26 April 2012

Shall we dance?

I'm not a dancer, though my mother was, and because of that I imagine that the ability should be lurking somewhere in my genes, just waiting to be released. That one day I will step out onto a dance floor and nothing but beauty and grace will flow from my limbs; they will work together with the music and I will be transformed. Someday....

Dancing with Carlos, I almost felt it was possible.

Have you ever danced with someone who really knows how to dance? It's like you're moving without even knowing how. Somehow he's leading and following, sort of, and then, despite yourself, suddenly you're dancing. It's something magical, possessed only by a really, truly good dancer. And I guess that's kind of rare.

Carlos taught me to dance: bachata, merengue, a little bit of salsa. He took me dancing and he gave lessons to a group of us on a couple of evenings in the Center for Young Adults in Alcalá. When the rest of us danced together we all fumbled with our feet and started on the wrong beat and struggled to maintain the rhythm. But when I danced with Carlos it all made sense--the music, the movement, the turns--it was natural. Light, free, smooth, flowing. And pretty. While the rest of are just awkward and overly self-aware, when Carlos dances he looks graceful and beautiful and poised. Effortless.

On Tuesday I danced with Carlos for the last time. Today he left for Manchester, England, where he will serve a 2 year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am happy for him. He will teach and serve and learn, and speak English! He will grow and do much good. But I have to confess that, selfishly, I'm a bit disappointed to have reached the end of our dancing days, few though they were to begin with.

I guess what I'm really saying is, I'm in the market for a new dance teacher. One who not only knows how to dance, but who can transform his partner into a dancer by the sheer grace of his movement.

And no, I wouldn't mind if he happens be very handsome.

And maybe a little bit tall.

25 April 2012

I'll turn it off!

Just as soon as I get these few pending "things" out of the way, I will turn off my computer, finally.

  • First, this graduation speech. I guess it is a bit outdated (from 2008), but I saw someone post it, and the message is relevant now... whether you're a recent graduate or not. It's insightful, funny and basically an admonition to live life fully and meaningfully.
  • Next: food. I was reading about brilliant ways people are bringing fresh produce and other healthy food options to "food deserts." Food deserts aren't literal deserts, but instead locations (such as in urban areas or very rural settings) that are devoid of supermarkets and thus lack adequate access to healthy foods and fresh produce. With the many issues facing Americans health-wise (obesity, heart problems, etc.) many people are working hard to make fresh food accessible in these areas. I think it is fantastic. My one qualm is that food habits also need to be broken--selling the food is the first and most important step, but if people have lived their whole lives without healthy options, chances are they might also lack some knowledge about what the best choices are and how to prepare these food items. Maybe a thought for the future.
  • While I was reading the article about food deserts, I also happened across this article about ways we can make food production safer, healthier and more sustainable. It has some great ideas! (Can you tell I LOVE FOOD!)
  • Also, this is our President:

18 April 2012

The moment:

Suddenly the boys I've ordered across the room, in a final attempt to deter their note passing with the girls in the classroom next door (through a very inconvenient sliding door connecting the two classes), seem more suspicious than usual. They have all starting humming a familiar song that I can't quite place my finger on. This is when I notice the sliding door moving slightly, apparently on its own. Then I catch it, the boys are humming "mission impossible." One of them has crawled all the way across the room on all fours and is attempting to slide the note under the door.

That's when I realize: It's all one big joke. For them, my every attempt at order and authority is a game they are trying to beat. They already know I'm harmless.


I am reading a book right now* in which, amongst many other things, a woman starts teaching high school, but is not a certified teacher. And boy can I relate to her:

"My first day [teaching high school] had gone as smoothly as anybody could reasonably hope--no revolts, no crises major or minor. Still, I couldn't put a finger on what it was, but standing in front of a roomful of high school students seemed to use up a ferocious amount of energy. It made me think of those dancers in white boots and miniskirts who used to work bars in the sixties, trying desperately to entertain, flailing around like there was no tomorrow."

Yep. That's about right.

*the book is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver,
if you wan to check it out.

ps. not all of my classes are like that.
and I have actually learned to love teaching.
but then there are those moments...
I'm not sure if I want to laugh or scream.

15 April 2012

Right now

I can't stop listening...

I don't love you....

but I always will.

