Archive for ‘About Me’

June 13, 2014

Why are you here?

by Tabitha Kidwell

One of the commonly asked questions as you meet other pilgrims along the Camino is “Why are you here?” I always had trouble answering this question. I could tell why I decided to come – basically, I had the money and the time, and it had always been at the back of my mind as something I might do one day. But I didn’t have a clear idea of my purpose in being there, or what I hoped to gain from it. Traditionally, walking the Camino absolves you of your sins, so many Catholics were doing it as a religious pilgrimage. Other people would say that they enjoyed the physical challenge, or wanted to lose weight. Some wanted the cultural experience of really seeing Spain, or they were going through a transition in life and wanted to do some soul searching. I was doing it for all those reasons, but none really stuck out to me.

If they weren’t locked, I ducked into churches along the way, and yesterday I was in a monastery chapel when I realized why I was there: I was on a religious pilgrimage. Given that this is the precise reason the Camino even exists, that this is why people have been doing it for the last millennia, maybe I should have realized this earlier. Hey, I’ll never claim to be an especially self-aware person.

Part of the reason I wouldn’t admit this even to myself is that it’s always been hard for me to talk about my faith or my religion with others. Because some of the loudest, most visible Christians in our society are those who are judging others, telling them they will burn in hell and need to repent, identifying yourself as a Christian can bring a whole lot of baggage. A lot of people have had negative experiences with Christianity, the Bible, or “The Church,” and it’s hard to know what’s going to come up if you start talking about your belief in God. Ironically, I worry about people judging me as a “judgmental Christian.”

But I am a Christian, and a judgmental God has no place in my beliefs. If I believe in God, I have to believe in a God that is wonderful, loving, and accepting, whose presence in your life serves only to make your life better. If people meet and come to understand that God through the lens of Buddhism, Islam, or even yoga, I believe it all comes back to the same divine source. I think belief in religion or spirituality improves your life, because it has improved mine I’ve always had an interest in religion, a drive to be involved in a faith community, and an interest in learning more about God. Maybe it was my mother’s influence, or the wonderful church I grew up in, or just something in my own personality. I wanted to go to church as a child, I got involved in high school seminars even though I had no friends there and was a socially awkward teenager, and I read the entire bible before I was 20. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about other faiths – especially Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. I think a lot of people in the west find meaning in eastern religion, especially if they have negative experiences with Christianity, but for me, learning about other religions helped me to see that Christianity is the language of my soul. It just makes sense to me. I pray to God, I learn from Jesus, and I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was drawn to the Camino as a religious experience, even if I didn’t consciously realize it myself.

So, I am here on a Christian religious pilgrimage, to grow closer to God and better understand His presence in my life. It’s hard for me to say that, to shout it to the world via the blogosphere, but I think I need to say it, and I need to say it loudly. The more that people like me can drown out those “fire and brimstone” preachers on their pulpits, the more that everyone can search for the belief system that makes sense to them, the more we can all learn from each other, and the more peaceful the world will become. At least that is what I believe.

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March 23, 2014

Tourism, Schmorism…

by Tabitha Kidwell

I’m a terrible tourist. I hate traveling. These are strange words for someone who, in the first six months of 2014, has plans to visit Indonesia, India, Malaysia, France, Spain, Colorado, and – wait for it – Oxford, Ohio. But the truth is, I hate the process of lugging around bags, waiting for trains, haggling with a taxi driver, etc. And I’ve already seen my lifetime quota of caves, churches, temples, and waterfalls. Once I drag myself to a tourist attraction, I’m often quite happy to be there, but more often than not, in Asia at least, I’m hot, thirsty, and annoyed by all the people blocking my view and attempting to practice their English on me.

I love being in other countries, though. My favorite things to do in other countries are basically my favorite things to do at home – sit in a coffee shop, meet a friend for a drink, relax somewhere peaceful reading a book. I love going to the grocery store to see what they sell in whatever country. I’m always pleased if I can find almonds, peanut butter, plain yogurt, and the other foods I eat basically everyday at home. And I really love working in other countries. I love going to school here and helping the teachers with their English and computer skills. Last week, I started leading a series of workshops to help them develop a teacher evaluation system, and it’s going really well.

