Monday, August 9, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

I'm not gonna lie. When I woke up this morning I was contemplating taking a mental health day. It's not so much that I'm worn out, but burned out would not be an exaggerated description. I'm over my job and longing for the first day of classes when I can cut down on my hours and do something I like.

But I'm trying to stay positive. Most people don't feel a thrill when it's time to come to work on Monday morning, but we all do it and move on. So I'm here, and rather than thinking of this in a "Manic Monday" light I'm trying to keep the Black-Eyed Peas singing the days of the week in the back of my head. Party every day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

If Google Reader is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right

As a student of two languages, I read a lot. While reading for yourself is an enjoyable activity, it seems to be more fulfilling when you can discuss what you've read with other people. This is one of the reasons I love my English literature classes and the main reason I am addicted to Google Reader.

If you're unfamiliar with Google Reader, it is a service of Google that allows you to follow and organize RSS feeds in one place. I keep up with People of Wal Mart, College Candy, my friends' blogs, the entire content of The Huffington Post, and a slew of other sites using Reader, but after sifting through so much information I find I want to share some things with people. If I read something pertinent to a friend I can quickly email it directly to that person and begin a discussion. Or, if I think a post is universally entertaining or interesting I can hit share and anyone who follows my shared items will see and be able to comment.

In a single day I read hundreds of posts (and I'm not exaggerating), and while many are unimportant, some are fascinating. Thanks to Reader I can share the gem of information I just gleaned. Plus, that person doesn't have to read the hundreds of posts because I already picked through them and found the interesting ones.

It's an addicting lifestyle, but one I fully enjoy. What's the point of reading if you never get a chance to discuss what you've learned?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


If my aversion to children could be removed I think I would be the world's greatest babysitter. This claim is based on the realization that I am my own nanny throughout the summer. It's hard to pinpoint the moment I became my own mother, but at some point it happened.

With a full-time job my life is hyper-structured, and the way I bide my time in all of this is much like a mother with a small child. I know I will not always be occupied at work (I find time for things like writing this post and reading everything on the Huffington Post RSS feed), so I plan for that with my diaper bag, sans diapers of course. Instead of Huggies, my tote bag contains several books, my crochet projects, and any other thing I might be working on that could keep me busy when the internet drops the ball. Along with time-passers I have snacks, the most important thing you can have for a child who needs to be occupied for an entire day.

Like any good mother I also plan playdates for myself, see to it that I'm getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and prepare healthy, balanced meals for myself.

This is all just a part of growing up, but if and when I actually do have kids I should be able to put these things into practice for someone else. Until then I'm just getting lots of practice and trying to avoid tantrums.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Close, Yet So Far

Two semesters are all that stand between me and my degree, but I have to say that college is really getting in the way of me getting jobs right now. Not that I have experienced a deluge of offers, but this week I have experienced the sadness that comes with turning things down or being so close to eligibility but ultimately unable to receive an offer. Let me explain.

There are these beautiful things in Spain called language institutes where the only qualification for teaching English is to be a native speaker. Thus I am overqualified, considering I study English and almost have a bachelors degree. When offered a chance to work at a camp this summer that could possibly turn into a more long-term job I had to turn it down because I needed to come back to the employer that had already hired me and finish school so that I could actually get my degree before I started paying off my student loans. The other Belmont student who was in Spain with me leaves today for the camp because he was in his last semester while we were in Santiago. Jealousy does not begin to describe what I feel.

But Spain is not the only place where I'm almost needed. A member of my family recently got a job as principal at a high school here in Tennessee and needs to hire a new Spanish teacher. Her one applicant is admittedly not fluent in Spanish and didn't even study it in college. The only thing keeping me from applying: those two semesters I lack. I'm basically 10 months from being qualified. Talk about wrong place at the wrong time.

I realize that this is life and that these jobs will still exist after May 14, 2011. It just hurts so much to be so close and seeing these opportunities to move on with my life that I can't snag just yet. The hopeful part of this: there is confirmed life after graduation.

Friday, July 9, 2010

America the Best Place for Dating?

