Saturday, December 29, 2007

The road to Guanajuato

I love Guanajuato. I had forgotten how much until I stepped off the bus yesterday morning and on to its busy streets. After over 24 hours of bus riding madness, from Houston to McAllen to Leon, I finally made it back to my favorite Mexican city.
It´s a city unlike many others in this country. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, regular traffic is kept to a minimum and only cars and smaller buses can navigate its narrow, winding streets. Roaming about as a pedestrian is quite an adventure.
We arrived only yesterday morning and already it feels like we´ve been here a week. The food is sooo tasty and sooo cheap, as are the cervezas. After a relaxing first day, we hopped a bus this morning to Cristo Rey, a monument to (who else) Jesus at the top of a mountain. It was a long, very bumping and hair-raising bus ride but we got to see the giant statue. It was worth it, as the view from the top was amazing.
I´m not sure what the plan is for the next few days. We´re just sort of playing it by ear. But odds are they will include 1) good picture opportunities 2) tasty yet cheap meals and 3) siestas on the rooftop terrace of our hostel, with cervezas in hand. What more could a girl as for?

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I've had quite a bit of fun these past few days. After a couple of days with Grandma Glenna and Grandpa P.D. in Glen Rose, I finally made it to Austin on Thursday night, just in time for dollar night at the Library (yes, there is a bar called the Library - and here you were thinking I was a giant nerd). The plans I had made to meet up with some friends for said dollar night didn't pan out, but as luck would have it, I had a wonderful alternative. The day before I received an email out of the blue from a good friend of mine who I hadn't heard from in quite a while.
I hadn't seen my e-club buddy Chad in a couple of years at least (we tried and couldn't remember when the last time was). He's been down in the Caribbean for awhile helping the Bach's rebuild their sailboat (check out if you want to know what I'm talking about). He's in town for a couple of months right now before he heads to Prague for at least 6 months and possibly 4 years if things go as planned. So of course I had to see him! I drove down to his neck of the woods as soon as I got into Austin.
A few rounds of pool and a couple of beers later, at about 1 in the morning on Friday, we came up with a brilliant plan (or at least what we thought was a brilliant plan at the time). Desiring to get away from the traffic that was sure to come from the hoards of holiday shoppers on the Saturday before Christmas, we decided that a roadtrip to Enchanted Rock was in order. And you can't just drive out there for the day. Well, I guess technically you could, but that would just be lame. By the end of the evening we had decided to head out early on Saturday and camp out at the base of the rock (since they won't let you camp on top of it :-D) until Sunday morning.
What we didn't realize at that time was the weather forecast for Saturday night wasn't quite ideal for camping. But Mavericks that we are, we couldn't be swayed. While Saturday would prove to be sunny and beautiful, the solstice sunset brought with it frigid temperatures, just as the weatherman predicted. Instead of the nice 65 we had seen during the day, we were subjected to a low of 28, according to the ranger lady I asked before we left. We had a good time though. The hiking in the daytime was fabulous, I had a chance to get a growler of ale from the Frederickburg Brewery as we passed through on the way to Enchanted Rock (even if it was too cold to drink any of it while we were there), and I had a wonderful time catching up with a good friend.
I would however like to take this moment to pause and say thank you to the powers that be for the wonderful gift we has a people have in woolly socks. In the words of Pablo Neruda,
"Beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter." (From "Ode to My Socks")
And on that note, I'll say goodbye with some words once sung by Robert Earl Keen,
"Merry Christmas everybody. Happy Holidays, yall"
(You'll want to download and listen to "Merry Christmas from the Family" at this point, as it's the only Christmas song I can listen to over and over again and not go crazy).

Saturday, December 08, 2007

It's official...

