Disclaimer

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Monday, December 22, 2008

We Get On

After the snow started on Thursday, I dug up my library cards and started searching the internet catalogs. I've been keeping book lists for ages now, but between school, then summer, then being in Mexico (excuses all, I know) it feels like that last time I actually sat down for a good hard read (besides textbooks) was all the way back during.. surprise surprise... last Winter Break. I'm exercising a muscle that hasn't been used much - I read slower than I used to, although you could say I'm savoring the writing. Sentences, whole paragraphs will rush past in a frighteningly similar manner as my old Global Business textbook, and this time I want to know. But even if it's slower going, I'm enjoying myself. It's nice to spend an evening indoors cuddled up with a mug of cocoa. Plus I got my van stuck in the driveway coming home tonight, and I'm waiting until tomorrow to try and dig it out.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Welcome Home!

Coming home was like leaning back into a steaming hot raspberry-scented bubble bath. My mom picked me up at the airport with a handful of balloons, and from there everything just moved perfectly. Dinner with the parents, Scott bursting with nerdy information to share with me when I got home, a bed covered in piles of blankets. The new house is incredible - it winds around and has new rooms hidden in every corner, with an intercom system to keep track of the other people in the house (Scott refers to it as the Windsor Palace.) Today I drove the van all over the Tacoma-Federal Way area, visiting my grandmother and stopping by the old house, then getting lost trying to find my way home again. I've unpacked the better part of my book collection, and left everything else in boxes that will probably be ignored until summer.

Anyway, the point of all this was to share an email I got today, which really drove home the fact that I'm back where I want to be. This is from Thor, my Monsters professor:

"... I have attached a picture that somehow, to me, captures the essence of this course. Have a good holiday and don't worry about getting ready for the new quarter; there is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for this course."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Repeat

It started about a week ago when I found a recommendation for a certain band. Specifically, one song that should be put on repeat a top volume until everyone in your neighborhood is humming it as their wash their laundry.
I though, Hm, alright. Good song. ... Hey, I should listen to it again.
In the last three days I've stuck in on repeat, just the one song, and let its play count on iTunes run into the 50's. Oddly enough, it hasn't gotten old yet. (We'll see how I feel after day 4)

Loves, you've got to go listen to Blitzen Trapper's Furr. It's incredible. Here are the lyrics to catch your interest:

Yeah, when I was only 17,
I could hear the angels whispering
So I droned into the words and
wondered aimlessly about till
I heard my mother shouting through the fog
It turned out to be the howling of a dog
or a wolf to be exact.
The sound sent shivers down my back
but I was drawn into the pack.
And before long, they allowed me
to join in and sing their song.
So from the cliffs and highest hill, yeah
we would gladly get our fill,
howling endlessly and shrilly at the dawn.
And I lost the taste for judging right from wrong.
For my flesh had turned to fur, yeah
And my thoughts, they surely were turned to
instinct and obedience to God.

You can wear your fur
like the river on fire.
But you better be sure
if your makin' God a liar.
I'm a rattlesnake, babe,
I'm like fuel on fire.
So if you're gonna' get made,
don't be afraid of what you've learned.

On the day that I turned 23,
I was curled up underneath a dogwood tree.
When suddenly a girl
with skin the color of a pearl,
wandered aimlessly,
but she didn't seem to see.
She was listenin' for the angels just like me.
So I stood and looked about.
I brushed the leaves off of my snout.
And then I heard my mother shouting through the trees.
You should have seen that girl go shaky at the knees.
So I took her by the arm
we settled down upon a farm.
And raised our children up as
gently as you pleased.

And now my fur has turned to skin.
And I've been quickly ushered in
to a world that I confess I do not know.
But I still dream of running careless through the snow.
An' through the howlin' winds that blow,
across the ancient distant flow,
it fill our bodies up like water till we know.

You can wear your fur
like the river on fire.
But you better be sure
if your makin' God a liar.
I'm a rattlesnake, babe,
I'm like fuel on fire.
So if you're gonna' get made,
don't be afraid of what you've learned.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dreams

Last night I dreamed about babysitting for Jim and Pam from the Office. They'd just had a baby, and unfortunately things were falling apart. Pam had post-partum depression, and Jim had no idea how to help her out. She asked me to watch the baby for a few minutes while she went to take a walk outside, and never came back. Jim sat in a corner with his arms around his knees, shell-shocked and with no idea what to do. The last part I remember before I woke up was heading to the corner store to try and find baby formula, while wondering how the hell things had gotten so fucked up between them.

I think I need to watch the newest episode so I can reassure myself that Pam won't stay in New York.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thanks America, and especially Mary

Last night was incredible. Lots of people were convinced of the outcome before the results started coming in, but I was still skeptical. US politics have never been easy, and lately they've been getting more screwy and twisted that not much would have surprised me - either a scandal or pure stupidity on the part of American voters. Outraged and upset, yes, but not surprised.
But we pulled through! We're getting ever closer to rejecting bigotry and hate and discrimination based on too many different factors - we lost the gay marriage in California, but we elected a black president! A cultured, intelligent man who makes me want to straighten up and become a better person when I see the example he's setting.
Mary told me today about a quote from Obama, said during a quiet moment while traveling from one campaign stop to another. He asked, "What if I let people down?"
The fact that we have a president who worries about being good enough for the people he represents in so incredibly reassuring that already, months before the man will even take office, I feel lighter and more confident in the future of our country.
Mary made my day. Of course I spoke to my family and friends about the election, but it's hard being cut off from them by thousands of miles and a crummy Internet connection.
I had left home early to go to a meeting. It would be my first time heading into this part of the city, and I wasn't too sure about which bus to take. But I saw an older woman ahead of me, carrying her laundry and obviously frustrated with the traffic, wearing a Camelbak. It couldn't have been more clear that she was from the States. We stood and stared at the traffic together, made a few idle comments about the driving here, then almost simultaneously brought up the election. We were both so excited to have someone to talk to, to share the excitement and expectations and hope that we'd been feeling since early last evening.
We stopped on a quiet street corner and talked for about half an hour. We found a place in the shade and she set down her laundry, and she told me that she hadn't felt so hopeful and excited about our country's future since she was a college student at Berkley in the 1960's. Her voice lowered as she said, "After Martin Luther King was killed, I never thought I'd have hope in politics again." She was 70 years old and we cried together on the street as we hugged and celebrated a victory that I was afraid to hope for, and she thought would never come in her lifetime.
I don't know if I'll meet her again, but the memory of a perfect stranger who changed all her plans to talk excitedly and passionately about her renewed hope will always be with me. Years from now, when people ask me where I was during the election, I can tell them that I was miles away from home, separated from all my friends and family. And even still, in a city of over 6 million people, the feeling was so overpowering that strangers stopped in the street to hug and share their joy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Letting the Mind Wander

I came home late tonight - caught a bus just before ten and walked through the door to find a cold plate of spaghetti around 10:30. The bus ride was surprisingly long considering the empty streets and empty bus stops. I had time to sort through some of the thoughts flying through my head, and finally settled on planning out my paper due on Wednesday. It's a study on cultural sexuality, the differences between what the Mexicans accept and the expectations we exchange students have about appropriate behavior. It's not going to be anything serious; it's mostly just a kiss-ass way of getting out of doing the actual assignment.

Anyway, that was all way too serious for me at 10 pm on public transit. So I started thinking about this boy I've been crushing on for too long, and how I'll be leaving soon and it's all going to end. "Oh baby, I was bound for Mexico. Oh baby, I was bound to let you go." All sorts of sappy girl-with-a-crush thoughts ran through my head, over-analyzing and the usual. Then I stumbled upon an idea that made me smile. I could use my paper to find out if he likes me. (Oh dear God, did I really just write that? Am I really going to post this? Now you'll all know that I'm still 12 and asking Jessica to ask Eli if he thinks I'm cute.) Using all my school paper excuses, I could find out if the way he puts his arm around me at the bars (sigh) is just a Mexican touchy-feely thing, part of all the cheek kissing and lack of personal space, or if it's because he like likes me.

I'll probably write about my issues with men and personal space in the paper. The rest is staying here. Besides, Nick says it's obvious to the brick wall on the other side of the street when I'm crushing on someone, so I don't think I need to sink myself lower with not-so veiled hints.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Geek Out!

It's been a while since I've had a real, honest, down-to-earth geekspasm. But it hit me today, and now it's time to share.

Some of you may know about the monsters class taught at my university. It's a legend among Western students, and I've been quick to brag about it to people who don't know. That said, I've never taken it. I have my excuses - they include the usual "not enough credits to register in time" and the not-so-usual "Bruce Beasley was on sabbatical." But Bruce is back, I'm a senior with too many extra credits, and the Monsters class is on again for Winter quarter! I did a quick search of the internet and stumbled upon a true gem - the syllabus for the class! Here it is, so you can either get stoked for it and plan to sign up, or be jealous that my school is better than yours:

(note: I'm only quoting bits from Bruce's syllabus, since Thor's is disappointingly sparse and uninteresting)

TEXTS:
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Selections from John Milton, Paradise Lost
Grimms’ Fairy Tales
Flannery O’Connor, The Collected Stories
Beowulf
Nikolai Gogol, “The Nose”
Sigmund Freud, selected essays
the book of Job (King James version)
Darrin Strauss, Chang and Eng: A Novel
Bruno Bettleheim, The Uses of Enchantment.