Some of the teachers from school

Some of the teachers from school

Sometimes I can work up the energy to be a tourist. I had an amazing three-week trip though Vietnam last summer. But tourism just isn’t calling me at the moment. I came to volunteer with Deep Griha, and that is what I want to put my energy into. I can come back to India one day and be a tourist. If I didn’t know myself better, I would think this lack of motivation was part of the funk I described a couple of posts back. But I know that forcing myself to go see some buildings or monuments isn’t right for me at the moment. So I’m not going to see the Taj Mahal. I’m not going to the Himalayas or Goa. I don’t even think I’m going to go to Mumbai, 4 hours away. If I wanted to, I could – I’m a volunteer here, after all, I could un-volunteer. But what I really want to do is go to school on Monday and help the teachers type their exam papers, then go home and play uno with the boys at City of Child. And I don’t feel even a little bit bad about that.

Better than the Taj Mahal anyways!

Better than the Taj Mahal anyways!

March 9, 2014

Love Marriage and Children

by Tabitha Kidwell

India has this crazy concept called a “Love Marriage.” We have this in America, too, but we just call it “Marriage.” I find it charming that this term even exists, that there is a need to designate a marriage built solely on mutual affection. I knew that arranged marriages were still a common practice in India, but I had the impression that it was restricted to ultra-traditional families and very rural areas. But almost all the teachers at school are married (or in the process of getting married) to someone their family found for them. When I expressed surprise at the number of arranged marriages, they looked at me like I was crazy. When I tried to explain that in America, we have only love marriages – no, none, zero, nul, nada arranged marriages – they realized that it wasn’t me that was crazy. No, all Americans are crazy.

The line between arranged marriage and love marriage does seem to be increasingly fuzzy; it’s really rare that the bride and groom don’t meet until their wedding day, or that someone is forced to marry someone they don’t accept. More often, someone’s parents or aunties will find a nice boy and they’ll invite him over to meet their daughter, or maybe they’ll set the two lovebirds up on a blind date. That doesn’t sound all that arranged to me, and it certainly sounds like a much better plan than going on The Bachelor. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, and sometimes the two end up very much in love. There is none of the confusion of dating, fear of commitment, being at “different places.” When single people decide they are ready to get married, their family will start the “process,” and the wisdom of the aunties often brings people together who will be really happily married.

“You’re still single because you want a love marriage,” one of the teachers at school told me the other day. “Why don’t your aunties find you a husband?” I told her that most American families don’t feel comfortable meddling in their children’s love lives, and that it is important for me to be in love with the person I married. She looked at me disdainfully, like I wasn’t even trying (she should read singlenomorein2010), and asked “Don’t you want to get married? Don’t you want children?”

The truth is, I really, really do want to get married. I’ve wanted to get married since I was 15. Read my journals and you’ll see “Tabitha’s wedding plans” written out in my best school cursive (which wasn’t very good). Those wedding plans, though, are as obsolete as my carefully looped Ls and humped Ms have become. Almost all of my friends are married. I have been to so many weddings that the variations on dress, cake, decorations, colors, etc., no longer charm me. Chicken or beef, red velvet or french vanilla, ivory or eggshell – these are some of the most meaningless choices we will ever make in our lives. While out thrifting for ugly Christmas sweaters this year, I came across a vintage knee-length white dress. I bought it for $8, and may one day wear it to the courthouse.

And I do want children. My ovaries have faithfully been dispatching half of a potential human, month after month for the past 20 years, all to no avail. In the past year, five of my close friends have had babies. If I was caught up in wedding mania in my 20s, I’m caught up in baby mania in my 30s. I’ve done a lot in the past year – ran a marathon, dressed up as a Javanese princess, traveled around Indonesia, Vietnam, and India – but all that doesn’t even remotely compare to my friends who have made human beings from scratch. I don’t even bake cookies from scratch! I’m simultaneously in awe of and annoyed by my friends who have joined this motherhood club and now talk about breast-feeding and sleep schedules. But I’m mostly jealous of them and this tiny human they get to snuggle with. Sometimes I think I want a baby more than I want a husband, and I consider freezing my eggs, adoption, getting knocked up by a stranger, or snatching cute babies from carts at the supermarket. I mean, I don’t seriously consider all those things, but the thoughts have maybe crossed my mind. Compared to all that, arranged marriage sounds like an increasingly good idea. My aunties are going to have to step up their game. If they don’t, now I know some experts I can call in.

