Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Begining to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Well, a Hollywood "white" Christmas that is (no pun intended.)

After my last successful caroling gig on Saturday night, Isaiah and I headed over to my parent's company party where Isaiah proceeded to drink shots of tequila as if he were back in Mexico at the quinceniera.

Sunday morning, even though hung over his head perked up at the word "snow". "Really?" he asked, slowly opening his blood shot eyes. Really. There were at least 2 inches of snow by 10:30.

Since I'm a fantastical planner, I had packed a bag of boots, pants, sweaters, hat and scarf since I knew I'd be riding the bus Sunday back home when Isaiah left for work. I did forget gloves and socks though!

But since it had snowed so wonderfully, I didn't feel like isolating myself in the confines of NW Portland. I wanted to share the joy of snow with friends, thus I invited myself over the Liz, Bruno and Laura's house, and they all graciously accepted. Thank god for friends! So off I trekked.

(Above is their cute house.)

After having made Laura drop her cell phone in the snow, she gave me directions to her house from Isaiah's. Surprisingly enough, they were only about 4 blocks away and I made it. While there, I heated up my toes at their fake fire place and helped Liz bake cookies while Bruno cooked a fritta. I took pictures around their house and we finally had lunch.

Afterward, I knew time was ticking for me to get back home before the temperature plummeted even more and go dark. I wanted to make this trek during the say since I'd never ridden the bus this far out and to my surprise, it was quite easy and perfect. Both Isaiah and the house are right off of the trimet bus path so going back and for will be pretty easy. It also passes through downtown, Pioneer Square, China town and up to 21st all the way to Montgomery Park. I love you bus 17!

I finally made it home and my little car was still trapped in between two cars who seem to want me to pull an Austin Powers. I guess I won't be moving my car until the snow melts (which won't be for another week, I think.) But have I mentioned I love the bus 17? Venturing out to SW Portland though, won't be too easy. I'm supposed to be at Washington Square at 9am on Saturday and the plan was to spend the night at my brother's place in Bull Mountain. I don't think I can make it out there without a car, so I might have to head out to my other brother's place, by Hayhurst over at SW 45th. But we'll see . . .

But for now, enjoy some pics!
(My poor car!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who am I, what's happiness?

I was told early this week that I was too negative. As much as I wanted to jump on the defensive bandwagon (and did just a bit), I sat and thought about that. I thought about all the times I bad mouthed work, of the times I bad mouth myself (my hair, my body, my skin) and I realized: I am making myself unhappy. What used to be just common venting, turned into full fledged complaining and I'm not happy with that. Recently, I cut out a person in my life becuase of the unwanted criticism and negativity I felt from her. She made me feel bad about myself and my choices. Sure, I should just buck up and tell her to shut up, but I'm not that person. I can take criticism, and I can take opinions, when they are handed to me in a specific sort of way. Most people know how to give it to me and I hope that I know how to give it appropriately back. So lately I've been thinking a lot about this, especially now living alone again. I don't have tv I watch religiously any more (just those few shows and I watch them online when I can), I don't have internet at home and I don't have anyone to distract me anymore, I'm just alone with my own thoughts. "You're too negative" is what I kept thinking to myself. And it's true. I don't want to be, I want to be a positive person. Of course, I don't want to over do it, but I do want to be the person people can turn to, who enjoy being around because she's not a downer or a complainer. Of course, I will vent, but I need to tread the fine line between venting and complaining.
This I started Tuesday. Life is to short to constantly be unhappy. Nothing is wrong: I have my health, as does my family, I have a job whereas many don't, I have a partner who loves me, I live in the area of my dreams, why am I not happy? Because I create my own happiness. So that's what I'm striving to do: I want to create my happiness. Even though I've not seen the world, made a million bucks or discovered the cure for cancer, I can still be happy with who I am, who I'm with, what and how I choose to lead my life. Which begs another question:

So, who am I?