12 April 2012

I feel GREAT!

On my last day in London, on Easter, I had the terrible stomach cramps. The I think I might pass out/throw up in the middle of the street kind. So I picked up some Ibuprofen at the drug store and popped my usual 2 pills*. After about 45 minutes I was feeling fantastic! Really perfectly, wonderful! I commented to my friend that these pills really did their job! I was thrilled.

It wasn't until just now when I looked in my medicine cabinet at the ibuprofen I had brought with me from the US that I realized that the pills I took in London are double the dose of my normal medication (200mg to the usual 100). So... oops. hehe.

But if you happen to be wondering, taking the equivalent of 4 ibuprofen IS effective for pain relief. You will feel spectacular. Though I don't know if it is necessarily advisable on a regular basis. Still, thank goodness for those pills or I would probably have spent my last day in London writhing in pain.

God bless the beautiful UK!
(and her double dose drugs!)

*just in case you're worried:
the box said I could take 2 of the double duty English ibuprofen,
so I probably won't die.

11 April 2012


They say that if you rinse your hair in cold water after a shower it will be shinier.

The thing is, when I tried it I realized is that I have no chance whatsoever of holding up under torture. I can't even handle standing in a cold shower for three seconds.

Why that was the thought that came to my mind, I'm not sure, but I couldn't get the image of Jennifer Garner in her TV series Alias out of my mind. Do you remember that show? I used to watch it with my mom and I remember enjoying it. Now, reflecting back (with my vague and possibly inaccurate memories of the show) I can't quite recall the appeal. In fact, in recent years I have become exceptionally averse to most forms of violence on TV or in movies. I make exceptions when I feel the film or documentary has a particularly important and thoughtful message, but I at times find myself repulsed by action films and super-hero movies. To me they seem so careless; so crude and ugly and sad. Often these films seem to trivialize the real effects of violence, conflict and war. They tend to paint good and evil in clear opposition to one another; everything is black and white. Sometimes we even want people to die, or we don't think twice when there are people left injured or killed on the sidelines. For me it's all rather sickening.

I can't recall exactly when or why my view of these depictions started changing. Probably about the time I went to college and just a small piece of the protective bubble of privilege I have always lived within lifted to show me something of what reality looks like outside of my own little world. And the more I read and see and learn the less entertaining violence becomes and the more upsetting it is, even if it is just "pretend." Because I know that often these films are nonchalantly depicting horrors that really happen. Or if not, they are showing violence in such a casual manner that it seems like a slap in the face to every man, woman and child who has truly suffered--whether it be from war or genocide, rape or domestic abuse, or any act of hatred or anger or meanness. It doesn't seem funny or entertaining or glamorous anymore. It turns my stomach and makes me morn for the society we live in that can turn a blind eye to real suffering and then, for financial gain, use stories of violence as a form of entertainment.

I know sometimes I take things too far. I can be a stick-in-the-mud and read too much into things. But I think sometimes, too, we don't read enough into things. We don't think enough about what we see and hear and read and learn. We disconnect from reality and let ourselves pretend that everything is well. And lets be honest, we all know it's not. I promise, teaching a teenagers is a great way to be reminded yourself of how gloomy things can potential be (the little downers!). Yet in truth I am really hopeful for the world and for society. Even though I am disappointed that the progress and advances in our societies have often only led to more destructive weapons and wars; to new kinds of dominance and oppression; to greater disparities between the rich and the poor.

But I don't think it has to be that way. I don't think we are destined to be hateful and selfish and violent. We have a choice and I believe that we can, and I hope that we will, change for the better. It comes down to the decisions we make and the way we choose to see the world and those we share it with. It comes down to how much we are willing to change and adapt in the name of the better good. I think in some ways we are going to be forced to change in the near future. But I hope we will also choose to change because we care about the world we live in and we see others as equally valuable as ourselves.

Anyway, that's what the kind of thing you think when you freeze your brain in the shower in the hopes of shinier hair. It's dangerous business.

09 April 2012

WICKED in London

I melted.

(Just a taste... not from the show I saw.. obviously I guess....)

I have been listening to the Wicked soundtrack since my friend Jessica gave it to me my freshman year of college. Seeing the show in person, in the front row, in London was almost unbearably amazing! I cried.

I don't think my life will ever be the same.