Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Notes on Departure

Back during the spring my parents gave away our last miniature horse to our good family friends.

Did you know that we used to have a farm of miniature horses?  Probably not.  My parents used to breed horses and one of my sister's and I participated in horse showing.  I have all the trophies in my room still and last winter I purged a garbage bag full of my old ribbons, but at one point we had 20 minis!  When we moved we downsized to 6 and it's been on the downward slide ever since.  With my departure to college, I finally resigned and accepted that it would be best if we sold our last miniature, my show horse named Targetina (Tina for short).  We actually gave her away to some friends, because she's not in her prime for showing anymore and we know she'll have the proper amount of attention and love.

Last week we went to visit Tina at her new home.  Our friends live amongst fields of corn and cows, but they're in fact quite endowed with a lovely farm.  I don't know too many farmers, though the ones I do I truly admire.  They're very down to earth; they have a deeper compassion for the world to live in and people, creatures and land they care for.
She looks thrilled, right?
Oh, and don't call them ponies.  Different breed.
I'm sorry if this appears to be animal torture; I promise I only turned on the flash for a few shots.
I'll admit, I harbor some guilt for taking for granted my life with miniature horses.  But I also believe it's one of those things you should fully invest yourself in -- or not.  I believe this was the best choice for Tina and my family, because raising horses is a pretty expensive lifestyle.
Our friends also have a full-sized horse named Buddy, and a previous mini they bought from us named Comet.  And here a few more farm shots:

After that visit, we drove back to modernization because my mom was insistent upon purchasing an elegant outfit for my trip.  While I'm in France, my program director made reservations for an opera in Paris! Oh, what to wear.
Hopefully this is classy enough, and I figured the cocktail length will translate if I ever wore it at a school function.  Photos courtesy of my Pops :).


In other news, my friend Eamon was nonexistent in my life this summer because he decided to live in Philadelphia and work at his school.  Then he came back last week and had us over one night to celebrate his birthday.  It was so long since I had been at his house!  His mom chatted us up as she gardened and his dad made these delicious grilled and roasted ribs and homemade macaroni and cheese.  No pictures this time, but the amount of ribs I ate sufficed my meat intake for the rest of the month (I've been pseudo-vegetarian this summer :B).
And then, he left. 
He was home for 7 days.
Umm.. nice to see you, Eamon?
In spite of my sarcasm, I'm happy he's found life beyond our bubble.


And now I present :
How to Pack 4 Months of Your Life
in a 28 inch suitcase, a 16 inch carry on and backpack.
(without losing sanity or feeling naked and dreadfully unprepared) 

Demure, versatile, light-fabrics to accessorize with outrageous and pretty patterns.

Several dresses and tunics, because they pack easily and they you don't have to worry about bottoms.  I have a pack of tights, leggings and stockings coming with me.

Some "American" clothes (Adidas shorts and tye-dye and concert t-shirts to workout and be sweaty in),
shirts I won't mind re-wearing for 16(!) weeks,
3 sweaters that'll keep me warm at least through autumn,
my rings and XC/Senior necklace that I wear everyday,
3 pairs of jeans,
a pea coat (that's weighing down my suitcase), a lighter coat that can be layered beneath the pea coat and a blazer,
some tank tops,
and gifts for my 2 host families : travel guides about New York, local buckwheat flower honey, brass ornaments from my town and Reese's cups.  I hope they like peanut butter.