That will be for another time . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update on "Sleep"

I came home late last night after I'd written the last blog entry. Ok, not *late* but a few hours later. I half expected there to be a note under my door. I was nervous. When I got home with my bags and opened the door, I saw nothing. When I turned around to hang my coat on the hook behind the door, there it was: not with my name meticulously written on top. I read it and the tenant apologized. She said she had no idea how loud she was being and that she was speaking with her relatives in the Philippines. She was very thankful of me for letting her know the volume and that it would never happen again. She was also sorry I had to go down there and knock. Man, how I was relieved. So what did I do? Well, as nerve wracking as it was, I knew she was home (her light was on) and I debated leaving it at that or thanking her personally. I wanted to thank her personally, but I was scared. Why was I scared? I dunno, I guess I thought she'd think I was a dork, but I did it anyway. I was very appreciative of her being nice and understanding, that I just wanted to tell her that there were no hard feelings. So I did. I think I surprised her, but I don't care. I felt better and she was able to see the smile and appreciation on my face. She's still kind of a clunker of a neighbor (meaning she makes tons of noise just being home), but I can deal with that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I can't remember if I've posted anything on the subject yet, but probably should.
I love sleep. Really, who doesn't? Even people who don't sleep much, cherish it. When I was younger, sleep would transport me to a magical place with parallel universes where I could be and was, who ever I wanted. I lived out stories of other people's lives, I'd travel to south American and Egypt and the pyramids (even though I've never been.) I could taste the ocean's salt water and the sun's warmth. I looked forward to what new dream my subconscious mind would take me. Where would I go to next, that is if I actually slept through the night.
I stopped having fantastical dreams when I noticed I wasn't getting much sleep. Sleep no longer meant a rest for the weary, it meant a rest for the totally exhausted body and mind. Living at 21st and Marshall, I rarely got to sleep the whole night through do to my neighbor's animal sex and drug dealing. My bedroom was at the hallway door that didn't shut quietly, rather it slammed. And no one was courteous enough to help the door a long in it journey when it was 3am or 5am, both times of slumber for me. I used to be a huge night owl, I very well still could be, but I choose not to. I actually really like getting up at the butt crack of dawn, before everyone and walk to the gym. No traffic, no busyness on the streets. 23rd is one of the most beautiful places to walk through when it's just you and the cold. So with that said, I'd actually need a good nights rest to be able to peel myself out of my covers. I've realized as I'm getting older, that I need a good 8-10 hours. Isaiah can function with 6 and 8 is just too much. Other people are the same, they need less or as much as I do. I notice that if I don't get those full 8-10 hours of un-awakened sleep, I"m a grouch, the world sucks and I hate people. Its all a snowball effect. If I'm sleep in the morning, I sleep in, if I sleep in, I can't go to the gym, if I can't go to the gym, I have to go after work, if I go after work, I get home at 7 instead of 5:30. If I do get up and am super tired, it's a waste because if I was supposed to run 3 miles, I run 1. If I was supposed to do a half hour on the stairs, I do 15. I just need more sleep to feel refreshed and concur the world. So I moved. Marshall, even though spacious with parking most days, was much too noisy and the neighbors were inconsiderate. My downstairs neighbors played their music loud, smoked (you could smoke) and had get togethers on Sunday at 8am, loudly. When I asked them to keep it down, they were asses. Very rarely were anyone at that complex nice. I had to get out of there, work and my relationship was suffering because I was so unhappy. So I moved, I moved to 24th and Glisan. People warned me that 23rd was worse than Marshall could ever be. There were deliver trucks, bums, drunk post-college kids (like myself) etc. But when I went to see my little jem that had been built in 1910, I feel in love. It was completely re-done with new floors, new appliances and new paint. It was just 8 units and the Landlord, who owned it, was super nice and really sought out people who were quiet, early rises and early to bed. There are always exceptions to the rule of course, but that's what he was looking for in a tenant. When I walked in, I could feel it, the quiet. It was the middle of the day and I could hear nothing. At first, I had not gotten the place. The person that had seen it before me, decide to take it, but after what the landlord had said about the quiet, he second guessed himself. He worked days so he'd be getting home late at night and didn't guarantee being quiet so it went to me. I was a bit nervous cuz it was a hasty decision, but I went for it. I had a few problems along the way (like the issue with space and the couch) but it's all been worth it to get those 8-10 hours of uneventful sleep. But that's all been disrupted this last few days.
There's a new tenant downstairs. When I first met her via the landlord, she had scrubs on so I assumed she was a nurse or intern, etc. Cool, I thought. I noticed that she was a bit noisy when it came to the bed room. I could hear her walk, move things, close doors etc. Ok whatever I thought, its evening time, it happens, things will quiet down and they always did. But last Wednesday, when I was alone (which is now rare) I went to bed excited to not have to get woken up by Isaiah coming into bed a couple hours after me. So i snuggled and closed my eyes and I heard it: she was on the phone talking. Ok cool, well it's 11pm, I"m sure she'll quiet down. I must have dosed off because I don't remember much else, but I do remember getting woken up at 3am by her laughs . . . on the phone again. Either it's the same conversation or she's just calling people up in the middle of the night and chatting. Anyway, since I can't sleep when I can hear things that are inconsistent (as in silence, then laughter, then laughter, then silence followed by laughter, etc). I have bionic ears so I attach myself to any sound that isn't white noise. It's annoying, but it's also annoying to hear someone else's telephone conversation at 3am! So when I finally dosed off *again*. I got up and attributed it to a fluke.
Fast forward two days to last night. It happened again. As I was heading to bed at 10:30 (yeah, it's Friday, so! I was tired and I wanted to get up with Isaiah so I could go to the gym at 8am). It was happening again. Since I'd had a bit of champagne, I was able to doze off but once again, I got woken up at 2am to her laughing into her phone. I thought, again, seriously? Is this how it's going to be now? I was furious. I didn't want to have to deal with this again. Isaiah said to put in ear plug and I said they don't' work, the fall out or I pull them out. I moved so I didn't have to deal with people being loud or with having to put in ear plugs. This time, since it was an hour earlier, I wanted to make sure it was her so in my pjs I walked outside, down the stairs and around the apartment to hers. Her living room was dark but her bed room was light as day and I could hear her, laughing, talking. Mind you, I have no idea what she's saying as she's speaking another language (the first time, I tough she was but I was listening through floor boards, but this time, I was right outside her window, so I knew she was.) She could easily be chatting with relatives in a different continent, etc. And THAT'S FINE! What's not fine is not taking into consideration that it's 2am and everyone around you is either trying to sleep, asleep, or quietly watching tv (as was my next door neighbor.) I knew it wasn't her because I went into the living room and stood and I could hear her cough and the soft murmur of her TV. SO I put on a sweat shirt, my slippers and walked down stairs. One time is a fluke, twice in the same week is a habit and I"m going to nip this in the bud so help me! I knocked on her door once and waited. I knocked twice and waited. I could hear her talking. I waited for a silent part in her conversation, I knocked a third and fourth and nothing. By this time, I'm tired, frustrated, embarrassed and FURIOUS. I'm shaking, so I go back up stairs and try hard to concentrate on falling a sleep. I keep having dreams about her on the phone and every time I'm starting to doze off, she starts laughing again, loudly. This happened about 4 times until my mind finally went.
So this morning, instead of getting up with Isaiah, I set the alarm for 10. I was pissed that i had to do that. I was so tired. I"m still tired! I also decided to write her a note. I basically said please be aware of the time and location when you want to be that loud on the phone. I told her it's not happened once but twice. SO basically, after this warning note, if it happens a third time, I'm calling the landlord. That I didn't say, but she should sure as well be smart enough to know that. And if she has a problem with me cuz perhaps I'm loud and I don't' realize it, please tell me. I'm assuming here that what I'm doing is ok. I try to be an extremely considerate neighbor. Yes, I'm drop things once in a while (because of the small confines) but I don't' even wear my HEELS until I"m out the door. I don't slide chairs, I pick them up. I don't play the tv loud after 10pm and I don't practice my music before 10am or after 10pm. So please, if I'm do something horribly bad, tell me and I'll remedy it. I don't want to be a hypocrite but I won't know I'm being one until I'm told.
So, let's hope the note works and all other scenarios I played in my head do not unfold.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rain rain . . .

