Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Best Sunburn Ever

Mooly, you probably shouldn't read this post, because you will scold me and give me "the line"...

When I moved to Ireland, I was afraid my skin would never see the sun again.  Yesterday, all my fears were put to rest.

Juli has been playing softball with a team here in Dublin.  I very willingly let her wrangle me into joining her.  She was, unfortunately, out of town for the tournament this weekend.  I was left all alone and had to do some wrangling myself.  Luckily, My-Friend-Kyle was more than happy to be wrangled.

I managed to get some sunscreen on my face before I left.  And Denise was kind enough to put some on my back.  I figured the rest of my body could enjoy a couple hours of quality vitamin D before I layered it with SPF.

We played 4 games in a row before stopping for a lunch break.  I played 1st base.  I was no Albert Pujols, but I handled the glove pretty well.  We even got a double play!  I'm embarrassed to say that I struck out swinging in at least my first 5 at-bats.  I don't want to point any fingers, but I will mention that Scott took me out to hit baseballs the other night.  Totally threw me off my slow-pitch groove.  By the second game, I was at least making a little contact with the ball.  And in game three I hit a double!  Whoohooo!  MFK totally showed me up with his 2 home runs, but who's counting?

Around 3:30pm, before our 5th game, I thought Wow!  I've been out here a while.  Maybe I should put some sunscreen on.  Too little, too late.  If I was still in Dallas, I would never have been so deceived.  Intense heat would remind me that I need more protection.  But here, the burn crept up on me.  It was hidden behind partly cloudy skies and a nice breeze and a mild 75 degrees.  Best sunburn ever.

It doesn't look so bad today.  In 3 days it'll be brown (hopefully), and I'll feel a bit more like my usual-summer-self.  My muscles, on the other hand, are complaining a bit.  Apparently, 7 hours of softball was too strenuous.  My short legs aren't used to having to hustle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The bright side of being ghetto.

My experience last week with the DTW has made me very conservative when it comes to making plans.  The less ambitious you are with your time, the better.  I had two things on my To-Do-List for Monday: get a phone, get new passport pictures.  Easy enough.  Scott took me to a shopping center nearby.  They have a photo shop and a place that's supposed to have good deals on mobile phones.  We figured it'd be easy enough to knock out both my birds with one stone.  We went to the photo shop first.  The metal door was closed.  There was a hand-written sign taped to it: Closed.  Be back tomorrow.  One bird got away.  We headed back for the phone store.  No good deals.  There went our first stone, and we hadn't killed any birds.

We got back in the car and drove 10 minutes or so to another shopping center.  Craig had mentioned that they had a photo shop upstairs.  It took us two laps around the small second level to find the photo store tucked between two bigger shops.  In a little more than 5 minutes I had two new not-so-flattering-you're-not-allowed-to-smile passport pictures.  One bird down.

Getting a phone took a little longer.  I needed something cheap that could hold me over until I can get something better.  The sales guy showed me his recommendation.  It's perfect for talking and texting, he said.  Plus it only cost 10 euro.  I figured anything would be a step up from the phone I left behind in the States (which was held together by a couple layers of packing tape).  Bird number two.

Two birds.  Two stones.  Things could've been worse.

When I got back to the Karnes' house I figured I should send a text out to everyone with my new number.  I went to the "message options" menu to turn on my predictive text.  It wasn't there.  I looked under "language".  Not listed there either.  I pulled out my manual.  No mention of predictive text anywhere.  Seriously?  This phone has a stopwatch and four languages and FM radio but no predictive texting?!?!?!  How can a phone be "perfect for talking and texting" and NOT have predictive texting?

It's taken me a few days, but I've accepted the idea that I may be destined for a life of being cellularly ghetto.  I did accidentally leave the phone in the park yesterday.  It got rained on for about 30 minutes.  No one stole it and it still works... I guess that counts for something.