February 27, 2014

Everything is Temporary

by Tabitha Kidwell

Living at the Deep Griha City of Child and working at the Academy, I’ve pretty much lost control of my life. I get e-mail on my phone, and facebook for about 5 minutes on the road to school everyday, but otherwise I have no connection to the outside world during the week. To get to school, I take the schoolbus, so I leave and return on that schedule. The aunties at the boys home decide what and when I will eat, ringing the dinner bell and packing my lunch box. Everyday, the kids on the schoolbus commandeer my attention: Miss, colors! Miss, fruits! I’ve decided it’s easier to let them quiz my Marathi vocab than to try to ignore them. I have very little control over the details of my life, so I’m doing my best to just let go of my need to control it. This makes me feel like this:

In the past, this would have been unbearable to me. If I had shown up in Indonesia or Madagascar and told that these were the terms of my stay there, I would not have put up with it. But for two months here, it seems okay. Having the mindset that this is all temporary makes it totally bearable, even novel and fun. Of course, my stays in Indonesia and Madagascar were also temporary – two months or two years, in terms of a lifetime, are not all that different. Something I’ve been realizing recently is that everything is temporary. This is nothing that wise people before me haven’t acknowledged (this too shall pass; the cycle of birth and death; valar morghulis), but it’s new to me.

It was such a treat, for example, to come to Indonesia for just one month. The many daily inconveniences that often drove me off the edge last year were much easier in small doses. I was friendly to the kids shouting “Hello Mister,” patient at airline baggage claim, and okay with eating rice 2-3 times a day. The temporariness of my stay helped me enjoy the time in Indonesia much more.

The loneliness and boredom that came with living at home for 6 months without a job… the frustration of spending hours constructing giant snowglobes that would last only 6 weeks at Christmisc… in fact, the futility of putting up any Christmas decorations at all, just to take them down weeks later… the whole world seems to be conspiring to teach me this lesson, that everything is temporary.

And now at home, someone I love is dying – my step-father’s mother. My mom has only been remarried for 9 years, so I didn’t grow up knowing her, but I came to admire and adore her and call her Grammy. She had been a teacher for many years and always asked about my students and classes. She was so excited to hear that I was planning on getting a PhD in education. In the last few months, when she was in the nursing home, I went and sat with her, transfixed by her stories. Unlike my Nana Bets, Grammy’s mind had remained sharp, and I loved hearing about her kids when they were young, about our church 50 years ago, and about how she had gotten sick of bridge luncheons and decided to go back to working as a teacher. She’s been declining the past few years, and has been sick and uncomfortable as she neared the end, but she was still kind, caring, and sweet. Though our relationship was short, I’ll still cherish getting to know her. Not quite everything is temporary – death is very, very permanent, and I wish it weren’t time for Grammy to go. But she, along with the rest of the world, it seems, are helping me to see that even if life and the turns it take may be temporary, we can still enjoy it, we can still be loving towards each other, we can still build meaningful relationships. In fact, if we do, life becomes a little less temporary. I’ll carry my memories of Grammy the rest of my life. Maybe those kids on the schoolbus (Miss, Animals!) will do the same for me.

January 30, 2014

A Charmed Life

by Tabitha Kidwell

In a previous blog, I mentioned how much I had loved camp growing up, and how much it influenced me. What I didn’t mention was that, my first week away at camp, I spent the first afternoon huddled in my bunk crying. I was paralyzed by homesickness until some cabinmates came in and invited me to play go fish.

It’s so lovely how life works, that you grow and change after every experience, becoming completely unlike what you were before, while still holding that former self within. 8-year-old Tabitha was afraid even to venture to the craft cabin alone; 31-year-old Tabitha doesn’t think twice about jetting off to the other side of the world or plunging to the bottom of the ocean. My life has been a series of experiences that have helped me build this independence, though it wasn’t always pleasant. When I left to study abroad in France my sophomore year of college, I sobbed as I went through security and turned back to wave goodbye to my mom. In Madagascar as a peace corps volunteer, I spent my 23rd birthday sulking alone in my concrete house while all my college friends were tailgating at the OSU-Miami football game back home. But now, I feel comfortable wherever I end up, and I go with the confidence that, even if something more exciting is happening at home, I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m so grateful that I have been able to build skills that help me feel as comfortable in the jungle of Indonesia or on the streets of Paris as in the hills of southeast Ohio or on High street. Actually, I probably feel more comfortable when traveling – every person you meet gives you the chance to reinvent yourself, and every new situation brings the promise of adventure.