I just read an article from that said America is the best place for dating. While I understand the things this girl mentions, I can't help but note that the same things apply in Spain and that I had much more luck there than I've ever had here (although my dates were with Saudi Arabians and not Spaniards, which I don't have time to go into and realize could seriously skew my perceptions of dating regardless of the country). We'll take this reason for reason:

1. Good Education
In America, we have to pay (often big bucks) to go to school. In Spain, the public universities were favored over private, and the government leaves little to be covered out of pocket. If you don't go to college there you're one of the minority, and even after finishing your degree you will likely find job-hunting difficult because everyone has a degree, just like you.

2. Reliable Economy
The Spaniards have their own economic crisis, but the country seemed relatively as economically stable as America. Unemployment rates are high both places, and the abundance of free time seems only to be amplified by the siesta (sleep is not required or often taken). So if we're saying that the economy boosts free time for dating, I think Spain wins.

3. So Many Parks
In Nashville we have our fair share of parks, but Santiago was no different. And there every park was within walking distance, eliminating the hassle of getting in the car, which can discourage the trip to the park and allowing more time to walk and talk with your date.

4. Open-Mindedness
Spain does allow gay marriage, and while my Saudis were from a much less open-minded culture, the country in which we found ourselves did not seem to care much about who anyone was dating.

5. Excellent Music
This one might be a win for America. But a good chunk of the music I heard in Spain was American. Plus, with the internet you won't miss out on anything, AND even living in Music City, USA the big artists often skip us on their tours.

So maybe dating in America is better than in some countries (I've only lived in two), but based on these reasons I think I'd choose Spain.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oooh Yeah, Life Goes On

I have officially (or as of 7:30pm at least) been back in Tennessee for a month. In this month I have worked, had a lot of coffee/breakfast dates with friends, and tried to see my family as much as possible. The beautiful thing is that I've missed out on a few things (like the major flood that tried its hardest to wash away my favorite city), but it's like I never left. People are just as easy to talk to, conversation comes easily, and life here is just like I remember it, up to the obnoxious parents of incoming freshmen that call our office to complain. I'm enjoying what could be my last Nashville summer.

Among the diehard friends that never let me down, the public library has demonstrated its continued fidelity. I quickly updated my list of holds and have been taking advantage of the on-line requests and delivery to my preferred branch. Plus there are several books in Spanish, so while I don't have the beautiful bookstores of Spain with their abundance of Spanish chick lit, I can read Garcia Marquez in the original without the hassle of ordering it on Amazon and having to pay for it.

It's curious how life just continues with or without us. While that can be somewhat depressing and make us wonder what we contribute to a place with our physical presence, it's also comforting to know that things aren't going to fall apart if we step away to do something else. That makes me hopeful for the end of May, when the only thing I know for sure is that I'll be done with school. Where I will live and what I will do is up in the air (and depends heavily on who wants to give me a job), but even if I leave the people who are a huge part of my life we'll all continue living and I don't lose them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fully Understanding the Weekend

After living in the eternal weekend known as study abroad going to work has been a challenge. That's old news from my last post, but the contrast of the work day with the weekend makes the weekend so sweet.

I think I had forgotten what it was like to actually need to have time to chill until this past weekend, and when I got that time it was so sweet. I had some quality roommate time with the long-lost (but not forgotten) Kristen who has this thing called homework that I can only interrupt so much during the week as well as a short day of work at the mansion.

I'm hoping this week will be better than last. I would like to attribute my difficulty to the intense relaxation I experienced in Spain, and I think once I Americanize myself a little more (but not too much) I'll hate my life less after an 8-hour work day.

I've been in America for two full weeks. Spain seems like a dream that I had to wake up from, but it's given me things to think about in my future and priorities to change as I inevitably get dragged into living like a real American. Overall I've learned to appreciate my weekends, and I plan to take advantage of every single one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The 9 to 5

If I were to name one thing as the hardest adjustment I've had to make since I arrived in America I would have to say it's the 40-hour work week. I spent the last five months on a semi-vacation with no job and very little to study, so coming back to angry parents on the phone and entitled incoming freshmen with their housing complaints has been trying.