Today, I sit at my desk in the back of our building, one of only two offices that is not insulated to keep the sounds out. I have a backdrop of pouring rain, sheets of rain, buckets of rain and I find it comforting. Last night, after my first trip to the gym (after an absence of 2 weeks), I was greeting by the sheets. Just the few feet to my car left my hair damp. The only thing I could think about, as I giddily dodged puddles, was putting on my rain boots, a rain coat and going for a walk. It was not that freezing cold rain that most Portlanders are used to, it was a warm rain. A rain that confuses the body and the eyes: "Ok, it's wet outside, it must be cold, I'll put on a sweater." I thought to myself this morning. Then the radio weather man, Matt Zaffino, announces that the high today is sixty. I stand in the middle of my bedroom for a few seconds, and rip my orange sweater off. "Well damn," I think, "I'm not wearing this. I'll sweat!" Out I pull a crocheted, short sleeved sweater from the summer time. This should suffice with my jeans and boots. I remember a few years back, when it had rained in January 30 days straight. 30 DAYS! At the time, I hadn't noticed it. I was at a new job that was completely out of my league, I was in a dead-end relationship, and I was living in an apartment that felt alien to me. I was so immersed in my own misery, that I didn't even notice the rain rather it felt more like the rain was just part of that dark time. Now, much happier, in a super cool place in a happy and fun relationship (same dude), I can take time to look at the rain and either yell at it for being so predictable, or commend it for being comforting in its attempts to bring the little kid in me, out to stomp the puddles.
So thanks rain, for always being a constant. Some days I hate you, and some days you're fun. We should hang out sometime, you, me and a couple of rain boots.


