Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home tomorrow! Happy Anniversary today!

Hello, dear readers... I know, I know. My post-a-week resolution only lasted, what, 3 posts? The usual excuses: I've been über busy and on the road. I'm still recovering from my first (of many more) epic Euro-trips and to be honest, have found it much easier to catch up on a season or two of Dexter than to tackle another blog post. I've made it a little over halfway through the 4th season... Christmas-y, I know. :)
It's scary how creepy John Lithgow can be... and who the heck shot Deb and Lundy if it wasn't him??? [source]
Anyway, I'm sitting in one of my Calahorra haunts, Cafetería Niza. It meets my criteria of: good coffee, good tortilla, but more importantly, wifi and outlets that work. I would normally be in class at this time, but because the internet at the school doesn't seem to be working and because my activity (showing "How The Grinch Stole Christmas") depended upon it working, my teacher said, "Well, I guess you have a free hour."

If only I could have known this would happen... I wouldn't have bothered getting up at the before the crack of dawn to catch my ride, as I now do now do not have class until 10:20. Oh, and guess what we're doing in that class? Watching the second half of a movie they started yesterday. One of many times I ask myself, "why am I here?" I really could have just skipped the whole week and gotten home early... If there are any future auxiliares reading this, note that you can probably skip the week before winter break starts. Your teachers (at institutos, anyway) have nothing serious planned, and your time would be better spent elsewhere. Sleeping, perhaps.

BUT, morning crankiness aside, TONIGHT, I LEAVE FOR MADRID!!! IN 10 hours, I will be on a bus, napping and dreaming about some ruby red slippers clicking together... Unfortunately I'll have about 12 hours to wait in the airport before I actually take off. Is it strange that I'm actually kind of excited about trying out the whole sleeping in the airport thing? And can you believe there's a how-to website with reviews of airports, tips, and anything else you might need to know? Ah, the things we travelers value. :)
This will be me around 6am... AFTER I make it through security... [source]
I will have stories to share, I am sure. I just hope that they're the kind that make me laugh. :)

Anyway, in less than 36 hours, I will be home for the holidays. Hallelujah. Amen. I need my family. And I need a week to refocus... somehow that's always easier at home. Can't wait. Cannot wait.

I'll try to update from the airport-- I've read that there's free wifi. If not, hasta luego, amigos. I'll catch up with you Stateside!

P.S. Happy 26th Anniversary to my wonderful parents! Boy, am I happy that happened ;)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kicking off December with a bang...

I've only gone a little bit past my self-allotted one week between posts, and yet, so much has happened! It's been a whirlwind of working, trip-planning, moving and thinking. Here are the highlights:

1. I have moved!
After returning from Santander to an apartment where:

  • The internet was down, 
  • a particular 19 year-old Spanish roommate STILL hadn't cleaned up dishes that had already been in the sink one week before I left, 
  • the kitchen faucet was still dripping, and 
  • aside from him mentioned in #2, there is not a native Spanish speaker in sight, 
I decided it was time to look for something new. And I lucked out on the first try! As I write this, I'm sitting in my lovely (full!) bed in my new room on Saturnino Ulargui. The street name doesn't have quite the allure as Avenida de la Paz, and sadly, I no longer have my own balcony, but to be honest, I wasn't using it anyway-- too cold! 
Blue dot is my new home, red is the old. Click for better detail :)
Anyway, this place is CLEAN, there are no smokers, the kitchen is immaculate and my room is nice and bright. It's on the 5th (and top) floor, so no more street noise. I'm a lot closer to Casco Antiguo (old town) and yet, it will probably work out to be less expensive here. All in all, I'm very much looking forward to living here and my only regret is that I had to leave 2 lovely roommates behind, Emma and Martin. I will miss them, but I probably left just in the nick of time, as a fifth room was just let. That would've been 5 people sharing one bathroom and a tiny kitchen! Here, I live with two nice Spanish girls... one's a pharmacist, the other, a psychologist... with the potential of a third moving in in the next couple of weeks. The two don't speak any English so here's hoping my Spanish improves tenfold! But talking extensively with them will have to be put off for about a week because on Monday...