No, I haven't gotten the good news I've been waiting for (my Peace Corps assignment, that is). But I did get some good news this weekend that was almost as nice to hear. The semester grades are up and (drumroll...) I ended up with 4 A's and 2 A+'s. Woohoo! Much better than I thought was possible. I am definitely guilty of being a senior, and spent much of the semester playing catchup due to my spectacular ability to procrastinate. But I made it through alright, and it's all downhill from here. Next semester's classes will be difficult, but the graduate ones (which are the hardest of the ones I'm taking) don't count towards my GPA, which takes quite a bit of pressure off.
I'm still waiting for that dang letter to come from the Peace Corps. It'll be awhile yet, I'm sure. But I keep deluding myself into thinking that it could come any day now between now and May. I therefore check the mailbox religiously each day at 5 oclock. Even on Sundays, just in case Saturday's mail was late or something. I just want to know where I'm going. That's all I ask.
Whatever the case may be, I'm getting more and more excited each day.
Today was wonderful. A nice bike ride in even nicer weather (shoot, the temperature shot up into sandal range today), and a concert by my very favorite singer/songwriter. Terri - thanks for writing my theme songs. Some day, I might get around to writing one of my own. But first, I have to figure out this mandolin...
Right now though, there's a beer in the fridge with my name on it (quite literally - I didn't want Erica to drink it) and a book that I've been dying to read.
Hannah B., signin' off.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Fun times

I made it through finals week...finally. It was one of those horrible semesters where I had an actual exam in almost every class. Bleh. But I managed to get through them without going crazy, mostly because they were nicely spaced. I'm still waiting for grades to come out but I feel like I did alright, in most of the classes anyway.
So where does that leave me for the next month? It's turning into quite a busy winter for me. I'm flying to St. Louis tomorrow afternoon. After enjoying a wonderful evening of Chris' hospitality (which we all know is awesome), I'm stealing his car and driving to Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. SEMO is home to the Center for Faulkner Studies, which houses one of the best Faulkner archives in the country. They have a couple of items that I am interested in looking at, as they relate to my honors thesis. After spending all day in a sort of nerd euphoria, I'll head to Carbondale to hang with the Leonards (it's only an hour to Carbondale as opposed to the two hours it would take to get back to St. Louis). After that I'll loop back around to St. Louis and spend Thursday hanging out, doing something fun like going to the museum (which is free in St. Louis and quite good). Maybe a sandwich on The Hill (little Italy).
I'll be back in Dallas on Friday. Saturday I have tickets to see my hero, Terri Hendrix, at some little place up near Denton. (I'm sooooo very excited about this - my last chance to see her for quite a while). Then it's another week of getting by in Dallas, with most of my friends gone for the holidays.
On Thursday (the 13th), I'm going to head down to Austin for a long weekend. Uncle Todd and I are contemplating a whirlwind trip to Denver (now that there's nonstop service there from Austin), to see cousin Susan and maybe get some snowboarding in. Then once again it's back to Dallas to deal with more stuff.
Christmas. Bleh. We all know how that is. I wish I could just skip over it. Except for maybe the annual Christmas Eve mission to the Armadillo Xmas Bazaar with Uncle T to see the Texana Dames play and get some cds at Cheapos. I missed that last year because of the jerks in Russia, but not this year.
The most exciting thing about my break from school comes right after Christmas. Molly and I decided that sitting around in our respective hometowns for the week after Christmas (which happens to be her 21st birthday) would be just too boring. So we bought a couple of bus tickets. We're leaving on the Greyhound from Houston on the 27th, will arrive in McAllen (deep south Texas) later that day, and hop another bus which will take us across the border and all the way to Guanajuato. Woohoo! Some friends are meeting us in McAllen and traveling with us from there. More importantly, these friends speak Spanish (all I can do is order drinks and ask how much something costs). We found a great hostel for a great price. We're going to live it up in one of our favorite towns. Maybe even see some of our local friends. I'm so excited I can't sit still.
Unfortunately, I still have to pack and get up really early in the morning. So adieu for now.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


That's right. There was a bit of winter weather in the area this year for Turkey Day. A friend of mine up in Portland said they were watching the Dallas/NY game and just assumed it was being played in NY. Nope. That really was snow falling. Or at least what amounts to snow in these parts anyway.
I had a pretty good Thanksgiving, chillin out at Aunt Marty and Uncle Bill's farm. Lots of turkey, lots of pie, a couple of beers and a bloody mary. What more could you ask for, really. Sigh. Thus ends my last Thanksgiving at home for a few years.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New hobbies

The impending arrival of finals week means it's time to find new ways in which to distract myself from all the work that needs to get done. What new hobbies have I taken up this year? Well, there was the mandolin I bought a couple of months ago. That's going well. My fingers no longer hurt when I'm done playing. Thanks to Erica and Stephen I have two new ways in which to occupy my time this year. After a semester on the St. Andrew's fencing team, Erica decided that UTD needed one too. Practiced started about a month ago and tonight was our first session with weapons. COOL! And yes, it is as fun as it sounds, and a tough workout. I'm glad I still have my sexy marching band legs.
What better way to cool off after a bout than to pick up a few tennis balls and start juggling? Stephen is the one I can thank for this latest addition to my list of skills. Of course, I can just barely do the basic three-ball juggling right now, but eventually Erica and I are gonna have the six-ball toss down. Yep. Right after we ace these finals....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hannah's first solo turkey