In an effort to do my part for my country, my community and myself, Isaiah and I have decided to make a conscious effort to eat locally and seasonally. We plan on eating legumes, fish and white meat, with just beef and pork twice a month, if we can manage. We won't be strict, but we'll think twice about the sausage McMuffin with egg at McDonald's. And no, it won't all be bought at the farmer's market, but I'd like to at least have 60-80 percent of it purchased there, that way I can help local farmers, Portland economy, and my digestive system. Of course, I'll have a craving for pizza, for string cheese and the occasional banana, but I'll be checking this here chart the Portland Farmer's Market websites provide so that I can plan my meals around what is in season.
And, in the effort to eat locally, I'm also going to try to cook much more. I suck at it, meaning I just don't make that time for it and I find it to be a huge chore, but the effort is always worth it. After having spent the weekend at my parent's place house sitting and just s l o w i n g d o w n in general, I want to make things from scratch. My friend sent me to this here site, The Pioneer Woman, and she's totally inspired me, opened up my eyes and made me envious and nostalgic for something I don't have. But as my other friend pointed out, sure, I may not live on a ranch and Isaiah is not a wrangler, I don't have four kids, but I try in my own way, and I want her statement to be true: I want to be her, but of course, here in the city. I have many friends who make their own soup, bake their own bread, etc. I want to be like that. I want to be that person. I want my children to remember and long for home cooked meals the way I do. I want them to remember the smells, and the feelings of dinner around the table with their brothers and sisters, the way I do. I want that for my family. Isaiah has very different memories. He felt that he was "forced" to eat around the table and "forced" to eat lentils and quiche. I don't want my children to feel forced, I want them to feel excited for when they all get together and chat and eat a home cooked meal their mama slaved over. That's what I want. That's what I'll do and that's what I'll get.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lipstick Jungle

Ok, I usually don't do posts of things I watch cuz I feel that it makes me look superficial, but whatever! I love Lipstick Jungle as well as Ghost Whisperer, (ok, that one I used to before Friday.) I like Lipstick because of the female characters, and well mainly becuase I just want to dress like them. I was looking through some family pictures while house sitting at my mom and my my my, did I NOT have fashion sense. I still kind of don't, so I play it safe A LOT.
Anyway, to my point. I wanted to ask Isaiah this question, but then I panicked with him thinking I was speaking of myself (even though I know he'd wonder for about 10 seconds.) But in one of the episodes, the Brook Sheild's character who is happily married, mother of two, gets kissed on Halloween weekend by a male friend, who is unhappily divorcing, father of one. It was obvious that he was the instigator, but she didn't exactly slap him off. They were both shocked by what had happened, but she was more confused. It didn't go any further than that, and they both were actually really embarrassed and awkward about it as the episode went on. She asked this of her two girlfriends (one who was having an affair and the other who is single) if it was cheating. They said "nothing happened." So now I pose it to you, my friends (holy crap! those two words will never be uttered with out a chuckle). Is kissing cheating? If not, what is? Is emotional cheating the worse you can do? Is intercourse cheating? Is having a really great friendship with a person you're attracted to cheating (as in you don't have physical contact, but you tell each other everything?) Where do you draw the line? My opinion? Well, I don't have much experience in the dating/relationship field but this is my take: My instinct is to say she cheated. But, what is a kiss, really? If it were another woman, it wouldn't be. What if she was a lesbian and kissed a dude? Is that cheating? So I conclude that its the intent behind the kiss, so she didn't cheat, BUT, she also said in the episode that she didn't hate it. So is that ok? Is that even WORSE?
I have friends who have cheated and been cheated on so I KNOW that there are really strong opinions on both sides and with a person that's been cheated on, cheating is always wrong. But is cheating ever ok or right? When do we justify it, how?

