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Did anyone know that Facebook has a phone book of all of your contacts?  This is going to make me so much creepier than previously thought…

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Now that I’ve got my peace-out-of-America date (Sept. 26), its started to sink in that I’m really leaving, which in turn has made me begin to take notice of and start appreciating the little things around me.  Now that most of my friends have packed up and left for school/the real world/random ends of the globe, there’s not a ton to do here, especially at night.  Luckily, a few close friends are still around, at least for the next couple weeks/months, so there’s decent company.

Tonight found me meeting up with a friend for drinks down by the water.  Though the Strand, as its known, is only about a 10-minute drive from my house, sometimes I feel live I’m driving forever.  Because my office is on the water, I’m downtown every day during the week.  While most of the drive absolutely blows (congestion, traintracks, strip malls), the last bit of it is a little slice of heaven in an unexpected place.  It’s a short stretch, about 2 miles, down a straight strip that feels more highway than anything else.  As the road begins to go downhill, there’s a view of small white church nestled into the hills.  On nice mornings, I make an effort to speed past the other cars and trucks on the road and get a clear view, then squint my eyes and pretend like I’m driving toward a little Italian village.  Maybe that sounds crazy, I don’t really care.

Anyhow, so I get to the bar.  Its not a College Park bar by any standard, but its got a lot of space and outdoor seating on the waterfront, with a sweet view of all the boats docked on the creek.  While by no means my favorite watering hole, its nice to go somewhere and see so many familiar faces-girls I graduated with, my high school French teacher, the mayor’s son, the town supervisor with a personal vendetta against my mother.  It was a nice reminder (for the most part) that even though growing up in a small town can leave you feeling cramped and suffocated, there will always be this community that you know and understand and that knows and understands you.

Right, so post-bar, my friend and I go back to my house, sit on my back porch and get the hookah going.  While hookah is obviously relaxing.  After an hour or so, he left, and I stayed on my porch, savoring the melon-flavored hookah until it kicked.  Leaning back and looking at the clear sky, I had the realization that its going to be a long time before I see stars this bright again.  Thanks a ton, Seoul light pollution.  Adding to the mood was the almost deafening sound of crickets, coupled with the sound of cars whizzing by on the Thruway and the occasional train whistle.  The other night I started moving my sister into school on the other side of the river and met her roommate, a nice girl from Connecticut.  While we were checking out the dorm, the Metro-North train sounded its whistle, and the roommate said how that noise always takes her by surprise and annoys her.  Betcha in another few months, she’ll grow to love the whistle, like everyone else here.

Anyway, I’m not sure the point of all this rambling.  I’m just starting to realize how little time I have left here, and how its the little things, the highway stretches, the crickets, the silhouette of the mountains at dusk.  I’d take pictures if I had a digital camera (too bad I kill every one of them I’ve ever owned within a matter of a few months), but photos wouldn’t do this place justice.  Also, its 2:30 in the morning.

The leaves on the gargantuan maple tree in my front lawn are beginning to change color, even though its early in the season.  It’s almost fall, which means change for everyone.  My sister starts college and turns 18 (and will pierce every possible body part), my mom is going to invest in a motorcycle and I’m collecting passport stamps.

I think its only appropriate at this point to give a shoutout to Hudson Valley resident Pete Seeger, who churned out this beauty for The Byrds to bring to the world.  I distinctly remember sitting in Mrs. De Camillis’ music class in elementary school, learning this song and singing it over and over and over.  So now I give it to you, to play over and over and over.

And with that, I think it would be wise for me to hit the sack.  Maybe my mind will be less jumbled after some sound sleep.

We just finished watching Obama’s speech.  Here is what my mother and I agreed on: Obama sounded like he had watched The American President several times just before giving his speech.

1. Parking garages.  Maybe it has something to do with the thousands of pounds of car, truck and SUV existing on the six floors of the parking garage I used at school, or the fact that a local garage collapsed last year, leaving an empty lot where once stood architectural automobile storage greatness.  Parking garages just don’t seem natural.  What does seem natural, you ask?  Driveways, and bicycles.

2. Speaking of bikes, I am terribly afraid of driving a car with a bicycle rack on it.  Ask anyone who has ever traveled to a summer vacation spot with me.  I am constantly checking the rearview mirror, checking to make sure everything is in place.  Life is much more convenient now that I drive a Subaru Forester (yes, go ahead and make fun), and can fit a bike in the back without having to even consider a bike rack.  Of course, I rarely have to worry about this, since I’ve gotten on a bike exactly one time in the past year.  And promptly fell off.

