So far, I've hit 31 of 50 states.  A nice, pictorial demonstration of where life has taken me:

Our next challenger

"I think a lot of people who come to visit Mauna Kea come for a reason," said James Kimo Pihana, a ranger with the Office of Mauna Kea Management. "People challenge the mountain. The mountain always wins; it is people who lose. But the mountain accepts challenges."
'To The Summit,' by Bret Yager for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald

poster child

This is one of those stories about human nature and personality that lacks a tidy ending or an easy moral. Perhaps that's the difference between real life and fairy tales; in real life, you don't get to turn the final page to see the theme of the story and answer the questions.

In real life, you get the questions as you go along, and you answer as best you're able with the information you have at the time.

I stopped going to the gym around the time I started my current job. I worked a lot of overtime, especially in the first six months, and I started promising myself that when life got a bit easier, and I wasn't so mentally exhausted, I'd make time. I didn't expect eighteen months to pass before I finally hit that point; me, who was so religious about going to the gym every day.

Even I got THAT hint

Dateline: New Westminster, BC.
(Note to self: Go see the old one sometime.)

As I've retold this story countless times in the time since I've returned, I figured the least I could do is share it here as well. I suspect it loses some of its boozy, imperative nature when committed to the written word, though; I think it's probably far funnier in person.

A cultural difference worth knowing: I was raised to hear pretty words, but not to take all of them at face value. An invitation to come stay with someone, if not repeated or mentioned again, was very likely someone just being polite -- not something to be acted upon. It turns out this is not true of everyone: some people issue an invitation only once, really hoping you'll take them up on it, and then shut up if you don't act on it. Ah, North versus South, are there any gaffes this cultural divide can't inspire?