Q + A

I discovered a new blog a few weeks ago through a friend that is written by a former international teacher [hello, coincidence!] who goes by Ms. India Banks. she has recently done me the honor of nominating me for an award. I'm not even sure what this award means, but the premise seems to be a good way to get to know some fellow bloggers better, and to discover some new ones :)

the gist is that you answer the questions that the person who nominated you wrote, and then write some questions of your own for the people that you nominate.

SO here are the questions that India wrote, and what you get to learn about me today...

What film do you watch over & over again?/ in high school it was 10 things I hate about you. nowadays it seems we are always watching new movies, either in theaters or renting on AppleTV.

If you could live in another era - which would it be?/ I would want to live in the early 1900's - if I could be born into a wealthy English family of Egyptologists with advanced views on women's rights.

What song/singer/band do you listen to first thing mornings?/ depends on what my current obsession is. recent songs on repeat include: M83, Jeff Buckley, Florence + The Machine, and Fleetwood Mac.

Who is your favorite poet?/ Pablo Neruda

What - besides sad things - makes you cry?/ Taylor Swift music videos [I'm serious]

What book are you reading right now?/ currently I'm reading three: the happiness project, the Buddha walks into a bar, and guilty pleasures

For you - the perfect Saturday means what?/ an early morning run, bacon + eggs + coffee for breakfast, blog or book reading, couch time with Husband, getting gussied up for drinks and dinner out with friends, or making something tasty at home [preferably Mexican]

Do you feel hungry after eating sushi - or is it just me?/ YES.

How often do you talk to your mother on the phone?/ usually talk once a week, text almost every day. though now we will have skype dates :)

What's your dream job & are you doing it?/ still trying to figure out exactly what my dream job is and how I can get there.

Are you in madly in love with someone or would you like to be?/  am I madly in love? yes, yes I am. unless it is mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it is a waste of time. there are too many mediocre things in life. love should not be one of them.
the bloggers I'd like to nominate are:
Katie [Katie's Epic Tale]
Nancy [Fitness from the Heart]
Carin [CJC]
... and anyone else who wants to participate! feel free to post on your blog and comment below so we can learn a little more about you too :)

what I'd like to know:
how do you like your eggs?
if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
your favorite book of all time?
what sports [if any] did you play in high school?
would you rather be too hot or too cold?
when did you start your blog, and why?
as a child, did you eat your vegetables?
what skill would you like to master someday?
coffee or tea [and how do you take it]?
when you are sad, what can always cheer you up?

jetlag at Lake Placid

jetlag has been getting the better of me. our first day here, I woke up at 5:30 after going to bed at midnight. the second day I went to sleep at 9:30 and woke up at 4. and then yesterday we made the mistake of taking a nap at 4pm in hopes of waking up at 6. instead, Husband woke up around midnight and I slept until 3am. we decided to give up and have breakfast [since we slept through dinner] and now it's 6am but feels like noon. time travel, indeed.

our first day, we were shown around the neighborhood by Min, the school's western teachers liaison. he is basically here to help us settle in and figure things out [where to buy groceries, opening a local bank account, how to file our residency paperwork]. after that, two mothers who have students at the school took us to Costco so we could stock up on groceries and buy things for our apartment. running errands with them made a few things very clear: 1) I never want to have to drive in Taiwan, 2) Kirkland Signature brings me more joy than I ever thought possible, and 3) we might be the only white people in Hsinchu.

we have done some exploring at the local grocery stores as well, but will definitely be investing in a Costco membership. if only for the reason that they sell tortilla chips! Husband and I had a traditional Taiwanese lunch our first but, but have tried to ease our systems into the new culinary landscape. eggs with okra and avocado make for a tasty breakfast. salami, cheese and [gluten free!] crackers were dinner one night. we did go out for lunch yesterday to a nearby Thai place that was quite delicious... fried noodles and Thai chili chicken. [leftover chicken is going to be made into nachos later today. we can't live without Mexican!]

yesterday morning we went exploring around the school campus and the park that lies on the other side. the school campus is HUGE. they have separate buildings for the regular elementary, middle and high school, and then additional buildings for the bilingual [Mandarin and English] school where Husband will teach. the buildings are all connected by walkways and courtyards full of trees, vines, and benches.

immediately next to the school grounds is a temple. it was pretty crowded yesterday so we didn't go in, but it looked very interesting. I wish I knew what everything meant, but there were a lot of carved and painted dragons and peacocks [I think] decorating the roof, and a garden to the side with what looked like a playground. and of course a pair of these golden guys guarding the entrance... this one looks like he has a piece of sushi in his mouth.

perhaps I should explain a little more about where we live. technically we live in a park, but it is not all what you would think of as an American type park. the Hsinchu Science Park is actually divided into 3 areas: businesses, residential, and the school. all of the areas are full of trees and green space, but the main road divides the business area from the rest of the park. in the residential area, there are many homes and apartments [called dormitories] where people who work in the park live. and in the center of the residential area is what actually looks like a park, complete with gardens and a lake.

