Hola

Hola de Mexico!

I have now been living in Mexico for  two and a half weeks, three weeks three and a half weeks. Time keeps marching on, and the internet stubbornly refuses to cooperate. After the first week of glorious internet, the supply was cut off, thanks to a number of factors, including the one person able to fix the internet being out of town for a week, then that same person stuck on the other side of a collapsed bridge, and then the discovery that the cable bringing the glorious internet to the Spanish school from the main office was submerged and NOT waterproof.  Thanks rainy season! As of right now, there is no end in sight to the internet drought, save for the occasional trip to the Pasteleria in Rio Grande (a 10 minute taxi ride away from Roca Blanca)  where I can drink a moka and eat french fries and sometimes obtain internet. Like, right now.

So, to catch you up on the first crazy two and a half-ish weeks! I’ve become accustomed to school life again. Frankly, that wasn’t very difficult, because I like school and I only have four hours of language school a day. School, while it is the point of my time here in Mexico, has not been the crazy stuff. The crazy has been day after day of somewhat extraordinary happenings, including but not limited to:

  • a 20 hours-long power outage (Week 2)
  • lack of internet, which was partially caused by said power outage, but was perpetuated by only one person knowing how to fix it and that person being out of town, and now stuck on the other side of a collapsed bridge (Week 2, 3, onwards)
  • a teacher’s strike keeping us from a taco trip (Week 2)
  • three days of torrential rain from the cast-offs of a Pacific tropical storm and an Atlantic hurricane (Week 2)
  • high water preventing us from going to Puerto to take friends to the airport (Week 2)
  • Mexican Independence Day! Viva Mexico! (Week 3)

More things have happened since then, but nothing nearly as crazy as that second week here in Mexico.  A brief overview of the first two weeks is all I’ve prepared so far for the blog, and I want to at least get a little bit of news out to my small but devoted readership.

Oh, also I’m learning Spanish. In the midst of all the chaos, class happens, power or no power. Learning a language is challenging, but entertaining.   I’ve had more than a few days of somewhat mild panic, thinking that there’s no way I’ll ever be able to truly understand or speak Spanish.  Ah, the joys of language and learning.

Someday, regular internet will return! (Or it won’t.)  Until then or until forever, I will attempt to collect my thoughts and experiences to share once a week, or whenever I make it to Rio.  Here’s hoping the internet makes a triumphant return soon!

Playa Carrizalillo
Playa Carrizalillo

What I’m Into: March, April, May 2013 Edition

This post started out as What I’m Into: March 2013. Well, it’s June now, so whatever. 2013 continues to be an exercise in learning to put up with “things I do not want.”  Stress, disappointment, frustration, you name it, 2013 has brought it.  March has been notorious in my life for being weird and disappointing and great all at the same time. April wasn’t any improvement. May and early June could be classified as some of the worst weeks of my adult life thus far.

Enough about bitter disappointment, that’s a story for another day.  There have been things I’ve liked these past months that have brought some happiness into some of the blergh and awful that seems to be 2013’s watchword.

TV

I fell in love with Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler? I am her, people. I am her. Ok, not all of her, I like to think I’m a bit more self-aware and I don’t really care about parks. But the episode where she visits her manfriend in Washington DC? And she has detailed plans of everything she wants to see and do in DC? That is exactly me. I share her unbridled passion museums and history and other random things. And Ron Swanson? He is literally the best.

Books

I haven’t finished a book in quite awhile. In March, I read a few comic books, Plain Janes and Friends with Boys. They’re so short, but I really enjoy a graphic novel now every once in a while. The best book I read in March, though, was Brain on Fire. It’s the horrifying true story of a 24-year-old woman’s descent into madness because of a rare autoimmune disease, a diagnosis that took time and $1 million of tests.  As I was still 24 when I read this book, all I could think was: This could have been me. Some true stories never hit close to home because they could never possibly happen to me–but what happened to her is not that impossible. This woman’s story is powerful and fascinating: read it.

Music

I saw Muse in concert. It was absolutely magical. The concert was truly an amazing multimedia experience. I had never been to the BOK Center in Tulsa before, and I was amazed at all they could pull off  in one concert. A mountain of video screens coming down from the ceiling. Live video of Muse performing on those screens that looked so polished that it took quite awhile for me to figure out it was live. It was so good, it ruined me for listening to their music on just a plain old laptop.

Movies

I saw one movie in March. Admission, with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. And it was AWFUL.  Let’s never speak of this again.

Other

I don’t know how I neglected The Lizzie Bennet Diaries last month, but I did. Let’s be honest, the LBD was one of my favorite media experiences of late 2012 and early 2013. This retelling of Pride and Prejudice in modern-day America was spectacular.  It ended in late March, 100 episodes of hilarity, happiness, tears, and magic. Watch it. Seriously.