Okay, we're discounting the 2.5 kg "fillet of turkey" that I cooked for Thanksgiving dinner in Irkutsk. This was a real, 17 POUND turkey that I volunteered to cook for the McDermott Social Committee's Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck. Remind me not to volunteer for such endeavors in the future. (As tasty as it was, I burnt the shit out of my hand).
Nickel Creek's performance this evening at the Dallas House of Blues was beyond words. One moment in particular caused such elation for this little nerd right here, that I had what might best be described as a "nerdgasm" (noun meaning "the result of the excitement of one's nerdy or geeky tendencies" or "the peak of nerdy pleasure"). During the encore, I was finally able to hear Nickel Creek play "Eveline" in concert. Not only was this exciting for the fact that they NEVER play it and that I actually understand what story it refers too (if you haven't read Joyce's The Dubliners, you need to), but the introduction included the utterance of the following words from the mouth of Chris Thile -
"Less Southpark - More James Joyce."
All I can say is wow. And I'm pretty sure that went right over the heads of 90% of the people in the room.
And on that note,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Capitalist Pigs

I don't hate Tom Thumb - I loathe Tom Thumb. Purveyor of fine foods my arse. Not only is their selection far inferior to that of Central Market, they are shockingly overpriced. But as it is the only store I can ride my bike to I often find myself having to shop there. Oh how I miss the good old days of HEB and Albertson's. Now, in order to get food at a reasonable price I have to drive several miles.
Example - Tom Thumb's current price for avocados (a staple of my diet) is 2 for $3 or $1.59 each. Excuse me?! Even at Central Market, upscale grocer that it is, they are only $.79 each. And if I drive down to Fiesta, everyone's favorite Mexican store, they are 2 for $1. And they're higher quality avocados than the ones at Tom Thumb. Throw in all the cool veggies and spices that you can't get at Tom Thumb (not to mentioned the pickled pig lips) and I wonder why I'm still shopping in Richardson, or living in this country for that matter.
Thus ends the pissed off rantings of a poor college student in search of reasonably priced high quality produce.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New website and pictures from Carbondale

I got bored the other night whilst cleaning off my hard drive and ended up completely redoing my website. It was REALLY time for an update.
Therefore, without further ado ...
Also, I posted pictures from Carbondale on the website instead of on flickr. Check them out here -

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And I think to myself, what a wonderful week...

It's true. I've had the most wonderful week. It started on Saturday, when I awoke to find an email in my inbox from the Peace Corps - "Your application status has been updated. Please log into your account for more information." A sure sign of good news! I logged in to find that I have officially been cleared by the Office of Medical Services. The medical clearance is by far the most difficult part of the application process for the Peace Corps. Lots of forms, lots of poking and prodding and shots, then requests for more forms and more poking and prodding and shots. Even so, it only took me a month and a half - I feel like that's pretty good time. The exciting thing is that the medical clearance is the last major step before placement. Woohoo! When I got up on Monday morning, I had another email, this one from a girl in the Placement Office. Double woohoo! Things are going well. I just submitted my resume updates (since it's been almost four months since I submitted it with my application). Who knows how long this next step will take. The only thing I know is that the person I'm in contact with is from the Africa placement team, so we're heading in the right direction.
So what else has happened this week to warrant such exuberance? Well, on Monday morning, the university posted class listings for the spring semester. While there is only one undergraduate course that I'm interested in taking (and it's a cool one - an entire class devoted to FILM NOIR!), there were a number of graduate courses that caught my eye. Namely, Dr. Redman is teaching a course on James Joyce. Yes, I'm going there - going out with a bang by taking a graduate-level Joyce class my final semester. At first I was bummed because it was at the same time as Dr. Hatfield's Latin American Short Story class, but then I realized that Dr. Hatfield is also teaching a cool graduate class - "Neruda, Vallejo, and Guillen". It should be pretty fantastic - I went to talk to him about it and he was more than happy to give me permission to take it. He also agreed to be my second reader for my honors thesis.
Which leads me to the other good news. Things are going really well for the thesis. I've been reading a lot and watching a lot of movies for it. During my meeting with Dr. Towner this morning to discuss my progress, she suggested that I visit the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University - as they have a wonderful archive of scripts and notes. She's even trying to get me a catalog of it from her friend there! Woohoo! And I have enough money left in my McDermott travel fund to pay for the plane ticket.
Over all, things are going fabulously well. I have a lot of paperwork to fill out (surprise, surprise - that seems to be the theme of the semester), as all but one of my classes next semester require special permission. But it's worth it.
I've been walking around all day with a smile on my face. Wonderful weather. Soft grass and bare feet. Things falling into place all over the place. What more do I need right now?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Starting over again