Note:  I have to go to the US embassy (to renew my passport) and the Irish immigration office (to get my student visa) tomorrow.  Denise is coming with me for moral support.  Please pray that everything will go smoothly.  I know that "the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!"--1 Thess 5:24

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Dublin Time-Warp

Today was my first experience with the phenomenon Craig has appropriately named "The Dublin Time-Warp."  He'd mentioned it several times before, this idea that you run around for hours and hours, but at the end of the day you haven't really accomplished anything.  I was properly warned.  But there is no way I could be properly prepared, not without experiencing  DTW for myself.

Here's what my day was supposed to look like:
*meet Juli at 9AM
*take the DART to City Center to look at an apartment at 10AM
*look at a second apartment at 11AM
*swing by the Irish Bible Institute to pay my tuition fees
*take the DART a few stops further, go to the U.S. Embassy because my passport has to be renewed before I can go to the immigration office next week
*head back in time to eat a late lunch with Juli around 1 PM

Here's what I actually did:
*met Juli around 9:15 AM (no surprise I was running a few minutes late)
*we would have been at our apartment appointment on time if we hadn't gone the wrong direction from the DART station; even though we got off to a slow start, we were still done looking at the (fantastic) apartment before 10:30 AM
*Juli had to go back home, and I was early for my next appointment, I decided to go to IBI first
*while waiting to speak with someone in the office, I got a call from Appointment #2 saying that they "were in a meeting and couldn't make it at 11 AM.  Would 2:30 PM work?"  No, not really.  But I said I could rearrange my schedule to make it work.
*waited at IBI until 11:40 or so before the finance person came in; I had coffee and biscuits (cookies) with some of the office staff while I waited
*my bank card wouldn't authorize the full transaction amount for my fees; we ended up having to try smaller transactions; my card let us run it 3 times before it quit working; they will run it 3 more times tomorrow; this means I have to go back to IBI next week to pick up all my paperwork for immigration
*left IBI around noon; got to the embassy around 12:30 PM
*after waiting outside for several minutes, the security officer told me that I would have to go home, schedule an appointment online, and come back later; it was about 12:45 PM
*I needed to kill some time before going back for Appointment #2; I had passed a Starbucks on my way to the embassy; I went there
*got an Irish Starbucks card (you get free shots here!) and an Iced Passion Tea; let me mention that they don't actually give you ice with your iced Passion Tea, so I had to ask for some, I'm pretty sure they thought that was weird
*left Starbucks around 2 PM to get to Appointment #2 by 2:30 PM
*Appointment #2 arrived around 2:50 PM; the apartment was NOT worth the wait
*it started raining just as I was leaving Appointment #2; I made it to the DART station before 3:15 PM
*stopped at Juli's on my way back to the Hutson's to tell her about the rest of my day; got back to the Hutson's about 4:30 PM

And that's The Dublin Time-Warp.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My move: The long and the short of it.

The past month or so has been a strange mix of emotions.  Sadness to leave.  Excitement to go.  All blended up in one heart.  I felt like that song, "Wanna throw my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion..."  Oh, and I should also add exhaustion to the pot, which isn't really an emotion, but it definitely adds some intensity to the others.  I was expecting to be an emotional wreck during my last week in the States.  Instead, God blessed me with lots of laughter, a strong heart, and plenty of Mexican food.  Don't get me wrong, there were still waves of sadness, and I cried many-a-river, but God's faithfulness and unending joy eased the way.

The Goodbyes:
I hate saying goodbye.  I avoid it whenever possible.  If I could've had things my way, I would've snuck out in the middle of the night, then called everyone from Dublin to say "hello".  Goodbyes are filled with finality and sadness and that horrible don't-leave-yet-I-just-want-one-more-hug ambiguity that drags on and on and on.  Some of my goodbyes were easier than others.  I said goodbye to Jes on Wednesday.  My Daddy kissed me goodbye early Friday morning.  Mooly and Dakota were a little tougher.  They weren't quick.  They lasted several hours.  And the thought of them still makes my cry.  I hate goodbyes.

