Lame joke, I know. I am still thrilled to announce that I have three weeks to laze around and do pretty much whatever. I made it through what I like to call an 8-week life sciences boot camp. Finally, I am two prerequisites closer to getting my masters in nutrition.
I have more news to share, but I will save that for after my New Jersey recap.
A week ago Thursday, I went to New Jersey with my parents, my brother Ben, his girlfriend Emily and my maternal grandparents. We went to see my mom's brother, his wife and my three cousins Leia, Timon and Kailee. Leia had a baby named Molly last year, and we wanted to be there for her first birthday party! It was also my aunt's 60th birthday (and Emily's birthday as well).
Getting to New Jersey was kind of a pain. The weather was fine when we arrived at O'Hare Airport. As I sat there reading my biology book (preparing for finals), my mom pointed out that the sky turned a very dark shade of green. Usually, this means something very bad. In this case, it was very bad. By the time the thunder and lightning and very heavy rain passed over us, it was two hours past our take off time.
When we landed at Newark (with clear views of the NYC skyline!), it was 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). Yikes! The airport train that we needed to take to pick up our rental car was down, so we took a stifling hot bus there and waited while they cleaned our mini van that was supposed to be ready hours ago. Then, I took the wrong turn off the highway towards New York City. It was partially my dad's fault, since he was the navigator. Then, we got stuck in rush hour traffic that we would have avoided if our plane left on time. Then, the hotel gave away the handicapped room that my grandpa needed (they redeemed themselves by taking $100 off of our bill). By the time everything was sorted and we went into our rooms and freshened up, we were 45 minutes late for dinner.
We met at Joe's Italian Deli in Franklin Park, New Jersey. Our New Jersey relatives were kind enough to wait for us. They had some appetizers to hold them over, and then more hot ones came out when we arrived.
Our family lives close to Joe's, and they are regulars there. I can see why. Even with the air conditioning struggling to work with the temperatures being so high, I still could have stayed there all night and eaten their food. Everything was amazing!
We got a warm breaded eggplant plate with fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, grilled red peppers, basil and balsamic vinegar. Oohhhhhh my gosh, was it good!
You would think that I would never be able to eat a full meal after all of those passed appetizers, but I followed the crowd and did it. I ordered the "zuppa", which was not even on the menu. My cousin Timon and his girlfriend Yana strongly suggested that I get it. It was a mixture of shrimp, grilled calamari, mussels and clams on top of spaghetti with a whole bunch of marinara sauce. It was a big-ass portion, but I probably could have eaten the whole thing if I tried.
Anyway, a big group of New Yorkers came to the hotel for the weekend to beat the heat and play at the pool. They were the kind of people who thought it was okay to let their kids run around at all hours of the night and they could all collectively be as loud as they wanted. They also decided to congregate in the room next to ours, and they were making all sorts of noise when we got home from dinner. My mom asked them how long they were going to be gathering, and they told us it would be at least until midnight. Since my mom was crabby and tired from our stressful day, she made us switch rooms. Seriously, though, I find it to be horrifying that some people have no regard for the fact that people need to sleep! Enough of that...
I curled up on my new bed and tried to watch "Kingdom of Thrones" on our free wifi. It wasn't working out so well, so I fell asleep.
I slept late the next day and did a hotel room workout (push-ups, lunges and other stuff you don't need to do with weights) and then read a little from my bio book. We then went to Leia, Ronny and Molly's house for Molly's first birthday party!
There was a Cookie Monster pinata!
After dinner, the kids had their fun with the pinata.
My aunt and uncle are watching Timon and Yana's Boxer Max while they are in China. I absolutely adored him. How cute is that punim? (If you know any Yiddish, then you know that means "face"!)
Second row from the left: Kailee, me, my grandma, my mom, my aunt Donna, Donna's mom, my uncle Rob.
Back row from the left: my dad, Emily, my brother Ben, Ronnie, Timon
We then got the airport and endured another delay. Luckily, it was only about 45 minutes. I wanted something to hold me over before dinner, so I got Red Mango at the airport. I got raspberry cheesecake frozen yogurt with Fruity Pebbles and frozen raspberries on top. I wanted Cap'n Crunch on top, but they were all out!
I do prefer walking, but this was something I couldn't pass up. It was like an amusement park ride.
Upon arrival, our loyal taxi driver Pavel picked us up. We almost always use him to get to and from the airport, so he treats us well. He bought us a family style stuffed veggie pizza. Amazing. We devoured it when we got home.
If you need a taxi service and you live in the Chicago area, give Pavel a call!
Well, what else is going on? You may have figured this out already, but I am not going back to Australia for my classes. I worked so hard to make it happen, but I realized that it's just not a reality. The fees are outrageous for me as an international student, and I will struggle without a car to drive to the other side of town for a challenging class and also get to a part time job. In Chicago, I have my own car and can take classes for a quarter of the price. I also won't complete my prerequisites on time if I go to Oz. I guess that is the biggest issue! So, I am staying here.
What about Al? Good question! He's jumping on a plane to America this weekend. I'm meeting him in San Francisco on Saturday. We will enjoy a much-deserved vacation together, and we will also see our winery where we are having our wedding next year. We'll meet our wedding planner there, because we won't get to see her too many times before we get married. He'll spend another two weeks with me in Chicago until I start my next batch of classes. Then, he goes back to Oz. Crazy, right?
What About Your Half Marathon Training?
Guys, I have no idea what I will end up doing with this race. I skipped the New Jersey weekend because of the extreme heat, and I haven't done any running since then. Not only do I worry that I will not be prepared in two weeks, but I am concerned about my legs. The pain that I have in my right leg now goes into my left leg. I ran seven miles the weekend before New Jersey, and I could barely walk up and down stairs for a day. We'll just have to see. I'm going to try to run eight miles tomorrow. If I am in a lot of pain, I am probably going to make the decision to not run it. I have many more opportunities in my life to do a half marathon, and maybe this just isn't my time.
Plus, Alastair will be here when I am supposed to do it!
I think it's time to clean my room. It's messy. Let's just say that I still haven't unpacked from Australia! I have time to clean now that my boot camp is over!