Here’s to the rest of June bringing better things.

Full

I have stacks of books unread. Lists of story ideas unwritten. Room messy. Life unorganized. I want to read those books, write those stories, clean my room, organize my life. But lately, the fullness of being involved in the lives of so many, of loving so many people keeps getting in the way of these things I want to do “for me.” Eventually, I believe I will strike a better balance where I get better at setting time aside for those creative (or life organizing) “me things.” But for now, even as I look at some of the things that have fallen by the wayside in my life right now, I am delighted by the life I get to live, even while missing some of those things. Baby showers, making food at 10 pm for a potluck tomorrow, wedding showers, hanging out with friends and getting half-price sonic shakes, graduation parties–and that’s just this week! Life is full of people I love, and it is good.

In other news, this weather is ridiculous. Yesterday, it was too hot. Today it is too cold. Dear weather: please just be sunny with a high of 75.

25

Today, I am 25. 

I got to spend my birthday in my favorite place, the Little Light House.  Some days, I can’t believe how blessed I am to work at such an amazing place, where miracles happen every day, where I am loved, where I am doing a job God made for me.  I mean, kids like Colton bring me birthday signs–how much better does it get? 

Colton brought a Happy Birthday sign for me for the day!
Colton brought a Happy Birthday sign for me for the day!

 

My life is incredibly different than it was a year ago. Last year, I was working in the classroom, doing a job I loved. I was an Associate, the assistant teacher in a classroom with 8 children with special needs and one staff kid. I was exhausted, and I loved it. But God opened the door for me to work in a new department, where I’m in charge of getting the word out about the Little Light House. And now I have even more responsibility: part of my duties now include grantwriting, helping to make sure we have enough money to keep providing services to these amazing students. It’s a little terrifying and overwhelming–but I think this is going to be a great year.

Four months ago, my computer crashed and I lost 2.5 years of my life, in a way. All the pictures of my two years of teaching are gone. I’ve found a few here and there, and I have at least one of every student. I worked on no major creative projects in my life post-college, so I didn’t lose anything creative. But that’s not that great, because that’s just sad. I didn’t write much about my students, my life, because I was exhausted and because I couldn’t figure out how to navigate that line of telling my story and their stories without telling too much. And when I say I couldn’t figure it out, I really mean that the thought just overwhelmed me so I didn’t really try.

So, I don’t know what I’m doing creatively this year, but may God bring back the stories I’ve lost. I always thought I’d have pictures of my students and my time in the classroom to jog my memories, but since they’re gone, I’ll just have to remember. I don’t have any master plan–I’m just going to see what happens and what stories God brings back. Here’s to remembering, and to investing in multiple backups so this never happens to me again. 

Enough about my computer and lost things. This is going to be a good year. I have stories I’m telling, work projects I’m launching, grants I’m writing, and life I’m living. 

And even though I don’t teach any more, I still get to spend time with kids like Calex.  Life is good.

Calex and me on my birthday.
Calex and me on my birthday.

 

Discipline

When I started 2013, I had ideas of what I thought the year would like like. Then things happened and a lot is not what I thought it would be. My laptop crashed and I still haven’t done anything about it because I don’t want to deal with it. I got a nasty stomach bug on my Mexican vacation and spent two days sleeping off the sickness. Other unexpected things are happening and I don’t really know what to do with them except wait and see what happens next.

As I started this year, I really liked the idea of One Word 365, and even picked a word, “whimsy,” inspired by my reading Bob Goff’s Love Does. Then life happened and whimsy was not even close to how 2013 was going to be defined.  Whimsy as my one word went out the door and it has been replaced by “discipline.”  With the loss of things that were important to me, I decided to take that unpleasant opportunity and change parts of my life, one discipline at a time. They’re simple disciplines, but, a la The Happiness Project, it really is sometimes the simplest of changes that can bring about happiness.

First, I pick my outfit for the next day every night. I kind of hate doing this, but I’m much happier in the morning with everything already decided when my early-morning brain is not interested in thinking or deciding. After two years of only having to decide which color uniform polo to wear, this whole choosing “professional attire” is still difficult, even though I’ve been doing it for seven months. The simple discipline of choosing ahead of time means I can think less at 6:30 AM.

Second, I pack my lunch for the next day every night. I eat better and more healthily when I choose at night instead of in a rush in the morning. Again, the simple discipline of choosing ahead of time means I can think less at 6:30 AM.

Third, I joined a gym and I work out with a coworker and I go to Yoga/BodyFlow classes. Part of my motivation for this discipline is the “Healthier You Challenge” that’s happening at my work. I don’t care about losing weight, I just want to be fit, strong, and healthy. In theory, this regular exercise should help me be healthier. I felt good for the first few weeks of this new discipline for me, but the fact that I’m lying in bed with a cold writing this post would seem to lend less credence to the theory of exercise improving health. Thanks preschoolers!

