed by these boys yelling very inappropriate and rude things to us as we went. Naturally, as we strong headed women do, we responded by being defensive. I held up my mace, explained what it did (though I'm sure it was lost in translation) and told them I would blind them so they couldn't read anymore. Then I added in that I loved to teach kids to read. (What Tiara?!?! You are an idiot!) They kept advancing on us, being cheered on by an older 20 some year old Albanain man. So I sprayed a warning shot and followed Cortney as we ran as fast as we could, in high heels, to find a place where we could be safe. Unfortunately  instead of smartly running back towards the people of the block we ended up on some deserted streets. We could still hear the group of little boys following us, so we ran into a courtyard and very slowly and quietly went up some stairs to wait for them to pass. We went up to about the 3rd floor, and sat down whispering out a plan for what we would do if they came up the stairs. The whole time I just wished I had any clue where we were, so we could call someone. Luckily, the apartment we were sitting in front of was doing some sort of construction and there were a few bricks next to us. Cortney passed one to me as we discussed the plan. If they came up we could throw the bricks, and run down the stairs back from where we had come, toward people. Eventually we would go, but we wanted to make sure they were gone first.

At one point we heard a noise, but thankfully it was just a rabid dog, acting all scary and weird. Eventually Kevin called us, but unfortunately we could not explain to him where we were. Taking the bricks with us, we made a run for it, Corney grabbed a large stick, and we ended up on the river road. Suddenly we realized how scary we must look running with bricks and stick toward a poor woman on her way to work. We called Kevin back, and said we'd meet him at AMC tower, but as it turns out there are two and we ended up at different ones. Cortney and I were close to my house, so we met him there and continued on our morning of finding food, and eventually, for me, a whole 2 hours of sleep. Worst birthday ever? Well I'll never ever forget it. The bricks still remain in my apartment as I speak.
Home safe at 5:30am!

3. The night I fell into the sewer.
Oh my. Where to begin? This story takes place in the beginning of January, the weekend after I got back from Christmas vacation. It was one of the very first nights of Cortney's resolution to go out more. We went in search of a great club. Needless to say, before we went out I had a bit too much to drink, probably because I was extremely homesick, but after walking a bit I sobered up and we found the club. We define clubs as good if there are people dancing inside, and there weren't. We weren't willing to pay the 5 dollar cover to get in to a bad club, so we opted to head to another place. Naomi's Husband (she works at our school) happens to work for a liquor distribution company, so we went to one of the bars he distributes to, to listen to some live music. Cortney and I danced to the pleasure of some slightly decent melodies, and after we had all finished our drinks we left, knowing we had a long walk ahead of us. We stopped at a few random locations, unwilling to pay the expensive prices for drinks, thought I am told we danced on some poles at one bar before they kicked us out. This is the part of the story that is blurry to me. I don't really understand what happened, but in Cortney's words, "The sidewalk crumbled under your feet." Apparently I stepped on a weak point in the sidewalk, it broke away and I fell into the sewage below it. I attempted to crawl out and fell down once again. Eventually they got me out and attempted to get me a cab home. I sat in the cab crying that I needed to walk home. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the stench in the cab, and all I wanted to do was walk. Adam and his poor nose kindly walked me to the river road, and I was easily able to get home from this point. I immediately changed, and started a batch of laundry after rinsing everything off in the shower.  Unfortunately I had no hot water, and it was winter, so I had to wait until the next morning to shower. Gross. This was also the end of my favorite pants ever, as the crotch tore when I tried to crawl out the first time. This story makes me sound like some drunk. Trust me I wasn't that drunk. With Cortney as my witness I wasn't walking in a drunk way at all when this happened. I just stepped on the wrong part of the sidewalk.

2. The time I met the famous magician.
I have been to the post office many times to mail simple items like postcards, but I have never had to pick up a package from there. About 2 days before my birthday I received a slip from the post office, saying that I had a package to pick up. They don't deliver them, you have to go and get them. After school I decided to head there to get it, wondering to myself what would be inside of it. Upon arriving I knew it wouldn't be as simple as "giving them the slip, waiting, signing, and giving them some lek," which were the directions I was given. There a "line." And by line, I mean there was a gigantic hoard of people gathered around the kiosks waiting to pick up their packages, and yelling at the ladies behind the desk.