I've been a terrible blogger. A whole summer of adventures and misadventures has gone by without a single entry. I guess that's a result of my having been in the same country the whole time. But wait - that's not true either! My last entry is from the MS150, which means I never wrote on here about the Central America trip. :-(. Oh well. What's done is done. Most of you have heard my endless number of stories from that trip and those that followed anyway. What I want to do now is start fresh.
It's high time I did so too. A major change in my life is in the works and I'm DEFINITELY going to need a blog for this one - provided I will have access to the internet. Curious yet? Here we go - I'm joining the Peace Corps. I've spent the last three and a half months applying and interviewing and getting poked and prodded by even kind of doctor there is. Now I have nothing to do but wait. I've sent off all the results from all of my doctor visits so that I can get my medical clearance, then I just have to wait some more until I get a letter with my invitation and (more exciting) my service location. I've been nominated for the Health Extension programs in Africa but there's no way to know where I'll end up. Could be three months, could be six. Either way, it's a long wait.
So what do I do until then? Well, finish school for one thing. After this semester, I only have to write my thesis to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas. I'll probably take a few fun classes as well while I'm still on scholarship. I also have a few things up my sleeve to keep me busy...
After this weekend's trip to Big Bend with my old professor and good friend, I've decided to get back into the lab for a spell to help with a project I worked on my freshman year. I spent an entire semester dissecting herbivore coprolites (fossilized poo) and the results are now getting ready to go into a paper. I'm going to work on producing some kick-ass microphotographs of the specimens, then work some on the latest addition to this project - some carnivore coprolites. Yay poop!
I also need some more volunteer work under my belt. Especially something related to health care to get me ready for the Peace Corps. I'm working on my CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) certification, as well as CPR and maybe even first responder training. My other goal - learn to ride a motorcycle. Vroom.
Tada. I finally posted something on the blog. Kathe will be excited, as will others I hope.
I also updated my flickr account with all the pictures I've been working on since the Central America trip (
I don't know when the next post will be. I'll try to keep regular but you know how life is.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

2007 MS150 - Done!

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I agree, and am far too tired after this weekend for a long post, so check out the flickr album here.
A lot of the pictures have explanations but here's a few headlines.
  • We had a blast!
  • I ended up raising a total of $460 - thanks to everyone who donated.
  • I crossed the finish line* (I had to sag part of the way on Day 2 due to an eye injury - why did I insist on contacts on such a windy day?)
  • The weather was... less than ideal. It rained all day on Saturday and was windy as sin on Sunday. But we're ducks - we can handle it.
  • Lots of bruises and sore under parts, but all told, I think we all came out alive. I'm ready to hop on that plane to Mexico in the morning and climb some ruins (I guess I should start packing then, huh?).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The $0.01 mandolin from Ebay came in on Monday (well, $30 once you add in shipping, but still...). I'm so excited :-D. I've been messing around with it all week so far. In fact, I spent about 4 hours making adjustments and restringing last night rather than studying for my final that I have in approximately 34 minutes. Oops. Oh well. It doesn't really matter - I could make a C on this test and still get an A in the class, and I think I studying just enough to pull a high B, so there. I love how apathetic I've become in the last two weeks. Isn't the end of the semester grand?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Good thing that's over

This week has been very, very long. Lots of assignments due. I haven't been able to ride my bike all week. :-(
But I do have a big ride tomorrow morning, then I'm going to hang out with Granny G and my mom and sister. It should be a good weekend.
Projects are done and papers are written. Now all I have to do is sit for a final on Wednesday and I can get out of here.
Oh, I bought the ticket by the way - May 7-18 in Central America (we're going to try and get as far down as Copan in Honduras), then Austin for a few days, then DI in Tennessee May 22-28, then the epic roadtrip to Oregon. It's going to rock.
Okay, off to the bike shop...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Room for one more...