2. I'm going to Italy... and later, to Greece! This coming week we have a puente from Tuesday through the end of the week. And guess who doesn't work on Monday's :) So, with a solid week of free time, I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to go someplace a little farther away. In searching, I decided to google "european swing exchanges" and guess what?! There's a Lindy Hop exchange in Thessaloniki, Greece from December 9-11. And guess what?! Thessaloniki just happens to be one of the cities RyanAir flies to. 
The one downside: no flights there from Spain. Oh well... guess I'll just have to fly to MILAN first!!! :) 
The Duomo! [source]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Miwa Matreyek's glorious visions

I love TED Talks. And they are a perfect compromise when I want to be somewhat brainless (as in, don't feel like reading, writing... really doing anything) but don't want to be completely useless (as I would feel if I just watched a TV episode or four). I watch one, maybe two TED Talks and I'm thinking, I'm learning... I'm growing. I can be a good kind of vegetable :P (excuse the corn... pun intended!) Ok, I need to stop. Can I mention that it's late and I'm tired?

ANYway, this one isn't actually a talk. It's a jaw-dropping, how-did-she-do-that performance that is completely inspired and completely beautiful. Hope you enjoy! Happy Wednesday-Before-Turkey-Day! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

ALL about Santander!

I'm going to warn you now: this post is LONG, but it's mostly pictures, so don't be afraid :)

Last weekend, I went to Santander with my friends Rebecca. and Bionca. As you can see on the map below, Santander is west of Bilbao, my last little adventure, and pretty much due northwest of Logroño, in the region of Cantabria.

More importantly, it is ON THE COAST! Sea breezes, sand between the toes... one kind of heaven.

We arrived around 9 o'clock in the evening, in the dark, and without a hostel reservation (oops). As it turned out, this was rather fortunate, as it led us to seek out the Pensión Madrid, only a 5 minute walk from the bus station and a VERY good deal at only 15€ a night/person for one room for the three of us. And OH, was it comfortable (yay for memory foam mattress covers)! Of course, that last bit may have had something to do with the fact that we had just attempted sleeping in the not-so-comfortable bus seats. Anyway, after walking around a bit and eating at a diner-ish place (that reminded me of a Perkin's) where the food was okay but the company was excellent, we decided to heed the call of those lovely comfy-topped beds and get a good night of rest before a very unplanned tomorrow.

And then it was Saturday, where the word of the day was wandering. And in wandering, we stumbled upon so much!
A protest before breakfast: In what would you invest it? (300 million euros)
In search of breakfast, we passed this cleverly named bar :)
After breakfast, we went in search of the Tourism office for maps and advice. From this angle, I was very confused about which direction to go. It turned out the office was behind me :)
At the tourism office, we discovered that the only museum that any of us had

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What next?

Today is a ponder-the-future day. Really I think every day is becoming that kind of day as I realize that I have no idea what I'm doing after Spain. I have ideas, of course, but they are ALL over the place. All are possibilities, and for that I should be grateful... and I am. But still, I can't help but wish that some heavenly light would shine down on one in particular... like, aHA! That's what I should do/where I should go/how I should proceed with my life.

I know, I know... this process is not that easy for anyone... even those people whom I (only kind of) envy that have always known what they wanted to be they grew up. Everyone has to find their way... but oh, how much easier it would be if I knew which way I was going.

Anyway, right now the ideas bouncing around inside my head are:

  • teacher (always been on the radar... but is something I'd like to become once I retire from some other mystery job)
  • economic development (MEDEG program I mentioned in a previous post)
  • international spy á la Alias or Covert Affairs ... because that's realistic... but hey, I'd learn how to kick some butt, pick up some more languages, and travel the world... but then again, I want to "settle down" someday... hmm...
  • artist... my job is to create!!! (in spurts anyway)
  • professional student... of the world...
Yeah... like I said, working on it. :)

Post to come: my most recent weekend in Santander!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bilbao and the Puente

Bilbao! Frank Gehry's architectural masterpiece, The Guggenheim Museum and El Puente de la Salve
I have decided to ride the wave of my freshly asserted motivation (see last entry) and tell you all about my trip to Bilbao over the puente two weeks ago. But first, let me answer the question that some of you may have: what in the world is a puente? Yes, I am a mind-reader ;) Actually... funny story...

A lovely girl named E.* who is also an auxiliar here as well as a palm-reading enthusiast told me that I have "the mystic's cross." In other words, I kind of am a mind-reader. Or at least, I'm intuitive enough to be... according to my right hand. But I digress...
This is puente in the traditional sense.
Puente means 'bridge.' This can be a literal bridge (as in build one and get over it :P), but it is also what Spaniards call a 4(or more)-day weekend. For example, the most recent puente was due to All Saints' Day (November 1st and a National Holiday in Spain). It fell on a Tuesday this year, so the schools and a lot of businesses go ahead and give everyone the Monday before off as well, thus they bridge the weekend to the holiday. Get it? This is a Spainism (yes, I made that up) that I wish the U.S. could adopt... but alas, they have manipulated our federal holidays (MLK, Memorial, Labor... do we get off for Columbus?) to all fall on Mondays.MLK's birthday's on the 15th? Let's put his day on the third Monday of the month. Columbus landed in America on the 12th of October? The second Monday of the month for him (regardless of the fact that the rest of the world celebrates it ON the day). Sheesh.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A resolution.

