Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I know it has been months since I last posted a blog, but I am pretty convinced my blog doesn't get much traffic anyway, so in the end, it doesn't matter much.  Since my last blog, I have proudly been letting everybody know that I survived the election.  In the weeks leading up to the election, I didn't do a damn thing besides election things.  Even my dreams were about Election Day.  Get Out the Vote came and went faster than I would have thought possible, and then there was nothing.  It was time for unemployment with no solid employment coming up.  So welcome fuckers (I only say that because of the picture) to the blog update about (almost) everything between then and now.

Charming graffiti at the hostel
Sometimes, people ask me why I love traveling to other countries so much when I know so little of my own native country.  And since one of the most popular states in the Union is California, I figured I should probably see it before leaving the USA again.  I got to go visit my old roommate (from when I lived in Santiago the first time) out in Oceanside (near San Diego).

O-Side Beach
The only bad thing is that she is kind of like a grown up and has a full time job.  And she works that job over nights.  It didn't stop us from having fun though.  We spent several afternoons just laying on the beach with the intention that Victoria could sleep and I could read my book or watch the surfers.  The problem is that we always ended up talking for hours.

Oceanside Beach at sunset
Victoria frolicking
There are millions of reasons I think this is the smallest world ever (I randomly ran into someone I met in Colombia last weekend on the streets of Santiago), but I happened upon an Ana Tijoux performance in LA when I was there.  And it was on a Sunday night so Victoria could go too!  If you don't know Ana Tijoux, you are missing out.  She is Chilean rapper and has some pretty politically charged songs.  Read more about her here.  For those of you that don't read Spanish, sorry.  Maybe you can understand some of it?)  We spend the evening chilling in Venice.  The city even made canals and put houses on them so it was like Venice, Italy!

Venice, Los Angeles, California
The cool kids on the beach
I didn't take my camera into the show, but I can tell you it was wonderful.  Even being one of about five white people there was wonderful.  Except she kind of made fun of gringos, and that just wasn't necessary.

We spent an afternoon doing the international houses where they give you samples of their food.  The only thing  slightly disappointing was that Latin America was significantly underrepresented.  Oh, well.  I like scones and cookies and egg salad sandwiches from the Queen just as much as the next person.

THE picture you HAVE to take (or something like that)
 For our final big outing, Victoria and I went to the Wild Animal Park.  It was kind of amazing- you get to travel through "Africa", where they have real kitenges draped on things and everything is way to clean to really be Africa.  You may or may not remember the Fredship Story, but I think I found some of Fred's friends in the petting zoo.  I also saw the cutest baby gorilla kissing the momma gorilla, and my heart fucking melted.  I also got to watch the moon rise over the man made savannah with a rhino.

Fred's Friends and me
Baby gorilla kisses
Rhino sunset
Some of my afternoons were spent on the promenade, or Victoria's back porch as it is better known as.  I miss our afternoon teas, speaking loudly and rudely in a British accent,  and brushing up on my Chilean slang.  The insane amount of Chilean and California wine that was consumed in good humor was the perfect detox from the election cycle, and I actually said that I still wanted to go back to work the 2014 election.  After leaving California, I carried my unemployment back to Santiago de Chile, where (hopefully) I won't be unemployed much longer.  They DO have elections coming up...

Peace and Love

Currently listening to: Lana del Ray.  I got so much new music in California, and I am not even listening to it right now.  I feel like I failed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Can Make A Difference

My day started kind of meh.  I figured out that Mount Vernon Road wasn't going to be closed, so I drove to the office instead of riding my bike.  It was only mildly stressful trying to navigate my way through the thousands of cyclists heading out of town for RAGBRAI.  (It was actually kind of cool seeing them all jazzed up to bike 40 miles to Anamosa; now I want to do RAGBRAI some year.)  After I got to work, things started to head downhill fast when I couldn't get lists to cut right and every volunteer I called was mumbling some bullshit about not actually being able to volunteer.  I wasn't going to get the minimum 100 calls I needed for the day and without volunteers, there were thousands I had to make solo in the coming weeks.  (I know 100 phone calls per day isn't bad, but it is when you despise talking on the phone and that is all you have done all week.)

After breaking down, crying, and stopping myself from demolishing my computer, I went home for some lunch and to gear up for the Benton County Fair.  I avoided driving myself into a ditch on the way there, but not without significant amounts of road rage and throwing my arms around.

Once I parked my car, I sat for a minute and tried to regain my composure.  Which is good because I had to walk by the Benton County Republicans to get to the Benton County Democrats booth.  I didn't make eye contact because I probably would have punched one of them.  At the booth, things were ok.  I actually love talking with candidates running for county and state office.  They are always pumped up and feisty.  (Not that candidates running for federal office aren't.  I just see county and state candidates significantly more.)  Afterwards, I stopped to pick up my traditional Subway sandwich on my way out of Vinton (mileage and expenses are paid if I leave the Linn County!) and got on the road.