SO yes, my outfits will be redundant.  I honestly, really worked with the mindset of minimalism, but there still seems to be a lot of stuff.  I didn't post a picture of my shoes because I was still mulling over which ones to take and leave behind.  Guys have it easy, I needed (heh.. debatable) shoes that were appropriate for any possible scenario.  I'm bringing 6 pairs that include tall boots, short boots (those ones from my thrifting post that'll be my main go-to), moccasins (les Francais wear slippers in the house), sandals (for the shower and Africa), running trainers (you never know) and the heels that I wore in my dress photos.  I took out my ballet flats because those are one thing I plan on purchasing, yet I can't go day to day wearing those everywhere.. my feet aren't supported enough.
And this morning's grand weigh-in :
45 pounds for the suitcase
24 pounds for the carry-on

It could be worse!!!  The backpack will hold my laptop and important documents, so who knows.  I have to reduce some more weight from the carry-on because this Irish airline we're flying through have significantly lighter standards than the U.S. airlines.  Typical, right?  Our nation's rally of go big or go home, manifested in luggage limits.

In closing, I solemnly swear I will not be going on a hiatus because now I have friends and family relying on me to live vicariously!  I truly appreciate all of your well-wishes and I'll do my best to keep up with your posts, too.  My flight to JFK leaves tomorrow morning.  IT'S ALL HAPPENING.  

Listening: "You Are a Tourist" by Death Cab for Cutie
p.s. I hope my friends at school are all settled in comfortably and had a fantastic first day of classes.  It's really odd not returning to campus, but I'll be back before we know it.  I miss you all and wish you the best fall semester! 


-E- said...

have fun on your trip! hopefully you don't get paris syndrome.

Olive said...

Thanks for the compliment on my haircut :). This is a little late I know, but I'm still here haha. I can't believe you're already leaving for France! I hope you have a fabulous time, the time of your life! Studying abroard seems like such a cool experience, and it's great that you're already familiar with France from your previous excursions, so you should be able to get really into it being there for a whole semester! It's going to be such an awesome experience for you, I can't wait to hear about it :D!
I can't believe you hid your miniature horses from us! Hahah jk, I totally know what you mean--animals are a huge commitment.. I know that myself from the farm experience, I wish I was more involved with the animals but it's so much work.. It's awesome that you actually showed your mini's and received trophies! Tina is absolutely adorable! I had to give up my quarterhorse to a family friend years ago myself when I became too busy for her. It's hard to do, but sometimes it's just for the best. I love the dress, you'll have to take picture in it again in Paris! 7 days is so short of a time to be home, but it's great he did come back to see friends and family--you've got to make time for the people who matter :).

Wow, I totally admire your packing skill! I'm such an over-packer. I'm always prepared for everything it seems, and bring way more than necessary. I'll keep these tips in mind for my next big voyage.
Wishing you a safe and awesome trip!
♥ Olive

Natalie said...

First of all, THAT IS SO COOL! The miniature horses thing, I mean. :D It's always so neat to hear all of these awesome quirks about people. Getting to show the horses and win trophies and everything must have been so much fun, but yeah, I can definitely see how caring for that many could be a ton of work. Still, though, that is just beyond cool to me. Maybe I'm just easily entertained, but really.

Aww man, only 7 days at home basically the entire year? That is insane! I guess once college starts, life really gets busy and filled with so much that coming home just goes on the back burner a bit...

Holy crap, you have such incredible packing skills! I have no idea how I am going to pack away my entire life next year, much less if I had to pack it all into 1 suitcase and 1 carry on. I'm pretty sure I would never ever make it. I am very impressed. I hope the next four months of your life are the most amazing ever, and I am so excited to hear all about them and all of your adventures in France! :)

DWei said...

At least you did the right thing. I know there are people that would have hung on for due to their own selfish impulses.

At least she looks happy to see you too.

Anonymous said...

Cute pony's !

Jocelyn said...

WOW. You did an excellent job packing. My mistake was not taking ENOUGH clothes but I think that you did a great job! And I bought a ton of stuff over there. The fashion in Europe is so much better. Too bad its all so darn expensive. Have a blast Nicole! I can't wait to hear about it and see pictures. I miss my study abroad so much!

I love the farm pictures btw. That truck is straight out of a t-swift music video. I love it. Can I please have it? I had no idea that you guys bred horses that is so cool!

Anyway, have a safe and amazing adventure!