Lake Placid is a decent size, with a path that runs all the way around. now that I know where it is, I plan to go run around it and figure out the distance. [hopefully on a day where it is not 86 degrees at 7am, as it was yesterday.]

a portion of the path wanders through some kind of maze-like garden. there are concrete walls with all different shaped doorways to walk through, with rooms of all shapes and sizes. in the center is a pond filled with these giant plants. I know I'm going to fit in here, since we saw no less than 4 people toting giant SLRs and capturing shots inside the maze garden. [which, I'm sure there's a real name for this kind of garden, but no way could I figure it out from the Mandarin signs.]

another interesting feature of the park is the walkway to the small island in the lake. the walkway is lined with posts that have dragons carved into them, and there is a little shelter on the island with marble seats and table. [there are also some stairs that lead down closer to the water, but a teenage couple was making out over there] for some reason there was one artificial tree... looked like a cherry blossom tree that had lights for blossoms. I think we need to venture back one evening to check it out... maybe once we shake off the jetlag and can stay awake long enough.


time travel

don't worry, I figured out how to switch back to English.
greetings from our kitchen table in Hsinchu City, Taiwan! Husband and I arrived late last night [local time] after 20 hours of travel from Detroit. while those of you back home in the States are out enjoying your Friday night, I can tell you the future looks bright- it's a sunny Saturday morning from where I'm sitting. how we got here? I'm not even sure where to start... maybe that's the time warp. 

we stopped for early lunch from Jimmy Johns on the way to the airport, and then got all 6 bags checked with no problems. huge shout out to Katie for her assistance in packing - no bags overweight! we decided to have a second lunch while waiting for the flight: National Coney Island chili "super bowl"s and fries. [that was a good decision since plane food is always iffy.]

13 hours and a few movies later we arrived in Tokyo. we had a quick 20 minutes to go back through security and brush our teeth before boarding to Taipei. our second flight was a lot less crowded and we had more room to spread out. I was so exhausted I curled up on 2 seats and slept practically the whole way. we arrived around 9pm local time, made it through customs without incident, and grabbed all 6 bags. the western teachers liaison from the school was there to meet up, thankfully with a giant van to hold all our suitcases. from there is was only a 45 minute ride to get the the school campus and our new apartment.

we managed to sleep in this morning until 5:30, which is pretty good considering the 12 hour time difference. Husband has been setting up the wireless router and the apple TV, and watching the Olympic ceremonies while I snapped a few pictures on my phone to share. [obviously many more pictures to come, I was just too tired to whip out the SLR and get creative this morning]

main bedroom... and suitcases
detail on the doors to our bedroom porch
main + second bedrooms have matching storage units
yes, all of those books were in our bags and we managed to NOT go over weight.
view from our laundry room porch
hallway... I had to bring a little bit of home :)
living room + Husband celebrating internet connection
view from the living room porch... can't wait to start growing things!
kitchen. note the yellow packets of Chili seasoning.
the previous residents left us some leftovers :)
the western teachers liaison, Min, and some people from the school are coming later this morning to walk us around campus and the town. our apartment building is literally across the street from the school, and within walking distance to a Starbucks, 7-11, and just about everything we could need. once we've had a chance to walk around some, I'll be sure to post some pictures of our neighborhood and the park.

for now, I'm off to watch the end of the Olympic ceremonies and do a little unpacking...


three suitcases

tomorrow, I am going to attempt to pack my entire life into three suitcases, fifty pounds each.

we've run our final errands in preparation for our move. our American cell phones go dead on the 27th. we have cash and passports and visas ready to go. we've stocked up on toiletries and necessities, and purchased additional luggage to pack in. I sorted through my wardrobe, pitching half of it into the donate pile.

it's both liberating and terrifying to whittle down your worldly possessions to what you hope weighs less than 150 pounds. through the whole process I've been wondering why I've held on to so much stuff... but now is the time to let go of old baggage. [both figuratively and literally.]

this morning I went for a run. some days I'd rather be lazy, but I never regret when I actually get up and go. maybe it's endorphins, or just some alone time to think, but it helps me sort through things.

it was warm and windy today, and dark clouds were gathering in the distance as I set out. not very far up the dirt road, thunder boomed once and it started to pour. I looked to the west and the sky was dark, but stretched out behind the storm was a rainbow.

the symbolism is not lost on me. here we are, in the chaos of moving abroad. but the end is in sight.

tomorrow, we pack. thursday, we go.

and then the adventure really starts.


best friends, mothers and daughters

less than a week to go until we leave, and I've been trying to soak everything in. late night life chats around campfires, gluten-free beer and video games, mid-afternoon movies, last minute trips to the mall, lunches and dinners and concerts [oh my!]

lots of quality time has been spent with family and friends this past week, and more plans are ahead for this weekend and after. I've definitely been getting emotional about leaving all these wonderful people behind.

my mom took this picture of Katie and I at lunch, and I love it because it's just so very us.