I overheard a man talking on the phone in English, holding a little boy in his arms next to me. Whenever I hear english I can't help but listen in, mostly because I'm just always intrigued. He said something like, "it is worse than it usually is, and none of the ladies I know are here. I'll be home a little later than expected." Then the lady next to me asked me something in Albanian. I didn't understand any of it. "Mafal. Anglist?" She just looked at me weirdly. Then the english speaking man responded to her in Albanian and asked me where I was from. As it turned out he was from Texas. I asked him what he was doing in Albania. He told me that his wife was from Kosovo and that he was actually a bit of a famous man in the area for his TV program, a magic show. At this precise moment some other kids came up to him and sort of smiled at him. He did a magic trick, pulling out a coin from behind one of their ears. Suddenly I noticed everyone kept looking over at us as we continued the conversation about why I was in Albania. Eventually he saw a girl working that he recognized and he told me to follow him. He gave her both of our slips of paper and told me we would just have to wait for one minute. Eventually she brought the packages back. He signed for his, and pulled out his wallet to give them some lek. As he opened his wallet it burst into flames. Yep. Burst into flames, and when he closed it it stopped. He kindly handed me my package and said he had already paid for it. I tried to pay him back, but he wouldn't accept. Thank god he came or I would have been there all night waiting in "line."
Cool saying I saw a long time ago and haven't had a place to add. Random but a good message.

1. The time the bus started on fire. 
During my first few weeks in Tirana we made quite a few trips to the mall outside of the city called Teg. At this mall there was a store that had basically everything you could ever want (other than cheddar cheese and IPA) and it was a bit of a comfortable place for us foreigners to shop. We later discovered you could get all of these items at shops in the city. To get there you took a short 20 minute bus ride from the center of the city, which was about a 30 minute walk from my apartment. One day after school Cortney and I decided to head to the mall to pick up some school supplies. During the first few weeks here I had some terrible stomach issues. I grew up with a bad stomach but this was something new for me. We initially referred to it at Tirana tummy as all of us got it, but later switched the name to Tiara tummy, since I got the worst bit of it.

After finishing my shopping I left right away because my stomach was bothering me and I wanted to get home. Cortney stayed behind to do a bit of shopping for teaching clothes. I hopped on a bus just in time for it to leave which was perfect. I was psyched that I would still manage to get home by 7. About 5 minutes down the road the bus started feeling incredibly warm. I didn't really think much of it as it was a very crowded and non-airconditioned bus. However 5 minutes later people began to scream and squish together and shortly after the bus stopped and everyone ran out as quickly as they could. The bus was on fire underneath. The bus driver brought around a jug of water and poured it on, but the smoke and flames continued.

Lucky for us another city bus came along. I hopped on even though I had no idea where it would take me or how much it would cost. Luckily it's route happened to be through the center, and it only cost me 30 lek (30 cents.) Needless to say it has remained my favorite story of my time here, mostly because it reflects so much of what Albania is. A bus that looks fine and safe on the outside, but is full of corruption that may burst into flames at any moment.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


In this day and age, it’s hard to believe there are some moments you can’t capture with a camera. On this trip there have been a few moments I have no picture of, but I will never forget, and I’d like to share them as best as possible.

One happened on my way from Switzerland to Milan. I said goodbye to my brother that morning for potentially 2 years (thank god it only ended up being 6 months.) As I hopped on the train by myself, I saw the most amazing sunset in the Alps through my window. There was no point in trying to get a picture. The beauty and emotion could not be shown through a picture.

A second happened as I jumped into the sea in the moonlight in Ulcinj, stark naked with Robert. On the same trip we got to drive through the snowy Balkan Alps, and I couldn’t believe the beauty around me. I knew the pictures just wouldn’t turn out.

Another happened tonight. I was feeling quite exhausted after a stressed out day due to the International Fair preparations at school, and an intense Insanity workout to follow it up. I was thinking to myself about how I just needed to get out of my house and spend some time with my friends, and at that precise moment one of my best friends called me on the phone.

