In other news, I took the GRE last Thursday. The testing center was down the street from Asian Americans for Community Involvement, which I desperately want to involve myself with if I'm ever stably living in this area. It's also near the Winchester Road, the towns of Lawrence and Campbell, and the Winchester Mystery House, which is exciting because uh, yeah.
And I got this in the mail!
Life has been crazy busy so the full reality of this hasn't hit me yet, but my flight leaves on 3 September~ I don't know when I'll be back yet (cannot afford plane ticket back yet lol?) but I know I have to leave Russia by 21 December, because that's when my visa expires. I'd love to visit Finland at some point before returning to the States, though. Anyone I should visit while I'm in the area? ;P
Last weekend, my family and I visited my grandparents in Santa Rosa, where we went kayaking on the Russian River with my grandpa, two of my uncles, and one of my cousins (older than me by a decade or so). I'm never quite sure how to handle myself around my relatives, because we don't really have anything in common except genetics. Mostly I just keep quiet. I don't know anything about the Marines, or auto mechanics, or firearms, or extreme outdoor sports. I went to college, I've never been arrested, etc. So I feel like quiet is the way to go, even if it makes me a less interesting person.
The trip was nice, though. We hugged hello and hugged goodbye, and had a good time on the river in between. I never got the impression that everyone around me thought I was the lamest person on the planet, which is generally how I feel at Christmastime when we get together with family. I noticed for the first time that my uncles have the same sense of humor as my father does.
Off the river we spent a fair bit of time in the parking lot of a Safeway, waiting for my uncles and cousin to arrive. Because it's Sonoma County, they had a ridiculously huge selection of wines for a Safeway; and wine-flavored cheese, and wine-flavored sausages. Across the street my sister and I explored "Bob's One-Stop Shop," for all your essential needs--dreamcatchers, wind chimes, and $3 oversized Bob Marley T-shirts. And the Koala Cafe: "Sushi, Burgers, and Homemade Bread." What these menu items have in common, I'm not sure, but I'm sort of in love with the idea anyway.
Outside the Koala Cafe there was a community bulletin board advertising metaphysical classes and meetings of all persuasions, and an advertisement from someone named James--he'd travelled from Georgia and was looking to set himself up in Guerneville if anyone needed a roommate. He's a cook, an artist, and can also serve as a bodyguard or a companion in return for room and board. James (rightly) did not list spelling as one of this skills; it bothered my sister a lot, but not me. From his Gmail address, I learned that he was born in 1987.
I learned that even when I'm counting out the time, my brother cannot keep his paddle synchronized with mine.
I learned that tandem kayaks suck. I learned that "Hurricane" kayaks, which according to the label are made "in a small town off the coast of North Carolina" are things of sleek, unadulterated beauty. And I learned that it's possible for your arms to be so tired they go a buzzing sort of dislocated numb. I learned that this is a great feeling.