Monthly Archives: December 2008

year in review

– New Year’s Day on Gorgona, dancing and drinking with the workers.
– Corey moved in with me in March.
– Finished my thesis, learned a tremendous amount about writing and literature and what’s so amazing about really deep thoughts. Spent afternoons at my advisor’s house, going over word after word, page after page, while his daughters ran up and down the stairs and through the garden.
– Wandered through thesis parade in a daze, drunk off of three days of no sleep rather than alcohol, pulled Corey through library with me and Dionysian drumming.
– Did very well in my last year at Reed, made straight A’s.
– Walked across graduation stage and felt startled by how loud the applause and whistles were; the combined noise of all my family and friends.
– My advisor shouting out my name and waving enthusiastically with his enormous grin as I walked by in the line of professors applauding the lined-up graduats as we left the tent.
– Corey playing Eddie Vedder’s “Hard Sun” over and over again on my Mac.
– Worked as adult leader on Plunge; hung out with great kids and met amazing people from Portland community. Riding on buses and walking everywhere, I truly felt for the first time like I was a Portlander, and like Portland was my home, rather than Reed.
– Left with Corey to Ecuador to work on the mycorenewal tour.
– The day and night and aftermath of Bill’s death. Building the little altar in our living room for his ashes while his wife/partner finished the tour in the Galapagos with her daughter who flew in from Canada.
– Worked as guide and translator in Yasuni national park; dealt with rude Swiss, sweet French-Canadians and wonderful Brit tourists; saw amazing sights like a beautiful sunset with macaws squawking overhead, countless monkeys, turtles, pink river dolphins. No matter how many times I went down that river in that boat, with my butt all sore from sitting in the wooden seat, roasting hot during the day and freezing cold at night during the minimu 4-hour boat ride, I never, ever got tired of seeing the jungle.
– Reading “The Prophet.”
– Lying on my stomach on bed listening to Regina Spektor, putting my headphones in Corey’s ears and making him listen to “On the Radio”
– Staying at the coast. Corey fishing. Eating the fish cooked over the bonfire’s ashes on Playa Escondida, delicious fish meat melting in my mouth.
– Staying with Corey in the shaman Don Delio’s town. Playing with the kids on the beach. The night we arrived, “Titanic” was playing on the small TV screen. Swinging his baby in the green jungle hammock.
– Running into Don Delio on the streets of Quito and inviting him to stay with us in our Guapulo house; how good it felt to return hospitality.
– Every single giant crab or seafood boil we had at the house with all our friends, eating out of one giant pot in the middle of the table, licking my fingers clean of shrimp juice and wiping them off on my pants.
– Shopping at the Santa Clara market, walking up those slippery wet stairs to the stinking seafood section, carrying live crabs home in a shopping bag.
– Every single moment I got to spend playing and cuddling with Motor, the world’s cutest and toughest kitten.
– Saying goodbye to Cali and Colombia. Visiting CIAT and feeling touched by my father’s kindness. Spending a weekend hiking and going to hotsprings in Coconuco with Corey and my family. Watching “Into the Wild” again with my family.
– Curled up in bed with Corey watching episode after episode of Season One of “The Wire” on one of our housemate’s computers.
– Reading “The Savage Detectives.”
– Reading “Respiracion artificial” and “Portrait of the artist as a young man.”
– Laura and Cara picking us up at the airport; the astonishment and pleasure we felt pulling up the driveway when we saw the house for the first time, which quickly turned into exhaustion and weariness once we realized the keys didn’t work and we would have to go downtown to meet my brother and get his.
– Corey’s dad’s visit; going out to dinner and mushroom hunting on the coast with him.
– Mushroom hunting with Jay and Matt; water squishing between my toes in my sloshy wet hiking boots, looking up at Matt and realizing we were both as wet as though we’d jumped into a swimming pool, but it didn’t matter, because our arms were filled with matsutake.
– Corey and Jay selling mushrooms at the Milwaukie Farmer’s market. Me making their sign out of colored tape from the Dollar Store.
– The first week of yoga classes I took; the pleasure with which I adopted the extremely relaxing technique picturing my eyeballs dripping down from my sockets like water; how centered and peaceful I felt afterwards.
– Plucking chanterelles out of the soil, effortlessly gathering pounds of them in minutes, barely having to walk to look for them–they were everywhere!
– All the Saturday night dinners we had at the house with Laura and Cara, all the wine, the baths, the hot tub, the giggling, the stories and good food.
– Biking on the Springwater Corridor to get to one site of work and all the way down Powell to get home from another. Seeing all the homeless people raise their hands momentarily off their shopping carts or beer cans to greet me and whoop as I sped by. All those days I left late from home or downtown so I had to pedal absoloutely relentlessly fast to get there on time (I always did!).
– The last ESL classes I had with my students at one site where they brought me a card, playing scrabble with them.
– Every moment I got to spend with Jonathan at Homework Club: playing Uno, testing him on his times tables (get those 4’s, Jonathan!). Jonathan is my man!
– Talking with the other teachers in the photo copy room, making friends with my co-workers and boss, getting to really feel like a part of the school community.
– Clamming at the coast with Jay and friends, eating the most delicious food of my life, walking through the ocean waves in my hiking boots and getting absolutely soaked, the thrill with which I pulled my first clam out of the water.
– Thanksgiving with my grandparents’ at Morro Bay. Feeling really touched by their affection and love, really appreciating the time I have with them. Climbing Black Hill with Corey and Thomas, canoeing over to the sand dunes, Thomas digging to the point of exhaustion through the sand for clams (the otters had eaten them all), watching the sunset on the jetty and doing push-ups on the sand while Corey and Thomas plucked crab claws and mussells from the rocks to eat for dinner later that night.
– Not getting the jobs I really wanted; moving on from the disappointment.
– Dim Sum with Corey, Cara and Matt.
– Christmas with my family, Corey and Laura; my mom giving Laura those earrings from Nepal.
– Watching “Happy-Go-Lucky” with my sister; walking through the rain with her to get to yoga class, laughing at her comment “I feel like a Serbian refugee” as she wrapped her scarf over her face. Later in class we almost destroyed shavassana (sp?) by our uncontrolable giggles when she said to the teacher that she couldn’t find her–I forget what it’s called, that center place thing between the two dimples on your back.
– And what’s next? Echinacea tea with honey and finishing up the last 150 pages of “Team of Rivals” as my family watches “Cold Mountain” in the living room downstairs and I wait for Corey to come home from watering his plants in the laboratory.

