the story thus far

A couple of things that have taken place since I last wrote something:

I visited family in Washington, D.C. This was really fun – although it feels all too brief to drive from Philly to Washington and only spend a day catching up with my cousins. Most of my cousins now are over 21, which means that the past two times that I’ve gone out to visit we’ve all gotten together after dinner with our families to head out to a bar or two. (To my lovely & concerned Aunties who might be reading this – we celebrate responsibly, I swear!) We hopped bar to bar and hung out around U Street, and split some Jumbo Pizza at the end of the night.

cousins

I’m going to see my Aunts and cousins again in New York City two weeks from now for our annual mother-daughter trip, and I’ll hopefully have some of my cousins come to visit me in Philadelphia the week after that.

I worked a lot. I’ve done two 40+ hour work weeks in a row, and it’s tiring me out to be on my feet all day. I’ve been doing more hours as a hostess, which means I answer a lot of phone calls and also spend some of my down-time coloring. (One of the other hostesses left a few adult coloring books in the desk, and I’ve been taking advantage of them. Am I working hard, or hardly working?) I have been doing some babysitting for an 8 month old infant, and also tutoring a 6 year old.

ice cream

I spent time with friends. I watched a movie with Kieona C., I cooked a vegan dinner with Mack F., I shared post-Iftar baklava with Jacob K.S., I caught up with Jordan B. who came to visit from Durham, I potlucked with Andrew B. and Kathleen Z., and I hung out a lot with Asher S. 🙂

Even though I’m working a fair amount, I’ve tried to get into the city as often as I can to spend time with my friends who are still in West Philly. It has been exhausting some of the time trying to go back and forth so much, and still maintaining time to spend at home with my parents and with myself. I’m going to be cutting down on my hours at work a little bit more so that I can focus a little bit more on the pre-departure stuff I need to do, and maintaining some level of sanity!

I bought my plane ticket to China. It’s official – I’m leaving the country! My flight will depart on August 5th, and arrive in Beijing on August 6th. It feels strange to purchase a one-way ticket somewhere, but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of change fees and such. As it stands, I don’t think that I’ll be coming home at all over the next year, and airlines weren’t selling flights back to the States for next August yet. I’m not tied to a specific departure city, which opens me up to some more opportunities to travel over next summer. I’ll have housing in Beijing until August of 2017, so I’ll likely be traveling back and forth from Peking University’s campus to different cities/countries. I may still depart from Beijing, but the flexibility is nice.

I celebrated the birthday of a family friend. Emmett A. is the oldest son of one of my dad’s best friends. For the past couple of years, he has celebrated his birthday at Silk City Diner, and I’ve really enjoyed going out there to hang out in the beer garden and spend time around family friends. (There’s a beautiful fence to the beer garden that was made by the metal worker who taught me how to arc weld!) I make it out to Silk City about once a year, and I was happy to make the trip there once more before I left the States.

IMG_0711

While at the birthday dinner, I got this picture of my family – it’s a rare occurrence to get all four of us in the frame at once! I love this picture a lot, and plan to print out a copy to keep on my desk at Yenching next year.

I celebrated Independence Day. This holiday used to be a very family-centric day, as my paternal grandmother’s birthday was on July 4th. Coupled with the fact that we’ve got a big Irish-German family, and that both of my Grandparents were proud WWII Veterans, we tended to go all-out in our celebration: American flags hanging over the door, fishing with my uncles, swimming in the lake, barbecues on the back porch, the works.

Here are three July 4ths from yesteryear: 1994, 1998, and 1999. 1994 was my first Independence Day, shared with Grandma (the birthday queen herself), 1998 was spent fishing in the lake at my Aunt’s house (does the shirt look familiar, Dad?) and 1999 was at a pool with family friends (we still have those striped beach towels in our linen closet).

After my grandparents passed away I started to miss out on the celebrations. I’ve been out of the country during July 4th for the past two years (Scotland in 2014, and Hong Kong in 2015) and the new tradition of a semi-annual Kelly family beach trip tended to fall on my first weekend back at school.

This year was a little bit different than previous years – I spent it with friends instead of family, and there wasn’t quite as much fanfare, but it was definitely nice. I went to a picnic organized by one of my friends, and then spent the evening with one of my best friends from high school. We almost went out to the fireworks on the Parkway, but instead spent the evening watching movies and comforting her dog who was simultaneously afraid of the rain and fireworks. Fireworks are great and all, and I’m a little sorry to have missed them, but I also got a gorgeous sunset the other evening (the featured image for this post!) that more than made up for it.

So… that just about catches you up to today! I’m taking a day off work tomorrow to hopefully catch another friend before she moves to Boston, and taking care of some chores around the house. I think that I’ve been too preoccupied lately, and haven’t dedicated a lot of time to writing down my thoughts/compiling them here. I know updates about my summer aren’t particularly interesting, but I’m trying to build a habit of writing more regularly and hope to post something at least once a week for the next month as I countdown to my flight date.

Love,

Kristen

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