In this course we will consider the literature, psychology, and mythology of the monstrous. The course will examine cultural fascination and repulsion toward the monstrous body through the lens of poetry, short stories, novels, fairy tales, Biblical texts, and films. We will examine ways in which the boundaries of the “normal” are questioned and dissolved by confrontations with monstrous otherness, both dreamed and real: the vampire and werewolf; the Leviathan; the fifty-foot woman and the incredible shrinking man; the moral monstrosity of Satan’s Milton and O’Connor’s murderous Misfit; the comic monstrosity of Gogol’s Nose that secedes from the body and takes on a cultured and socially successful life of its own. We will examine the ways in which societies constructed fantasies of the monstrous in order to confront (and mythologize) their deepest cultural and individual fears, as they externalize into film, fairy tale, literature, and scripture some of the monsters that lie outside and within.

This course is linked to Geology 204 in which we’ll be considering the physiology and science of the monstrous body through the fossil record of prehistoric “monsters” and through study of the “monstrous” bodies of whales, sharks, giant squids, and arthropods. The objective of the course is to combine scientific and humanistic investigation of human reactions to the monstrous in both its inhuman and human forms (and especially in those monstrous imaginations of forms in which the monstrous inhuman becomes inseparably merged with the human body through excess, deformity, and human-inhuman hybrids like the werewolf and vampire).

Week One. The psychology of revulsion. Freud, “The Uncanny.” Bettleheim, from The Uses of Enchantment. Brothers Grimm, “Hansel and Gretel”; Beauty and the Beast”

Week Two. The monstrous as revelatory. Flannery O’Connor, “Good Country People,” “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” Ambrose Paré, “On Monsters and Marvels.” Book of Job.

Week Three. Gigantism and Excess. The monstrous as the excessive, the too-large, the terrifyingly outgrown: the cultural background of monster films, including selections from Attack of the 50-Foot Woman; King Kong; Godzilla; Mothra

Week Four. The monstrous and excess, continued: conjoined twins; the “double monster”; selections from Chang and Eng: A Novel. Monstrosity as a parasitic doubleness inside the body: scenes from Alien.

Week Five. Monstrosity through excessive subtraction: the part become the whole. Gogol, “The Nose.” Selections from Michael Paterniti, Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain

Week Six. The Beast Inside, and the Charming Monster. Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. The Stepfather.

Week Seven. The Beast Outside. Selections from Beowulf. Kafka, “The Metamorphosis”; Hitchcock, The Birds

Week Eight. The Beast Inside and Outside. Bram Stoker, Dracula

Weeks Nine and Ten. Technology and Monstrosity. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


This class is intense, in case you can't tell. My brother took it the first year it was offered - if I remember correctly, I was a senior in high school at the time. He complained about the extensive reading required, but got incredibly involved in the project where he got to create and develop his own monster. It's an 8 credit course, 5 days a week for an hour and a half. It's not for the weak of heart or lackluster interest.

However, if one isn't scared off by the amount of work involved, just think about it! I've never met Bruce Beasley, but I've heard he's a pretty rad dude. As for Thor... I've been more than a bit creepy about him in the past. I've taken his Geology and Dinosaurs courses and stalked him on Facebook before it became popular to do. He's an incredibly entertaining guy, a bigger (and more interesting) nerd than any I've ever met, and anyone can imagine the atmosphere with the two of them working together. You've seen the Facebook photos, heard of the infamous Monster Sex lecture, and I know more than a few of my friends snuck in to watch the final project presentations in the class.

As for me, personally, I've been dying to take real classes again. But now, this! I get to take real classes, AND take the monster class I've had my eyes set on since HIGH SCHOOL. I could not possibly be any more excited for Winter quarter to start than I am RIGHT NOW.

You did notice they're using scenes from Alien to demonstrate monstrosity, right? Flashbacks to Dinosaurs: "And in case you're having a hard time imagining this, here's a clip from Jurassic Park. I love this fight scene!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Snapshot

Johanna and I are standing just inside the street vendor's hut, full of jewelry in all shapes, sizes, colors, and metals. The streets are wet with rain, but now that it's stopped the humidity is quickly coming back. I've already bought what I wanted. I knew I could get him to go lower on the price, but my dad had given me 400 pesos to spend. It's hard to feel cheated when it wasn't your money in the first place, and besides, he flat out told us that because we speak Spanish, he would give us a better price. Johanna, however, refuses to back down. I know she wants her necklace, but she's making it difficult. She tells the vendor, Roberto, "I can use this money to buy lots of other things besides this necklace." He counters, "So can I, like food. For my children." She recoils laughingly, saying, "That's not fair!"
Roberto offers us some of his homemade tequila, which burns and stings and disinfects all at the same time. It smells like grass and leaves, and I wonder passingly if it's going to leave me huddled, sick and shaking, in the bathroom later on. Even after we've made our purchases and gone on to find somewhere to eat, I can feel the tequila burning in my throat and sinuses.
After a few more minutes of haggling, which includes story-telling and bragging and straight-up lying on both sides, Johanna gets her price. She thanks him, and apologizes for ripping him off. "Just a little," he says with a smile, and invites us to come back another day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A True Love Story

Finally fed up with sitting inside the library, I pack up my things and settle down at a table outside the cafeteria. I've been enjoying the fresh air for about 10 minutes when the downpour starts. Students and teachers alike start running for the doors, but goddamnit, I just got out here! So I scoot my things to the other side of the table, under the protection of the umbrella, and obstinately continue to read my article.
After about 5 minutes, the entire outside patio has cleared. Except for one boy. We make eye contact with each other and smile, glad to find a kindred spirit who's not afraid of a little rain. I got back to my article.
Another 5 minutes later and I've decided it's a good time for a cigarette. The rain still hasn't let up, so I take the time to admire the trees and the sky and.. Oh wait, the boy over there is smoking a cigarette, too. We smile at each other again, and just like that, I think I've experienced the most profound love affair of my life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grindhouse

Have you watched the credits to Planet Terror? Seriously, have you?

Mr. Rodriguez's cook: Robert Rodriguez

And there's no way that's just a coincidence, because I once watched a cooking video starring Robert Rodriguez, talking about a sandwich he really likes to make. But why did he have to put himself in the credits as his own cook?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Alive, Part 2

Have you been following the news coming out of Mexico? If you haven't, don't worry. I didn't expect you to. My parents didn't know either. But it's important for you to know.

During the Mexican Independence celebration in Morelia, an unknown man lobbed a grenade into the crowd. It landed about 30 feet from where I was standing, drinking beers and dancing with a group of students and strangers.

I'm fine, but there are hundreds of people who aren't. Eight dead, over a hundred injured, and every one of their friends and family members in mourning. Not to mention the others in the crowd who made it out okay physically, but emotionally scarred.

I've been handling it pretty well, but when I've been sitting quietly alone in my thoughts for a while, invariably they turn to Monday night. I'll never be able to forget the blast of hot air that swept past us, and I've already noticed that firecrackers and other loud noises make me wince.

Mexican Independence here is a big deal, bigger than the 4th of July. Everybody is asking everybody else what they did over the weekend, and it's painful to see the way their faces crumble and the enthusiasm leaks out of them when I say I was in Morelia.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Still Alive!

But barely. Tuesday last week I came down with either malaria or yellow fever or West Nile Virus or AIDS or a very bad cold. I holed up in my bed, moved as little as possible, switched back and forth between hot and cold flashes, and ate no more than the equivalent of a small piece of bread each day. By Friday I was ready to climb out of bed, only to come down with actual cold symptoms (runny nose, etc.), intense digestive problems, and stomach cramps.

Sounds fun, right??

Yesterday I ate an entire tortilla with cheese and special sauce, plus a bottle of Coke and a several apples. Oh god, guys, seriously. It felt like a feast meant for a king.

So of course, tempting fate as always, I headed out early this morning with some other girls here for our kickboxing class. We're trying to figure out an exact schedule for our workout classes, and it doesn't help that sometimes they're cancelled with no explanation. Like today. So instead we went to the upper floor of the gym and joined the spinning class, and I think I spent more time watching the puddle of sweat grow under my bike than watching the teacher.

After, out of curiosity, I weighed myself on a scale and used the kilo-pound converter on Johanna's phone. Guess what! Whether it's entirely from my near-death illness or not, I've lost at least 15 lbs here!