“Hey, what’s up?”
“Nothing much, just got done working out. What’s happening?”
“Want to come over for dinner?”
“Sure, but I really stink, so I’ll have to go shower first.”
“No problem. What time do you think you’ll be over?”
“Well I think I can be pretty fast (in my head I thought a cold shower sounded fantastic.) So about 6:30?”
“Sounds great! See you then!”

I rushed home, showered and then realized my manners and quickly messaged Robert to see if I should bring anything. I packed up the random veggies I had in my house (my cooking has become atrocious) and headed out. On my way I passed a decent super market and ran inside to purchase 3 good beers (at about 2 dollars each) and continued on my way.

We spent the first hour or so just talking about life, looking up pictures of poisonous spiders in Indonesia, reading the itinerary for our potential winter break trip, and having a few drinks. While all this was going on, Robert managed to cook up a delicious meal of spicy chicken in a tomato cream sauce, served with rice, and a pepper salad. Yum!

We ate, and headed out to the balcony for post dinner beers, which is where the story gets to the good part. We saw a random bat flying around and marveled at how intriguing bats are. Then there was some screaming and some very loud thumping sounds, which I was informed were normal sounds, and were probably just from the kids downstairs running their scooter into things. About a minute later we saw the kids in the tiled area below the balcony, running around with their new dog on a leash. They were so happy and care free. Robert felt like blowing bubbles. I mean, who doesn’t? And as it turns out our German friend had brought some from Germany on her last visit to Tirana. Robert informed me that they were the best bubbles in the world, and boy, were they! He began blowing them and they slowly floated down toward the tile flow, and more importantly the kids. They began to chase them and pop them, dog in tow. They had no idea where the bubbles were coming from, and didn’t have any desire to know. The sight was something I will never forget: Those kids running around in the moonlight, chasing bubbles, their dog dragging behind them, and Robert, Scott, and I looking down at them, giggling, while we admired their free spirit and happiness. I’m not sure why, but in this moment I felt like I was right where I was meant to be. Life was everything it was supposed to be. Nothing more, and nothing less. I kept saying I wanted a picture, and yet I know that no picture could ever capture the way I felt.

Eventually, we ran out of bubbles and sat down to talk more about life. We looked at the stars, we saw a flying plane, we discussed our plans for our time home, talked about our hopes and fears for Indonesia ,and made plans for our last 3 weeks together in this country. As I left Robert said quite simply, “Love you!” And as I walked home, I thought once again about how lucky I am to have people that I love, and that love me so much in return.  

Monday, May 13, 2013


This post has been a long time coming. Partly because I didn't have the pictures I needed to complete it, and partly because I think I was putting off writing about my last weekend getaway. My time in the Balkans is sadly coming to a close :(  It was the perfect mixture of exercise, relaxation, city, and fresh air that we managed to fit into a regular weekend. The city of a thousand windows is an easy sell.
So many windows. We started counting and then we realized there were more on the side we were on!
We left for Berat right after school and drove the two hours there fairly easily. Finding our hostel was a bit more difficult since the directions led us on foot from the bus station, but we arrived in the car. (I'm one lucky girl, I know.) Once there I knew we were going to have a fantastic weekend. The staff at Berat backpackers hostel were kind and welcoming and immediately showed us a map, pointing out locations and restaurants we would want to visit. After claiming our beds and using the restroom we were off to see the castle. The hike up was exhausting enough, but short, and well worth the effort. The castle of Berat was one of the biggest I've seen in Albania, and the views of the mountains were perfect for the evening sunset. The lights came on halfway through our time exploring, and  though the trip down was a little scary and difficult, I was happy with our decision to visit that night. Post hike, we were feeling extremely famished, so we headed to the number one rated restaurant in Berat, Mengalemi. The food was disappointing, but satisfying enough. For about 10 dollars I was able to split a salad with Cortney, devour a main course of stuffed peppers and complete the meal with ice cream and 2 glasses of wine. Halfway through our meal, Cortney was kind enough to invite a woman dining alone to join us.
Sophie, from Switzerland, was visiting a friend in Berat and had spent many years back and forth watching Albania change. She had some very interesting views on all of the politics, and the development throughout those years. After saying goodbye, we stopped at the market to get some water and headed back to the hostel.