This trip to Indonesia has certainly delivered on that promise – I saw things on this trip I had never seen before, and that I didn’t know if I would ever see in this lifetime. It began on the plane, when the stewardess looked out the window, shrieked with joy, and called me over to see what she had seen: the Aurora Borealis, visible as we flew over the north pole. She rushed down the aisle, showing everyone, visibly beaming. I asked her later if it was the first time she had seen the northern lights, and she looked at me perplexed and answered “No, almost every week.” Maybe seeing them just never gets old, but I think she loved being able to share the experience with her passengers, for many of whom this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was as delighted by her reaction as by the Aurora itself!

Then, the camps took me all the way to Papua, the Malukus, and Northern Sulawesi. Papua, the eastern-most province in Indonesia, shares an island with Papua New Guinea, which is no longer even part of Asia. The Malukus perch between the waters of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. I felt like I had been carried to a land that was “in no one continent and in no one sea,”* but truly on the edge of the world. Had I gone any farther away from home, I would have gotten closer. After a day spent scuba diving with my friend Jessica in Ambon, just as we were getting back to the resort, maybe 100 dolphins swam alongside our boat, jumping and twirling out of the water. They played and swam within 100 yards of the boat for a good 15 minutes before continuing on their way. The boat captain and dive guides were as thrilled as us; despite taking tourists out weekly, they said they had only seen so many dolphins a handful of times.

Then, I traveled to Bunaken, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, with mountains rising from the sea and coral walls sinking to the bottom fo the sea. To complete my trilogy of stunning sights, and to balance out the vast, atmospheric phenomena and Disney-esque animal migration, I got to see my first seahorse while scuba diving here. He was a tiny little guy no bigger than my pinky fingernail, and pure white. I would have swum right by if my guide hadn’t pointed him out as he clung to the coral.

All of this has helped me to feel that I lead a really charmed life. I’ve had so many incredible opportunities, but I don’t feel like I have gone out and chased them – I feel like they have just come to me at the right time. This trip to Indonesia kind of fell right into my lap, in fact. Through all the years, though, the most important thing that I have learned is that who you are with is more important than who you are. When I think back to this trip to Indonesia, I’ll probably remember the aurora, the dolphins, and the seahorse, but I’ll also remember the people I shared those sights with. The charming students at the camps and my talented fellow counselors will loom even larger in my memory. Those girls at camp so many years ago taught me a lesson I still am learning today: there is always a new friend to be made and a new relationship to be built, if you just accept the invitation.

*Laurence Blair, Ring of Fire

January 29, 2014

The Opposite of Love’s a Need for Rest

by Tabitha Kidwell

Karaoke is interesting for me because I am always shocked to see the actual lyrics of songs. I can be relied upon to have sung them incorrectly for years. I was shocked to learn that in “Beat it,” Michael Jackson sang “no one wants to be defeated” rather than “no one wants to beat a fetus.” I mean, who does?

Last summer, driving home from a Lumineers concert with my friend Nate, I turned to him and asked “Do you really think the opposite of love is a need for rest?” He almost crashed the car laughing, because the actual words are “The opposite of love’s indifference.” I’ll admit that does make more sense, but my version really resonates with me right now. When you boil it down, the time we are spending with Indonesian high schoolers at these camps is just loving them. Look past the distracting games, songs, and silliness, and the important thing is that we are spending time together, building relationships and sending the message that they are important people. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately, all this loving has left me exhausted. Because of troubles with my Indian visa, I had to delay my departure, and I didn’t get to Indonesia until the evening before our camp planning meeting. Within 36 hours of arriving in Indonesia, I was signing in campers. After the national camp, I went straight to visit Salatiga, and was caught up in a whirlwind 2-day visit where I actually got to see most of the people who had been so important to me for 2 years! Then, I took an overnight flight to Manokwari and helped lead the regional camp there. I flew to Ambon after that and basically collapsed in fatigue at my friend Jess’ house. We did some visiting of her city, ate a lot of rujak (sliced fruit topped with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce – trust me, it’s good), and even got to scuba dive one day, but I basically just slept and relaxed all week.