Fourth, I want to read 50 books this year. Right now, according to my Goodreads Challenge widget, I’m right on track, having read 6 books so far this year. I’ve been trying to read one book a week alongside my other activities in my work health challenge. I have been slightly successful.  Lately, being with other people (going to work events or Bible study or hanging out with friends) has taken over reading time. Also, I like to sleep.

This all brings me to today, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. My hope for this Lenten season is to keep going with the disciplines I’ve started, as well as being open to adding new disciplines along the way. I’m also not going to Starbucks. I generally only go once a week or so, but it’s a luxury I’ve come to expect and I really need to not expect it anymore. I want it to be more holy than that, but that’s just what it is.  I’m also going to attempt to write more during this season for this blog, but that’s going to depend on what happens in my life these next 40 days.

Let’s see what happens.

Losing

My laptop crashed yesterday. Most of what’s on it is replaceable or redownloadable or unimportant. It’s just stuff. That’s what I’ve been telling myself anyway. Except there are the pictures of my students for the last two years, the only two years I might have teaching, gone. And every other picture I’ve taken in the last two years, gone. And other random things that I keep remembering that I won’t get back.
I’m angry that I wasn’t prepared and didn’t have backups of those pictures. I know better, but I didn’t do it because figuring the best way seemed so difficult. Now that I know how it feels for them to be gone, it would have been worth the hassle.
I feel ridiculous being so upset over some pictures, a laptop. So many worse things have happened and are happening to people I care about. It’s just a computer, it’s just pictures. But it hurts. A lot.
Thank goodness for Facebook, and our generations need to share things online. Thanks to that need, I do have a lot of picture. Two years of my life won’t go undocumented after all.
Normally I’m very good at forcing myself to feel a certain way, to get over sadness, to find the silver lining. But I can’t/don’t want to right now. Sometimes it’s ok to be sad over lost things. I’m thankful that it’s just a computer, it’s just pictures–but I’m still sad I don’t have them.
I went to sleep last night hoping I would wake up to it all being a nightmare, because that’s what discovering my computer blinking a ? at me felt like. It wasn’t a nightmare, it’s just life. In the meantime, in the midst of being sad about losing, I am blessed by amazing parents who come home early from work because I’m sobbing into the phone over a computer and who will let me just be sad. I work at an amazing place filled with ladies who prayed over my computer and hoped for the best for me and who will be there for me even through the best didn’t happen. I have an amazing best friend who went with me to the apple store for moral support, so I wouldn’t cry all over the apple genius. Although we did decide that we want name tags that call us geniuses. And I have as God who is there for me, even when I am sad and lost, even when I feel bad for feeling sad, even when I’m angry at myself and everything.
Also, I’m going to Mexico in a week. It will be warm there, and my sister will be there. Win/win. Even when I’m lost, I am blessed.

New Year

My senior year of college, I found a list of questions for end of year/beginning of year contemplation. This list includes questions like, What would you like to be different about your life in a year? What would you like to have accomplished in that time? Where would you like to travel? What purchases would you like to make? What do you want to stop doing? What are your favorite things?

In lieu of resolutions, I answer these questions as a way of plotting major goals and plans for the year. I like being able to see what I hoped for and if I accomplished it. I underestimate my past self sometimes–for some dreams and goals, I don’t always remember how long I really wanted it.

It’s easy for me to remember, though, some of the things that don’t happen. How long I’ve waited on plans that never seem to come around the way I want.  Some of the things I hope to be different seem to never change. I’ve had the same hope on my list every year since December 2009/January 2010, and it still isn’t real. It may not seem that long, but it feels like an eternity, because my life has changed so much since then and because it’s a wish held longer than that. It’s a stupid wish, because I can’t control it and I hate things I can’t control. But I refuse to take it off, because I’m not ready to believe it will never happen.

Not everything is bleak, of course. When I answered my questions last year, I focused on researching and creating a new position for myself at the Little Light House. At the time, I was really just being ridiculous. I wanted to create a job were I could improve the LLH’s social media presence, launch a LLH blog, and other internetly things. But it was a long-term dream. I had quiet hopes that it might happen in 2012, but I thought any possibility of a job would be 8 hours on a Friday, and probably 2-3 years before being in charge of social media, etc, would be a full-time job. Yet God worked a lot of pieces together to make a full-time happen THIS YEAR for me and for the LLH. I had forgotten that I had dreamed about the possibility of a new position a year ago, making me thankful to my past self for answering those questions. While there are still dreams that feel like they’re just getting buried deeper and deeper, this dream fulfilled is a promise that not all lofty dreams are buried forever.

Last year I wrote to myself:

“I would like to remember that my life changes so much in one year, even when it feels like nothing has changed.” High-five past self. You were right.  May my life look different again this time in 2013.