All was fine on the drive home.  I took my normal exit, but I accidentally turned before I really should have.  I do that a lot; Cedar Rapids is confusing like that. 

There is this one on-ramp in Cedar Rapids that almost always has a homeless person sitting at it, and as always, when I drove by tonight, there was someone sitting there.

I lost it again.

Tears swelled in my eyes.  I wanted that person to have a safe home and food in their belly.  The only thing I thought I had to offer was my Subway sandwich and the half-eaten bag of chips, so I turned around (not an easy thing to do with the wonky design of Cedar Rapids) and asked if she wanted it.  The smile on her face and "Yes, thank you!" were possibly the most genuine I have seen or heard in a long time. 

The mix of emotions was profound- terribly sad that homelessness and poverty have to exist (especially in a country that prides itself on opportunity and high level of development), relief that I know she will be eating something tonight, and embarrassment at what I considered to be a terrible day.

When I got home, I realized that I had also had an apple in my backpack, and I wished I had offered it as well.  I am going to start carrying a small bag of snacks whenever I take that ramp.  It is almost guaranteed that someone will be on that corner, and I will hand whoever is there my snacks.  I really don't need them.

This has been one of the most emotionally exhausting days I have had in quite some time, and I think one of the most emotionally exhausting of all time.  But only because I realized that I can make a difference.  Even if it is only in one persons life.

If you want to learn more about homelessness in the US and programs designed to aid the homeless, you can visit the United States Interagency Council on homelessness website.  There are also tons of programs that function on the local level to mitigate homelessness and poverty.

Peace and Love

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Proust Questionaire

My friend Kelley is one of the most creative and inspiring people I know.  She is the creative director over at majestic disorder, and as I was perusing her website, the Proust questionaire she has posted kind of inspired me.  So I decided to do it. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
 Perfect happiness is that level of self actualization that we probably never achieve, but we are always striving for.  Never achieving it is not bad, it keeps us going and working, striving for more.

What is your most marked characteristic?
 I tend to be quite honest about things.  I am honest when I do like something, when I don't like something, and when I really don't care.  People just don't usually believe me when I say I don't care due to my strong and honest opinions about certain other things.

What is your greatest extravagance?
 Travelling is probably my greatest extravagance (although I don't necessarily travel in extravagant ways).  I love the excitement and novel adventures new places have to offer, so I try to go everywhere I get the opportunity to.

What is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is the world around me.  All of the colors, imperfections, songs, people, food, and faults of the world give me inspiration by making me want to be part of it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being who I am today is by far my greatest achievement.  Granted, most 25 year olds have steady jobs, steady boyfriends, and all around steady lives, but considering where I came from, what I have been through, and what I have done, the person I have become is my greatest achievement to date.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
I use "yeah" way to much.  And I say "sure" when I am discussing things with people, and I want to give them a "yes" answer, but I still want a way out.  It's the debater in me.

Who are your favorite writers?
I get lost in Henry Miller's writing constantly, and I am absolutely in love with Pablo Neruda's poetry.  I also really appreciate the beauty of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's writing.  Even if you don't like the stories he tells, you have to love the way he tells them.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When I was younger, I did a lot of things I didn't really want to do because I thought I had to.  Out of sense of duty or obligation or for whatever reason.   But that is what I regard as misery.  I no longer do things I don't want to do "con pasión."  Everything I do, I chose to do because I want to do it "con pasion."

What is your favorite journey?
I honestly believe everything in life is a journey, and so far,  it's working out ok.  Even the parts that I complain about and say I wish didn't happen, I ultimately appreciate because everything is part of a larger journey for us all.

What is your greatest fear?
By far, my greatest fear is failure.  In fact, I am so afraid of it, I don't do certain things if I think there is a possibility I might fail.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
 An honest smile, a big heart, and ready for adventures.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
An honest smile, a big heart, and ready for adventures.

When and where were you happiest?
My first reaction is summer 2010/2011 in Santiago, sitting on the balcony of my apartment having beers with friends.  Or sitting under the shade tree at Peace Matunda last May-July having coffee with Jackie and Bellasix.  Simple bliss.

Where would you like to live?
If I could still be living in Santiago right now, I would be a happy girl.  I was not nearly ready to leave when I did.  Ultimately, I think I would like to live in any place that is new.  I love the challenge of finding a pharmacy for a wrap for your foot that has a massive blister on it and you can barely walk.  Or tying to bake cookies but the store doesn't have brown sugar.  I like to live places where I don't simply live, but I also learn along the way.