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Filed under moment of pleasure, year in review

on happiness

The snowpocalype of 2008 has officially ended: most of the snow has melted, save the black dirty stuff on the side of roads; the ducks are back in the duckpond (which is now officially a wetland, having doubled in size), and today the weather alternated between sunny (I raised my eyes to the sky and wondered what was that strange, floating yellow orb), rainy, and rainbowy. Today I will ride my bike for the first time in 11 days to yoga class.

I spent Christmas with my parents and siblings in the family home in Portland, as well as Corey and my friend Laura, whose flight to Montana was delayed until the 27th. My sister and I have been trying to make the most of her time here by going out to see movies. Yesterday we went to the previously unexplored by me Academy Theatre, near 82nd and Stark. It’s an awesome place–$4 tickets, great popcorn, pizza and hot dogs. The names of the movies are written in chalk on tiny blackboards hung over the theatre entrances. I’m definitely going back there.

The film we saw was called “Happy-Go-Lucky,” by the British director Mike Leigh. Neither of us had seen any of his films before, though we’d certainly heard of him. The movie was about a woman trying to be happy and good in the face of some not so happy or good things. I thought I would be annoyed by the movie, because I’m usually annoyed by people who are cheerful all the time (or at least I was in high school). They came off as shallow and naive to me, the Happiness Police. However, the movie didn’t annoy me, much to my surprise. Instead, it really drove home the message I’ve been trying to preach to myself lately–you gotta give out the positive energy. You gotta have a good mindset about your day, and your life, and the way things are going.

Easy say, hard do. Immediately after the movie, we got lost in the glorious Asian food market on 82nd and Division. My sister was looking for sushi-making materials and I had a long list of food for an epic homecooked huge Asian dinner. I got inexplicably tense and frustrated by not being able to find the tempura battle amongst all the tiny, labeled in Chinese (Vietnamese? Forgive my ignorance…) aisles. Then after a long wait and bus ride, we got home only to find that everyone else in the family ha d already eaten, and that I’d bought the wrong kind of cuttlefishh, and I didn’t have as many points on my Oregon Trail left as I’d thought, and, and, and… oh, so it’s hard! It’s had to remain upbeat? For me, at least. For Corey, it seems almost effortless. Maybe it’s because he’s been around the block a few more times than I have, taken a few more punches.

I’m trying, though. You gotta have your little goals every day. I have an interview for a paid internship on January 8th, training at the new elementary school I start work at on January 5th (I’ve got a new job, doing a morning Homework Club now–Homework Club FTW), and return to other Homework Club and ESL teaching on January 12th. Read a chapter a day of “Team of Rivals” (that process is going to have to speed up, now that I’ve discovered I can’t renew it because of all the other holds on it… hello, 500 pages in the next 2 days…). Write in my paper journal (or this one). Do push-ups and sit-ups. Apply for at least one job a day (if not more). Bike to yoga class. There’s still our tickets to Ecuador on January 18th, and there’s still time between now and then to decide.

