I’m sitting in the breeze-filled front office of FFR Trikes, looking out the front window at the Burney Mountain range off in the distance. My no-longer-iced coffee is leaving ringlets of water on the worn-in wooden desk I’m writing from, and I’m listening to The Avett Brothers’ new single, ‘Live or Die.’ It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and it feels so good to be here – both on my blog and back in Asheville – again.
It’s been a busy summer! Since my last written post from Austin, I’ve worked as a teaching assistant at Duke University; enjoyed some family time back in the D.C. area, kicked off by welcoming Katrina back to the U.S. after six months in Germany; toured the White House; celebrated the wedding of Jesse’s sister up in Pennsylvania; and vacationed in the Outer Banks – specifically, Cape Hatteras – where Jesse and I camped out for a week and celebrated my 23rd birthday!
I decided a few months ago that I wanted to spend my 23rd birthday climbing the famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse. I’ve only been to one other lighthouse – Whitefish Point lighthouse in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – but it wasn’t open to climbing. I’m fascinated by lighthouses, by their many different histories, their purpose, the stories that surround so many of them. There are many fewer operational lighthouses nowadays as a result of modern electronic navigation systems, but they’re still popular icons and are often visited during the summer.
The Cape Hatteras lighthouse, part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is one of the tallest lighthouses in the U.S. and is still operational. It’s known for its pattern of white and black spiral bands. It was so neat camping near the lighthouse; I’d sometimes wake up in the middle of the night (sleeping in a tent will do that to you) and fall back asleep watching the lighthouse rotate round and round, it’s light shining for miles.
It was a 12-story climb to the top, which, along with a nice walk on the beach later that evening, made for some great birthday exercise. The top was super windy and offered some great views of the seashore. Jesse and I had a blast, and I loved turning 23 on top of this magnificent structure!
Our beach vacation week was spent living at P67, Frisco, North Carolina. Jesse and I loved that little campsite! We slept under the stars, surfed in the sun, read on the sand, and played in the waves. And thanks to my master chef of a boyfriend (at least in the wild he is!), we enjoyed, among other things, s’mores, oatmeal, and eggs — all cooked over a charcoal grill in a little camping mug.
The summer has had its downs, too. On July 23rd, we had to put down one of our two dogs, Kobe. He had a very large and aggressive tumor, and while it was so hard to let him go, we know he’s in a better place now. Kobe was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known, always wanting attention and never wanting to be alone. He loved being let off his leash to take off in a happy sprint during walks; always “let” Saavik eat first; and was scared of thunderstorms unless he was curled up in one of our laps. Kobe baby, as Katrina and I often called him, was a world traveler, crossing the Atlantic twice and living in Germany for most of his life. He even made it down to Asheville on a road trip with me in his last month, where he experienced his first electric trike ride and got to explore the Biltmore Gardens.
In Fulbright news, I am in the process of once again getting vaccinated up the wazoo (I have zero plans of contracting Japanese encephalitis while in south Asia, thank you very much) and developing my syllabus for my first semester of teaching. I’m excited that I have almost free rein in choosing what books I want to teach — some of my predecessors for this position have taught works by the likes of Maya Angelou, J.D. Salinger, Dave Eggers, Edgar Allen Poe, David Sedaris, Jhumpa Lahiri, and George Orwell. Seeing as these are some of my favorite authors, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have learned, however, that the library at the university I will be teaching at is not very extensive, and very few works by contemporary American authors in particular are provided. I’m familiar with this — when I studied abroad in Ghana and took a few literature classes, it was common for one Ghanaian student to check out the sole copy of any assigned book from the university library and make photocopies of the book for each student in the class. (The legality of this was not of much concern — it was the cultural norm, since it was often difficult to get one’s hands on books written by non-African authors). I really don’t want to condone this practice while teaching in Sri Lanka, so I am hoping and planning to ship at least a few copies of each book I plan to teach ahead of time, to be waiting for me when I get to Sri Lanka in October. My Fulbright grant will give me funds to buy some teaching materials, but not enough to provide books for students as I am hoping to do. So, I’m asking family and friends to contribute to this endeavor if they can, by donating just a few dollars each so that I can provide some copies of books for my students to use throughout the semester and then to keep in the university’s library for future use. If you’d like to donate, please click here to go to my fundraising page. I – and my future students – would so appreciate your help!
Enjoy the final stretch of summer, dear readers! I know I will :)