I feel wonderful, but I think I need another nap.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Bad

What can I say, really? There I was, enjoying a taco and a Pepsi with Amber and our new friend Roberto. Out of curiosity, both because I've slept only 3 hours total in the last 48, and because Roberto suggested that we hang out some more, I asked the time. Turns out, it was after 5am. Ooops.
Started the night out at Argentinian Ana's again, this time for the official Foosball tournament that occurs once every six months. They had a video on Youtube to introduce the players (projected onto a blank wall), an official Foosball tournament anthem, and team uniforms! Ana said it's been going on two years now, and honestly, I can't think of a better hobby to develop when it turns out the way these tournaments have.
I'm not sure when we decided to head to Wall Street. I'd left my phone at home, so in all honestly, the night went from 10pm when we left the house to 5am at the taco stand. The in-between time was good fun - the whole group of exchange students and their welcoming friends took over the dance floor, sang passionately along with Guns 'N Roses as well as less-known (for me, not the locals) Mexican ballads, and overall proved ourselves to be young and resilient.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Futbolito". How cute!

Thursdays are fast becoming my favorite days here, for obvious reasons. It's the day of my literature class, which I stress out over and think I'll probably fail, but I love the content anyway. I'm done with the day by 11am, and then it's the weekend! Whatever I may do with the day, it's probably always going to end over at the Argentinian girl Ana's house, where they hold Foosball tournaments and prefunk before heading out to the clubs. This morning we made it home shortly after 4am.

A lot of the students here have been complaining about the disrespect shown in the classroom. Students leave to answer their cellphones, smoke a cigarette, or go buy food. The process involves saying goodbye to every one of their friends as they leave, and hello when they return. The professors usually don't say a word; they just continue on with their lecture unheard. And let's not forget the continuous conversations taking place in various corners of the classroom.
At least, this is what I've heard. My experiences in the classroom have been a lot less horrifying. Students still get up and leave regularly, but usually with a minimum amount of attention-seeking. Professors are vague about the homework, but it's not hard to ask for clarification.
But one thing I will agree on. The lectures usually contain about twenty minutes' worth of information in a two-hour lecture. I realize semesters allow for more time to cover the information, but come on! It's almost as if the students here expect the teachers to write their notes for them, holding their hands the entire time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time'sa Wastin'

I've noticed that everything here seems to move at a much slower pace. It takes an hour to get to school, classes more or less start ten minutes after the hour, dinner often lasts more than two hours, and even a simple task like getting a visa photo taken can take an entire afternoon.

Take, for example, today. My second day of classes. Upon arriving at the school, I discovered that my class had been changed to a different room. After asking around a bit, I found the room. But, of course, no one was there. So back I go to the office and find out, oh, not only was the classroom changed, but so was the day! There was little choice in the matter, so now my schedule is a lot less awesome and a lot more annoying. Anyway. I'd agreed to meet the Finnish girl (Johanna) after classes (which were supposedly in the same building at the same time), so I decided to take care of a few errands and walk around the campus some more. I ran into Paty a little later, so we spent the hour left walking around and chatting with various other exchange students. The story continues along this thread for a while, me running into other students and chatting, moving on, finding more people to talk to, until the next thing I know it's almost 2. I'd gotten to school at nine!

Of course that's not all. The second leg of the adventure took place off-campus for another 3+, which consisted of catching a bus, getting our visa photos, and walking maybe a mile from the photo place to our house. I was hurting like crazy because of various bumps and sores I've acquired in the last week, Amber was complaining about the walking the whole time, Johanna was too excited about her new Nokia phone to care about any of us, and Paty just plain didn't want to go home to her empty house.

So now it's 6, I've walked at least three miles today, and have nothing to show for myself except more blisters on my feet and a fading sunglasses tan.

I love this country!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Know Spanish Slang

For breakfast here, we usually have fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was great the first day, absolutely refreshing and invigorating, but it's more like drinking orange-flavored pulp than orange juice. So I bought myself a big box of chamomile tea and went back to drinking two cups of tea every morning.

The day before yesterday I was stung by a bee. My toe has swollen up to twice its size, and when we got back from last night's party, I took of my tennis shoes to find a blister the size of a peanut M&M. Big and puffy and ready to burst. So I poked it with a needle, and now all the skin on my toe is shriveled and white and sick-looking. I think my toe's going to fall off.

As for last night's party, it was thrown by an ITESO student named Chuy. Some of the other exchange students showed up, but mostly it was local Guadalajara kids hanging out and listening to american hiphop (yeah Akon!). Everyone was super nice and friendly, and after a beer or two I loosened up, stopped being nervous about so many people speaking Spanish, and started joining in the conversations. Amber and I got quite a few numbers, both guys and girls, as well as more information about local happenings. Today, for example, they rent bikes in the park near our house. Main streets all over Guadalajara are shut down until 8pm, and everyone takes to the streets on their bicycles. How awesome!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Damn, school is far away!

Today was the actual orientation, rather than the fake one that I convinced myself existed yesterday. It was more or less interesting - no, I take that back. It was complete bull shit. The whole chat in the auditorium was the same stuff you hear whenever you travel - safety tips, location propaganda, and warnings about feeling depressed. For two hours. Finally it ended, and we continued to sit and fill out paperwork for our student visas. That'll be fun, since I have until next Friday to pay $100 (dollars, not pesos) to get a visa that says I'm allowed to study in Mexico. Even if I had prepared for this beforehand in Seattle, it still would cost me $60. I guess it's typical, having to pay large sums of money to the government while traveling, but I'm still chafing over it.

Okay, so finally, after four hours of eating up our time, they show us to the lunch. Bowls full of chili, hand-made corn tortillas, pico de gallo, more bowls of meat and potatoes. It was like Heaven, and all of us were getting cranky from low blood sugar and dehydrated. And you know what they made us do instead of eating?

Play a game.

Yeah.

Getting to know you games when the food is getting cold right in front of our eyes.

It was interesting enough. The idea is to work together, lifting and pushing and pulling each other one by one through squares of rope without touching the sides. Once two people went through every square, the rest had to go over the top! With 60+ people, it was chaos. For a few moments we all just stood there and cursed in our respective languages, threatening to just walk away and go buy food somewhere else.

But we did it in the end. And then we ate, and the tortillas and meat were delicious. Then I won a free ITESO tshirt, got my school ID, and started on the longest adventure home yet.

It took Amber and I three hours to get home, from going to the wrong bus stops to taking wrong turns, asking for directions from nearly every person we passed. We finally got back to the casa at seven. TEN HOURS after we left for orientation. Gloria had had dinner sitting and waiting for probably two hours by then, but she reheated it and commiserated and pretty recognized that it was a necessary evil for us to finally figure out our way around. And just in case we haven't learned yet, her son Diego is printing us off a few maps of the city right now.

Meanwhile, I'm not getting off this couch until the battery in my laptop dies.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day One

As soon as I realized I'd be getting in to Guadalajara two hours later than expected, I figured my night would consist of getting to the hostel, throwing down my suitcase, and falling lovingly into a hard twin bed with only one pillow.

I got that last part right. The rest varied.

Turns out, even though I have very little confidence in my Spanish, I'm doing well enough to meet kind strangers at every turn. Maybe it's just the cute and slightly lost American girl aspect that's getting me by, but I don't think it is. My experiences traveling have proved again and yet again that strangers are generally kind hearted, helpful, and willing to try an adventure. One example would be the girls who drove me to the hostel from the airport. None of us had any idea where to go, and after getting off the freeway we spent a good thirty minutes going up and down one-way streets, on the phone with the hostel, trying to figure out where we were.

As for today, I spent the better part of it walking up and down the local streets, searching for various destinations. On no less than four separate trips I've walked a minimum of a mile each time, looking first for a grocery store, then a bookstore, lunch, and finally another bookstore. Later I'll be heading out with another girl from the hostel to find some form of dinner for under 20 pesos.

I'm really satisfied with the trip so far. I was afraid I'd be overwhelmed, or that I wouldn't find someone to commiserate with, or that Guadalajara in general would just be too different to get used to. And yes, there was a moment this morning around 9 am when I was walking through the freshly-doused streets, dodging spray kicked up by the speeding cars, when I wondered just what the Hell I thought I was doing, signing up to spend four months away from all my friends and family just to run around by myself while barely understanding the words being spoken over my head. But now it's 7 pm, and I'm a bit sleepy, and I have a giant cup of horchata to soothe me. Whatever happens next, I'd be terribly disappointed to have missed it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

August 11th is Here!!!

Alright guys, this is it. In two hours I'll be at the airport, getting ready to start the adventure. My parents just woke me up so I could say good-bye before they went to work, and now I'm doing the final packing for my suitcase. There are just a few last minute tasks to take care of, such as changing my voicemail message and mailing off insurance information to the university (shit! can you believe I waited this long?!)

