31 December 2011

The End of An Odd Year

It is the last day of the year 2011. If you lived in my world that would mean the end of an odd year, literally. For me, anything related to numbers is automatically catagorized in to even and odd. And I confess I have a rather unjust bias against odd numbers. If I encounter them I consider it a bad omen, or I attempt to mathematically manipulate them into becoming even. And yes, I know that this tendency is, in fact, quite odd. Of course, I like oddities--any odd thing really, except an odd number. Which only makes my distaste for odd numbers stranger and more unfair than ever. But that's the way it works, in my mind at least.

2011. Yes, it is quite an odd year. But, if we take a closer look, it really has an even tendency that is just crying to get out. The first step to achieving evenness is to recognize our odd number is really quite even at heart: being as 1+1=2 we find a lovely and symmetrical 202. Then, of course, we see that 2+2= 4, thus the sum of this year is pleasantly even. And should we care to, we could divide it into each place perfectly evenly as 1111.

What does all of this mean. Well, nothing. But I guess, in reality, I feel like 2011 was a bit odd, but not in a bad way. It must be those even undertones!

I am not good at pulling out each moment and making lists of favorites and important events. These things slip through my fingers and the individual moments meld into what becomes an overall feeling or idea of the year. This year I am left with a feeling of blessedness.When I look back at this year (and at my life as a whole up to this point) there have been ups and downs and twists and turns; tears and laughter and joy and pain; struggles and doubts and fears and growth. But what I feel more than anything is love and happiness. I love my life, even though it is simple and small in the scheme of things. I love my life because of everything I have learned and everywhere I have been and, more than anything else, because of all the people who have shown up along the way to teach me and love me and help me and who make each moment, no matter how difficult, terrifying or incomprehensibly beautiful, worth living.

I have a faulty memory and at times it is hard to really put together the pieces of my life and figure out how one led to another. There hasn't always been continuity in the path I've taken, and it definitely hasn't been a straight shot from one point to the next. Yet I have enjoyed every bump and hill and tangent. I wouldn't change where I've been. I am happy where I am. And I am excited...SO excited... for whatever is coming next.

Farewell 2011. Hello 2012. May this year be, for all of us, one filled with love, joy, hope and opportunities for growth and change! Sending my best wishes, love and blessings to one and all!

24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Love, peace and joy to one and all. And another favorite...


John Lennon!

23 December 2011

The best promise

"Truly He taught us to love one another,
His Law is love, and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease."

I love this version of "O Holy Night" sung in two sweet voices. Though I love most Christmas music, this has to be one of my all time favorites. The message of hope, love and peace; of praise and rejoicing; of brotherhood and unity--it is gorgeous! Every time I hear the lines "Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease" my heart swells with joy and hope. I am reminded of the great promise that the Savior Jesus Christ lived, died and was resurrected for each and every person to be born on this earth; that He loves us all; and that through the infinite power of His atonement He will redeem, comfort and save us. The Savior will bring peace and through Him we will be freed from the inequality, the hatred and the destruction that is so prevalent in the world we live in. He has overcome all things, and through Him we can too.

But I also love the first lines, that remind us of the part we play in His plan: we must be good to one another; we must love and care for all people; for "His law is love, and His gospel is peace." I believe that the Savior will free all humankind from pain, suffering and death, but to do so He will use us and teach us to be holy, to love and to forsake all of our hatreds, prejudices, selfishness and pride.

Listening to this song makes me want to love a bit more deeply and do my best to spread peace in any and every way that i can. And I love it!

22 December 2011


When I was in Oporto I heard a great Portuguese song, the subsequent search for which led me to this song, which I am now obsessed with.

It is actually Brazilian. Which reminds me that I drank some delicious Maracuyá juice yesterday at a Turkish Kebab place. Maracuyá grows in Brazil, as do many delicious fruits. And I now want nothing more than to move to Brazil, eat delicious tropical fruit, explore the rain forest, soak up some sun at the beach and listen to good music!!

But Spain is okay too, I guess ;)


Sometimes when traveling I have a rather hard time sleeping. For various reasons. Sometimes it is because I am scared out of my wits. For example, in high school when my choir went to a competition and I woke up screaming in the hotel only to find out the my roommate was having a "night terror" and was yelling and pounding on the door trying to escape from people she thought were attacking her. Needless to say images of her dream-fiends crawling in the the bathroom window and hovering over my bed in the dark didn't exactly lull me to sleep.

Then there was the time a few years ago when I had to "sleep" in my aunt's "office," where she keeps all of her magic supplies--crystal balls, various useful materials for seances, books on voodoo, magic and spirits. As hard as I tried not to be mortified by the thought of the strange spirits that my aunt evoked in that space, I couldn't for the life of me free myself from the sensation that I wasn't alone in that room. And I didn't like it. I don't know that I've stayed in bed so still and wide-eyed with fear since I was a little kid afraid of the dark. All I wanted to do was get out, but I was too afraid to move.

Most recently, I had a different kind of frightening experience the first night I spent in Porto, Portugal a couple weeks ago. This particular scary night had less to do with dreams and imaginary(?) spirits and much more to do with the two random roommates I was sharing the hostel dorm with.

