I'm back! It was weird to be away from blogging for so long, but it was a good break. Some work, some relaxation, some time spent away from everything electronic (web, blogs, email, and cell phone). And now I'm back and ready to face the final push to the end of the school year (which cannot come soon enough, as far as I'm concerned).
Some random thoughts from my time away:
* I spent some time in Europe. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I had previously never been to Europe. I've wanted to go ever since I studied European history in high school, but never got the chance until now. I loved Europe. I loved the different pace of life there. I loved drinking wine at lunch, for no good reason other than it was lunchtime. I loved lingering over meals. I loved the people-watching, the way people dressed (I spent some time in Paris....so many fashionable people! Such a change from the people I see every day at work!), hearing other accents and conversations in languages I couldn't understand. I loved riding the Metro; I realized how much I miss living in a place with good public transportation. I loved not seeing a Starbucks (ok, not many of them) or a Wal-Mart or a strip mall. I thought more than once about quitting my job and moving to Europe. Not very realistic, but fun to dream about.
* It is very humbling to travel in a country where you do not know the language. I figured out enough to get by, but I wished that I knew more. I wished that I knew enough to at least make more small talk with the locals. I hated having to depend on other people knowing English, but was grateful that so many people did.
* It is also humbling to walk down a street and realize that all of the buildings on that street are older than your country is.
* Why are there so many Baskin-Robbins in Europe?
* It is going to take me forever to wean myself off of coffee. I am one of those people who gets horribly addicted to caffeine, and of course I went crazy the past few weeks and drank coffee like it was going out of style. Ugh. But it's so hard to refuse when it's the good stuff!
* For someone who works so extensively with technology, who spends most of her days evangelizing about how cool technology is and how it can change the world, it was very liberating to "unplug" for a while. I appreciated not having to check my email, not being tied down by my cell phone. I appreciated not having to think about technology for a while. The first thing I missed, actually, were the blogs!
In other news, things are looking up professionally for me. In the next few months, I'll be giving at least 4 talks to various groups. I love giving talks, and at least one of these talks will be on brand-spanking-new results that my research students and I have obtained (and just finished writing up). So this is exciting. But the summer is already looking way too full. I burned out last summer, big time, and so I'll have to be very careful not to do the same again.
This week is going to be busy---lots of school stuff, plus I'm headed off to a conference at the end of the week and will be seeing some old, dear friends from grad school. But I should be back to blogging regularly now, or at least attempting to.