See you in Mexico!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Sorrows

So I think I'm cursed. I've managed to abuse and destroy every digital camera I've ever owned. Last Christmas, I got my very first and favorite camera. Two weeks later I dropped it during low tide into the water and sand, permanently scarring the lens. I coughed up the money to replace it, and went along happily from there. Then this spring, during one of our better apartment parties, the camera got dropped onto the kitchen counter from, oh, maybe a foot in the air. It never recovered. Since Mexico is coming up very, VERY soon now, I finally hopped to it and replaced the second broken camera with a small, lovely new Nikon Coolpix. It even came with a carrying case, so I wouldn't destroy it when I inevitably dropped it!

Instead it's either stolen or lost. One day it was sitting happily in the bottom of my purse, the next, I go to take a picture and it's gone. I really, really don't want to buy myself a fourth camera in less than two years. Unfortunately, I can afford it (but damn I'll be sore about it) so if it hasn't shown up by Sunday evening, I'm going back to Costco.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Current Events

Sometimes I like to catch up on the most obvious forms of corruption and deceit in our country. When the mood strikes, I turn to Don't Tase Me, Bro. Often, and tonight is no exception, by the time I reach the fifth or sixth entry, I'm ready to puke, hide my head under my pillow, or attempt to erase the entire reading from my mind. It's a challenge to confront those feelings, recognize what they say about my country, and try to reevaluate my opinions. While the experience is never enjoyable, I keep the website readily available. Reading about these dealings is the only way I can claim to be educated and informed. I can't back up my side of an argument without evidence, no matter how sick I may feel about researching it.

Passing Judgement

I'm officially declaring this summer as the #2 Best Summer of My Life So Far. With time, I might re-rank it up to #1, but I'll need some perspective first. I've managed to completely avoid stress, emotional instability, and severe boredom. In fact, even if it's a day spent sin human interaction, I'm still getting out and exploring the area and plowing through books. Basically, it's just been entirely relaxing, a time for me to fill up on good memories and warm sun and lack of responsibility before I go off and kill myself over the stress of living in a foreign country and not knowing the language.

Since I'm leaving Bellingham a week from today, I'm trying to pack in as much time with Irene as I can. We went out for drinks and fries yesterday, then finished off the night watching The Neverending Story. Today we spread a blanket and read books in the sun, baked a cake, found Super Mario's Taco Truck, and best of all, we raided her boyfriend's record collection and made ourselves a pile of old classic rock/blue grass/ country music to listen to. Right now Jethro Tull is showing off his fluting skills, earlier Bob Seger was telling me how I'm still the same, and up next Dolly Parten, EmmyLou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt are going to step up to the mic.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Transitioning

Very, very soon, this is going to turn into my travel blog. Traveblog? A little less than a month from now, I'll be in Guadalajara! Four months of living abroad! Okay, I know I'll get homesick and feel out of place and I might even be disappointed in it all, but right now, four months seems far too short.

To prep for my going-away, I packed up (some of) my suitcase. I think I'll be able to fit everything, but I also haven't done the real deal so who knows what I'll try to jam in at the last minute? The shoe corner is steadily morphing into a shoe layer, and..

.. and I just watched my neighbor across the street walk around her living room in her underwear. I feel like such a perv, except I put on the same show most nights of the week. Not tonight, though. In response to an achy sore throat and stiff muscles from all that swimming yesterday, I've curled up in my favorite rowing sweatshirt with a nostalgic Latin American novel written by Isabel Allende.

Anyway, Mexico. Coming up. Very nervous, very excited, kind of afraid to talk about it with people because it is just so BIG. and IMPORTANT. And I'm leaving so many people/ things/ relationships behind, I don't want to think about it all having an expiration date.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well! Being back in the Federal Way has been very, very nice. While I'm disappointed that Chanel never returned my calls (we're pushing over 6 months since our last visit), I've been on really good terms with Scott this time around. No fighting, no snarking, no yelling... The days when we can have a decent conversation, let alone tell jokes and hang out, are few and far between. Instead, we spent a few hours playing with my laptop's webcam, talked about books, and took Mom out to see Wall-E.

The other piece of even mildly interesting activity down here was the shopping trip Dad and I took to Fred Meyer. We spent a good 45 minutes dragging suitcases up and down the aisles, fiddling with handles, kicking sidings, checking seams, and of course comparing prices. I'm pretty sure I can fit and zip myself up inside the thing. Hooray!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Long Hot Summer

Coming home from work just a short while ago, I didn't take time to wonder what I would do with the evening. After a 30+ bike ride in the glaring sun during the hottest hours of the day, followed by four looong hours at a too-loud workplace, I was in no position to question my instincts. I simply acted on autopilot.

That's how I've come to find myself laying in a pile of nearly every blanket I own, head propped up by pillows, laptop resting on my knees, drinking a beer and preparing to watch Dexter until I fall asleep.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Finally!

After yesterday's woodland adventure, I've had an insatiable craving to get outside again and be on the move. Luckily for me, I moved my bike into the living room and pumped up the tires a few days ago.
So post-work, I took to the roads and did the warm-up loop from last year. You know, around through Fairhaven, along State, downtown and back again. I continued on down Old Fairhaven until I hit 32nd, then detoured for a glass or two of wine from one of my favorite redheads. It felt great to be moving, exercising old muscles, flying down streets on my little red road bike, and eventually climbing off and finding my legs shaking from the exertion.
I think tomorrow I'll run a mile or two on the track. What better time than now to rekindle my old loves?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day Off (Sort Of)

Since I don't work until 5, and dumb Irene works until 5, I found myself with an empty afternoon. I took the time to finally clean the apartment, and after two hours of scrubbing and vacuuming and dusting and rearranging, guess what? I know it's clean, but nobody else would be able to tell.

We wrecked this place this year. Oops.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Home Comfort

Brent got a Wii about a month ago and never told me. (Granted, we don't see each other as much as last year.) He brought it home with him this weekend, though, and it's been mad fun playing it on our parents' giant plasma tv.

Right now is really adorable. We're behaving just like we did in high school. I'm on the couch with a book, Brent's doing his video game thing, and there's a laptop with a walkthrough set up for me to read to him when he gets stuck.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Before I Sleep

Fuck bitch shit. The calf is still knotted up and twisted and painful. I take hop skips to get started after standing up.

Went and saw Hulk with my brothers and dad tonight. Great movie? Terrible? Hard to decide. It was definitely entertaining, but not something that will stick with me for very long. Can you believe they all thought Hulk was terrific and Indiana Jones was hokey? I can't. I love the men in my family, but we obviously appreciate completely different things from our movies.

My dad and I had a late-night argument/discussion about our political beliefs, values, and the choices he made that led him to where he is now. I'm walking away from the conversation feeling torn. He was young and idealistic once, just like me. But he had kids and settled and picked the easier route and essentially walled himself up in the middle class suburban lifestyle so I could be raised happy, healthy, and protected. He did a great job. Any complaints I have about my childhood or the way my parents raised me are simply comments coming from the ungrateful and consistently dissatisfied part of me that I try to shut out.

He also warned me that, when it comes down to it, having kids myself will probably bring out the same behaviors from me. I want to disagree. I want to say that I'll always be up for an adventure, to help people and be self-sacrificing. I think of the couple I met in Peru, whose names I can't recall right now, but they had a one year old daughter named Ilana. They seemed to be successful on both fronts. She was an engineer, he took tourists out on white water rafting trips. They traveled on and off throughout the year, switching between his mother's ranch in Peru and her parents' place in Colombia. They were young and educated and idealistic, they worked on sustainability projects with Pocha on the ranch, and meanwhile they raised a kid. Maybe Ilana won't have the same safe protected childhood my parents envision kids need, but I feel that her parents' lifestyle is going to bring her so much more.

I want that for my future. For myself, for my kids, for anyone else who thinks it sounds good. I don't want to compromise and choose a way of life that isn't great, that makes me feel uncomfortable when I think about it, all for the sake of feeling safe.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I can't walk =(

I woke up with a nasty charlie horse this morning. I was still a bit drunk from the night before, but even with the numbing effects of alcohol I was crying and cursing and writhing in pain. It even left a little friendly reminder behind - all day, I've been unable to walk/stand up/climb stairs/do anything requiring the use of my left calf muscle without first stumbling and saying "fuck" under my breath. A coworker claims she had one that stuck around for days.

If that's the case, I will be relying heavily on the rest of my vicodin prescription.

There's been a rash of robberies going on lately, or at least ones occurring to people I know. My brother's girlfriend had her house broken into a few weeks ago. Then just a few days ago another boy I know was robbed. Worse, he's been calmly and professionally selling huge quantities of weed to pay for college. He lost thousands of dollars, and thousands of dollars more worth of electronics and computer equipment. Petty thieves or people who knew him and knew what to find, those robbers went home rolling in their newfound wealth.

I know we're supposed to hiss and spit and give the evil eye to drug dealers, and the majority of them I've met have been completely sketched out, but this boy comes from a different line of suppliers. He's clean cut, hard-working, intelligent, friendly, and basically everything but what you'd expect. No one deserves to be robbed, but this kid least of anyone.

