Friday, May 16, 2014

Luckiest Girl in the World

The other morning, for the first time ever, I had to remind myself to leave my keys behind. My daily mantra of keys, bus pass, phone was broken- no keys for the house I wouldn't be living in, no bus pass for the busses I wouldn't be ridding and no phone for the country I wouldn't be calling in anymore. Yes, it was terribly dramatic, but possibly for the only time ever, I think my exaggeration was warranted.

I felt like I was going to cry. Either that or throw up. Sometimes I get the feelings mixed up. 

The ephemeral "they" always say "don't be sad that its over, be happy that is happened". But what is so wrong about being sad? Isn't it worth being sad that I left a beautiful country and my so so sweet host mom? Isn't it sad that I don't get to see the beautiful, stupid and hilarious friends who have made my time so great everyday any more? It is sad, and sometimes I think sadness deserves to be felt, a testament to the memories we'll hold onto.

It's a good kind of sad that can make you bawl like a baby, a happy sad that leaves you smiling despite the tears.

And while I am sad to be leaving, I am also so ridiculously happy- happy to be traveling with my best friend through Europe ( supposing I manage to get to Copenhagen), happy to return home to my chaotic loving family and happy to go back to San Francisco and all my favorite morons there (no offense guys). Please excuse the extreme cheeseiness of what I'm about to say-it can hurt to split your heart between so many places.

But in the end, there is no doubt that it's worth it. Having all these things to love (even if it hurts) truly makes me the luckiest girl in the world.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The End is Near

This morning I woke up super excited that I only had two days of finals (Thursday and Monday, not chronologically, but you know what I mean) left before I was finished with classes. And then it hit me- I have 6 days left in Madrid, and I don't even know how it happened.

I swear yesterday it was February and I was wondering if I would ever see San Francisco, or Boise again. I had months and months ahead of me.  Don't get me wrong, I loved being abroad, but I was a little bit homesick. And now? With less than a week left, everything seems absolutely fantastic. I have officially put on the nostalgia goggles.

My horrendously long commute is dear to my heart, and I can name the 9 stops in my head without even thinking- Pio XII, Columbia, Concha Espina, Cruz del Rayo, transfer at Avenida de America, Republica Argentina, Nuevos Ministerios, Cuatro Caminos and finally Guzman el Bueno (you're lucky it wasn't longer). 

The total lack off walking norms (stand on the right, walk on the left) has its own charms, even if getting from one side to another in a crowd is nearly impossible.

I've even come to realize that I'll never see my classroom friends again- you know those people who you talk to in class and genuinely like, but won't ever hang out with outside (and may or may not actually know their names). Not to mention the people I do hang out with who live in weird places like Chicago.

And my host mom? Though she made me promise to invite her to my wedding, I probably won't see her ever again either. 


cry, probably.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Life in a Technological Desert

I have this theory that something must ALWAYS go horribly wrong. After 3 months of somehow dodging near certain disaster, the inevitable finally caught up with me. Out of nowhere, my phone disappeared into the great abyss (actually some douche bag stole it, but it sounds better the other way), and balance was restored to the universe.

All things considered, I guess being phone-less is way better than being kidnapped or ending up in a full body cast, but it has lead to some hugely inconvenient consequences. Now, about a month after losing the phone, I have adjusted, but not before I ran into these issues

  • I spent the whole of April 21st thinking it was the 22nd
    • I NEVER know what time it is
  • My calendar, with all my important dates (finals, projects, flight and things) is gone
  • Waking up in the morning is so much harder when you can't hit snooze
  • Group messages are the bane of my existence- I miss everything and come home to 63 new messages
    • speaking of, I have about 4 hours a day of internet connectivity a day, which sounds like a lot, but it just doesn't cut it
  • I'm pretty sure half the people I know think I am dead because I never answer any of their messages
  • No more impromtu family facetiming
  • my email is a mess
  • no camera=no photos 
  • I can't listen to my podcasts on my commute anymore
  • or music
  • or anything 
Really most of things I can mostly handle. I do miss my podcasts, and having an extra screen to super multitask. I've also gotten more lost in the last month then the rest of my life combined. I've taken to writing out the directions on my hand, like a super primitive google maps. It works about 15% of the time.

In the end, living in mobile exile has been a mixed bag of sorts. To all those convinced that we are increasingly isolated by technology, I'm pretty sure they just aren't using it right. Not being able to contact people (whether they be 5 or 5,271 miles away) is awful, and though snapchat and instagram may be silly, I would have loved to be able to send a photo of the gardens in Sevilla to my dad, or a video of the cows I ran into on my way back from the beach in Lagos to my friends. 

It is however, nice to know that I can make it just fine without Candy Crush.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

London, or That one Time I was Lost for 48 Hours Straight

I have a lot of talents. Not to brag or anything, but I'm pretty much a pro when it comes to sleeping, I can carry a lot of grocery bags at a time and I can even yo-yo (sort of...). But despite all these incredible skills, there is one very important thing that I am completely missing.

I have zero sense of direction. The mastery of left and right continues to allude me, even after 20 years. Though I understand that having a north, south, east and west are completely pointless if you pretend that anything in front of you is north, I do it anyway. I look at a map and it totally makes sense. Until I try to make the crisscrossing lines in to actual roads. It also doesn't help that most of Europe has just decided that street signs are for the weak.

I am weak, and I really need those signs. And this is why I was lost for 2 days. 

I've tried to screen shot the directions, and sometimes it works. Unless the streets are unlabeled. Or I accidentally take a photo of the part I already know and chop of the important stuff (it happens embarrassingly often). Luckily my friends are super on top of these things, so generally I'm alright.

