Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paige and I are Getting Married

So let me think... what's new? Been eating a lot of khatchapuri... uhm, attending supras... teaching the children... hmmm, oh yeah, and I got engaged to my girlfriend Paige Weldon. Pretty exciting, although it's hard to tell if Paige agrees with that sentiment from the picture.

We'd discussed getting married before, but it really gained steam after we met each others' parents over the past month when they visited Georgia. Both of us felt at ease with the other's family and really enjoyed them. A close family is only one the things that Paige and I have in common. As the months have passed, and our feelings have deepened, we've discovered more and more just how well we compliment one another.

I called Paige's parents before I proposed to ask for their blessings and they agreed--I was much relieved. I regret that I did it over the phone, as it would have been much better to do it in person, but Paige and I were eager to move ahead. Paige's father has assured me that even though he's given his blessings, when I get to Texas we're still going to have THE talk.

Since hardly any of you back home know Paige Weldon let me give you her vitals:

Born: September 19, 1981
Height: 5'4 3/4
Hometown: Longview, TX
Education: BA in Journalism and English from Texas A&M
Current Hobbies: Reading, baking chocolate chip cookies with cornflour, attempting to stay warm in winter, teaching children, talking about Mexican food, photographing large pigs in her village, spending time with her fiance (Me).
Fears: Spiders

Paige is also very kind, generous, caring, fun, and is good with small children and animals, including these abandoned puppies in Batumi.

We met in Peace Corps and have been dating since September of 2006. We've spent practically every weekend and all our vacation days together. She's awesome and I'm completely in love with her. Against all reason and common sense, Paige seems to feel the same for me, thus I did not need to bridenap her and stuff her in the back of a marshutka (see picture), as she happily agreed to get married.

At this point we don't have any specific wedding plans, but we're intent on it costing a fortune, be full of drama, and to be extremely stressful for not only us, but all our friends and family. We both agree that the best way to start a life together is by burning everyone you care about, going into debt, and exhausting every ounce of patience for one another. I hope you're already for 1001 Arabian Nights themed wedding in Cabo San Lucas!

The decision to get married was incredibly easy, not that we didn't give it a lot of thought. Certainly there was some peer-pressure from some of the other volunteers. And my mother did mention a couple hundred times how much she liked Paige and how I "better not screw this up."

I can't wait to bring Paige back to Seattle and introduce her to all of you. I think you'll all really like her. And if you don't then you're a complete jerk. And I can't wait to get down to Texas to meet the rest of Paige's family and friends and everyone there who cares about her like I do. Both Paige and I are really excited about returning to America and starting our lives together. We are really happy.

The Nickums Come to Georgia


My parents and brother just got on a plane to return to America after a couple weeks here in Georgia and I already miss them. Together we saw many historical and interesting sites, but I know what impressed them the most was the people. Between meeting host families, counterparts, fellow volunteers, and Paige, my family walked away from Georgia in high spirits and with a lot of new people to call family.

Throughout their stay they endured supra after supra with impressive stamina. Stuart even heroically put down four horns at one supra, an impressive feat. I think they were overwhelmed by the generosity of my host family and the other locals who took us into our home, toasted our family and ancestors, and fed us ridiculous amounts of food and wine. Georgia won a few more fans in America.

It was especially nice for me to see them after so many months apart. And after having a great time with Paige’s family when they visited, she got to get to know my family as well. Everyone hit it off.

It was a fairly emotional time for me, as everyone went out of their way to make my family feel at home. Numerous toasts at numerous supras revolved around the theme of the importance of family, and the people I know here thanked my parents for raising me right and they in turn thanked all the locals for taking such good care of me.

It was really nice to get to see Georgia through the new eyes of my family and it reminded me of so many of the positives of life here. The last two weeks (along with the time I spent with Paige’s wonderful family) were some of the best times I’ve had here and I will think back on them fondly in the years ahead.

It was a great visit. Thanks Georgia.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

NCAA Tourney

When it comes to keeping up to date on American sports, my location does no favors. My quaint and scenic village is a virtual black hole for sports news. From the few television channels at my house, all I've learned of American sports in the past year is that Shaq was traded.

I watched a DVD of the Super Bowl... a month ago. I'm currently reading an old Sports Illustrated detailing the Jason Kidd trade. I listen to podcasts of sports talk radio from January--"There's no way the Giants can beat the Pats. No way..." I'm simply not very up to date.

And it's been that way for almost two years. I don't recognized half the current Mariner roster. I only recently discovered the Sonics were being taken away to Oklahoma City and thus, have only begun to imagine various scenarios in which David Stern, Howard Schulz, and the new owners meet an unpleasant demise in a manner fitting their treachery. Basically I'm totally out of the sports loop. But despite my total lack of knowledge I STILL WON THE NCAA TOURNAMENT BETTING POOL!

Luther, Fitz, Becca, Sai, Taylor, Lil' Ryan--all of them lost to a guy who can't name a single guy in the tourney. I owe it all to Memphis and also to my intuitive sports skills. Okay, maybe it was just luck. And while I recognize that my victory was hollow (no money on it), I'm looking forward to being back, going to Mariners games, watching Seahawk games at Luther's (Justin needs to give me my seat back) and eventually rooting for the Trailblazers and sending hate mail to David Stern. Paige and I have already negotiated the amount of SportsCenter I can watch and that Sundays are sacred days to watch football and eat pizza.

Two years is way to long to go without televised sports. I'm looking forward to catching up, learning who the new players are, watching the NFL draft with my brother and just generally being a typical American guy. And once I'm caught up, I predict I win the NCAA tournament betting pool next year as well.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Area Churches

Sometimes in life we experience a higher calling. I received mine the other day when my school Director told me the local priests needed me to take photos of the paintings in various area churches and monasteries. I have a camera. I have free time. I'LL DO IT!!!

And so I did. I even got to eat lunch with the local monks, eating a deliciuos fried mushrooms dish and a green salad with vinagrette.