If you could choose to come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I think it might be interesting to come back as a more "traditional" person: married parents, 4 normal years at a university, boyfriends and internships.

What is your most treasured possession?
 My books hold a tremendous value to me for several reasons, and I have always treasured my books.  Even as a child, my mom always said I could part with a lot of things, but I couldn't part with my books.  My books might have a new contender with my new camera though. And I also really like my passport.  It takes me places.

On what occasion do you lie?
Straight up, I try to never lie.  It gets you nowhere, and 98% of the time, more of a hassle than it is worth.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
It's 2012.  Nobody even knows what virtues are, let alone gives any of them ratings.  However, in terms of what virtues I think are just silly, I would have to say temperance (I say this as I am drinking a beer) and chastity.  Sometimes, you just have to go balls to the wall and let temperance go.  And if there are two consenting people, I don't think chastity really matters either.  Chastity has no effect on other people, so I don't think it should really be considered a virtue.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I don't love.  I'm not that kind of girl.

What is your motto?
Go for it.  Because ultimately, the world isn't that big.  (Which is admittedly rather ironic considering my biggest fear is failure...)

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Ugly behaviour.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My inability to accept love and acceptance from others is deplorable along with my complete lack of self-confidence.

I hope you have enjoyed peeking into my soul in a way inspired by Kelley at majestic disorder via questions provided by Marcel Proust. 

Peace and Love

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Goal Pondering

The other day I went for quite a long walk as part of my goal to stay (at least kind of) healthy and mobile during the election cycle.  My original goals were much more lofty, but with the random schedule of sleeping and eating, running and a lot of consistent outdoor activity don't fit in well.  But usually I find some quite time on Sundays to do as I please, and last Sunday it was walking in the park and listening to Stuff You Should Know.  The first episode I listened to was "Are we obsessed with goals?", and it reminded me of my List of 25 Things to Do While I am 25.  I still haven't even finished making the list, and I kind of forgot about it for a few months as my job was ending and I was figuring out what was happening next.  Obviously, I am still failing miserably at some parts of this list, but I have actually finished some of the things.

I got to visit a new country, even though Kelley didn't get to come with me.  I more or less spent my May tooling around Colombia.  From Bogotá:

La Candelaria, Bogotá, Colombia
To Playa Blanca:

Livin' the Life

 And out into the jungle to search for La Ciudad Perdida:

Hot and Humid Break Time

 You could probably call the trek to La Ciudad Perdida could probably be considered a camping/hiking adventure, and I have been looking for pawn shops in hopes of finding a camera.  I was much more enthusiastic about my list last January, but as I was listening to the podcast, I was reminded of it.  I think I outlined these goals for a few reasons, one of which was just for something to do.  Working a part-time minimum wage job will drive anyone to insanity. 

Ultimately, my List of 25 Things to do While I am 25 isn't something that will make or break me.  It will however give me a huge sense of satisfaction if I can do most of the things on the list.  I already  know I will not do all of them.  And that is ok.  It at least gives me something to work for.  And I was coming to this conclusion, so was the podcast.  So I might add "Get my own podcast deal" to my list of 25 things to do...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Get Lost

I have been lost many times in my life.  And in the past year and a half, I have had some great times getting lost.  Wandering around Santiago, I would get lost and discover new parks and roads.  Going out to Gialibomba I had no idea where we were, where we were going, or even where the road was.  (I dare you to try to find your way in this.)

Where's the road?!
 Hiking through the ecological reserve just outside of Santiago, my friends and I ducked under barbed wire, slid down hills, and were ultimately rewarded with one of the most breathtaking and exciting views I have ever been surprised with.  

Under the barbed wire...
Through the tree...
The picture doesn't do it justice
We never did find the waterfall we had originally set off to find.

Months later, the crew set out to find some hot springs (or something like that) out in Cajon de Maipo.  We just went, and figured we could figure it out, but of course, we got lost.  And the man that ran the goat farm was not very helpful with directions.

Where are we!?

We never found the hot springs, but we did pull the gringo card and didn't have to pay for our picnic table at lunch, saw some road kill, and got to cross the Rickety Bridge of Doom.

Rickety Bridge of Doom!
I have been thinking about these adventures of getting lost a lot lately, I think for two reasons:

1. Getting lost provides for some amazing adventures.  I have never had a terrible experience with getting lost.  Sometimes, in the moment, things can be frustrating, but there are always a lot of laughs, some good photos, and usually a good story to tell at the end of the day.  I miss getting lost and having those stories to tell.  I want to find new places and people so I can get lost and eventually become familiar with them.