3. Things tied to the tops of cars.  I know where this fear originated.  Once when I was younger, we had to drive a piece of plywood, strapped to the top of my father’s car, from a neighboring town to my synagogue.  We only traveled about five or six miles, but made numerous stops, as the plywood kept slipping out of the ties we had used.  At one point, my dad had my stick my tiny 11-year-old arm out the window and hold down the plywood as he drove 30 miles per hour down the road.  So scarred, I tell you.  I should also note that my top three fears are all car-related.  Weird!

4. Flying.  Flying absolutely terrifies me.  While in my first two years of college (also known as my pre-Subaru Forester days), I used to enjoy the brief one-hour flight from Washington to Albany or Newburgh.  I even liked the slight turbulence.  But now, the flights are longer and usually involve some sort of broken technology.  If my personal television screen is broken, what’s to say something more instrumental to flying a plane isn’t!?  I have had several bad plane experiences, such as the flight from Frankfurt to JFK, the second leg of my return flight from Prague.  I had begun to drown my sorrows in inexpensive Lufthansa wine served in flimsy plastic cups and was enjoying having my seat, as well as the seats on either side of me, to myself.  However, a few glasses of the cheap white stuff in, I noticed an Orthodox man wandering the aisles.  In my less-than-sober state, and with the memory of several past El Al flights, I thought he was looking for a place to pray.  So I offered him my prime spot, and he asked if I was sure.  With a big, goofy smile on my face, I nodded and said, “Happy Hanukah!”  After I relocated to a middle section, he got settled in my nook of amazingness and WENT TO SLEEP.  I felt like such an idiot.  He wasn’t looking to pray, he just wanted to sleep!

Another terrible flight story?  On my second return trip from Israel, I was unfortunate enough to be stuck in the very last row of a double-decker, 500-person El Al jet.  Although sitting next to my friend Aimee, everyone else from our program was happily sitting with the group in the middle of the plane.  Somewhere over Greenland, we had massive turbulence.  Not some shaking that gets brushed off with an uneasy laugh, but full-blown jostling which had Aimee and I clutching each other and praying.  After the turbulence subsided, a friend (who is now a profession aviation blogger) came to the back of the plane to visit with us and said that even he, who absolutely loves flying, was scared.

That all being said, I hate flying.  I’m dreading the long flight that awaits next month.

And that, friends, is the grand list.  Its not too many things, though I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one or two things.  If I happen to remember them, I’ll note it another time.

Erin and I got the right offer and have accepted it. We’ll be shipping off to Seoul, South Korea on September 26 (which, unfortunately, is my sister’s 18th birthday) and arriving the 27th. We start at Seoul English Village on October 1st. That all being said, I think I’m going to have to change the name of this blog. Some options I’ve already entertained (and not necessarily dismissed):

Ramblings from the DMZ

Seoul sista

Smile and say kimchi!

Korea is [Kim Jong] Ill

Shema Korea

Melissa and Erin + 8[0 Korean Children]

Suggestions?

I stumbled across this Newsweek article at work last week, and I haven’t been able to get a certain sentence out of the back of my head. Maybe by putting it down here, it will finally go away.

“Even when divorce releases children from their parents’ violent or emotionally abusive marriage, they worry that they don’t know how to be half of a happy couple because they’ve never seen one close up at home.”

every time I see this commercial, I cry. EVERY SINGLE TIME. When did I become a crazy animal lady?

Conversely, these are my two favorite things in the world:

It should be noted that the entire time I lived in Prague, my television watching consisted of little more than the Grey’s Anatomy purchased off iTunes and the porn that was constantly watched by the old Czech men who worked in our building.  Something very underrated in that city is a very nice movie theater located at the Anděl tramvaj and metro stop.  An interesting thing about movie theaters in the Czech Republic, and perhaps elsewhere in Europe, I don’t really know-you can’t sit wherever you want.  The seats are assigned, though truth be told, the way the theaters are constructed, there really isn’t a bad seat in the entire room.  And seeing a movie there was so cheap-110 Kč for a student ticket, which at the time was about five bucks, though now, thanks to the horrible exchange rate, is more than $6.50.

Anyway, back to my original story.  The Vodafone and New Yorker commercials played before every movie I saw that semester.  I found myself laughing hysterically at them both.  When I returned to America, I did a Youtube search to find them as quickly as I could, and in the process of doing so, stumbled across this gem:

So with that bit of cuteness, I’m signing off!

Right on, Emerson! With that in mind, about five minutes ago I made the executive decision to organize my bookshelf this week. Possibly even tonight. It just occurred to me that on my bed is where I usually sit when I’m online nowadays, and this bookshelf sits a mere five feet from me, right in front of my face. It would be quite aesthetically pleasing to have something more organized to look at than a bookshelf with no rhyme or reason.