Like every summer I'm starting off feeling a little exhausted, but I'm sure like every summer I'll get over it and learn to overcome the slight depression caused by my work schedule. Until then I'm just riding out the bajón.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Taste of Toni

I'm currently reading Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I've heard great things about her writing, but this is my first taste, and so far she's living up to her reputation. This description of a man's indifference to a woman he's been sleeping with over a long period of time is an example of her ability to relate one feeling to another to help the reader understand better how one character relates to another:
She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it's there, because it can't hurt, and because what difference does it make?
So far so good.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm Back in America!

I have officially been stateside for a full week, without a chance to sit down and think about the implications of that until today.

I spent last Sunday at home with my family trying to wrap my head around the fact that the previous day I had been in Santiago, living what feels now like a completely different life. The next day I ate a delicious grandmother-cooked breakfast and headed to Nashville with all my stuff (which had been sitting in boxes in my bedroom at home since I moved out of my last apartment). I got everything inside the new apartment, but until Saturday was incapable of putting it all away; however, this was no bother considering I was back in Nashville and living with Kristen!

Tuesday the real world hit hard; it was time to go back to work. But I do like my office, and it was nice to be back to a normal routine. At least the routine was normal after Wednesday, the day I had to go to court and pay my speeding ticket from the Textravaganza in January. I got to do some birthday celebrating that I'd been looking forward to since before I left, and then on Friday Sarah came to spend the night.

Saturday I was planning to cook dinner with Heather and Sarah, but they tricked me and took me to The Old Spaghetti Factory where a group of friends from home was waiting for me. It was a lovely surprise, and I was caught completely off guard.

Today I slept late and tried to catch up a little. This week has been crazy, but I think I'm settled now for the most part and ready to spend what might be my last summer in Nashville. I make the comment about the last summer because I bought a new planner and while copying the dates from the 2010-2011 academic calendar I realized I actually needed to write down the date of graduation because (unless something goes horribly wrong) it's my graduation date! But I don't want to wish away the next year, so I'm not focusing on that. Instead I'm thinking about the things America will continue to surprise me with right now and the exciting things in my near future.

My writing has suffered in the last semester of Spanish-speaking, and my mental organization has been hit hard by the cascade of recent changes, which is all to apologize for the scattered nature of this post.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Si pudiera vivir nuevamente mi vida, en la próxima trataría de cometer más errores. No intentaría ser tan perfecto, me relajaría más. Sería más tonto de lo que he sido, de hecho, tomaría muy pocas cosas con seriedad.

Sería menos higiénico. Correría más riesgos, haría más viajes, contemplaría más atardeceres, subiría más montañas, nadaría más ríos. Iría a más lugares adonde nunca he ido, comería más helados y menos habas, tendría más problemas reales y menos imaginarios.

Yo fui una de esas personas que vivió sensata y prolíficamente cada minuto de su vida; claro que tuve momentos de alegría. Pero si pudiera volver atrás trataría de tener solamente buenos momentos. Por si no lo saben, de eso está hecha la vida, sólo de momentos; no te pierdas el ahora.

Yo era uno de esos que nunca iban a ninguna parte sin termómetro, una bolsa de agua caliente, un paraguas y un paracaídas. Si pudiera volver a vivir, viajaría más liviano.

Si pudiera volver a vivir comenzaría a andar descalzo a principios de la primavera y seguiría así hasta concluir el otoño. Daría más vueltas en calesita, contemplaría más amaneceres y jugaría con más niños, si tuviera otra vez la vida por delante.

Pero ya tengo 85 años y sé que me estoy muriendo.

This is an incredible piece of writing from an unknown author who talks about the things he would do differently if he had the chance to live his life over. He talks about being less focused on perfection and being less careful. He laments the fact that he was often over-prepared and over-worried; he didn't take the risks he wishes now he had taken. If he could do it again, he says he would have more real problems and less imaginary ones. Throughout he talks about what he would do differently, but the last line says, "But I am 85 years old, and I know I am dying."

What I like the most about this is that I'm not 85 years old, and at age 21 I can take a lesson from this writer. The things that seem like monumental occurrences won't matter much in the grand scheme of things. What will matter is the time I've taken to enjoy living. It can all be simplified into one line from Ms. Frizzell on The Magic Schoolbus: "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'm not gone, just gone to Spain

I've been neglecting this blog I realize, but everything I'm doing right now is here in my Spain blog. I don't think I had the two connected before, so consider yourself re-routed.