So it's a Monday, a day off and a day to get myself together before I have work again tomorrow. In an attempt to be "productive," I got on my computer to do "research." On what, you may ask? Oh, it could be anything, but usually it starts with Google and ends with me falling down a rabbit hole of web surfing and not really accomplishing much of anything.
I wonder if Alice was simply procrastinating? Source.
Today, I started with googling "getting a haircut in Spain" because goodness knows, I am very much in need of a haircut. I was soon directed to some girl's travel blog that was actually pretty helpful in that it included useful, haircut-specific phrases like "Quiero un recorte" (I want a trim) and "Me gustaría escalado" (I like it layered). Now I just have to look up how to say "Stop! Too short, TOO SHORT!" and I will be good to go.

Anyway, this travel blog in this instance could also be called the entrance into

Friday, October 28, 2011

Word of the Day... or the Early Morning

Hello world! 

Hopefully you've already read about this in my previous post, but for those of you just now visiting and not in the know, I am in Spain participating in a program put on by the Ministry of Education. I am a language assistant in a high school in Calahorra, and am living in Logroño, a good 45 minute bus-ride away. While I'm here to teach English, I'm finding (as expected) that I have quite a bit to learn...

What am I learning, you may ask? Well, I could write about everything, but honestly, I'd probably never finish (it is an ongoing process, you know) and even if I could, the post would be so long that no one would want or have the time to read it. Instead, I will write about the things I am learning little by little, one post at a time. That way, you can learn with me. Today, our lesson is a word: La madrugada.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

And so it begins...

Exactly 4 weeks ago today, I left my friends, family and the comfort of 'home' to embark on this adventure in España. And now, here I sit in my very first "I'm a big girl and living on my own" apartment. It has been a whirlwind of a month, and since I haven't posted in, oh, a while (procrastination much?), I think it would be best to begin with a recap... with pictures...

First of all, within the week before I left, I received a very special visit from a very special someone. This was perhaps the most jam-packed, memorable 3 days I could ever have imagined. Tennis, soccer, coffee, movies, napping, risotto, picnicking, dinner with awesome people... basically in-person quality time.
The only downside was that it was also the shortest 3 days imaginable.
Sadness in the car at the airport when he had to leave.
Luckily, we have a long flight across the Atlantic to which to look forward. :)

A few days later, the parents and I headed to the airport for a second time, and this time, I was the one who'd be getting on the plane.
Madre y yo, before the send off.
And then, around 12:30, I was off. After a pitstop in Washington D.C. where I was

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not quite butterflies... but something similar

It's finally starting. My nerves/excitement/oh my god, I'm going to Spain in 12 days feelings are starting to become more pronounced. I've been excited, of course, (I mean, how could I not be), but in between reading some early blog entries of auxiliars who have already gone through what I am about to experience, looking around at the mess packing going on in my room, and realizing it's been a good year and a half since I've spoken some solid español... well, I'm just kind of freaking out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And another 6 Random Ramblings...

1. Perhaps I should make these random ramblings a weekly occurrence so that several months don't pass between posts.

2. I am currently on Amelia Island, staring out at the Atlantic Ocean. Mom and I have been here for about a week... and I'm afraid it's not been long enough to make me okay with going back to work. The good news is that the rest of my working days are broken up by visits to friends, a wedding, and a visit from Alex (he's my boyfriend!). Then, it's off to Spain!!!

3. SPAIN!!! Oh my goodness. I am leaving for Spain on September 18th and will get to Madrid on the morning of September 19th. Orientation isn't until the 29th so that gives me 10 days to get to Logroño, La Rioja to find an apartment... which could be difficult since the festival of San Mateo will be going on pretty much that whole time. I'm thinking Couch Surfing and a lot of luck will be my main allies in this endeavor. SOOOOOOOOO excited though :)

4. I just downloaded an unhealthy number of ebooks onto my Kindle... and paid nothing for them (yay public domain). Now, I am excited but also a little daunted (by the sheer volume of literature to get through). One (electronic) page at a time...