I got a second job for the summer. I'm basically doing the same things I did as a lifeguard, only minus the water and plus giant inflatable bouncy rooms. I'm determined to use my employee benefits to jump and tumble and play on them myself after hours. My first day is Tuesday, and I'm actually really excited to start. It seems more interactive with the customers, low-key, and even if the place smells a bit funny I'm sure I'll enjoy myself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Awwww Yeah

At sixteen, my parents sent me out to find a summer job. At each of the 5 places I applied to, I got a job offer.

I picked the swimming pool, which was maybe a good idea and maybe bad, because I haven't had to seriously apply for a job since. Once in the pool network, all surrounding facilities will take you.

This summer, though, I need more hours. Mexico is going to be costly, and I need to prepare.

I sent out two 4am applications to part-time job openings in Bellingham.

I have an interview tomorrow at 11:30.

Still got it.

Fun Fact

Since Brent took back his TV, our only option left is my old 12-inch with a VCR. My laptop screen is bigger - just more of a reason to watch Surf the Channel instead.

Also. I should've known tonight would turn into an all-nighter.

Disconnected thoughts

Went out to Jalapeno's for Happy Hour with two of the roommates and Ky, and it was GREAT. Big Mamas are not notorious for nothing. After downing two and a pizza pan full of nachos, my entire goal for the rest of the afternoon was to find someplace warm to fall asleep. The boys steered me away from the park across the street, seeing as it's been raining intermittently for the last, oh, FIVE YEARS.

Ended up in my bed, which is never a bad place to find myself after a drinking bout.

Woke up to yelling in the kitchen, as usual. Meghan had come for a visit, I'm not sure why, I was still a bit muddled. Right before she left, though, she threw out that her friend from Friday thought I looked like I'd be fun to cuddle with. Of course, now I'd like to track this boy down and give it a go. Facebook made finding him a non-issue, but I don't think I have the guts to follow through.

Where was I going? Oh, yes. After an excellent kung-fu movie viewing with Nick, we trundled off to campus to take advantage of the beautiful, wonderful, heart-squeezing event known as 25 Cent Coffee During Finals Week.

Now it's a bit late, more than a bit late, actually stupidly late considering I have one last final tomorrow. Caffeine is coursing through me, my fingers are jittery, and the urge to sleep is completely gone.

Speaking of sleeping, last night I dreamed of pterodactyls and running away from them while wearing filmy, floaty Victorian-era dresses. And kid gloves.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Waiting for the sun

It's been yet another gloomy day here in Bellingham. I locked myself in the computer lab for four hours after acing a final, and I have mixed feelings about the experience.

Pro: finished my portfolio that is due tomorrow
Con: was in the computer lab for four hours
Pro: did not have to walk home during the onslaught of all rain in Bellingham's clouds
Con: missed the thunder and lightning show, and the lights flickering
Pro: ran into an old friend and we agreed to go out for a drink soon
Con: now have blisters on my feet from walking in wet shoes

Also I spent a lovely evening catching up with Sharron. Sometimes I just want to kidnap her and make her spend a day talking to me. She's completely inscrutable sometimes, we'll spend a few hours together and I'll still have no idea what's going through her head. Then other times, like tonight, I get a real solid idea of what makes her tick, what's been effecting her everyday.

The three glasses of sangria helped, I think.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More Notes from the Computer Lab

Fun story learned from a mostly tedious presentation day.

Horchata is a traditional Spanish drink that has variation among all Spanish-speaking countries. Legend says that the name comes from King Juame I, King of Aragorn. After being served the drink for the first time by a servant girl, he asked her the name. She told him, and he said, "No, això es or, xata!" (No, that's gold, girl!) And thus, horchata.

Made from milk, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon, it was the most deliciously comforting drink I have ever had. I'll be making lots of it over the summer, I'm sure.

AND OH GOD. I forgot I downloaded Lil Jon's Get Low. It just came onto my iPod and I swear, for a second I thought some jackass was blasting terrible music in the computer lab.

Warning: Dangerous Website for Women

I could totally spend thousands on a vacation in the French countryside. This one was the most garish I could find, and I'm in love. Proof that even oodles of money could never give me class.



Monday, June 2, 2008

Dead Week

Dead Week is just beginning, the true Finals panic has yet to set in, and the computer labs are only at half-capacity. Written on the white board at the front of the room is this poem:

My candle burns at both ends,
It will not last the night.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light.
-- Millay

It's rather ominous, wouldn't you agree?

Brent asked what I wanted for my birthday. I told him to get me some pants.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And Now, Let's Talk About Me Some More

I just didn't feel like the content of this post would mesh well with the contents of the previous. So here they are, two in one day, when usually I'm lucky to get 5 in a whole month.

I've run out of pants. They all have holes, these holes have been stitched up, and now the stitched bits are falling apart. Other just don't fit anymore, which makes sense, they're throwbacks I've been keeping around since my high school days. But this is becoming a very serious problem. Usually one pair of jeans works as the bottom half of my wardrobe for two weeks - now I have nothing. I pulled out some old capris that gloriously still fit, so every sunny day you can find my running about in green clam diggers. But what to do on gloomy, rain-threatening spring days such as today?

The answer, it turns out, is to dress up. While Jessica was visiting earlier this month, we went on a failed pants-shopping trip that ended with me purchasing an inappropriately thick, professionally chic skirt and classy heels. The weather was nice, and I doubted this ensemble would see the light of day before next December.

So I wore it today. I stayed warm despite the weather, despite the open air between my legs and the skirt. Also, my roommates wished me luck on my presentation, and on campus people asked if I had an interview later. What could I say? I told them the sad truth. I'm out of pants.

After finals I'm going shopping, come Hell or high water.

Also, last night at Boundary Bay, I pulled off a moment of rare genius. Kenny's got an ex-girlfriend that we love to hate, so when she approached our table to say hello and chat, I turned my face away to the others across the table. Holding my hands up to the side of my face, "Hey guys, which impressionistic painting am I??" and then contorted my face into the grisliest scream I could muster.

When I turned back she was gone.

A Long Lifetime

I turned 21 recently. Although I've been living it up ever since, consistently ordering beers and margaritas with my meals, I've also been haunted by a painful reality:

I am not a child anymore.

This is a fact that most people are quick to recognize; they fight for that truth to arrive and fake it if it hasn't. But our society lacks a clear definition for the difference between child and adult. It used to be when a girl had her period she became a woman. Now, not even losing your virginity guarantees that transformation. Some nations send their boys on spirit quests - if you survive, welcome back sir.

Our lines between the two descriptions have blurred. At 18, I went off to college. I ceased to have a curfew, I spent weeks without talking to my parents, and my educational success became entirely up to me. However, my parents still paid my bills, sent me money when I became broke, and called up and lectured my brother when we fought. How could that possibly be described as the circumstances of adulthood?

But I think I'm there now. School is getting hard. It requires more energy of me, energy that I'm not willing to give. But I give it anyway. Money is becoming a serious concern. I'll be working two jobs this summer, with any luck. I went on a road trip this weekend and realized that no one back home knew I had left.

The biggest sign, however, was that no one coddled me when I went to the emergency room Monday morning. And rather than feeling abandoned or unloved, I was glad for the space. I relished the time alone I had to deal with reality.

So there it is. I'm not a child anymore. I am an adult, I am responsible for myself, and I am glad to have finally arrived.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sap

Hormones? Wuss? What? All I know is that I'll cry at the drop of a hat.

Reading an article for my management class, they mention a company that awards its top employees with a prize of their choice, worth up to $10,000.

"It's another thing when, in addition to public recognition of your performance, you receive a college tuition fund for your child, or the Harley-Davidson motorcycle you've always dreamed of, or -- the prize everyone at the company still talks about -- the airline tickets to fly you and your family back to Mexico to visit the grandmother you haven't seen in ten years."

Yep, teary-eyed. And in public.

Not Chuck Norris Yet

I always thought I was a decently bendy person. I mean, I can't do the splits, but I feel like I'm not in the minority here.
Yeah, well, kicking in my martial arts class today taught me that not only am I a crippled old woman, but that my balance is shit, too.
Time to start practicing the splits.

Also, there are other things going on in my life besides my attempts to become Bruce Lee. They're just not as fun to think about.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I Know Kung-Fu

Okay, really, I don't. But last night was my first martial arts lesson and it was GREAT. There were only five other students, so it wasn't reminiscent of being a soldier in one man's (well, woman actually) personal army. The other new kid in class was actually a very large, very strong black man. We were partnered up so we wouldn't hold the other students back, and trust me, if you're a short little girl versus a very large man, holding a pad between you and his kicking shin is not much of a reassurance. Also, he had to kneel down so my "high" kick would actually connect.
Of course this morning I skipped class to sleep in. My left arm especially is complaining about the abuse, so I think I'll take a few Tylenol and a very hot shower before going on with my day.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Levelling the Status Quo

Also, Mission: Super! is one step closer. Nick and I now have a Very High musical compatibility.