... one more adventure that is.
This afternoon was comprised of a string of serendipitous encounters, by the end of which I had another pre-Portland adventure lined up.
Some of my friends have been talking for a while about a trip to Central America after the semester ends. This is of course only two weeks away (three really since we have to wait til after graduation). I wasn't going to go with them, though I badly wanted to, because I am already committed to the MS150 (and training is going well, by the way). But today, they came to the realization that it would be easier to fly to Cancun and take buses around to all the Maya ruins and other cool places - which means they won't be leaving until after the MS! And since they're also DI people, we'll be back in plenty of time for me to do the Tennessee thing before the roadtrip up to Portland.
This is turning out to be one epic summer indeed. Hopefully I'll be able to work out the details so that I can go on this adventure too, as it would be a shame to miss out.
Okay, I REALLY need to stop procrastinating - to the books.

A quote from the one and only Dr. Towner...

In reply to my assertion that she had made a little muggle girl very happy by teaching the Imagined Worlds class...
"Oh, you're not a muggle, Hannah; you just haven't bounced yet."
I have the best professors in the world.
(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just skip this post)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oozeball and other shenanigans

I think that it would be safe to say that this weekend was a bit of a fiasco. First, there is the pressure of looming finals. Though I have no tests to take as usual, I have a lot of final projects - and they're all due this week. Of course I didn't get any work done - I was too busy. Friday saw me playing in the annual oozeball (mud volleyball) tournament with the AModestProposal team. We kicked ass for the first two matches, but were swiftly eliminated in the next two. I think it was a combination of fatigue and teammates leaving to go work on DI.

Oh, DI. What a nightmare. We've been down as the hosts of the Texas State Destination Imagination tournament for a good portion of the last year, and Gina went through a number of channels to insure that we would have sufficient space to do so. Yet things seemed to fall apart this week. For some reason, the powers that be decided to double (and sometimes) triple book a bunch of our rooms, so that by Thursday night we no longer had SOM for Instant Challenges, but the Classroom Buildings (for a visualization of how disasterous this is, see the pictures of campus on flickr). Then, we found out on Friday evening that the stage of the Performance Hall is too small - so that competition site was moved to the Art Barn. What?! Hyper kids and their overly-competitive parents + six-foot-tall photographs hung with binder clips = a really bad idea. I have no idea how that worked out - I've been too afraid to look. But after all that happened in the student union ($20,000 worth of damage apparently), I don't really want to.
Add to that the tornado warning during registration and the all the high pitched squealing, and I'm ready to go into hiding for a couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, I still have to drive through these next two weeks. It will all be over soon.
At least the bike rides have been going well. Did 40 this Sunday with no trouble, though I think my ride buddies are backing out for this weekend's "Cruisin' de Hood" metric century. At least I'll get to hang out with Granny G at the finish line...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

And so we continue where we left off...

After a little break due to injury (Iris', not mine), we got back to our regular training routine today - out the door at 5.45 and down to White Rock Lake for the ten-mile loop before Iris had to leave for work. The cold from this weekend still lingered, but this time I was prepared - I found long-sleeve jerseys and toe-warmers on sale :-D. Hopefully we'll be able to keep up the morning runs. Things are infinitely more complicated when work, kids, and crazy moms are thrown into the mix (don't worry, the kids and mom aren't mine).
But regardless of how things go in the mornings, I'm still going full-force on the weekends. I am officially registered for Cruisin' de Hood on the 21st. Hopefully Granny G and Pops will still be in Texas so that we can go for brownies at their house afterwards since we'll end up just down the road from them (hint hint).
Anyway, off to talk about Harry Potter some more. I love this semester's reading list :-D.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The twilight zone...

When I stepped out the door this morning at 7 am to leave for the Tour Dallas ride, I was sure that I had stepped back in time to a winter month. April in Texas is more than just a spring month - it's usually the beginning of that long stretch of hot weather that reaches into October. But not today. Monday reached 90, but today's temperatures barely got about freezing. As we hit mile 10 of the ride, there were even snow flurries falling! Some friends of mine were at Six Flags (an event planned long ago to celebrate Jono's 22nd birthday) and said the snow there was a little more than flurrying. Nothing accumulated (as per usual in Dallas), yet it was definitely a strange event for EASTER WEEKEND!
After one of the coldest rides of my life, I went home and crawled back under the covers to catch up on some reading. Then I headed back out for the second part of Jono's party - the Rangers game. I heard someone say that tonight's game was the coldest on record at the ballpark in Arlington, and I don't doubt it. Ironically, we were able to beat the snot out of the Red Sox, who should be used to temperatures such as this even if we are not.
Cold as it was, today was a good day. Got a good ride in and had fun hanging out with the friends. If only I didn't have so much work to do in the next two weeks...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The planning of the epic roadtrip continues...

