Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Hoover Dam
For Thanksgiving 2013 I traveled to Oklahoma City where my brother lives. Our parents also joined us. I had not seen my brother since 2009 since I didn't come back to the US the entire time I was overseas and he didn't have enough time off of work to come all the way over there to see me.  On the way to the Las Vegas airport the lady who took me stopped at the Hoover Dam so that I could see it. I flew out Tuesday after school and got into OKC after midnight. 
As my brother drove me back to his place we did a 2a.m. tour of OKC. It was really nice as no one was out, so we were able to take our time and look at things without traffic trying to rush us. Wednesday we all went shopping for groceries to make Thanksgiving meal and we went out to eat at Cafe 501. I got to meet my brother's girlfriend for the first time. After dinner she came over and hung out with us so we could visit and get to know her better. Thanksgiving we made food and went to see Catching Fire, the second movie of the Hunger Games trilogy. After that we went to look at this road that has trees lining both sides of it and they do a cool job of wrapping the lights around the trees. 

Pop's Route 66
The lights on the trees change colors. There was also a really cool house that had a huge light display and the display was choreographed to music and the people had one station on the radio so that people could sit in their vehicles and watch the display. Friday was my parents' 38th wedding anniversary.  First we went to see where my brother works as he got a new job in the last few months. 

We also stopped at Pop's an old gas station that they added a store with over 600 types of pop, along Route 66. We got a 6 pack of different types of pop to try. After that we went to the Oklahoma Museum of Art. I wasn't very crazy about the art but got to see the Chihuly display. He does awesome glass work.  That night we went out to watch an NBA game. 


My first time seeing a professional game of any kind. We watched the OKC Thunder and California's Golden State. Thunder won by 1 point at the last second in overtime. It was a pretty intense game and it was awesome. 

NBA game
Saturday my mom, brother and his girlfriend had to run an errand, so after we had lunch at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's cafe my dad and I walked along the river walk downtown and then over to the Oklahoma City Bombing memorial and took a look at that. There were some park rangers there that talk to people and tell them about it. One guy was very knowledgeable and I learned quite a bit.  That night we ate at West restaurant. It was pretty good food. My brother knows the chef from when he worked at his previous job. We met up with my brother's girlfriend and her sister also came, so we got to meet her as well. After that we went and looked at some lights especially this one house that had their lights set to music on a station on the radio. It was pretty cool. 

City walk

On Sunday we went to my brother's church and then we had lunch at Republic Gastropub and then my brother had a soccer game. It was part of a tournament. We went and watched him until my parents had to take me to the airport. I had a great time and it was nice to see my brother again. 

Part of OKC Bombing Memorial 

Looking Back at 2013

2013 has been a very challenging year. With just the way things worked out I spent Christmas 2012 and New Years 2013 by myself in Indonesia. It was a very long and boring holiday break. The house that I was living in had some problems and so I spent most of the break putting up with that as everyone else was on holiday. January I was back to school and gave notice that I would not be returning for the 2013-2014 school year. February I went with some colleagues to Yogjakarta for Chinese New Year, while there I got word that my grandpa was in the hospital and not doing well. Not long after I got back I got in a small fender bender on the way to work. In March I started looking for a new job and my grandpa died so I was up in the air about whether I wanted to continue to live overseas or come back to the US for a couple of years. I had left fairly quickly when I got the job in Malaysia and my parents packed up my house. I only had two weeks from the time I found out about the job until I got on the plane and left, so I had left many things undone and hadn't been back to the US the entire three years I was overseas. It was hard when my grandpa died as I had not been able to fulfill my promise the previous summer and come home for a visit after two years overseas because I only had two weeks in between the two jobs to move from Malaysia to Indonesia. I then promised to come up summer 2013. The day he died I got a card from him and my grandma in the mail saying how excited they were to see me summer 2013. It was very hard to be overseas and not be able to go back for the funeral. Luckily we have the Internet and Facebook, so I was kept in the loop as much as possible. Spring kept me busy with my job I had in Indonesia and looking for a new job, plus trying to figure out how I was going to move my stuff or what I was going to do with it. I got a few job offers overseas but I decided that I should return to the US for a couple of years. All of the new jobs started quickly after my job at the time ended and it wouldn't be enough time to come home to see family and deal with many of the things that had been waiting to be taken care of while I was overseas. So, I decided to start looking for a job back in the US. Overseas it is quite common to do Skype interviews, but back in the US most people want to interview in person so that made it quite challenging. I did some Skype interviews, but most of the people had a hard time with Skype. I came back the end of June and continued applying and looking for a job. I had some interviews and accepted a position at my current school the end of June. I went to Jackson Hole for a week vacation the beginning of July. Got back and tried to go through everything in storage and tie up loose ends in a week before I was off to my new job as they started the end of July. This first semester has been very challenging. The school is making lots of changes and many things have changed in the three years I was gone. There is lots and lots for me to learn. Planning periods are very short, so I spend many hours outside of teaching at school. I switched positions the middle of second quarter as another teacher left and they thought I was the best person to step into that role. While I do enjoy my new teaching position very much, it has been a challenge trying to figure out what the previous teacher did and make sure I am covering everything. Plus, doing sub plans for the long term sub in my old position and other things that person needs help with. It has made for very long hours, usually until 9p.m. every day and most of the day on Saturdays and Sundays. (There is lots more to it than that, but I don't want to share everything.)  Part of me still feels like I am in a foreign country as I still am mostly connected to people through the Internet still. I am school most of my waking hours so I haven't really met people outside of work. Thanksgiving was great though because I got to go to Oklahoma City and see my brother, meet his girlfriend and our parents also came. I hadn't seen my brother since Christmas 2009. Christmas break I came back to Wyoming to see my parents, brother and only living grandparent, my maternal grandma. It has been a very relaxed Christmas and after three years away I am glad to be spending the time with my family. I also got to see my best friend and one of her sisters, who I haven't seen them since 2009 either.