2. I have come to a point in life where I have to make a decision.  I think I have already made it, but it's not 100% yet.  Standing at an intersection and deciding which way to go can be stressful, especially when society dictates you play it safe and do one thing and your heart, soul, and gut tell you to do what makes you happy.  I figure, at worst, I get lost and have an amazing story to tell at the end of the day.

Endless possibilities on the open road

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Vegetarian that Tried Some Meat

First things first, I want to warn you: Some of the pictures in this entry are graphic.  Like, really graphic.  Like, dead animals and blood graphic.  So go back now if you aren't into that sort of thing.

I have been a pescetarian for some years now.  (I have been trying to rid my diet of fish and seafood as well, but it is really hard.  I have been doing extremely well though, only eating fish when eating sushi, and I rarely get sushi.)  I fully understand that making the decision to cut meat out of my diet demonstrates the privileged I come from.  I can chose what I eat and actively exclude things available to me.  Not everyone can do that.  In fact, some people can't imagine saying no to meat if it is put in front of them.  Granted, some of these people are red blooded 'Muricans, but some of  them eat anything that is put in front of them because there are no choices in what (or when) they get to eat.

Most vegetarians will tell you they don't eat meat because it is mean to kill animals.  This is not why I don't eat meat.  I understand there is a natural food chain, I just don't think the status quo of the food chain is sustainable (and frankly, it's kind of gross), so I chose not to participate in it.  It might also be interesting to note here that one of my current jobs is working customer service at store that sells hunting (and fishing and camping) supplies, and I sell hunting licenses like a pro.  (Don't ask how I got the job.  It was a Christmas Miracle.) 

All that being said, the past few months have sparked an interest in hunting for me.  It started with a 25 hour trip out to Gilai Bomba in Tanzania where we got left to journey out to the school Peace Matunda had built for the village.  After we came back (and waited for about 4 hours), Scott and I got to witness a dead wildebeest being pulled out of the back of the jeep.  This is not something I normally witness, so I got really excited about the novelty of it all.  I wanted to help, so I did.

Helping skin the 'beest

Scott was possibly more disgusted than I was

Although I was probably the most enthusiastic vegetarian to ever help skin a wildebeest, I really didn't want blood on my clothes and shoes.  I got pretty good with hand washing my clothes, but I was really worried I wouldn't be able to make those blood stains go away.  And even if I could, I would feel like my clothes would forever be tainted with wildebeest blood.  Here I am holding up his head, but I was really worried about dropping it and getting blood on myself.  Hence, the face.

Don't drop it!
When I got to Tanzania, I decided that I would try a bite of meats I had never had and would probably never have made available to me again.  It was a once in a lifetime deal since my justification for being vegetarian doesn't really hold strong when we are talking about shooting gazelles and dik-dik that are roaming around.  I tried a small bite of dik-dik, gazelle, goat (which you can read about in the Fredship Story), wildebeest ribs, and (on this trip out to Gilaibomba) wildebeest heart.  Yes, I wanted to say I ate that wildebeest's heart because it makes me feel bad ass. 

Wildebeest heart, liver, and kidney
People ask me if I want to start eating meat again now that I have tried the piece of the food pyramid I have been missing out on all of these years.  It's actually really easy for me to not eat meat, and it really doesn't even sound appealing to me, even after trying it after these years.  I want to stay a person with an open mind and always be willing to try new things, so I tried the meat.  So in my quest to never say no and stay adventurous, I became the vegetarian that tried some meat.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

25 Things to do While I am 25: Update

First, I think I should be honest.  I haven't been putting in the time I should be to complete my list of 25 things to do while I am 25.  However, I have made some progress. 

7. Work on my memoir- Despite the fact that I have a start on about 3 chapters of my memoir, they are not good chapters, and I am having trouble doing revisions.  I'm thinking the key to me making any real progress is to join a highly structured writing group.  That way, I know there is an expectation for my writing and revisions to be done, and I get feedback from the group. 

12. Lose at least five pounds- Oddly enough, the last time I was on a scale, I was about half way to completing this goal.  I haven't done anything besides started working at the capital and eating inappropriate amounts of free cookies.  Apparently cookies are a weight loss food.

15. Wear heals to work- This wasn't on my original list I posted, but it is something I had wanted to do.  Especially with having a kind of real job that requires me to look classy.  I had to get one of my shoes repaired first, but since I now have shoes that are fully wearable, I have worn them to work almost every day. 

1. Date someone- I haven't actually dated someone as outlined by my definition.  However, I did participate in a disastrous speed dating situation.  It was put on by the alumni associations of Iowa State, Iowa, and UNI.  So the one nice thing was knowing that there was some level of intelligence in the room.  Odds of there being a mutual "like" and contact information sent out is slim to none, so I will keep working on this.