Here's the plan so far for the drive to Portland at the end of May (click here to see the map)...
  • Depart early in the morning of Tuesday May 29
  • Drive to Santa Fe; spend the night there.
  • Get up early and drive to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp there Wednesday May 30
  • Get up early again and drive to Cody, WY. See the Buffalo Bill Museum. Either camp there or stay in a motel the night of Thursday May 31
  • Get up early yet again and stake out a camping site in Yellowstone. Spend the day of Friday June 1 exploring the park then camp there that night.
  • Get up early again and explore the park some more, moving to Grand Teton NP in the afternoon. In the evening, drive to Idaho Falls and spend the night Saturday June 2 there.
  • Get up early (do I really need to keep saying that) and drive to Baker City, OR. Spend the day and night of Sunday June 3 there.
  • Be in Portland around noon on MONDAY JUNE 4

Wow. That's a lot of driving. 2,42o mi for Frodo according to Google Maps.

Training update...

So here's the scoop...
I AM TWO-THIRDS OF THE WAY TO THE FUNDRAISING MINIMUM!!! A week into fundraising, I've raised $200 already. Wow! Thanks to those who have donate thus far. If you haven't yet, it's super-easy ... just click on the link on the previous post or send a check made out to the National MS Society to me.
As far as training goes, I'm feeling pretty good. I did another 27 miles on Sunday, this time all hills. It was brutal, but I felt good afterwards. Apart from the general feeling of tiredness, no problems. My training buddies are having a little bit more difficulty. Renee's first day back to the world of cycling after a 5 month hiadus was the Sunday ride and I don't think it agreed with her. If only she would join Iris and I on our 6 am rides on Tuesday and Thursday. Hehehe. Iris also hit a bit of a snag this week - she ended up tearing a muscle in her leg and is now having to go through physical therapy for the next two weeks! Oh no! But no worries - she'll be back up soon, in plenty of time for the longer training runs.
This Saturday, we're doing the Tour Dallas, which is 30 miles through downtown to see all the sites. Bradley is joining us, so if Iris' leg isn't better and Renee is still having problems, I won't be alone.
After that, there's the weekly Sunday rides with the Mad Ducks in Grapevine, then on the 21st there's "Cruisin' de Hood" in Granbury (county seat of Hood County - get it), which is 63 miles. The Saturday after that, it's the Muenster GermanFest - another 63 mile ride. The Saturday after that is the MS150! Yikes, it's getting close.
I think I can, I think I can...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

MS150 info...

Please consider the following, and pass it on to others who may be interested in contributing... :-D Hannah
Dear Friends:
On May 5-6, 2007, I'm joining thousands of cyclists for the SAM'S CLUB MS 150 from Frisco to Fort Worth. This two-day bike ride isn't a race, but it does raise money in the race to find the cure for multiple sclerosis. Last year, more than 3,000 cyclists raised $2.1 million to help 17,000 Texans living with MS, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Researchers are making progress, but the cause and cure are still over the horizon.
And that's why I saddle up to ride. With this journey, I'm helping the National Multiple Sclerosis Society fund research to find the cause, cure and treatment of MS. My participation also helps support services for people affected by MS. My personal fund-raising goal is $500, supporting the ride's 2007 goal of $2.4 million.
Please help me support our fellow Texans by making a one-time, tax-deductible donation. It's incredibly simple to donate online - just go to You can also donate directly through me. Any amount you feel comfortable giving is deeply appreciated. Checks can be made payable to the National MS Society. With your support, we can make a positive impact today in the lives of 17,000 men, women and children with multiple sclerosis.
Lots of Love,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