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Filed under happiness, portland

"The well-educated unemployed"

Wow, I guess I know what I am now. “This is very strong evidence that this recession is very hard on college grads, more than usual.” Glad it’s not just me. This following quote really hit home:

“It’s really grim, and almost everyone I know who was at my level is unemployed,” Ms. Lambie, 29, said. She said she hopes to land at another firm in the city, but added, “If a really interesting opportunity came along in, say, Argentina, I’d jump on it.”

In the meantime, Ms. Lambie is trying to get by on a weekly unemployment check of $405, which she said is “definitely not enough.”

I mean, I’m technically not unemployed. I have a job. You might even say I have two of them (before the semester ended at the other elementary school I worked at, I had three). However, it’s “definitely not enough.” And unfortunately, Christmas break is fast approaching. Whereas before that meant fun happy playtime, now it just means no work until January 12th, when the after school program kicks in again. And I like/need work. Especially if I’m applying to go back to school this fall.

Which means it’s time to start looking for something with better pay, better hours and a better chance of mobility up the employment totem pole. Or maybe I’ll just go to Argentina.

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Filed under jobs

oh! sweet nuthin!

Reevaluation of mission statement
I don’t really know what to do with this blog. It just has this weird ambivalent identity to me. I got tired of livejournal, though I still use it as a convenient way to update people about my life. Mainly it felt too “public” for me, because too many people know it’s mine (the user name doesn’t help). To follow up that statement with a seemingly contradictory statement re: LJ, I also don’t like how I friends-lock all the entries… I mean, I *like* reading people’s public entries, so I want to have some of my own, just none that are TMI x 3. I think there’s a lot that can be said for learning the skills necessary for knowing how to manage and control a public, online identity… like it or not, they’re here to stay, so I might as well learn through doing.

I also have the mushroom/travel/exciting activities blog with Corey. I tried to open a wordpress account where I could keep track of the news articles I read, but I’m completely disgusted with the crappy wordpress formula (why does it insist on leaving a space between every paragraph?? I LIKE PRESSING ENTER TWICE OKAY). I originally meant to use this to keep track of the books I was reading… but (as my sister can very well attest) writing good, proper book reviews takes a considerable amount of time and brain energy investment. With my goodreads account, I can type two-three sentences and have it be that (even though, as I’ve said before, the site’s format is le poop).

I read this article in the NY Times about businesses using blogs to expand, and one of the things it recommended for having a sophisticated blog is making sure you include a lot of links to other sites. Well, I can’t even do that, since I can’t remember/find the article. Oh, irony.

I am in the middle of reading Phillip K. Dick’s Valis right now, an extremely well-written and entertaining book. It’s a lot more Vonnegut-esque than expected, with a little Tori Amos and Umberto Eco thrown into the blender. It’s amazing how much more I appreciate this book than I would have if I’d read it, say, a scant year or two ago, when I wasn’t dating someone with a penchant for conspiracy theories involving contact with extraterrestrial reptilian life-forms. “Reality is that when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away.”

One thing I feel I ought to dramatically announce is that I finished nanowrimo! Well–“finished.” I feel like I cheated in the last chapter, by typing up all these quotes from Borgés and Joyce and Whitman in order to create these fake postmodern-esque collage for (what else?) a character’s blog. LOLBAMA. Um, actually the pastiche was meant to subtly imply that this is a character whose own voice is never present in the work. It’s called “White Fruit.” Um, maybe I should post an excerpt here one day? I’m actually kind of looking forward to editing it, though I kind of need to not look at it for a while. It’s just a fun little project to have in my spare time, I guess. We all need our silly little projects that make our lives interesting and meaningful, doncha know. Maybe I’ll start talking about it here a little if it feels appropriate/comfortable.

What else is up with me?
* Thanksgiving in San Luis Obispo was fun but a bit draining–I kind of feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.

* Apparently I’m owed another big cheque from Portland public schools, so I’m not nearly as much as a bottom-feeder as I thought–I’m on regular indentured servant wages, as opposed to slave ones. I found these mad exciting ESL books from PCC buried at the back of the ESL closet. It’s kind of annoying I’ve only just found them now, with just this week and the next remaining. Man, I could have planned a rockin’ syllabus! Maybe I’ll do one anyway, just to satisfy the OCD nerd in me. Or maybe not.

* I invited my boss and her husband over for dinner Saturday night! Oh, I am so pleased-proud-excited of-for myself! I love trying to make new friends.

Things to do:
– figure out where my packages are getting sent to (not the Milwaukie post office–where could it be???)
– start looking for housing for Corey and I to move into come January
– have the long-awaited job interview on Thursday, wait to hear back, then plan next phase in life accordingly
– buy nasty-tasting nail polish from Walgreens–my habit has reached the point of UN-acceptable, en serio, hace tres semanas ya
– Finish TEFL course (not able to do in full until track down package… siiiiigh)
– do laundry and clean room (TOMORROW)
– be at office to replace missing important wallet card at 7:30 AM

And here is a link to make my blog more sophisticated!

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Filed under books, Dear Diary, to-do