You know what? This is going to be my mission. My friend Jess has a blog chronicling her preparation for races, for now, this blog can be used to help me chronicle my misadventures in room-cleaning. It should be said that my room hasn’t been CLEAN clean in about two years. Our cleaners won’t even touch my room to vacuum it.

So, that settles it. I’m going to clean this hellhole. And blog about it. Maybe.

Just so you can see how desperately my room needs a cleaning, I’ll include some pictures. Feel free to judge, God knows I would.

I spent about half an hour this afternoon on the phone with Andrew, a lovely gentleman who works at Verizon Wireless. You see, after my phone slipped into a coma yet again this week, I decided I needed to take action. It just so happened that my friend Gabe was ready to unload his old Verizon phone, as he had just gotten back from six months in China and had recently purchased a newer, nicer cell. Gabe graciously gave me his old phone at no charge (though I did offer him money and/or my first born), and I immediately went home to make the big switch.

Which brings me to Andrew.

Now, I should start off by saying that I don’t know who ever let me, in my youth, near a phone to begin with, but some friends will tell you it was a very poor choice. Apparently my voice is just about perfect for working the 900 circuit, a fact I first became aware of when I was 15 years old. I was preparing to go on a summer-long cross-country teen tour run by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism with 45 other high schoolers, in what I fully believe was my parents’ first failed attempt to find me a suitable husband. Anyway, about a month before we departed, everyone on the bus was sent a sheet of paper with contact information for our summer companions. One guy took it upon himself to call every number on the sheet in an effort to get to know everyone and make things less awkward on the first day. According to his friends, I “sounded hot” on the phone (boy he must have been disappointed when weird, awkward Melissa ambled onto that bus a few weeks later…). Well, things sure changed. I became less awkward and that guy came out of the closet. However, my low, apparently flirtatious voice remains. But with all the other things that come with adolescence and growing up, I sort of forgot about my voice for the rest of high school, and most of college, for that matter.

In fact, I stopped thinking about this phone voice thing until a few months ago, when, upon hearing me hang up the phone after talking to a source, a Diamondback coworker said it sounded like I was trying to bed whoever I speaking to.

Which brings me to this afternoon. Andrew, if memory serves me correctly and that is indeed his real name, was very nice and very helpful the entire time we were on the phone. However, about 15 minutes into the activating process, Andrew went off on a tangent. He started to tell me how he watched the Comedy Central roast of Bob Saget the night before (which I have yet to see, so I’m glad he started to ruin it for me) and how it wasn’t as good as the roast of Flavor Flav. Then he went off on another tangent and told me that he tried to fix his father’s phone once, only to end up screwing up the phone even more.

Oh, it should be noted that when my contact list didn’t transfer to the new phone, Andrew tried to come up with other options, saying, “If it doesn’t work, I have other methods. But the fun part is…[insert attempt at a suspenseful pause here]…I get to make you do the work.”

What is it that makes people think they can just start chattering away and saying such things to a customer who is obviously ticked that her phone is suffering a difficult, long, drawn-out death thanks to a jar of pickles? Not to be rude, because of all people in the world, I’m the last person to judge other tangent-goers, but come on. Were my voice and phone demeanor so inviting that he felt he could tell me those things? Or is he, just like myself, a chronic oversharer?

There was a girl I went to high school with. Her name was Taylor and she was a year older than me. Taylor took immense pride in her clothes. They weren’t from upscale boutiques or anything, but they weren’t Goodwill, either. They were clothes that you and I would wear, anything someone shopping in a local mall could pick up. Yet she kept a log in the back of her psychology notebook (I only know this because I sat behind her in 11th grade psych and she would show me) of every outfit, complete with accessories, that she had worn, starting with the beginning of the school year. Her objective? Never to repeat an outfit.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired by this. I dreamt of taking Polaroids of all of my dresses, shirts, pants, jewelry, purses, etc. in an attempt to categorize all of my belongings and make it easier to get dressed in the morning. Any effort would be a step in the right direction for my fashion sense, which for the longest time showed a heavy nautical influence (which I now attribute to the many sailor outfits my parents dressed me in as a child).

It should be noted that immediately after I typed that last sentence, I went upstairs and searched through a closet full of childhood photographs to find the many, many photos of me in sailor garb. Of course, when you’re looking for something, you obviously won’t find it until you are no longer searching. So while I couldn’t find the pictures I was looking for, I found two gems. The first is of my first trip to Washington D.C., at the ripe age of 8.

The second, and now my new favorite, is me proving, yet again, that I rock the nation’s trends. Apparently I was under the impression that I, too, was Michael Jackson.

Anyway, back to my original story. I still think it would be a great idea to catalog all of my clothing and accessories, but I just don’t have the time (though now that I’ve been fired, maybe I will) or energy to do so. And besides, its damn near impossible to get Polaroid film anyhow.