Your thoughts?

p.s. She didn't tell her husband at first because she was afraid that he'd freak out, so she waited 2 weeks and finally told him. He said that what hurt him was not the kiss, but that she lied. Do you agree? As much as I say I'd be cool with it, I'm not sure how I'd feel if my dude kissed someone else. . . . I guess it depends on intent and who? But does it? I dunno.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Did

Last night was amazing. I'm not a very good writer so I'm going to be very simple about it. The country feels different, there is this sense of common unity. I feel like we were all individual bubbles but after last night, those bubbles are one large bubble, filled with pride and hope. People are smiling at each other, they're laughing, they're happy. I've always loved my country, even when Bush was in office, but now, more than ever, am I proud to be an American.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I must say, I'm on the edge of my seat for the first time in my life on election day. You see, I've never been political. I actually hate politics and politicians . All they do is either a) lie to your face by twisting their magical words, or b) make normal folk just YELL at each other cuz you might not agree with their point of view. I'm not saying that this election is different in that sense. I'm not saying that Obama and McCain supports *love* each other, or even tolerate each other. On both sides, there is a lot of fear, hate and racism going on. But for the first time in my life, I've stepped out of my non-confrontational bubble and declared: I am FOR Obama. You would think it's obvious that'd I'd be for him because I lean democratically. Voting Democrat would be expected, and is almost an after thought. But this is the first time in my life that I actually *believe* in a candidate. I have faith, and hope wrapped up in this one person. Sure, I don't agree with all his issues, and I"m sure him and I will have a bumpy relationships (as all relationships do) but I can say that without a doubt, I voted for Obama and am proud of it.
I don't hate McCain, I actually like him. I can tell that he loves his country and not just because he served it. He cares about the American people and about his policies, but unfortunately, that's as far was we go. Once him and I get down to the nitty gritty of it, that's where our ideas differ and I respect him for wanting that kind of change, but I don't agree with him on how that change is to come about. I also don't like his VP choice and I'll leave it at that (I'm retreating back into my bubble, can you tell?)
But all in all, I'm like a nervous teenage waiting for the quarter back to call me after he asked for my number. I can barely work for fear of missing something important! But, MSNBC tells me I have 3 hours and 51 minutes until election results, so I'm sure I can squeeze in a little work before I get obsessed.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Reflections on Fall

These last few days, I've had a chance to have some alone time, whether it be baking or walking to the Farmer's Market, it's just been me and my thoughts. Most recently, it was me with a sleeping Isaiah on a drive back from Newport, and my thoughts.
Fall always makes me nostalgic, I'm not quite sure, it's always like a distant memory that I can't quite make out. I begin to think of a simpler time, when things were actually, not so simple. I romanticize small towns, the past, and this always happens during the fall when the leaves start to turn, and the air is just a bit crisper. I think about what it would be like to live in a home with neighbors miles apart, no local cinemas, no cable, no internet. I wonder what I'd be like if I had to bake my own bread, milk my own cow and sew my own clothes. I wouldn't get bored, that's for sure. I wonder how full of imagination my brain would have and if I'd just let it, what amazing stories or art I could come up with. I'd be this obscure writer by night, mommy and school teacher by day. I'd live fantastic and wild adventures in my stories that I'd have dreamt up the night before. I'd take hours to make dinner and another hours making deserts and it would start all over the next day. My children and I would know how to start a fire, track animals, and just enjoy each others' time out in the wilderness. I'd take emotional pictures that National Geographic photographers would be jealous of. People would see my photos and think "man, she is so lucky to have that all in her back yard, what a peaceful life." They'd think what *I* think when I see those photos, that peacefulness that comes with an image of a lone leaf on the side what, of barren trees in the cold, of a single hiking path through the mist. But the reality is, could I do that? Could I give up my tv, my radio, my music and internet to lead that "simple life". Could I go with out date nights, high end shoes, and an arsenal of purses? Could I make bread, dinner, dessert, daily and still have time for my writer night life? I don't know? Probably not, but that's what I've always longed for. I've longed for time to reflect. I miss just being at home and sitting, thinking, and letting ideas and thoughts flow freely from my brain onto my hands. Now, everything is so hectic, so fast, go here, go there, finish school, finish practicing, drive here now. I miss the days when I was younger and I would lull myself to sleep by making up stories in my head while was the protagonist. I miss all that. One of most beautiful drives I found yesterday was hwy 20. Oh my, how beautiful was that? Complete with railroad tracks. I know I'll be revisiting that area more than once.
Not all is lost, however. I see photos of other photographer's adventures and they seem so close I could touch it, so why can't I? What holds me back? Why don't I try? I made this realization that all I've ever longed for is in my own back yard, and obviously, I need to have the drive to want it enough. I can go for weekend drives to take photos, I can make myself have some alone time to just sit and think, if I want it bad enough that is.
So that I will do. As Isaiah and I were driving to Newport yesterday, we had this realization that we just don't go out in nature enough. We appreciate nature tremendously, but we just never venture past the 7-11. I want that to change. I want to push myself and not make excuses any more. I too can take wonderful pictures and inspire people, even if it is just the maple leaf at my own front door.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Run Like Hell 2008