To try my best to make a long story short (though generally I am much more adept at making short stories long...):
When I went to bed around midnight on the top of one of the two bunk beds, no one else was in the room. So, my first introduction came at 4:30am when one of them flung open the door, half crazy and (I assume) quite drunk. He woke up his friend (who had come in earlier and gone straight to sleep), and me, asking for empanadas which apparently he suspected the other roommate had, or perhaps had eaten. This was all going on in Spanish, and while I was half asleep. I tried to ignore the arguing, until I heard a large crash and, peering over the edge of my bunk bed, witnessed an all out brawl as the formerly sleeping roommated pummelled the other guy, and then vise versa. I think I interjected a few feeble, "what are you doing?"s and "what is going on?"s. And then continued to stare wide eyed and opened mouthed at this unbelievable scene from my loft above. After they stopped hitting each other, the sleepy roommate started getting dressed and throwing things around the room and threatening to turn the other guy in to the police. The other one told him he was making a fool of himself and that he'd kill sleepy if he went to the police. They argued for awhile longer, until the sleepy one left (to go the police??) and I realized I was still staring at this random guy (who I now realized was a potential killer). I quickly lied down tried to look like I was sleeping, as the guy got into his bed and said "sorry" before turning out the light. I confess I found his apology rather feeble and insufficient given the situation at hand! But I let it go.

For the next twenty minuted I stayed in bed half trying to sleep/half contemplating the likelihood that this guy sleeping two feet away from me might be a dangerous criminal. Finding it impossible to sleep under these circumstances I finally crept out of bed and sneaked (why can't it be snuck??) out of the room as stealthily as possible... just in case! When I got down stairs to the lobby the hostel worker looked at my half asleep, dishevelled, barefooted self as if I was crazy. And when I explained that I was having trouble sleeping after being awakened by a rather noisy fight and threats between my roommates he helped me get some tea and eventually found me another place to sleep for the night.

Being as it was 6:30 in the morning before I went back to bed, and that I spent most of my remaining hours of sleep wondering how I was going to get back into the room with the scary strangers to collect my things in the morning, it was overall a rather tiring night.

But by the morning, it didn't seem quite as scary, and I felt perhaps I had slightly overreacted with my hasty escape during the night (though I still checked to make sure I would have different roommates the next night and crept quietly into the room in order not to wake anyone up when I went back for my things). So, when I was getting some hot chocolate in the kitchen after breakfast and some guy who I asked to pass the milk apologized to me for last night, I thought perhaps he had confused me with someone else. Until I realized--"Eres tu!" The dangerous criminal from the night before was there before my eyes, speaking to me quite politely and looking much more like a very embarrassed and sleepy young man than a murder. So after embarrassing him a bit more by recounting and questioning him about the events of the previous night in front of everyone at the table, I felt quite alright about forgiving him entirely. I mean, I might not have gotten much sleep, but at least I had an interesting adventure.

And the next night my roommates were girls who went to sleep before I did! Which reminds me of something I heard once-- a hostel is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Or something like that, anyway.

16 December 2011

Remember your place

So it turns out that I have one thing in common with Taylor Swift (please skip to minute 5:46 of this video to find out what):

Yes, that's right: "Mi español no es muy bueno."

When this clip came on the news, Dulia, the woman I live with, laughed and said, "It sounds like you when you speak Spanish!" Then, perhaps to soften the blow, she added, "You speak a little better, but you have the same accent!"

Cool. Awesome. Thanks Dulia. Thank you for putting me in my place. I've spent the last 3 months gaining a certain confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities, but luckily for me I have you to take that prideful nonsense and smash it to pieces in 2 seconds flat. Super.

It's especially great since I have been studying spanish for the last 7 billion years, and apparently Taylor heard it for the first time about 3 seconds before stepping onto stage.


13 December 2011

Out of Control

The myth

Part of my life in Spain is that some things seem to be pretty much out of my control. The food I eat (since I eat with the familyI live with), my schedule (since I have to rely on public transportation), and especially the kids in my classes. They are CRAZY (sometimes)!!!

I have one classes that was starting to drive me nuts. The teacher and I decided to teach together today rather than splitting the class in half like we usually do. I decided to see what techniques he used to control the class and get the kids to listen. What he did was: NOTHING! He didn't control the class or make them be quiet and listen or ask them to put away their homework for other classes or participate as a class. He just let them be, and then walked around the class talking to the students. And honestly, I think everyone was much happier than in my classes when I insist on everyone behaving properly. But maybe part of my cultural experience is understanding that in some classes, the kids just aren't going to be perfect angels, and that the teachers don't expect them to be.

For me, it's hard not to feel like I am failing as a teacher if my students aren't listening attentively, participating and concentrating on our class material. But maybe that is just prideful. And maybe, it really is okay to let go of a little control and just go with the flow. This shall be my new experiment.

12 December 2011


I have a love/hate relationship with pants. Yes, pants. Of any kind. Jeans, slacks, stretchy pants, sweat pants. You name the kind and I both adore them and despise them.

I love pants because they are comfortable. Because they keep me warm. Because I can wear them without shaving my legs for weeks (or months) without grossing people out. Because I don't have to worry about how I sit when I wear them. Because they are easy. Because they are versitile and can be worn for a casual affair or be dressed up for work or a nice outing. Because they come in many styles and colors. Because they are generally accepted as a normal mode of dress in my culture.

I hate them because THEY NEVER FIT.

And no, that is not an exaggeration.

Being here in Spain has only exasperated the problem further. Since there are hardly any dryers in Spain (which is great for the environment, but rather inconvenient for laundry procrastinators) my pants don't even have the benefit of a good shrinking after washing, and are thus constantly too big and sliding down. And yes, I have belts and I know that's what they're made for. But I hate belts and wearing them makes me depressed (which is another story completely and you can ask me about it some other day if you wish.. one rant is enough for now).

So, I am stuck with the problem of having short, saggy, baggy-in-the-butt pants. And I just wanted to share that with you today.

Happy Monday!