My night was filled with strange dreams of foam parties and rafting (don't ask), but overall I slept very well.

The following day was one of the most interesting I've had in Albania. We left at 8:30am after realizing our car was parked behind a weekend market. We had to ask a truck to move for us, and had quite the hassle getting on the road. The "very nice" road was one of the bumpiest I've ridden on, and there were several points where I thought I might throw up.

Eventually, after calling the man in charge and getting misinformed directions from him, we made it to where we needed to be. We snuffed down some byrek, put on our wet suits and hopped into a few jeeps to make the trek to where the rafting  trip would begin. This trip was also awful, but luckily the fact that I had just eaten helped a bit and we made it without problem. Once there, we still had to spend time waiting for another group to arrive. Shortly after their arrival our guide proceeded to give us our safety instructions, and to explain each of the 5 cues to us (forward, backward, left backward, right backward, and everyone inside.)
All ready to go!
Our group of 5 got placed with 2 random people even though the smaller rafts were clearly made for a group of 5. I was quite confused. I also received a broken paddle at first but ended up switching with Eva about 5 minutes down the rapids because otherwise the sides were uneven with 4 paddles on one side and 2 on the other (we were already a paddle short.) Luckily the man who was without a paddle had a waterproof camera with him. These are mostly his pictures.
Such a beautiful sight!

The nice thing about the trip was that it was just the right amount of difficulty that you were able to enjoy the beauty of the cliffs and enjoy the amount of exercise you were getting.  We were also lucky enough to stop several times to look around. At one point I had the privilege of a very safe cliff jump. It wasn't very high and I was wearing a life jacket and helmet.
Me, Eva, Bobby, and Gill in front of the first waterfall
We also got to walk under a waterfall back into a small cave. This was quite overwhelming and the water was very cold, so after this I wasn't able to warm up and the trip got to be a little much toward the end, as my hands were numb and white. Luckily the beauty around me was able to help me have strength for the last portion of the journey even though I was freezing cold.
Walking under the second waterfall. I'm pretty sure I'm the girl out swimming in the deep water. 

At one point, the canyon was so narrow that we had to push our boat through. It was amazing to me that the water was not flowing super fast at this point, and our guide explained to us that the water was extremely deep, and that if it wasn't the water would be flowing quickly and would be very dangerous.
Paddles up, time to push ourselves through the canyon.
We could tell we were getting close to the end of the journey when we started seeing trash all along the sides of the river. I was glad that further out there was no trash and that our guides were super knowledgeable about the preservation of nature(they went around several times to make sure they got all of the trash from our snack.) Leave no trace!

Upon arrival back they provided a small barbecue snack of french fries, veggies, and lamb. The lamb was particularly good, however after our hard workout we were still hungry. After driving back to Berat we headed to White House for a dinner of pizzas. The evening consisted of showers and an early bedtime.

We spent the following morning hanging out at the hostel. The rooftop porch was just what we needed to relax our muscles and soak up some sun. I was also lucky enough to get my hand on a guitar for a brief 5 minutes (after that they hurt.) I only remembered about 7 chords, but I was able to play and hum along to "Oh My Sweet Carolina." It felt great to hold an instrument. I may have to invest in one in Jakarta. We'll see.
This was our morning
A brief drive was followed by a tour of the Cobo Winery in Berat. This is a family owned business, and I was excited to finally go on a winery tour since I believe Europe is the place to do it. The man who did the tour was the same man who makes the wine today (his grandfather started the company) and he was very sweet and kind to us. As it turned out the same group we went rafting with was doing this tour as well. They, of course were in a hurry, so after sampling all the wines, eating some delicious homemade olives, bread, and cheese, they quickly left to go to Durres for lunch.
We took our time. I had 2 glasses of the most expensive wine (the reserve) and even enjoyed/purchased the walnut raki. During the last part of our time there we had a fantastic conversation with the man concerning his opinions about Albania, and their transition into freedom. I would describe him as a progressive, who had the right ideas about what Albania should be doing: perserving their heritage and culture. This country tries so hard to be European/American, but they aren't and that is what makes them special. You can go anywhere and find people walking in heels, shopping in malls, eating at expensive restaurants, and driving cars. But you can't go anywhere and almost get in a car accident with a donkey(did I forget to mention this?), or hike up to a castle, or sip on walnut raki.
Overall I'd say Berat was one of my favorite experiences in Albania, and was the perfect last Albanian trip before I head home.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm coming home!