Exceptions

It's 12:30 on a Thursday night. Most of Bellingham is out at the bars, or playing beer pong with friends in someone's garage. I'm not among them. Instead, I've settled onto the couch in the living room, my textbook and notes and computer and calculator sprawled in a mess at my feet. There's a cup of Kenny's Signature Coffee, strong enough to hold a coffee stirrer upright, nestled precariously over my practice exams. My studio headphones, second hand from an older brother, are plugged into my laptop. Bob Seger tells me about his night moves while I attempt to figure out statistics. It's not fun, not by any stretch of the definition, but it's oddly satisfying. This is an evening that I will look back on and be glad that I experienced it.
Now if only I could stop losing my goddamn eraser every time I set it down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Likes, Not Dislikes

I like to pick my scabs, and poke my bruises, and in general complain about my hurts and aches. Unfortunately, I don't bruise easily, nor do I skateboard/ rock climb/ do any activity that might result in lots of scrapes.
Which is why I am really excited about the results from this weekend's party. Bruises on my legs and back, scabs on my left arm, and sore butt muscles from all that table dancing (oh yes, I'm now a hoochie mama). I just picked the arm scab here in the coffee house, then smeared the blood a little across my arm before wiping it away and letting it bead up again. SO SATISFYING.
Probably the best part is that I'm doing this while dressed in my fanciest of fancy digs for a presentation later this afternoon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Keeping Busy

For the last two weeks or so, I've been trying to get my music compatibility with my roommate on last.fm up to Super. In order to do this, I've been listening to whatever shows up as a top artist on his profile. It hasn't paid off yet - we're still only High - but give me time. It's going to happen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Too Sunny to Stay Inside

I guess my New Year's resolution to stop being mean and negative and bitter has paid off. I personally haven't felt a change (besides a sudden shying-away from that behavior in others). But yesterday, a friend of mine was having a particularly bad one. She called me up so we could go hang out at the beach, wading in the water and picking up dead crabs, all that sort of stuff. Before we left her house, though, she smiled and said that she was glad she'd called, because she needed someone cheerful and upbeat to be around her.
She was talking about me! Who knew!
Anyway, speaking of friends, the girl I'm talking about is Sharron. You might (or might not) remember how when I first met her two years ago I was convinced she and I would only be casual acquaintances. I'm really glad I was wrong.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pardon Me, But...

I find that people who make sweeping comments about any one genre of music to be rather ignorant. There's good and bad to all of it, just because you didn't like what you were exposed to doesn't mean it applies to everything.
In general, can we please stop with all the negativity? Lately I've been trying to be more upbeat and positive, but it's hard to keep that in mind when everyone around you is trying to bring each other down. Now, I'm not talking about major girl-drama, or backstabbing, or anything really serious like that. Just in general, I'd like to see less criticism and more props.
Also, I'd like to let you all know that the treelet now has a name. Please welcome Spruce Springsteen to the family! Pictures will be up soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chilly

It's late Saturday, early Sunday. I'll be getting up to run my first 5k in few hours, so I took it easy tonight. The roomies and I, we went to a house party. I danced on a table and made a few friends, but mostly I was hot, sticky, and sober. Now I'm curled on the couch, toes dug under the cushions to keep them warm, and texting some kids named Thor and Taylor who went bowling. I don't know them, but they got Nick's phone number from somewhere, and it's fun to pretend to be a 16 year old black girl.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Refusing to Run

It's mid-April and it's snowing.
This is ridiculous
I've been sympathizing with all those folks in Utah and the other flatland states, with their constant and never-ending blizzarding. But damn, I didn't think it would happen here too!
And I just know that when I drive the van to work later, that little rock chip that's been taunting me with it's nonrepaired-state is going to turn into a nasty crack.
Last night, for some reason that made perfect sense at the time but I cannot guess at now, I convinced one of my coworker's friends to give me his jacket. I gave him a smaller one and tried to sell it off as bigger and better. ... I should probably give it back and apologize, but it's too ridiculously funny right now. I woke myself up laughing about it this morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yummy

11:30, I walk into Nick's room, keys in hand and coat on. "Get your shoes on, we're going to Haggen."
So began the midnight waffle adventure.
Nothing is quite as wonderful as standing around the kitchen late at night, waiting for your banana waffle to cook so you can cover it in chocolate syrup and whipped cream before digging in. Nothing except maybe the prospect of banana waffles for breakfast, too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Future

Today was Tiana's presentation on NGO's. First, it was lots of fun helping her cook the food and set up for the presentation. Second, wow. She did a great job. She went over all the administration details of setting up an NGO and keeping it going. It was excellent information, from the specifics about how to apply for a 501(c)3 to tips about fundraising.
I realize I have a long way to go before I can start thinking about setting up one of my own. But knowing the basic process is a first step. The next step, in the next year or two, will be to get a job with an already established NGO. As a student, I've always thought of my career in abstract terms. Now the reality is coming up, and I'm getting very excited about the prospects.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Double-Take

The Environmental Science building is notoriously ugly and stupid. Huge brightly colored tubes and vents run through the middle of the building while the hallways are treacherously crammed with fossils and models of Chuckanut Ridge. (Actually, I like these features, even if they are annoying.) They didn't even bother putting bathrooms on every floor.
That last reason is why I always stop off on the 2nd floor before going to my class on the 4th. Before, I've always noticed that there were some oddly placed chairs in the women's restroom. I realize that chairs and couches are typical of really nice restrooms, but they're usually placed in a small, quiet lounge outside the actual toilet area. Not so with the ES building. They're cheap chairs, the kind that can be found all over Western's campus, and they're right next to the sinks. Today, when I entered, there was a group of 4 girls chilling in the chairs and having a casual conversation about one of their friends.
I have to ask. Obviously Western was trying too hard to be sophisticated when they put the chairs in. But why would anyone hang out where they're constantly hearing other people peeing or (God forbid) taking a dump? Seriously guys. Ew.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Power Doesn't Run on Nothing - The Thermals

"they'll give us what we're asking for,
cause god is with us, and our god's the richest
our power doesn't run on nothing,
it runs on blood,
and blood is easy to obtain when you have no shame"

It seemed appropriate, considering it distracted me from my readings about international business and how to treat other cultures.

My endless search for the perfect combination of papers and folders to get me through classes is going in circles. I thought I had finally found the solution. A cardboard 3-ring binder, with folder inserts, and blank paper to take notes. The papers could easily be rearranged to fit in with the printout notes my professors seem so keen on this quarter. But it's not going to work. One, a 3-ring binder takes up way too much desk space compared to a spiral notebook, especially when you consider that so many of my classes are theater-style setups. Then, to my horror, after buying the binder, I realized that the damn thing barely even fits in my backpack.
But of course the spiral notebook plan isn't working out so well. Again, the printouts. Every quarter I struggle with too many papers for the small folders provided in the notebooks. They end up falling out, breaking the seems, and making the notebook bulge so much that the covers fall off.
I tried having individual folders for each class, and using those along with the notes in my spirals. But why would I keep two sets of notes for each class? I nixed that idea within two days.
I'll give the binder the benefit of the doubt and use it tomorrow. If it doesn't work, I'm shifting back to the familiar yet still pain in the ass bulging notebooks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Such a Girl

Absolutely heartbreaking. I teared up while reading the parent's testimonial.

"We had a long/tough season last year. Saturday made up for everything. I want to sincerely thank you for making Saturday so unbelievable. It was like a birthday, Christmas, and New Years Eve captured in a few amazing hours. "
Tuey's 21st birthday today, so at midnight we drove to Haggen, bought some beers, and shotgunned them out on the balcony.



Cheers!

Monday, April 7, 2008

ISTJ

I just took the Keirsy Temperament Sorter for my management type. I am the Madame Pince librarian/ Freaks and Geeks PE teacher type. "Often this type seem to have ice in their veins."

