The Ultimate To-Do List

Picture is actually from 2014 NYE, but it seemed fitting here!

Picture is actually from 2014 NYE, but it seemed fitting here!

I’m not writing down New Year’s Resolutions this year.

I’ve decided – instead – to create a list that puts all my other to-do lists to shame: This is my combined “30 before 30/Cville Bucket List/Farewell America Tour.”

These upcoming milestones inspired my list:

May 17, 2015 – After two years, my husband Michal graduates with his MBA from Darden. I end my time working at the Women’s Center at U.Va. We leave Charlottesville, our home for the past two years and say farewell to our friends.

August 1, 2015 – We move to Seoul, South Korea! At the end of December 2014, Michal accepted a job offer. We had other options, but we decided to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as we’ll probably only be abroad for around three years.

September 16, 2015 – I officially say goodbye to my 20s. This last milestone isn’t as life-changing, but it’s still a significant moment to celebrate!

Based on the above, I brainstormed the following. (Disclaimer: Some of these items are less exciting than others, but I’ve included them in here because they’re either activities I’ve wanted to do for a while – or I just need to do them anyway before we move.)

Before leaving Cville:

  1. Visit all the breweries on Cville’s Brew Ridge Trail.
  2. Check out the hot springs in Bath County.
  3. Use my education benefit from U.Va. to take a class. -> Signed up for PR classes this semester
  4. Go cross-country skiing or snow tubing.
  5. Visit a cidery and meadery and do tastings.
  6. Go to a First Friday.
  7. Try out the remainder of restaurants I’ve bookmarked on Yelp for Charlottesville.

 Before leaving U.S.:

  1. Do a cross-country road trip.
  2. Hike national parks that Michal visited as a child.
  3. Go back-country camping.
  4. Go rock-climbing outdoors.
  5. Finish our wedding scrapbook. -> We’ll be celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary this year! So it’s about time I complete it!
  6. Finish my Chicago scrapbook. -> After two years of moving away from the area, I at least have all the photos printed.
  7. Finish the Cville photo book. -> My close friends through the DPA and I have started to pool all our photos together from the past two years into a Shutterfly account. This one is actually the closest to being done!
  8. Cook a meal for my mother-in-law.
  9. Update my resume and LinkedIn profile -> Apply for jobs!
  10. Sew a T-shirt quilt. -> I have a box of shirts I’ve been collecting to make one – probably more – of these.
  11. Go to one last Yelp Elite event.
  12. Try workouts I normally would never do because of their intensity, such as CrossFit or a BootCamp.
  13. Try a mashup workout like Piloxing or Aqua Spinning.
  14. Grow my hair out really long, then cut it all off and donate it to Locks of Love.
  15. Find another TV series that Michal and I can enjoy together, and marathon-watch it from beginning to end. (The Wire is really the only show that we’ve ever both enjoyed watching together on a regular basis.)
  16. Sell/donate/throw out all of our belongings.

Before turning 30:

  1. Learn a new language. -> It’s going to be Korean.
  2. Complete this Book Bingo. (Thanks for the inspiration, Esther and Maddie!)
  3. Go scuba-diving or snorkeling.
  4. Keep up with daily devotional reading.
  5. Research a charity whose cause Michal and I are both passionate about and make a pledge.
  6. Try cooking one new recipe a week.
  7. Visit the Philippines with my parents, brother and Michal.

Want to join me on doing any of the above? Or got a suggestion for me to add to the list?

Congrats to the students and partners of the Class of 2014!

Graduation

As I watched the Class of 2014 graduates walk across the stage while their partners snapped photos, I felt more emotion than anticipated yesterday.

On Saturday, when I volunteered at Darden’s 29th Annual Pig Roast in honor of the graduates, I briefly chatted with a few SY partners in the midst of running around and refilling trays and bowls of food. But on Sunday, I could actually take in what was being said as an onlooker in the audience of the Final Exercises in Flagler Court at Darden.

I soaked up every detail, and in the course of a couple of hours, I felt emotions ranging from excitement and pride to sentimentality and nervousness. These emotions stood out the most to me:

    1. Anxiety – while getting advice about reserving hotel rooms and restaurant dinners as early as possible for out-of-town guests (some saying to even start now – one year away from when my husband will graduate!)
    2. Admiration – while seeing proud parents carry their infant children, born during the years at Darden, across the stage and knowing how much those students and their partners had to juggle with an already hectic schedule
    3. Awe – while listening to special recognition from faculty of students who contributed in a myriad of  ways to Darden, such as mentoring FYs and running different organizations
    4. Nostalgia – while taking a photo of the entire crowd of graduates in caps and gowns because the moment transported me back in time to when I used to work at the graduation ceremonies in my past profession as a high school teacher
    5. Mixture of sadness and gratitude – while watching students sing the Irish blessing “Until We Meet Again” and then while realizing that we are only one year away from this moment…
    • I grew tearful because not only was I finding it hard to say goodbye to certain SYs I’ve gotten to know, but I was finding it much harder to recognize that half of my time in Cville is now done.
    • Yet, I am grateful because this past year has truly made me a better person and because I at least still have one more year left in this place that has become my home.

Bidding farewell to the ‘Bird’

Although students will no longer be taking classes with their sections after they return from Spring Break on March 17, it’s hard to drop the identity. As a partner of a student in Section B, I inevitably started proclaiming myself as “one of the birds,” becoming friends with students and partners alike in the group.

The experience of “being in a section” reminded me a lot of my cohort from my senior year and student teaching year at Michigan State University in the College of Education, or of the transition period when I went into my first year of teaching with a group of fellow novices.During an extremely stressful time, it helps to have the camaraderie, as well as the commiseration.

Paying homage to a couple of my favorite Section B traditions:

*Bird is the Word

As my husband likes to make funny comments in class, he tends to be in the running fairly often to take the responsibility of carting around the mascot for a week. Coincidentally that little, stuffed Big Bird seemed to find his way into our home on special occasions like my birthday during first semester and Valentine’s Day during second semester. Can we say #thirdwheel?

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The Bird on adventures with us on date night celebrations and gatherings with friends around town.

Thankfully, no one gave us a hard time when taking photos of the Bird at the Top of the Hops Beer Fest in downtown Charlottesville on my birthday, as many others were lining up to take photos with a gnome any way.

However, it was a bit more difficult to snap a pic when the Bird made an appearance while we sampled sweets from a local bakery paired with wine at Keswick Vineyard. At a slightly less casual atmosphere in the roped-off area behind the wine barrels reserved for Valentine’s Day couples, we didn’t leave him out in the open too long… 

*Dinner of 8

Bonding with fellow birds took on a variety of forms, including get-togethers like FY/SY mixers, themed events (e.g. costumes starting w/a letter B, ugly sweater), local adventures (e.g. apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard), post-Darden Cup celebrations and simply hanging out in smaller settings.

My favorite was the dinner party each semester that consisted of eight students in the section and was hosted at a volunteer’s home, with all randomly assigned to the group. Each semester was a different set of people. Of course, students could bring partners, so an introvert (disguised as an extrovert, most often) like me really looked forward to chatting in a comfortable environment.

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For the first dinner, the organizer ordered yummy Italian takeout from Bella’s. For the second, we did a potluck style meal. It was fun to get a taste of varying cooking styles and ethnic cuisine!