Katie and I have been friends "from the womb" as we like to say. our moms met in college at Eastern Michigan and have been friends ever since. Katie was born a few months before I was, and for as long as I can remember we have been friends. when we were smaller and she lived far away [only an hour drive, but that seems an eternity to a 6 year old] we decided to be pen pals. then we moved closer and our moms would get together on the weekends for crafting and picnics. in high school, we hung out all summer. rollerblading, movies, fireworks, concerts, going to the beach, teaching swim lessons...

after I moved to the east coast, she came to visit what seems like a hundred times. New York is our city. and even though we haven't lived in the same state for 5 years, every time we talk it's like it was just yesterday we saw each other. we never run out of things to talk about - even on a 12 hour drive from Princeton to Detroit. many of our great loves are things we have in common: the Met, reading, Buffy, John's Pizza, Lady Gaga, writing, my cat Beaumont, Central Park, and photography. in fact, last summer we photographed our first wedding - together.

but right now I'm especially thankful for this photograph. from a lunch that my mom and I went to with my best friend and her mom, who also happens to be my mom's best friend. how cool is that?

[thanks mom for letting me steal your pictures - mine are still on my camera]


family farewells

last Friday we had a small farewell party with family and a few friends. I can't really say much other than I love these people [both the ones pictured below and not] and they make me feel so loved, and I will miss them.

cousin + sister

sister, mom, cousin, me
parents, siblings, and husbands
thank you so much to everyone who came, especially my sister and her husband who drove 14 hours from North Carolina to be home for 1 day! it was so good to see everyone, hang out and catch up, drink champagne and roast marshmallows with you all.

let's start booking skype dates, ok? xo.

ps: this is what happens when I try to arrange family photos


two weeks and counting

if you had told me this is what I would be doing with my life 10 years ago, the 17 year old me would have thought you were mental- that I would be married and starting a family in Michigan, not moving to the other side of the world. 5 years ago, the 22 year old living in New York would have her doubts as well - not because I would never leave the east coast, but if I did it would be to someplace more "romantic" than Asia.

but, here I am now, two weeks away from boarding a plane to Taiwan.

people grow up, plans change, perceptions are challenged, and things that seemed impossible once can sometimes fall into place. this is what we are doing and where we are going and I know it's right.

am I scared? yes.

am I excited? absolutely.

but mostly, I am impatient. I'm tired of telling the same stories over and over, answering the same questions. I am ready to go, to be in Taiwan, so I have something new to talk about...

today, I am ready.


snapshots : family vacation

we are back from vacation and in the land of internet access again! I've been going through the 400+ photos I took last week [and trying to edit the last month's photos as well] so for now I will share some pictures taken on my phone. these were all taken with the instagram app - if you have an iPhone or Android you can follow me @jamiethewalker or view my feed online]

our first stop was Mackinac Island, with Husband's family. we hiked, we biked, and we ate molasses-hickory bacon for breakfast every morning at the Seabiscuit Cafe.

we tried to keep our activities low-key since the weather was a lot warmer than expected. [I know the heat wave was all over the country, but for Mackinac to be in the 90s is ridiculous.] we wandered through the air conditioned shops downtown, picked up souvenirs and sent fudge to family and friends, and played bananagrams in the lobby.

on Thursday Husband and I packed up and took the ferry back to the lower peninsula. we drove down to the tiny town of Lake, MI. [no, it's not on Lake Michigan. yes, many people get very confused when I try to explain this] my family has had a cabin on 8 point lake for the past 40ish years. this year we actually stayed a rental cabin on the other end of the lake... having an extra bathroom made it worth the hike!

life on the lake consists of: waking up, working out, hanging out, lunching, heading to the sandbar for conversations + frisbee [with beverages and the occasional jello shot], family dinner, sunset boat cruise, fireworks watching and maybe a campfire.

rinse, repeat.

as far as family vacations go, it was pretty great. I'm glad we had a chance to see everyone and catch up before we head out [in 2 weeks!]. I'll be back soon with more photos and the recipe for Luke's Mexican casserole.


gone fishing.

today we drove all the way to the top of the mitten, and took a ferry boat across to Mackinac Island. we are spending a few days here with Husband's family, then stopping by my family's cabin "up north" on our way back south. next week I'll have lots of pictures and stories to catch you up on, but until then I'll be enjoying some classic Michigan summer vacation...
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