And just like that my life has been proven worthless. Maybe I can convince Kenny to poison my portion of dinner tonight.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mystery

How's this for odd? Earlier this afternoon Nick and I were hanging out in my room, him doing crosswords on my bed while I listened to an NPR podcast in my chair. (On that note, I've really got to make new friends. Nick's great, but I'm sure all my talk about organic lip balms and rose-scented salves is going to curtail our roommate hangout times.) So, after Kenny made dinner, I went out to run a few errands. When I came home, I found a lone Cadbury Cream Egg nestled in my bed covers.
Nick knows nothing about it.
I changed my sheets last weekend.
There is absolutely no explanation for it.
One thing is for sure. I'm not eating it. It's going into my box of wonderful things, where I can ponder its mysteries until my dying days (or the cream starts to turn and the smell becomes unbearable.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Bought It

And I loooove it. So nice. So sleek. So easy to use! Although sometimes it makes noises that I don't understand.
I also got lost in Portland today. I spent 2 hours wandering through downtown, to the edges, and back again. A very kind man in a Mercedes repair shop drew me a map, a trendy girl in an Anthropologie dress pointed me to the Apple Store, and a gay boy in a coffee shop coveted my seahorse necklace. Bicyclists of all kinds, with clipless pedals and spandex or Timbuktu bags and knee socks, were pedaling their hearts out all over the city. I suppose it would be easier in Portland - there's not half as many extreme hills as in Seattle. I only ran into one obscenity-shouting homeless man, although admittedly my headphones probably drowned out the ones I didn't see. Hands down, though, the award for greatest Portland individual goes to the Elvis impersonator singing on a scarcely populated street corner with his karaoke machine. You'd think he would at least go to a part of the city where a crowd might gather.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Debate

Question: Just because I have the money, should I spend it?
I'm thinking about buying a MacBook. I dearly love my current PC, but having Vista installed on it is a pain in the ass. It takes about 5 minutes to shut down, and lately it hardly knows how to run 3 programs at once before putting all of them into slowmo. Also, it is inconveniently large and heavy.
I've been thinking about this since New Orleans. Lying on a couch, hungover and throwing Jessica's laptop from one person to the next, I realized that I really liked the idea of a computer that doesn't require finicky handling. It would be nice to have something that fit into my backpack, and a battery life that could see me through the end of a class.
But do I really want to leave behind my PC? And Spider Solitaire?? (I have 84% wins!)
I'll be on the phone with el padre tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Soco Amaretto Lime

Okay, okay, I'll be honest. I really was in love with Brand New. I listened to their CD's endlessly, Chanel and I sang and danced around her apartment to their punk pop chords, and when I turned 18 I really felt that I connected with the last track on their first album. You know the one. "Get the hell out of this town/ find some conversation."
So this afternoon the roommates and I did a liquor store run, and I went all out and sprang for some SoCo and Amaretto. After all, if Brand New turned out to be a liar, I could just spend the first half of Spring Break drinking Amaretto Sours and Comfortable Screws.
The result feels a bit iffy. They're not especially strong drinks individually, but mixed together, 2 parts liquor and 1 part lime juice, I've got a good glow going already. However, it tastes too Amaretto-y if there's not enough lime, and once you find the right level you find yourself making bitter beer face because of the sour taste on the sides of your tongue.
I'll give them tonight, but tomorrow it's one or the other. Brand New doesn't have the best taste in mixed drinks, it turns out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dork

So I log into Blackboard looking for some practice economics quizzes. Oddly enough, one of the documents available is Winter2008's Final and Answers. "What?" I ask myself. So I open it, of course. My professor is the world's biggest dork. In huge text, bolded and all caps, I see: JUST KIDDING!

I'm definitely not putting any effort into the essay now.

Levanta la mano

The most recent item of distraction is Muñeca Brava, a telenovela from Buenos Aires. It's a classic soap opera, with secret children and drunk housewives and an evil brother-in-law, but I just can't stop myself from watching it. Between classes I sneak away to the Language Lab and settle in with the Macs. At home I jump a mile when the roommates interrupt my focus.
On the upside, I'm getting better at understanding Spanish. And I could rewrite this whole entry without using Freetranslation.com or a dictionary. Actually, it feels kind of strange to leave my room and hear another language.
Cannot wait for Mexico.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What is she up to?

I have a plan for August.
I'll have to move home for two weeks, which will be sad. And awkward, because I imagine the bar scene in Fedtown isn't too kickin'.
So instead I'm going to repaint my room. The two-tone colors are simply awful - I can't believe my parents let me pick them out. It's going back to white, so I can visit home without cringing in my old bedroom.
Also, I'm going to drag all my old furniture into the driveway and paint them white. The IKEA bookshelf, once painted, will no longer look like I put it together wrong (which I did). The dresser as old as I am will finally get rid of all those crayon markings, and new knobs in the drawers will really give it a classy look.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oh Dear

News! I'm going to Guadalajara in the fall. Of course, this means I didn't get into my school in Buenos Aires. I'm more than a little heartbroken about it. This means no tango classes, no learning to speak with an Argentinian accent, and certainly no epic shopping sprees for chic clothing. But, I'm still excited to go to ITESO (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente). My daydreams took a minute to catch up with the new plan, but now they're back to running full force.
I just about bit through my lip with tonight's episode of Lost. Usually I gather over at Sharron's, where we've splintered into two teams: Team Jack and Team Sawyer. Your team is based on who you think should get to shack up with Kate (personally, I wanted to branch off to Team Polar Bear, where Kate gets eaten by one of the island monsters, but that wasn't allowed.) We've even got color-coordinated bandannas! Tonight, Sharron couldn't host, so we all did our own thing - I watched it over at a coworker's place with her friends. And oh! What an episode it was! Jack licked all over Juliet's face, with Kate no more than 20 feet away (unfortunately, with her back turned.) I wanted to cry and shout and call up Sharron and brag in her face that there was no way Team Jack has a shot after this. I guess I'll have to save it for a text message tomorrow.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Landmark Occasion

This morning, I had my first solid poop in over 2 months.
About 2 weeks ago, the doctor told me that I needed to start taking fiber supplements or this would never end. So I bought a bottle of Metamucil pills, and have been choking down 5 of them every morning since.
But now, I think they're working! Maybe it takes a while for the fiber to build up in your system. I don't know. It was perfectly poo-shaped, the kind you would fish out and put in a paper bag and set on fire outside your most-hated neighbor's front door. I sat in front of that toilet and admired it for a good minute. In the end, though, I had to flush it away. So here's hoping I'll see another one soon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Simple History

By me
Translated from the Spanish by me

In a country very far from here, there lives an unhappy prince. His kingdom is poor and dirty. The peasants are disgruntled and talk of a revolution. This prince doesn't know what he needs to do. His father, dying slowly and painfully in his bed, can do nothing to help. It is a time without hope. While the prince worries by himself, the peasants prepare their torches.
It wasn't always like this. In better days, there was a brilliant and warm sun. The plains were green, the crops abundant, and all the people in the kingdom worked with a smile in their hearts. Many ships sailed in and out of the ports, bringing with them exotic spices, fine silks, and strong slaves.
Life was good.
In these old days, the prince wasn't a coward; he wasn't scared of the world outside. He was handsome, rode his horse with style, fought valiantly in battle, and made love with many women. His father, the King, governed with justice and fairness, and the peasants adored him.
The end began on the same day the prince met the woman of his dreams. She, a princess of an old kingdom and an old alliance, was visiting the exotic countries before her upcoming wedding. The love between them was instant and unstoppable, and like a terrible fire, it destroyed the friendship between the kingdoms.
The resulting battle inflicted destruction equally upon both nations. Cruel soldiers invaded the princess's kingdom while her father fought on the plains of his enemy. The list of tragedies is almost endless. The prince's favorite horse died with a lance through his heart. The beautiful princess's father disappeared without a trace. Some say his brother killed him, before he was decapitated in the mob. The gardens of the palace, known throughout all the land for their tranquility and beauty, were the site of the worst prisoner camp. Innumerable women were raped, resulting in an immense flood of orphans into the city streets.
After three years of war, the princess had a child. He was fragile, small, and blue; he died in the night without a sound or a name. The next day the princess begged the prince to stop the senseless massacre. Enraged by her lack of respect, he hit her. Not knowing his own strength, he caused a hemorrhage in her brain. He cried out in horror when he realized what he had done, but it wasn't enough. Two days later, the princess died and her dream came true. Without his love, without the backbone of his body, the prince lost his strength.
Eventually the official war ended. Unfortunately, no one was there to control the kingdom. Soldiers still fought over loot, villages were pillaged and torched. The economy was entirely destroyed.
Ten more years, and the prince still lives with fear in his castle. The peasants shout for his head.
Careful, my little one, for this is the terrible power of love.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

When are they going to invent a time-turner?