We led the Ambon camp last weekend, and then I flew to north Sulawesi to scuba dive at Bunaken, which is supposed to be one of the best dive sites in the world. The first morning here, I was fighting a cold, but I thought I was well enough to dive. The dives were amazing: great visibility and easy to navigate currents; lots of turtles, nudibrachs, and colorful fish; coral walls that seemed to stretch to the very bottom of the sea. When I surfaced, I felt better than I had before the dive – my nasal passages had been cleared out by nature’s giant neti pot. But that afternoon, I started coughing and turned feverish. I can’t remember a time I felt so sick and weak (at least with no alcohol involved!). So I slept 12 hours that night and spent most of the next day taking cold showers and letting the hotel staff deliver ginger tea to my hammock. I intend to spend the rest of my time here resting up in preparation for my final camp in Kendari. It’s too bad I can’t dive here, but if you’re going to be sick, you may as well be sick in a tropical paradise!

December 8, 2013

Where Have you Been Part 2: Nana Bets

by Tabitha Kidwell

Another activity that has filled my time recently is spending time with my grandmother, Nana Bets. Last summer when I was deciding whether I should go to El Salvador or not, she was a major factor in my decision. My grandfather passed away 3 years ago, and since then, Nana Bets’ memory and functioning has decreased. She had basically stopped driving, was overdue for doctor’s appointments, hadn’t been eating much, and wasn’t getting out as much as she used to. I felt like I needed to spend a few months in Columbus with her to get caught up on all that and just spend time with her. I’ve gone over to her house every other day or so, gone to movies, brought food over, went to the hairstylist, took her to cataract surgery, and went to MCL more times than I can count. I’ve turned the heat back on after she accidently turned it off, got the microwave off of child lock, fastened her shoes, and taken her shopping. I’ve been surprised by her walking around he house naked. When she forgets how to do simple tasks, I find myself angry with this person who is no longer the independent, powerful grandmother I remember. It’s been time consuming, too– at times it felt like a part time job – but I feel really honored to be able to spend the time with her. When I was young, especially after my parents got divorced, this is basically what she did for us kids. She was always there for me, and now I can be there for her.

And it hasn’t been all me helping her. These six months have been rough for me, too. I have great friends here in Columbus that I did make plenty of plans with, but in the two years I was gone they got married, got pregnant, made new friends, started new relationships, and generally moved on with their lives. I don’t exactly fit here anymore, and I’ll be leaving in a few weeks to probably never live here again. So when I found myself without anything to do on a Saturday night, it was easy to push away any loneliness or self-pity by bringing over Panera and watching the Golf Channel with Nana Bets. It reminded me of Laura Linney’s character in Love Actually, the one with a mentally ill brother who called all day long. She was so consumed with that relationship that she couldn’t make any others. At a time in my life when it doesn’t really make sense to make new relationships, focusing my energy on Nana Bets helped sustain me. I know that she won’t be here much longer – in fact, and the Nana Bets I knew is already slipping through my fingers. Spending these months together has been a gift for both of us.

October 15, 2013

iLove my iPhone

by Tabitha Kidwell

I can’t believe I made it through my last post without mentioning the single most important thing to happen on my trip: I bought an iPhone!

Up until then, I had a flip phone, and I loved being able to decisively pop it closed when ending a call. When I did finally make the switch, I actually felt really sad! I had comically obsolete phones for so long, it had become part of my identity. Luckily, as my dad pointed out, I am still behind the times with my iPhone 4s. Rather than be locked into a contract, I paid cash upfront for the phone and got monthly service with t-mobile. That way, I can put my number on hold and use the same phone abroad whenever I travel. So I bought the 4s once the new 5s and 5c knocked it down to $450. To help with my crappy phone nostalgia a little more, I put the new phone in an otter box so bulky that makes it look like a VHS tape! I also searched for an app to make that noise a flip phone makes when it closes, but, shockingly, it hasn’t been invented yet.

And, honestly, I got over the loss of the flip phone real quickly once I got used to having access to the world at my fingertips! Everything is so easy and wonderful with the iPhone! Some updates from the 21st century:

I now have something to do when I’m out with friends and everyone else is on their phones. Though I’m not totally sure what they are doing on their phones and I mostly just check out the stock photos and backgrounds.

