Saturday, April 26, 2014

We survived!!!

I should probably preface this post with the fact that I DO NOT sleep on planes. No matter how hard I try, I am just incapable of getting any significant amount of rest. Actually, my roommates back in Provo can attest to the fact that I need to sleep with blackout curtains in my room. Light creeping through a window at night is one thing but on a plane, no matter what you do, you are constantly bathed in light. The light emitting from the video screens, tablets, phones, and other approved electronic devices becomes a baptism of unnatural, sterile white. That with the constant rumble of the engines, plus the crowded cabin, that no amount of plastic foam earplugs can drown, leads to an uncomfortable night of constantly shifting in your seat. I can generally handle some noise (unless it sounds like someone is getting murdered outside my window, but let’s be real, that doesn’t happen often in Provo), but something about the rumble of an airplane surpasses even the rowdiest nights I experienced living in Chile (they really know how to party). In other words, by the time I post this, I will have been awake for close to 30 straight hours. 

Anyway, you probably aren’t here to listen to me rant. You want to hear about my life (or else you are definitely in the wrong place). The last week flew by. I planned to take all of my finals on the very first day that they were available so I could drive home that Saturday and spend Easter with the family. It ended up being one of my best ideas yet in my short life.

Saturday, I realized that I needed to make sure I had a friend to accompany me with all my travels. I realized that an inflatable alligator/crocodile pool toy I bought last summer would make a great companion. My friend Kristen and I christened him, Sir Philip last June and the name stuck. I plan on taking him with me everywhere this summer. I hope it is cute and fun, not creepy. Either way, it is going to happen.

The rest of the time I was with my parents, it was preparing myself to go to Africa. Some errands were easier than others but late on Thursday, I had everything I needed for both Paris and Malawi. There were a few moments this week where it finally hit me that I would be leaving the country for three and a half months. I really didn’t expect to leave the country for this long again after my two year LDS mission in Chile, but I guess this is actually happening.

It also merits mentioning that I made it to Paris alive and at least physically well (mentally is still in question). I am going to have to re-watch all the movies I watched on this flight to make sure I didn’t just enjoy them because I have officially hit my limit, or if they were actually good. Sir Philip, who spent the entire trip packed in a duffle bag also appears to be holding up pretty well. The taxi ride from the airport was pretty interesting (I saw three drug deals from the taxi window), but we are actually staying in a really nice neighborhood. My brother and his wife are renting a flat for about a week from a friend of theirs. We can walk to the Notre Dame and the Louvre from this place. It is pretty freaking great. My family and I will try and be good about taking pictures while we are here and I am going to try and post something every 3 days or so. 

Peace out,


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Beginnings?

Hello World!

For those who don't know me, I am Topher McNeil. Some people call me Chris, fewer call me CJ, but I hope that many of you consider me a friend. A few years ago, I set up this blog named "The Chronicles of Toph" right before I left on my two year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in ConcepciĆ³n, Chile. It was an incredible experience that I loved and cherished. After I returned from Chile in July 2012, I forgot that this blog even existed. In all honesty, I feel really guilty because two whole years of my life are chronicled right here but have been left completely untouched for way too long. I think what is inspiring me to write again is the name "The Chronicles of Toph". I feel like I currently have a chapter of my life documented here but I think it is about time that I add to this chapter. So where do I begin...

So I still try to see my mission friend as often as I can, which I admit has been way harder than I thought it would be. I love these guys so much, but life happens. 

Right after I returned from Chile, I decided to change my major at Brigham Young University from physiology to Food Science. That is easily the best decision I've made in these past two years. In my major, I have participated in a lot of really fun events, including product development competitions, working in a research lab, TAing for the Essentials of Food Science lab, College Bowl competitions, etc. It has been a wild and crazy experience but I can't wait to do it all again next year.

I also made the wonderful decision of living with some of my best friends. Life has thrown the most incredible people in my life and I cherish every one of them. Occasionally, things get rough but I know that I will always be loved by my friends.

I have kept up the BYU Cougar Marching Band, playing trombone and being a member of the logistics committee. It has been wonderful and it makes me incredibly sad that next year will be my last as a part of the band.

I don't think I can really fit two whole years of my life into one post but understand that they have been wonderful. I went from no nieces and nephew when I left for Chile, and now I have the incredible experience of being an uncle to 3 nephews and my niece who I am really excited to meet when I get back from my adventures this summer. I have also spent a lot of time discovering who I am as a person. I am so glad that I know who I am and what I stand for. I would never want to be anyone, or anything other than the person I am today.

I have been blessed with the amazing opportunity to do an internship in Malawi this summer and I am preparing myself to leave for it. It is going to be a great experience and I know I'll learn a lot. I'll keep you all posted on all my adventures. I mainly just need to survive my finals but then it is off to Paris with my family, then 3 months in Malawi. I couldn't be more excited!

If you are reading this, know that I am going to throw in a lot of humor and this will be a fun blog to read. This post may have been a little dry, but if you know me, you know that that isn't what you should expect from here on out.