News of the Weird

It has been insanely long since I last wrote anything on this thing. Suffice it to say, a lot has happened in the weeks that have passed since my successful escape from Russia. Rather than fill you all in on the mundane news of the past, I feel it would be better for me to say where I'm heading - because the next several months are going to KICK ASS!
Through a series of serendipitous conversations and sheer luck, I managed to get hooked up with an internship for the summer - IN PORTLAND, OREGON! I am excited beyond belief. Not only is the internship going to be sweet (in a contemporary art gallery downtown), but I get to a) escape the Texas summer yet again b)visit the west coast for the first time in my life and c) enjoy a city which seems to get cooler the more I look at it.
Looking at the city and my situation for the summer led to my second big piece of news - I have taken up a new sport. I decided that I can't live in a bike town without taking advantage of it, so I've purchased a new bike (flat bar hybrid road bike to be specific) and am learning to ride efficiently so that I can a) commute to work this summer and b) ride in the MS 150 with my buddies. ***Speaking of which - the MS 150! This is a 150 mile ride (duh) and all the money I raise goes to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. There's a minimum pledge I have to raise of $300. IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED IN CONTRIBUTING, PLEASE DO!!! That was not a shameless plug at all. I'm just in it to have fun and get into shape again.
Anyway, that's me and what I've been doing lately. Sort of. That and reading. A lot. But then, aren't I always?
Peace out

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The End (and the beginning)