So it was done, the Run Like Hell 5k. And, I improved my time by about 3 minutes. I ran a 9.13 minute mile and came in at 28:37. Yup, last year's time was about 31:03 or so. I remember being sick and bummed that my time had not improved, but I was sick! So this year, I actually felt really good going into it despite the fact that the whole household woke up an hour late! Yup, that was my fault. I had set the alarm for 7:15pm in stead of AM! It could have been disastrous! Luckily, I woke up at 8am sharp and freaked. "Get up!" I yelled at Isaiah, "We have to meet Liz in half an hour, we gotta go!" So up we were. I threw on my costume, slapped on some make up, Dimitri and I gulped down some OJ, I brushed my teeth, and we sprinted out the door. Luckily, we were only about 5 minutes late to meet Liz, but that also meant we had no time to stretch. I pinned Dimitri's number on him. Mom had taken some pretty good shots of the location at Pioneer Place.
My dad and her got there pretty early. She even called me when I was on my way to brush my teeth. "Where are you?" she asked. "I woke up late, gotta brush my teeth" I said frantically. "Well, were already here," she said. "Ok, good. I'll see you soon".

So off Liz, Dimitri and I to the swarm that were the 5kers. There were so many people and a variety of costumes. What did I see? We saw Mario and Luigi, cupcakes, a banana, some people from Star Wars with a baby Chewbaka and more. I was a german beer made and surprisingly enough, it was easy to run in. Also, one of my students was there, so it was nice to see his support. Finally, we all crossed the finish line and were out of breath. Dimitri and I's knees hurt, and Liz was sore (she had also been moving all day on Saturday, but all in all, it was fun!