I purchased a plane ticket home! So it is time to start preparing. I know I'm going to be shocked about a lot of different things, but if I prepare myself for at least some of them hopefully it will be easier. I will probably comment on these things a lot. I apologize in advance.

1. Being able to purchase something by swiping my card. The last time I used it (other than to purchase tickets/book hostels online) was my first week here at the "mall." I'm so used to just carrying the equivalent of 50 bucks on me all the time.
2. The beer selection. The largest amount of beers on tap I've seen here is 6 or 7, and most have only 1 or 2. This is like a minimum in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I'm going to be overwhelmed. Also, having to take my ID with me. You guys are going to have to remind me every time we leave the house.
3. Other girls drinking. Especially beer. As time has gone on I've founded the places where others girls drink, and thank god.
4. People with blond hair, that isn't a terrible bleach color.
5. People waiting patiently in a line.
6. People exercising/running and wearing exercise gear outside of the house.
7. Shopping, in general. I have a lot of things to get and I know this is going to be stressful. Any volunteers to go with me? I need to go to REI (backpack, clothes, hiking shoes), Victoria's Secret(underwear), Macy's(bras), Target (everything), Forever 21 (appropriate dresses/skirts/blouses), DSW (teaching shoes), and probably a sports store for new running shoes. I've read several blogs/books about people have nervous breakdowns in the middle of store because of all the options available to them. It sounds terrifying.
8. Music. Chances are I won't have heard any of the popular songs since they are about 6 months-1 year behind here. Is Gangam style still popular there? What about Adele Someone Like You? I hope not.
9. Smooth roads, with lines in the middle of them. I'm going to get car sick like no other.
10. How expensive food and drinks are.
11. The amount of cheddar cheese and fried food available.
12. The coffee. Filtered coffee is a delicacy here.
13.  Not having to ask for the bill, and having waiters and waitresses constantly ask me if I need anything. Oh, and tipping more than 10%.
14. Yards. They don't exist here. You are lucky if you can find some grass to lay on anywhere in this city.
15. Being able to machine dry clothes.
16. Being able to take a shower whenever I want and not having to wait for the water to heat up, and not having to mop the bathroom afterwards.
17. Not being able to walk around with a beer in my hands, and not being able to stop in any store and purchase a single cold beer on the fly (I'm going to miss this one like crazy!)
18. Being able to eavesdrop on conversations again, and the ease with which I will be able to walk into any store/restaurant and converse with others.
19. TV. I only watch shows when I download them. If I go somewhere with a TV on, I am drawn straight to it.
20. Bathrooms! With toilet paper! And real toilet seats!

I feel that since I will only be home for a little over 2 weeks I won't really have time to get used to any of these before I move on to a new culture and get to be shocked again.

I also began a list of things I'm planning to do when I'm home and I'm trying to fit them all in (thought it is going to be rough, with my actual to-do list.) Let me know if you would like to participate in any of the following:
1. Roe Family on Monday nights
2. Happy hour at Republic bar
3. Bloody Mary's at Legends
4. Al's Breakfast
5. Running at Stone arch (must happen after shopping day because I don't have shoes :(  What?!?!)
6. Juicy Lucy
7. Mexican food of any sort.
8. The Butanes
9. Grilling in the afternoon/evening! (hopefully more than once if we can.)
10. Chilly Billy's
11. Shakes/Burgers from Annies.
12. Kitchen Table (In Marshfield)
13. Brew Pub (In Marshfield)
14. El Mezcal (In Marshfield)

I'd also be interested in meeting with anyone for coffee, a beer, or lunch. Just let me know ahead of time, because I won't have access to a phone. I'll be in Minneapolis from the 10th of June until the 19th and then back to Marshfield for about 5 days before heading to Milwaukee.