Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hugging animals

My friend Jesslyn and I have a lot in common. For example:

1) We both like to make lists during conversations.
2) We both 'blog' on the interwebs.                                              
3) We are both total suckers for a good, sappy youtube video involving animals and hugs.

And these are only a few of our similarities (no worries, we also have our differences).

If you remember, Jesslyn was the friend that inspired me to start writing here - and that is because her blog is spectacular. She talks about science and motherhood and music and fashion all in the same space. And she does it so well! Most recently she has been talking about,! I am honored to be a topic of discussion in a few of her most recent posts (some of this is slightly embarrassing, but I guess that's the risk you take when opening your life up to the internet).

In Jesslyn's blog I am featured doing the following things:
1) Saying dirty things in Spanish.
2) Crying a lot about a lot of different things.
3) Oh, yeah. And proposing to my boyfriend. Yup, I did THAT last week.

And you can read about it all on Jesslyn's blog! Which is great because I have been so busy making powerpoints about the language and culture of business operations in Latin America (blah) that I haven't made time to write.

Side note:
Do you guys know how boring the study of Business is?!? I will be teaching a "Business Spanish" class in Costa Rica this summer and I am struggling to try and make this as un-boring as possible. Did you know that in Peru they use a coma when expressing large numbers (1,000) but in Chile they use a period (1.000)? Did you know the term 'glocal' is now being used to describe the globalization of commerce? Did you know that the gross domestic product of Bolivia in 2007 was 13,120 million?  Oh, wait, I'm sorry - that's 13.120. With a period.


I am learning a LOT from preparing this class however. I know I will come out of this experience a better teacher and a more knowledgeable citizen of the world. Which is great. I will also come out of this experience with a two month long, all-expense-paid trip to the cloud forests of Costa Rica, so no complaints there!

One more list, ok?

What I hope to see/do in Costa Rica:
1) Eat my weight in beans and rice.
2) Swim in multiple waterfalls, rivers and oceans (I'll be going to the Pacific AND the Caribbean).
3) Hug a monkey (or maybe a baby sloth?) and post the video on youtube.

Nothing wrong with high expectations my friends.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happiness factory

Riddle of the day:
What do you get when you cross an amusement park, a singles club, and a ginormous mansion?

You get the Mall of Georgia.

You may be asking yourself why I did not include the words store or buy or clothes or shop in my riddle. This is because it appears that the thousands of people wondering around this monstrosity are not at all concerned with such commodities. What?.... You go to the mall to purchase things? Well, you are obviously going to the wrong mall. Yes, at the Mall of Georgia there are hundreds of stores selling everything from massage chairs to nose piercings to overpoweringly scented lotions... but who can be bothered with that stuff when there are also huge, shiny, ultra-clean play areas for the kids!?! There are outdoor mazes made out of bricks surrounded by grass that looks like astroturf! And crazy water fountains that dramatically shoot up from seemingly invisible holes in the ground! There are little "re-charge" rest areas with squishy couches where you can put your feet up and plug in your electronic devices while sipping your Starbucks mocha shake! There is an IMAX theatre where the characters in the movies jump out and try to touch you! There is a sushi bar in the food court! A sushi bar!

I mean this is no ordinary shopping mall. The level of modernity and sterility in this place makes the mess of real life seem to disappear.

And the people there LOVE IT.  I went there a few days ago and I LOVED IT. I've never seen so many people look so happy. Teenagers are holding hands,  giggling and flirting by trying to make each other run into poles. Older couples are holding hands and smiling as they walk slowly through the pristine, air-conditioned environment.  Those that aren't holding hands with someone are doing some serious scouting and they all seem so confident while doing so. I have never been looked at/smiled at by so many 16-20 yr olds in my life. I smiled back! I'm telling you, it's like a darn happiness factory in there.

Which reminds me of my trip to the Coca-Cola museum a few years ago. When you first get to this pretty large museum, dedicated to a single brand of a single beverage, you are first herded into a theater where you meet your tour guide. This young lady smiles ear-to-ear and talks to you as if you were a 3 yr old that only hears high-pitched tones. Her job is to introduce the movie you are about to watch. It's called "The happiness factory!" and it's about the magical little creatures that make Coca-Cola. Oh, I'm sorry.....You thought overworked, underpaid, poorly treated PEOPLE made Coca-Cola? Nope. In fact, this bubbly drink is made by all kinds of cute, enchanting creatures - most of which look like sperm with arms and legs. They take your coins from the vending machine (like you can even get a Coke for less-than-paper-money anymore) and fly around kissing coke bottles and grinding up snowmen heads to make them cold. One particularly happy sperm creature wears a cheerleading uniform and blue eyeshadow and calls Coca-Cola "sparkle dust." By the time you finish going through all the beautiful, elaborate rooms filled with red and white memorabilia and pictures of people all over the world smiling at their coke bottles, you start to agree with her. Coca-Cola is magical. Then, at the end, you finally reach the finish line and get to drink as much soda as you can out of these super-fancy dispensing machines... and then there is no turning back.... the "sparkle dust" takes over and adults and children alike run around screaming with joy until they just can't take it anymore. Then, slowly and sluggishly, they march through the gift shop where they buy their very own red and white magical souvenir.

Anyway, I think this level of modernity and its ability to make us so happy is a bit eerie. Take my  new I-phone, for instance. I have only owned it for about a week and I am already willing to fight someone for it. The Instagram app has been making me particularly happy. You know, the one that takes photos that make shiny, modern things look like they are actually antiques. (Do I have to point out the irony here?)