5. I've been reading this book from the library called Decoding the Universe. It's a history lesson of sorts leading up to the development of information theory and the science behind it. I'm in the middle of a chapter discussing the gentlemen that honed the laws of the behavior of gases and the relationship between work, temperature and energy... Boyle, Charles, Joule. My high school chemistry classes came rushing back to me and I very soon was missing all that knowledge I once possessed. Then he started talking about entropy and the second law of thermodynamics... how entropy (or equilibriumness) is always either constant or increasing. I'm going to stop myself now, but let's just say I was nerding out big time. And REALLY missing math, stat, and science. Maybe I should go back to school...

6. Speaking of school, I've been investigating possible post-Spain adventures and endeavors, including the Erasmus Mundus scholarship for graduate studies in Europe. The program I've fallen for (seriously, my heart speeds up when I read its description) is a Masters in Economic Development and Economic Growth (MEDEG for short)... Just read it again while I was searching for the link. Just got excited again.

Ayayay... :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Don't know why, but lately I've had the urge to get on here  when I should be going to bed. I have nothing particularly meaningful to share... just to-do's for myself for the coming day. Writing them down seems to help me hold myself accountable; writing them here, all the more so... something about declaring my intentions "publicly" makes me stick to them a little better. (I use quotations because "publicly" probably only means a few other eyes will ever read them) :)

Anyway, on tomorrow's agenda:
- lunch with a new friend
- starting a new book
- watering my freshly planted herbs (yay!)
and, since I have the day off from work, because it is long overdue, and for numerous other more obvious reasons,
- figuring out my life... or the next 5 years of it anyway.

This should be exciting... I hope.

If you pray, please ask God to send me some help in accomplishing that last one. Lord knows I need it, but still, ask him just the same.

Buenas noches a todos :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

I should have been reading...

but instead, I wasted an hour or two messing around with html code to perfect this here blog. I say 'waste' because I was changing things that probably no one else would even notice. Need to stop getting sucked in this way...

To Do's for tomorrow (because perhaps listing them for the world to see will spur me on to accomplish them):

  • fold laundry (exciting)
  • plant herbs (actually exciting)
  • finish The Hobbit (which I should have done tonight)
  • start the second job search (living in Spain will be easier with $$, or should I say €)
  • read Chapter 2 of my GRE prep book
and then, go to work. 

Until tomorrow, good night.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

10 More Random Ramblings...

... to revive a blog that's been neglected for over half a year.

1. I opened my KINDLE today!!! I haven't yet explored or taken advantage of all its capabilities, but saying that I'm excited would be quite an understatement. Two of my favorite words when next to each other: Public domain. Looks like I will be catching up on the classics as I travel across Europe... which leads me to...

2. I AM GOING TO SPAIN! This September, I will be leaving for an as-of-now-unknown city in the La Rioja autonomous region of Spain. I will be helping teach Spanish kids of some age how to speak English 12-16 hours a week. The rest of the time is mine. My plan for this extravagant free time: 1) become a highly successful private English tutor; 2) experience as much of Europe as possible; 3) learn a third language (français? deutsch?); and 4) apparently catch up on the classics.

3. Speaking of classic literature, I am rereading The Hobbit. I was going to simply move on to The Lord of the Rings, but since it's been... around 9 years (wow) since I've read the prequel, I figured it best to start from the very beginning. J.R.R. Tolkien, I appreciate you much more now than I did in the 8th grade.

4. The fact that I can easily remember things from a decade ago makes me feel old. Another realization: I am almost halfway toward my 10 year high school reunion. Wow.

5. Have you ever had a song that you've listened to for years and then all of a sudden, you listen to it for the ump-teenth time and you finally hear it? That happened to me today. Regina Spektor's "Ghost of Corporate Future." I suppose I owe the revelation to my current status as a recent graduate averse to getting sucked into the cubicle starting block of the 'real world' rat race. Perhaps that's a cynical way to put it... I could be excited about a cubicle if I was excited about the work I was doing in the cubicle... what that might be, I still don't know.

6. My cubicle would be the coolest cubicle on the block. :P

7. I'd really rather not have a cubicle, awesome as mine would be. A non-traditional work-place would suit me much better, I think... again, if only I knew what that meant.

8. I need to write more. Here, in my journal, and just in general. Letters. Yes, I need to write more of those as well.

9. I remember a William Blake quote that I actually first heard in a movie ("P.S. I Love You"): "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create." I've always wanted to identify with that...

10. I will write again tomorrow.

Good night, blog.

Bonus rambling:
11. Perhaps my blog should have a name. I just named my Kindle 'Lewis' after a favorite author (C.S., not Carroll). Perhaps tomorrow.