|Nom nom nom...|
So, primal needs sated, I commenced catching up with my bestie. Erica is in her first year of a PsyD program (that's a clinical practice-based doctorate in psychology... the girl is smart and will be a helluva therapist someday) in Chicago at Argosy University. Apparently the program is kicking her @$$ but she is doing well and enjoying her studies. I told her about my life in France thus far, and we shared some of my favorite French cookies and my favorite bottle of French wine. It was really wonderful to see and catch up with her, and I felt like we didn't have nearly enough time together before I left for Indy on the Megabus the next day. But who knows? Maybe I, too, will end up in Chicago for grad school.
The journey from Chicago to Indy on the Megabus was... trying. Those of you who have driven or otherwise traveled between these two lovely cities know that there is always some kind of major traffic jam or other issue on I-65, usually affecting traffic in the direction you are (or want to be) traveling (Murphy's law at work, folks). And of course my journey was no different. There was a jack-knifed semi just North of Rensselaer (barely out of Chicago!) that had us stuck in traffic for nearly 2 hours, during which time we traveled less than 5 miles. At this point I was prepared to walk to Indianapolis if I had to. I truly could not have been more frustrated with the situation. I was exhausted, it was hot and stinky on the bus, we were still at least two hours from Indy even after we got out of traffic, and I just wanted to get hoooooooooome! But eventually we got through the bottleneck and the driver made up a little bit of our lost time, and I got to Indy only about an hour and a half later than I'd planned. My sister, Allison, picked me up at the bus stop, and I was elated to see her smiling (well, more like smirking... she is 18 after all) face. We are very close, and it has been very difficult to be away from her, because we both have quite busy schedules and find it hard to find time when we can talk on the phone or Skype while I am here. From the bus stop she took me to Chateau de Ville, the Indy apartment complex otherwise known as friend central. Five or six of my very close friends live there, and it is also where my dog Stewie has been residing since I left, so it was the obvious next stop.
After that things start to blur together a little bit. I spent about half of my time in New Castle with my family, and about half of it in Indy with friends. Drinks were consumed, shows attended, trees decorated, carols sung. And Christmas with my family is always a really special and enjoyable time. We are a pretty hilarious crew by nature, but add wine and a deck of cards to that, and all bets are off. I think our favorite family pastime may be busting each others chops. That or seeing who can out-cheat whom at euchre or Scrabble (my aunt, Kate, is the both the biggest cheater and the biggest chop buster). And even though church isn't really my thing these days, I also always enjoy the candlelight Christmas Eve service at my parents' church. Something about candlelight and Christmas carols always gives me that warm-fuzzy holiday feeling. I didn't have many presents under the tree, as my plane ticket home was my real present, but just getting to be home with everyone during such a family-oriented time of year was really special and wonderful, and I couldn't have been happier to be there.
I had planned to leave the states and fly back to France on the 26th, with Kate-the-cheater-and-chop-buster in tow. We had grand plans to celebrate the New Year in Norway (where she had her own study abroad adventure when she was about my age), and to explore Paris and Germany, but with all the snow on the East coast of the US and in Northern Europe, our flights were canceled. Kate is a professor at Butler University and had a finite amount of vacation time before having to return to class, so she got a refund for her plane ticket and may come in the Spring before I leave, or we may return together over the summer. I obviously had to come back, and was able to reschedule my flight for the 29th. I was really sad that my plans with Kate were foiled for the time being, but I was also really happy to have an extra three days at home. I hadn't quite been ready to say goodbye to my friends in Indy on the 23rd before heading back to New Castle to spend Christmas with the fam, so getting to spend a couple more days with them was perfect. Even if all we did was sit on the couch and play Wii. But that's one of the things I really appreciate about my group of friends... I can be gone for three months and when I come back we pick up right where we left off... sitting on the couch, playing Wii.
And that's about all I have to say about that. I'll leave you with a cute picture of Lily (one of my parents' dogs) and my sister. Next up: my harrowing journey back to France and New Year's Eve in Brussels.