I took a picture of the Mall Of Georgia when I was there. ------>
Please notice the ornate facade. And the crazy water fountain. And the super-fancy Coca-Cola dispensing machine.... so beautiful! So modern! So clean and pristine! At least with my new handy-dandy I-phone I can make it look like it's from the 70s - I don't want to overdose on happiness you know.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Off track and Out of house

So did you read how in my last post I described myself as an airhead?

Well, first allow me to share some knowledge with you (this is of course an attempt to convince you I'm not a complete idiot after reading about what I did last night.)

Let's study the etymology of the word "airhead" in Spanish. One way of saying this is despistado. Pista means "track/trail/road" and 'des' is a prefix usually indicating the opposite meaning of the word it is attached to. So I'm not an airhead, right? I'm just a little off track! The verb despistar means "to confuse or mislead someone" - or "to throw them off track."  A person who is a despistado, however, is basically someone who throws himself/herself off track. And, well, if no one else is causing this state but yourself, it doesn't say much for your intelligence. It's one thing if the wicked witch comes and rearranges all your bread crumbs so that you end up lost or in a pot of stew in her kitchen. It's another thing if you eat all the breadcrumbs because you are hungry and only afterward remember that they were your only hope in finding your way home.

Last night I sort of ate all the breadcrumbs.

So a mere 15 minutes after posting my last blog post in which I admit to being "a bit of an airhead," I locked myself out of the house. Using the modifier "a bit" was maybe wishful thinking. We stupidly do not have any spare keys hidden anywhere and my partner, David, is in San Fransisco marrying two of his friends. (Wait, that sounds weird. Although California did finally overturn its ban on gay marriage in February of this year (yay!), the decision is still on hold and it is definitely not yet legal to get married to two people at once. What I mean to say is that he will be officiating the wedding. He is an official, ordained minister thanks to the internet and this church.) So, David and his keys are in California, my keys are inside, and me and my dog are on the front porch. Also inside is our tool box which contains any tools necessary to try and break in through the kitchen window - which we have done before. I borrowed a screwdriver from a neighbor but was unsuccessful.

So then I call a friend who calls a locksmith and even brings me dinner while we wait for him to show up. Two hours went by while we sat in the backyard sweating and getting eaten by mosquitoes until eventually my friend's 3 year old started saying "I don't wike dis" over and over and over again. I didn't like it either. The locksmith turned out to be super shady and never showed up so we called another locksmith. My friend had to go put her child to sleep,  so I called some other friends to come over so that I wouldn't be alone with the shady criminal with the tear tattoo who was about to come over to break into my house. About 30 minutes later came a legitimate, certified locksmith who also happened to be a 72 year old man with no face tattoos.  It took him a lot more time to get up the stairs to the front door than it did to actually pick the lock. He then spent even more time telling me how the first people I called were probably "them illegals." Not cool old man. So - 4 hours, 2 locksmiths and $75 later, I got back into my house.

So I may be more than a bit "off track" but at least I learn from my mistakes. And you can too!  Locksmiths can be shady and you should always have a spare key hidden somewhere outside of your house. Of course, everyone but me probably already knew that.

(p.s. if you read this will you officially "follow" me?!?!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Your teacher is hot.

So, as I see it, there are many advantages to becoming a teacher:

      1. You are guaranteed to be the center of attention.

My friends can attest to the fact that I LOVE when everyone in the room is focused on me. Once,  (maybe it was my birthday?), they played charades with me and let me be the only person 
charade-ing while everyone else just sat on the couch and watched. It was awesome. Teaching 
allows me to reenact this moment everyday! Even if I'm not as entertaining as I hope I am, 
everyone in the room has to at least pretend like they are listening to me.

       2. You get to be the smartest person in the room (or at least feel like it).

Usually I am far from the smartest.  I have serious memory issues and have managed to retain
maybe .05% of what I have learned. My vocabulary is not so great and if I ever get caught 
playing trivia, I'm lucky if I know the answer to a single question.  I'm also a bit of an airhead and 
have been known to do things like answer the telephone when the microwave goes off or wear my bicycle helmet backwards (And not realize it until a stranger, also on a bicycle, riding past me pointed this out. I give him the "oh, hey fellow cyclist" nod and he casually states "your helmet's on backwards."as he rides by me. I had no response.) But in the classroom I am the holder of all relevant and important knowledge. (Well, at least from my perspective. When I tell my students I don't really know who Lil' Wayne is or how to 'tweet' or what 'lmao' means, they are less impressed.)

       3.Three months of summer vacation. (obvious advantage. no explanation needed.)

But here's the thing: being a teacher in Georgia during the summer months can be problematic. I work so hard during the school year and the little free time I have is spent doing boring but necessary things like washing dishes and clothes. So once summer rolls around I'm all like yes! finally! I get to do all those things I've been wanting to do. I'm gonna start riding my bike more and I'm gonna work in the yard. I'm going to do all those little remodeling projects around the house and complete all those sewing projects I started 3 years ago. I'm gonna take the dog on walks and go hiking and I'm gonna... I'm gonna.....

And then it's 105 degrees. And all I want to do is lay around under a fan groaning while drinking tea and reading trashy novels. Last summer I even bought myself a plastic kiddie pool to sit in. I accomplished very little. It was pathetic.

This summer, I again will accomplish very little around the house - But for a very different reason! I'll be spending two out of my three months in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, where it's going to be 70 degrees the whole time, teaching for one of my university's study abroad programs. So, no, the remodeling and sewing projects won't get done and maybe all my plants will die while I'm gone and I won't be able to take my sweet dog on walks because she'll be a thousand miles away. And while I won't officially be on 'vacation,' I will still get to be the center of attention and the smartest person in the room for at least a few hours a day. AND I'LL GET TO HANG OUT WITH THESE GUYS!!!!