Owwww. I want to die.
Irene had this theory that Walmart gave us placebo antibiotics. I think she's got something there. The white bump is still in the back of my throat, I'm coughing more, it hurts to swallow, and occasionally I get some gooey green stuff, too.
Dominated at beer pong last night, and whether this was because I'm getting better, or I was playing with the King of Pong on my team, I don't know. Or care. All I know is that I kicked ass. And then blacked out.
So naturally the hangover didn't go so well. I was worthless and whimpering with my head on my arms at work, and the ringing phones and screaming kids weren't helping at all. I made it through 3 hours before I gave up and begged to go home sick. I don't think it's gone away yet, but I got my appetite back around 5.
And now I'm going to crawl into bed and sleep fitfully, because I'm freaking out over how much work I have to do tomorrow.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ouch

So The Man broke it off today. In the library.
Even when they say it's not your fault, how is a girl supposed to be expected to believe it? If it wasn't my fault, he wouldn't have done it.
This sucks.
If my eyes weren't red and puffy, I'd go out and rent a sappy movie. Instead I think I'll stay in and sleep on this first Friday back in Bellingham.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mardi Gras = <3

I've lost track of the days of the week. The differences between Saturday and Sunday and Monday are unknown to me - they're just The Night We Went to the French Quarter, That Day We Drank for 10 Hours, and That Night I Toured the Mansions. Tuesday, of course, is That Morning I Woke Up With Strep.
In all seriousness, there are too many things to be able to recount. Today, for example, has been one long wander.
We started at 8 am, sick (Irene with a fever and bronchitis, myself with strep) and ready to hit the parades. I found my sunglasses I lost the night before under the picnic table. Soon after the first parade we gave up on pretending we could make it, and drove our sick, miserable, exhausted selves back to Mississippi. Once back in Jackson, we sat in an emergency room for 2.5 hours waiting for a simple prescription for antibiotics. Shortly after we caught up with Irene's friends and made plans for pizza (to be perfectly honest, I don't even remember where this conversation took place.) The beer and pizza experience included pitchers of cheap beer, Lawrence of Arabia on the Shack screen tv, and high speed winds porchside. Then there was the basketball game, and some more wandering. The night ended on a screened in porch with Milwaukee's Best and discussions about the presidential primaries and pirates.
Basically Irene's got some kickass friends here at Millsaps, and I forgive her for moving out of the Green House and heading south. It was a good move for her, and I'd much rather come visit her in the heat again instead of hanging out in my apartment, afraid to go outside because of the cold.
Oh, also. Mississippi has amazing lightning. The kind that we on the West Coast see maybe once a year.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reminiscing

Last night, after dropping the Man off at his house and still daydreaming about the french fries he ate in front of me, I decided that hard-boiled eggs sounded like the most delicious thing on earth. So I busted out a pot, turned on the stove, and waited. And waited. And waited some more because how did I forget! Hard boiled eggs take a lifetime! Then, naturally, I got impatient and tried to eat them before they were done. Bad idea. I went through 6 eggs trying to get it right, 45 minutes of half-sleeping half-starving irritation, and by the end of it all I just felt like puking the eggs right back up.
Then naturally this morning, before pouring myself a giant heaping bowl of cereal, I checked my "dietary restrictions" list and realized that I don't get to eat today. At all. By the time my appointment comes around tomorrow (today), I won't have had anything other than Gatorade, water, and laxatives in over 30 hours.
I can't sleep, either. I passed out earlier today, around 7. I'd been cold and shaky and achy and miserable for a few hours, but I'd tried to fight it off by reading a book. Instead I fell asleep, and according to the laws of my life, my mom called at 9 and woke me up. I've been wide awake since.
Her news wasn't all that great, either. Go ahead and read about it. I knew this girl in junior high, and had a hard time placing her name while my mom was talking. It hit me right after I hung up. I hated her. Not in a full-blown planning for her destruction sort of way, but she was a year younger than me, went to my church, and in general was a huge pain in the ass. This isn't a very accurate description of her, though, considering it's the memory of a 14 year old. Anyway, I wish her all the best in the world. It sounds like she's being cared for, though, so I guess her parents are the ones in need of support now. (My mom told me about all this as a warning against letting people drive my van, of course. Thanks Mom.)
Now, on to the entire reason I started writing. I want to talk about food, and all the food I want to eat when I come out from the anesthesia tomorrow.
Taco Bell: A cheesy gordita crunch with refried beans. The texture of all those ingredients - crunchy lettuce and taco shell, combined with squishy tortilla, beans, and melted cheese would be Heaven. Also, steak taquitos drenched in sour cream.
McDonald's: An egg Mcmuffin, of course! The sweet burst of ham on top of egg and cheese, accompanied by the crisp feeling of biting down through a freshly toasted english muffin. As for potatoes, I can't tell which sounds more appetizing: fries or hash browns.
Other Things: A Boomer's burger. The roommates and I are going for dinner, fo' sho'. Peanut butter toast. Kenny was eating it earlier tonight, it smelled divine. The nacho cheese Doritos someone left at our house after the party - yummm. Also, I want a hot dog. And some sort of meat with BBQ sauce. Or a taco salad from Dos Padres! Hell, even a big bowl of Rice Krispies with milk sounds divine.
It's going to be a long night, I can tell. A headache has settled in on top of my head, the cigarette burn is itching, and in general I'm feeling downright bitchy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Park Day!

Today was another Chelsea & Sharron Go to the Park Day! We hit up Larrabee again, because come on, you can never go wrong at Larrabee. As usual I took a handful of decent pictures, and Sharron practically filled her memory card with professional-grade photos. We watched little children play on the rocks, college students skip stones, and kept our eyes out for our Beloved Starfish. Unfortunately it was high tide, so we didn't find many interesting critters among the rocks.
Right now our Park Days are a quarterly ritual, but today we decided that Bellingham is far too pretty to only by documented every three months. Besides, it's a good break from the usual. We put on our rain boots, wade through the water, and spend very little time actually talking. The goal is mostly just to wander, look at interesting things, and listen to the soothing sounds of families playing and waves crashing. Later tonight she'll be handing off her thousands of photos to me, so perhaps in a few days I'll load the best of the best up here.
Now for tonight! It's our quarterly Shit Show here at the apartment. This year is a step in a new direction - the goal is still to get trashed on trashy cheap drinks, but we've mixed the themes up a bit. Last year it was always Wine and Cheese - this fall we did a toga, and tonight is Freaks & Geeks, aka Awkward High School Party! I'm thrilled to see the turnout. Cole, my friend from Church Camp, is coming up on a bus from Shoreline. Tuey is going to come by in her gothic chain pants, fishnets, and Alice in Chains gear. Nick has a shirt with wolves running across his chest. I'll be channeling the dark-eyed duo from my own school, with heavy black eyeliner and a compact mirror to touch it up as the night goes on. Also the Man will be attending, which is sad because he's missing out on camping, but also awesome because I wanted him to come. I'm going to see if I can turn his hair into a mullet when he shows up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Can't Concentrate!

Today has been surprisingly productive. Tuesdays and Thursdays are fast becoming my favorite days (although they're showing a sad trend towards doing homework for several hours.) I spent almost two hours at the gym! It started as a determination to run and use the ellipticals, and turned into a bet against myself that I could stay until I burnt enough calories that eating an elephant would seem like a good idea. Ran into the brother while lifting weights, which was rather odd. Our family is not known for being healthy, so seeing each other working out was like a step outside of reality. He and I exchanged a few words and quickly separated. And yet, despite that extreme creep-out moment, I still stayed on for another 40 minutes.
Then it was gorge time.
Unfortunately the Atrium, no, THE SUB CONNECTION HAS A VERY FUCKED UP PRICING SYSTEM. A baja chicken wrap comes with bacon! A baja chicken sub costs $0.50 MORE and HAS NO BACON. I wanted them to stop and swap, but they weren't going for it.
That said, it was deliciously spicy and I inhaled it in less than five minutes.
Walking through Red Square I watched a boy carrying a very large street sign while holding his girlfriend's hand. He almost hit her in the back of the head about 5 times. I followed not-so-stealthily hoping to see it happen, but alas, he caught on and shifted it.
Then I sat in a secluded corner of the library and did homework for two hours without falling asleep. So proud of myself! But still no closer to understanding this take-home econ quiz. Or having a working calculator.
Went home around 5. Went out to Boomer's with the boys an hour later. The wait was about 30 minutes this time -- worth it! The most satisfying $3 ever spent, except for all those other times I'm going to buy burgers this month. Shortly after dinner I went to the pool, where I saved my coworkers from several deadly hypothetical situations. Unfortunately it ran way later than I expected, so I didn't get home until about 10. And we're still not done. And my essay is still incomplete.
So now here I sit, having been working on an informative guide to salvia for the last hour and a half, only lacking a solid conclusion, and I just don't know if it's going to happen. Of course, it will, but only after another hour of staring balefully at the Word document and giving up to scour Youtube.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Martin Luther King gave me the day off!

The newest Spanish essay prompt is to research a drug, legal or illegal, and talk (or argue) about it. Initially I was looking into male contraceptives. Unfortunately they're all either abandoned ideas or still in testing, so I'd be doing more of a hypothetical analysis than anything else. Instead, I turned my sights to salvia. Who knows, maybe it will be an original topic. Or maybe I'm doing the college version of a high school report on pot! (Haha, I loved those kids. They were always so clueless and giggly while talking about the munchies.)

I put the Buena Vista Social Club on LOUD and cleaned tonight. Instead of using the dust bin and broom, I swept all the dirt into one big pile and vacuumed it up. Earlier in the quarter, before we had a mop, I took paper towels and Windex to every inch of the linoleum. I like to think that as I get older I'll just become more eccentric with my house cleaning. Toothbrushes to get the grooves between the molding and the floor, gleaming stove tops minutes after cooking spaghetti, bathrooms without a hint of hair... Naturally, I won't be able to live with anyone else.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Owww

Hikes are lovely. Fabulous. Excellent fun. A time to test your physical ability, appreciate nature, and bond with good friends in a new and interesting way.

They are not, however, a good idea when you've just come down with the Irritating Nose Drip From Hell. I'll be falling asleep, belly full of cold meds, within 30 minutes.