Last Friday I had a birthday.  Actually, last Friday I had a great birthday.  For me, one of the coolest things about birthdays is the sort of forced self-reflection they impose upon a person.  As I get older and with every passing birthday, I always seem to stop for a minute and contemplate the same recurring themes. Who am I?  Who am I becoming?  Who do I want to be?  What have I done?  What will I do?

Most importantly, when will I have the answers to those questions?  The truth is, I’m not really sure.  While I definitely know certain things about myself, I like the fact that I’m still continuously evolving, changing, adapting and adjusting.  I suppose I have many years ahead of me to continue to ponder those questions and seek my own answers.  And that, my friends, is quite thrilling.

Even so, there is something so unique about this particular birthday.  It feels different, and almost unfamiliar. Then again, a lot of things in my life are unfamiliar right now.  For the first time since I can remember I will not be returning to school in the fall.  Well, in a sense I actually will be returning to school, but this time I’ll be returning to teach instead of learn.  Also something completely foreign.  Teaching?  I don’t even know where to begin.  In 27 days I will be packing up my life and moving to Spain where I will be living and working for 10 months.  For the first time in my life, nothing is laid out in front of me.  I no longer have a certain number of years of schooling or anything of the sort that can be relied upon as a constant.  Now, my life is completely my own.  I am responsible for building it and creating it, and making it the way I want it.  I am responsible for finding my own path and following my dreams and desires.

Yes, there is indeed something so radically different about this particular birthday…


Hot Town, Summer In The City

Whew, what a weekend!  I took a little trip down to Kansas City and holy cow was it H-O-T!  I am barely squeaking by without A/C in Des Moines, but no A/C in KC is just not an option- it’s way too hot!

Anyway, Andy and I did lots of fun things this weekend beginning with a concert on Friday night!  We saw OAR at Starlight Theater and let’s just say a good time was definitely had by all.  Starlight is an outdoor theater in Kansas City, and I’m just not sure anything can top live music on a warm, breezy summer night.Live music, good friends, cold beer…yup, it was a success!

On Saturday afternoon we went to a little party in support of one of our fellow 2010 Drake graduates.  One of our friends recently launched her own children’s clothing line called Lincoln and Lexi.  She does home parties and baby showers as of now, but if you’re in the market for baby clothes or cute gift ideas definitely check her out!  Plus, isn’t it amazing to be able to support such a young entrepreneur?

On Saturday night Andy and I saw the movie Inception.  Wow.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend!  All I can say is that it has been quite awhile since a movie made me think so hard, and question so much.  A real puzzler!

I’ve spent quite a few weekends in Kansas City this summer and I have to say how much I’ve enjoyed discovering the city.  There are so many hip bars and restaurants, and the shopping…oh dear don’t even get me started on the shopping.  Anyway, since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, Andy took me to this little gem on Sunday-

Isn’t it cute?!  In this case it is definitely OK to judge a book by its cover- this place was so good!  I wanted just about everything on the menu, but decided that it would be sinful to pass up the Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal.

Served piping hot with skim milk, a sliced banana, brown sugar, a buttery english muffin, and a DOILY!  When was the last time you ate breakfast off a doily?  It was seriously some of the best oatmeal I’ve ever had and I was proudly a member of the “clean plate club” that morning. 😀

My weekend in one word?  Perfect.  Now its time for another week back at work but more adventures are sure to come because guess who has a birthday this week?!

The Consulate- Part I

Since I will be living and working in Spain for an extended period of time, I have to apply for a visa in order to be “legal”.  If you’ve never had to deal with applying for a visa (especially a Spanish one), consider yourself extremely lucky.  Let me tell you, it’s no walk in the park.  We’re talking police background checks (now FBI background checks), medical reports, proof of insurance, financial means, employment, and a $100 “processing” fee.  Not to mention travel expenses to get to the consulate that has jurisdiction over your state of residence. Sheesh!  Did I mention you have to apply AND pick up your visa in person?

Anyway, this last Friday I traveled to Chicago to begin the process.  I went via the Megabus since they just started servicing Des Moines.  Granted, the only route is Des Moines-Iowa City-Chicago, but hey, I’m just grateful to have cheap transportation and someone else to drive.  I was able to get a round trip ticket for $30- pocket change!  My only gripe is that the free wifi they claim to provide was definitely not provided.  After talking to seasoned passengers I found out the wifi rarely, if ever, works.  Next time the laptop stays at home!

Since my visa appointment was at 9:30 am on Friday, I had to travel on Thursday and thus needed accommodation for the night.  Me, being the adventurous world traveler that I am, decided to stay in a hostel for the night.  You really can’t beat a $30 night’s sleep in downtown Chicago within walking distance of everywhere you’d want to be.  The hostel was clean, the staff was friendly, breakfast was provided, and it served as a pleasant reminder of the great hostel experiences that are sure to come in just a few short months.

While I don’t have the same nice things to say about my experience at the Consulate, they did accept my application and I can only hope they have my visa and passport ready before I depart on August 22nd. Fingers crossed. :/