But, for some still unknown crazy reason, I thought I would be alright wandering on my own in London. After all, everything was in English, so it couldn't be that hard, right? 

Wrong, very very wrong.

Beyond the fact that I suddenly lost my ability to cross the street (walking in London is really hard), the tube system is just ridiculous. Plus I kept getting distracted by funny stop names like Cockfoster.

Yet despite the fact that I never knew where I was going and ended up walking around in circles more frequently than I am willing to admit, I loved every minute of it. Though I may never know any city like the back of my hand (which i don't even know that well to begin with), as long as I have friends to come find me when I'm lost on a street corner, I think I'll be alright.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Escalator Don't Fail Me Now

I'll say it, I love escalators (in case you haven't already picked up on that) but lately, they've been letting me down. Over the last weeks, 4 of the 345.495,398 sets of moving stairs I use every day have broken. There is nothing sadder in the world than rounding a corner only to find them roped off, all their mechanically insides torn out and the rubber guards on the railing flopping off.

Okay, there are plenty of things that are worse. And honestly, yeah I can just take the stairs (and I do) but I don't think people understand how many stairs that is. You think lomo is bad? just try coming out of the Guzman El Bueno stop from the 6. It's approximately 48 meters underground, roughly translating to the height of a 14 story buildings. Talk about your morning cardio.

But the escalators aren't the only thing falling apart. Since arriving I have destroyed 2 pairs of shoes, torn a hole in a sweater, jacket and t-shirt and some how managed to tear the handle clear off a bag. By the time May rolls around, I may actually be forced to go barefoot.

Luckily, I am nothing if not resourceful. As of this morning, using only a needle and 4 colors of thread, I managed to salvage everything I had broken accept my boots, which are totally beyond repair (unless I can find some super glue...)

I'd like to think of this as a testament to the spirit of my travels. I have literally walked two pairs of shoes to death, and that's something I'm proud of. Too bad I can't just sew an escalator back together too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Procrastination...nevermind, I'll write about it later

I've been meaning to write this for at least 2 weeks now. and as ironic as it sounds, I kept putting it off. Need I say more?

Probably not. But I am going to anyway. I'm a born procrastinator (seriously, I was born like a week late) and most of the time it works pretty well for me. My 11th grade 12 page research paper and corresponding 1 hour presentation on the Vietnam War? Yeah, I wrote it the night before. And while that indecent is probably the crown jewel, I have plenty of other anecdotes about procrastination. Sadly I never learn from them. Ever.

Part of it maybe be because the horrible panic induced adrenaline is so helpful when it comes to cranking out papers in under twenty minutes. Maybe it is the thrill of pulling off the impossible. Most likely, it's probably because I've always managed to get through my self create disasters relatively unscathed.

But this time, my hole may already be too deep for me to dig myself out of it.

You see, at the beginning of the semester, I was super psyched because I didn't have any finals, which basically meant the last two weeks would be completely chill. Instead, I just had a handful of minorly major projects. Like most students, I pushed them to the back burner, out of site, out of mind. And it was fantastic. 

Until out of no where, it's nearly April! How on earth did I manage to lose nearly 3 months? At first it didn't even seem like that big of a deal. After all I have all of April right?


Though there is an awesome 10 day holiday in the middle of the month, I know myself better than to think I'll get anything done. Besides the fact that it's pretty much a crime to do homework over an extended break, I'm also going to be on buses and trains crisscrossing Spain and Portugal. Not to mention the week before, which has been eaten by London.

Granted, all this is totally my fault. And traveling for three weeks is hardly something to complain about.

Nevertheless, it still leaves me in a bind. Basically I have one week to start and finish a full company analysis, complete with investment suggestions, a 20 minute presentation on the psychological effects of the age of the internet, plus time for researching, an ethics paper (which really isn't that big of a deal, I just really don't feel like writing it), a museum visit with very short, peculiar hours, and accompanying paper. Plus my Spanish vocab, which very well may be the most stressful part. I am really bad at Spanish (still).

But I still have 168 hours to get it done, so really, I don't even need to start yet. Right?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kiss me I'm (1/4) Irish!

A week ago I went to Dublin. And it was great. Yes I know, that's unbelievably descriptive. It's almost like you were there with me right? But that isn't the point, not really.

Perhaps it was just the dizzying excitement of really understanding everyone for the first time in months, or the surprising lack of rain, but for some reason or other, I was completely taken with the city, nay, the entire country within minutes of landing.

I've never much understood ethnic pride. I think it's great to be proud of where you come from, don't get me wrong, but I must confess I didn't get it. Part of this probably comes from the fact that my background is so muddled and thoroughly mixed that individual cultures have been rendered into an unidentifiable mix of weird foods and phrases that have stubbornly held on through the assimilation of six or so generations.

And yet, being in this country that my father's mother's parents lived in somewhere (I think...), I felt oddly connected. It was as if I had found 6 million acquaintances whom, really I didn't share anything with, but liked anyway. 

After mistakenly crashing a tour and learning about the exploding statues (blown up on principal) and bloody rebellions, I gained new insight into historical pride. Obviously hugely violent, and deadly rebellions aren't exactly something to brag about. But the stubborn refusal to accept orders? I can relate to that. Throw in their self depreciating humor and you've cover at least 90% of my personality.

I think that is where the pride comes from. I mean, we can't very well take credit for things that happened generations before we were born. But seeing a bit of yourself in where you come from, even hundreds of years later, well that's pretty cool.