This post has been a long time coming. Sorry to all who have been waiting for news from the great beyond (or at least want to know what happened to Frog). As soon as I stepped foot back in Texas, I was swept back into the current of my busy life. But I guess I should better start at the beginning, as that's always the best place to start a long story...
The last many of you heard from me, I was stranded in great city Moscow. But how did I manage to escape? It's a long, complicated mess of a tale, but I'll try to recap it for you. Though they may say something different to other students there, the ladies working in the international office at IGLU completely screwed me over. Though I repeatedly asked if I had everything I needed and all my paperwork was in order, they managed to put me on a plane to Moscow without giving me my new visa. If they had given it to me when I originally asked for it (in October), not only would I have gotten home for Christmas, but I would have been able to visit my buddies in China as well. GRRRRRRRRRRR. Anyway, the resulting trauma occurred when Natasha called me an hour and a half before my flight to Frankfurt to tell me that they had my visa. WTF. These people are so inept. The only cheapest solution for them was to give my visa (and money for a hotel, since it was most definitely their fault) to Adam - my fellow American who was going through Moscow on his way home on Saturday (Dec. 23). Okay - no big deal. I'll just meet him at the airport on Saturday afternoon. That's what I thought at least. But you see, just getting to the airport in Moscow (one of many) takes some doing. It was a two and a half hour one-way trip. I was 15 minutes late getting there and Adam's flight arrived 30 minutes early (go figure - that NEVER happens in Russia). So here I was, standing in driving snow, searching for Adam, who had decided that maybe I forgot and hopped in a cab for his hotel. WHAT?! That's right. Adam, who had no cell phone, LEFT the airport when I did not know when he was flying out of the city, where he was staying, or even where to begin looking for him.
I definitely took some skill to get out of this mess. I called Josh (my Moscow contact for SRAS), who called the university in Irkutsk, who called Adam's host, who called Josh, who called me back. Apparently Adam was staying at the Hotel Ukraine - one of the poshest hotels in Moscow. It's in one of those stereotypical Stalinist wedding cake buildings, not far from my cheap little hostel on Old Arbat street. So an hour after arriving, I left the airport for the 2.5 hour return trip back to the center of the city (this time in rush hour traffic). I went back to my hostel, looked at the map, and walked the 45 minutes to the Hotel Ukraine, praying with all my heart that Adam was there (still hadn't heard from him at this point - pick up a goddamn pay phone!). I walked into the lobby, still in awe at his lodgings, and walked up to the main desk. As I was waiting in line to try to page him or something, I see him walking about in a gift shop across the lobby!
"Adam - where the hell have you been!?"
"Oh, I was just about to call you."
Calm down. Calm down. Calm down.
I had to keep myself to not do anything rash.
I had my visa.
I had some money.
I was alright.
I was finally legally allowed to leave.
That's all I wanted.
To sleep in my own bed. To spend Christmas with my family and friends. To eat some Mexican food. To... you get the picture.
I ate dinner with Adam, who made up for my stressful evening with a meal.
Then I grabbed a beer and walked back to Old Arbat.
I kept on remembering this poem we had to read in class a few weeks before, the last few lines of which are...
"Ah, Arbat, My Arbat. You are my fatherland.
Never, even at the end, will I let you go."
I love Old Arbat street. I was tired, pissed, depressed, and happy to be legal again. The only thing I wanted to do was wander up and down the famed walking street, saying goodbye once again to the city. I love Moscow. If I had to be stuck somewhere, I guess it was a pretty good place to be.
Of course, we haven't gotten to Christmas Eve yet.
When I moved my flight reservation, I had a bit of a problem. You see, I had my visa by the 23rd. I could have flown the next morning (Christmas Eve) - except Lufthansa cancelled their one daily flight to Dallas from Frankfurt for Christmas Eve. So I was stuck waiting until Christmas DAY to fly away. Which meant spending Christmas Eve by myself in a foreign land.
Okay. I can handle this. I woke up in the morning, not feeling too bad. I moved kind of slow - had a nice breakfast, took a shower, and wandered about a bit. Then I bundled up and walked down to Red Square. Then it hit me how much I wanted to be home. It was snowing and the square was so beautiful but all I could think about was getting back to Texas. All my plans had been for Christmas Eve and were now lying in ruins. And my New Years trip to Big Bend was in danger of falling through as well. Sigh. I wandered around a bit, called my friends in Irkutsk (who were having celebrations of their own), then went back to the hostel. I figured I might as well treat myself to a nice dinner or night on the town. So I looked for a nice place. I saw an add for this place down the street called Uncle Sam's American Cafe. Sounds cool, I thought. So I bundled up again and headed that way. The first thing the hostess said to me when I walked in the door was "NO!" I can't decide if she meant there are no tables, you won't fit in here, or what, but I was so surprised and turned off by her incredible rudeness, that I turned and walked back out the door. Where to now, I thought. I went back to the hostel (again) and did another search. This time I came up with an Irish pub downtown that had pretty high ratings. I little place called Silver's. Sounds good to me. So off I went, into the snowy night, by myself, to celebrate the nativity. Sort of. I found the place, walked in, ordered a beer, and sat down at a random table. As I waited for the waitress to bring me a menu, I looked up above me and what should I see - A TEXAS FLAG HANGING ON THE WALL. Cue the emotions. I started crying. Here I was, lost little American girl, spending Christmas Eve by myself in an Irish Pub in Moscow when I by all rights should be home putting up with the drama of another "family" Christmas. Christmas isn't that great in my family but at least it's home.
I had a good time though - I guess. Frankly I don't really remember most of that evening. I had four pints and a plate of bangers and mash for my Christmas dinner, and somehow managed to find my way back to the hostel at around 2 in the morning.
All of a sudden it was 4.30 am. One of the other people in the hostel is poking me - "Hannah, wake up. I thought your cab was coming at 4." HOLY SHIT! Throw everything in a bag. Run. Run as fast as you can. Thank God the cab driver waited. For a few extra rubles, he drove as fast as he could through the driving snow (had to stop once to take snow from the side of the road and wash the windshield) to the airport.
Check in. Through customs. On the plane. Take off.
And the tears start again.
As hellish as the last few days were, I was really pretty sad to say goodbye to the country. Russia has a vibe that's all its own and I hope that I can make it back one day. Legally this time.
I arrived in Dallas at about 2 pm Christmas Day. I had a five hour layover before my flight to Austin. Originally, the plan was for Iris and Renee to meet me at DFW and go get something to eat or have a drink before my flight to Austin. That was when I was coming in on Friday. The new flight times and stuff didn't really get sent out, so there was no one to meet me. :-(. But luckily, terminal D has some good food offerings. So I sat down in the Blue Mesa Taco Bar, gave the bartender the distinct honor of serving me my first LEGAL beer in the US, and stuffed myself with tacos while I watched the Cowboys lose. I must have told my story a thousand times that afternoon. I have to admit, it's a good one. How I was screwed over. How I managed to find a bumbling idiot in a city of 15 million people without a cell phone or a clue where to start. How I managed to spend Christmas Eve and get to the airport.
I'm out of breath.
After a six hour wait (hour longer than it was supposed to be), I hopped on the 30 minute flight to Austin, where Daddy and Uncle Todd were waiting for me.
10 pm Christmas Day, and I was finally home.
Definitely the most exciting and logistically complicated Christmas of my life.
Thus ends the tales of Hannah's Adventures in Wandering. For now anyway. This was only the first of many adventures. You'll see me and Frog again someday, where ever the road takes us next...