The Hellos:
Or should it be helloes?  Either way, these are so much better!  Hellos are filled with anticipation and smiles and I'm-so-happy-I-could-squeeze-you-to-death hugs.  I love hellos.  I had several hours to wait between my goodbyes and my hellos.  The extra time I had to spend in immigration at the airport (due to a misunderstanding on my part) didn't help things.  By the time we got things sorted out, my 5 bags were the only ones left at baggage claim.  Not to mention there was no one around to help me manage them.  It was a pitiful sight.  After several minutes of a ridiculous battle with 2 luggage carts (a battle I was losing), a nice stranger came through and offered help.  Fifteen seconds later I was greeted with my first hellos.  My whole team (sans Scott) was standing together, holding welcome signs, smiling, waving.  Denise was taking pictures.  You can see them on her blog.  Then came the relief of being loved.  The exhaustion and frustration melted with each hug.  I love hellos.

The goodbyes are still heavy on my heart.  I know the full effect of them hasn't even sunk in yet.  But the hellos are still being made.  And I have a feeling they won't be going away any time soon.  My life is a Beatle song, "Hello, goodbye. hello, goodbye..."

Note:  It's 11pm now.  It's not even completely dark yet.  Also, it was about 55 degrees today.  Unbelievable!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just stick to The Plan

What a week!  It was a I'm-so-busy-I-can't-even -make-full-sentences kind of week.  Somehow I managed to stay generally peaceful and not at all frantic.  I credit The Plan for the lack of chaos that usually surrounds me.  Even Mooly was proud.  Last night, as we were calmly doing last minute things, she said, "Well, you're about 2 days ahead of where I thought you'd be tonight."  She was so proud!  And I should clarify that these "last minute things" were not things that I had put off until the last minute (like waiting until last week to get my Texas driver's license that I should've got 13 months ago) but rather things that naturally come last...

A few more Last-Minute-Things to do in the next 7 hours:
*eat a chicken biscuit for breakfast
*sweep the floor in my room
*get the Last-Minute-Laundry folded and into a bag... I'm just not sure where it's gonna fit yet
*pet Dakota
*organize all the things that didn't make it in a bag for this trip but are coming in January with Jes (squeal!)
*ask Mooly if there's anything else I need to do
*go to One-Last-Happy-Hour at Sonic on the way to the airport

I'm hoping I won't have any trouble with my excessive amounts of luggage.  Pray for a friendly and compassionate ticket agent at the airport!  I figure that if our God can get all the Israelites out of Egypt then He can probably get all my bags out of DFW.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Plan.

A couple of days ago, Mooly and I had the following (paraphrased) conversation...

Mooly:  Jo, I need for you to make a list of all the things you need to do before you leave and then you may want to make a schedule of when you plan on getting it all done.
Me:  Silly Mooly, that sounds like a great idea, but you know I don't work like that.
Mooly:  Yes, I know.  That's the problem.  You're running out of time.  I'm worried you're not going to get everything done.  I need to know that you know that you have a lot to do.
Me:  Don't worry, Mooly.  I've got plenty of time.  And I really don't have that much to do. It'll all get done.  I promise.
Mooly: (shaking her head and looking really concerned) Ohhhh.....kay......

Today I realized that Mooly was right (don't tell her I said that).  As usual.  I've got a lot to do.  I'm running out of days.  But, I've got a plan.  A good plan.  And a Super-Sister that's really good at sticking to the plan.  Lucky me.

Right now: Finish laundry; write blog about The Plan
Tomorrow: Fly to Alabama for my final visit with University Church
Friday: Take care of business in Alabama
Saturday: Mooly and Daddy join me in Alabama; more taking-care-of-business
Sunday: Make things official with UCC in front of the entire congregation
Monday: Fly back to Dallas; Mooly will help me pin/baste One-Last-Quilt
Tuesday: Quilt/bind/wash/finish One-Last-Quilt
Wednesday: Super-Sister will help me get everything into 4 suitcases and 1 carry-on; lunch with Betsy at Fuzzy's
Thursday: Take a big sigh-of-relief that everything is packed; do any last minute things I've overlooked (I'm sure there will be plenty)
Friday: THE BIG DAY!!!!!  Betsy will take me to the airport at 3pm; there may be a few happy tears prior to (and/or after) that.  Flight leaves at 5:50.
Saturday: Arrive in London around 8AM; change planes; arrive in Dublin around NOON; Whooooooohoooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!