I have joined Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Spotify, Tinder, Pinterest, and Strava. But I don’t really know what each is for or who has time to look at what other people post let alone keep up with their own posting. Also I learned that on LinkedIn, people can see when you look at their profile, so it is really not ideal for the stalking of ex-boyfriends. (Which is of course the first thing I used it for.)

My favorite app is One Second Everyday, which lets you compile one second of each day, so you can watch a year in 6 minutes and a decade in an hour. After seeing Cesar Kuriyama’s TED talk, I knew this would be the first app I purchased! Here is my one second a day video since getting the app:

As you can see, life with an iPhone is pretty exciting! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to post this blog to 7 different social networks.

September 11, 2013

Tabitha’s search for meaning

by Tabitha Kidwell

I just got back from a great week spent in San Francisco visiting my friend Katie and cousin Jimmy. I had originally bought the tickets with the intention of visiting the grad programs at Stanford and UC Berkeley, but as I researched more in the meantime, I realized neither program was quite right for me. So I went on long, exploratory runs, ate Indonesian food with Katie, and got drinks with Jimmy, but mostly spent my time wondering “why am I here?”

I’ve been having thoughts like that a lot recently. Without a whole lot to fill my time, I often end up wondering about the meaning of life. Not in a suicidal or depressed kind of way, just in a general, perplexed manner. If I were working, I would say my life was focused on improving the lives of my students or making something meaningful with my colleagues. Married people can say it is about building a relationship and a life together. People with kids can devote their lives to their children. But I don’t have any of those things. As someone who is unemployed and lives with her parents, what, exactly, is the point of me?

I realize this is a very Anglo-Saxon, protestant-work-ethic kind of problem. I should just chill out and watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad already. I’m trying to cure myself of this nagging, self-doubting affliction through careful deployment of French wine, Indian food, and Latin American novels. But what appears to work best is finding things to do that remotely resemble work. It seems that am a work-a-holic who needs to define myself by my work, and my drug has been cut off. So I’ve tried to find substitutes, like helping with my sisters wedding preparations, researching grad schools, and running my credit history.

But the truth is, I’ve been so stressed out by having nothing to do that I haven’t gotten much done. It seems like I’ve been home a long time, but today only marks two months since I arrived home from Indonesia. That makes me feel better about not really doing anything besides getting my head on straight. Two months seems like an appropriate amount of time to do that. The “return culture shock” has been harder this time than in the past – I spent the first few weeks confused and intimidated by life in America, then I embraced it, then I rejected it (remember when I was going to move to El Salvador?), then I basically went into hiding and felt overwhelmed by the crushing amount of free time. But now I feel more like myself. I feel capable and powerful. Today, in a bit of a maniac rush, I made a profile on an online English teaching website, set up visits to 4 grad schools, and pounded out a first draft of my Statement of Purpose. So now I have a purpose. Once I revise it, I’ll tell you what it is. Maybe I’ll throw the meaning of life in there as a bonus, too!

July 31, 2013

One Too Many Things

by Tabitha Kidwell

I have this problem where I try to do one too many things. Like, I’ll wake up on time for church, be ready to head out the door with plenty of time, then think “I have time to unload the dishwasher” and then roll in halfway through the offering. Come on, Tabitha, the dishes can wait! Going to El Salvador this year was that one thing too many. I’m sure it would have been great, but it would have meant scrambling around the next 2 months to try to visit and apply to grad school programs, take the GRE, and do a giant pile of Peace Corps paperwork. I would have ended up not doing anything well. In addition, I had this lingering guilt about not being able to go to my cousin’s wedding in October. I know my family would understand, but I realized it wasn’t about that one event. It was about all the little events that happen everyday: football Saturdays, meeting friends for a run, watching TV with my grandma. I just want to be here for all that. So I will be – I am NOT going to El Salvador! Sorry, Keeping-Tabs fans, you will have to live vicariously through someone else.

Actually, most of you appear to be on my side. Seriously, just write a few self-pitying, panicky blogs, and you guys really step up. I got messages of support on nearly every communication platform: e-mails, texts, calls, facebook messages, wall posts, blog comments… (I’m still waiting for the carrier pigeon, but I hear those take longer). My uncle Link even invited me to dinner for a pep talk/intervention. I am reminded yet again of what amazing friends and family I have… and that I cannot possibly leave them again. At least for now…