I love Fall

And what better to commemorate it than with a nice scenic drive to Hood River? We've been so lucky here in Portland lately. There has been rain, yes but it's been few and far between. Currently, we are being blessed with the most reasonable weather: crisp dry air, cool days and chilly nights. On Saturday, my mom and I decided to venture to Hood River for their annual Harvest Fest. We'd never been that far east, so we thought we'd make a day of it. Mom bought us some coffee and yogurt parfaits at Baker and Spice in Hillsdale, and picked me up and off we went. Complete with a printed map and brochure, we took our adventure to I-84. It's one of the most beautiful scenic drives I've been on, but granted, I have been anywhere much =) Unfortunately that day it Portland, it was a bit overcast with rain clouds deep in the horizon, so we were prepared in case we got caught in a down poor. As we passed Multnomah Falls, the clouds parted to reveal a beautiful, but windy half hour drive. Since we'd never been this far up, we didn't quite know where to turn from exit 64, our brochure gave no directions, it just put numbers on a map. For locals, this would be fine, but for out of towners, not so much. We ended up taking a wrong turn and headed to Odell which is on the way to Mt. Hood. It wasn't a horrible detour as my mom got a chance to take some beautiful photos of Mt. Hood on our way up the windy 35. We pulled over and double checked our map and figured out we needed to head in the wrong directions so we turned around on hwy 35 and headed toward Hood River. Alas, the correct location, but again, the map was not explicit enough to tell us how to get out of their down town, but eventually we found it.
The Harvest Fest was fun, but not as impressive as I thought, yet not as overwhelming as I dreaded, so it was a perfect size. There was a tent with live music and beer/wine tasting, out door food stands with hand dipped corn dogs, elephant ears, gyros, burgers, coffee and more. The final tent had the crafts and just outside the entrance was the produce. The setting, however, was magnificent. The area was nestled between the hills and mountains of Hood River. First things first: Food. Mom enjoyed a buffalo burger, and I enjoyed a German Sausage. Since it was so windy outside, we entered one of the tents just to eat standing up! But man, I have not had a hot dog that good in a long time. Next, it was time to shop! We headed to the craft tents where just in two small loops, you were done, which for me, is quite nice. It helped me decide where and what to spend money on. The first item of purchase was honey from Boring, Oregon. I got large jar of Clover honey, and to spice it up a bit, a tiny jar of Wild Flower honey. Next, Isaiah and I are on a cooking kick, so I got us some local Eugene spices: Garlic Lovers, Italian Herb, Salmon, and one other one. We can't wait to try them on our meets and veggies. And finally, the one I'm most excited about, the Soft Toy Barn for baby James (Isaiah's nephew). They are called Soft Toys and are made by Del & Eppie O'Shell from Shelton, WA. Since my family does a Secret Santa every year, it's hard to start shopping this early for each other, but this toy for a baby was perfect. They have all sorts of themes: barns, dinosaurs, doctor, tool kit and are hand made and sewn locally. That way, he can suck and squeeze it to his leisure.
After the crafts, mom and I headed to the produce. We bought local apples, pears, cider, and peppers. I will make it a point to buy local produce. I think if that's one thing that can help our damaged economy, I'll do it. Go farmers!
Finally, we had to head back. I was going to pick up Dimitri for our night out and race once I got home.
Below are some pictures of our drive back.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"You're a good teacher"

That's what one of my students told me yesterday. He had been absent for 2 classes and as much as I didn't take it personally, there was a part of me that wondered. I didn't want to ask why he'd been gone, but one of the other students brought it up. He doesn't have a set work schedule, so he wasn't getting off until about 6:30 each day, so he'd miss class. On Monday, he has his citizenship test, so I wished him luck. I really enjoy this student. He has a soft face, a good sense of humor and most of all, he really wants to learn. He takes constructive criticism well and offers in sight on what it's like not being able to communicate.
I was excited to have him there yesterday, but since I was embarking on a new format, I was a also a little nervous. I don't come across as intellectual to many people, perhaps not even smart. I know I'm looked down upon by others for reading my gossip blogs (I take them with a grain of salt, but I love my bloggers), liking "Legally Blonde" and enjoying top 40 music. I don't discuss politics, religion, or immigration with people unless I'm asked a direct question. I know these are charged topics, so I try to avoid them at any cost. This doesn't, however; mean I don't have an opinion on the matter, I just don't like to argue, or get upset, or heck upset anyone. I'm pleasant, calm, empathetic and open. I like to hear what other's have to say and try to understand why they have that opinion, and what brought them to that conclusion. I don't like being attacked for what I believe and I don't like when someone flat out says I'm wrong, because I wouldn't begin to argue with someone about their beliefs. There are a lot of gray areas in the world, right and wrong are two of the extremes, but I digress.
I was nervous that I'd be looked at as silly, and you know what? I was! And that's ok. I am silly, I can make fun of myself, I can put myself out there and I'm learning to accept that that's who I am but that's not ALL of what I am. Yes, I watch "Ugly Betty", but I also like to watch the History Channel and science shows (even though, perhaps I might not understand it, but I try). I believed that my silly teaching tool was helpful and apparently it was. I asked if I should continue with Ugly Betty or choose something else. The majority vote was something else. Cool. I'm not offended or insulted. I understand that *I* like Betty, but perhaps not everyone does. And that's ok. I'll find something that suits them better. They were accepting and open to a new way of teaching and I was open to hearing about suggestions to make it easier, or more fun. Now, I must look through my dvd collection and find if there's something out there for all . . . maybe this week it will be Heroes.
All in all, I had a good day. How I wish I could do this all day, everyday. I like finding out new ways and new materials for my students, but I know I have a week spot: grammar. I suck at it. I don't understand it one bit. My only saving grace is that I SPEAK English. If I had to learn how, I'd fail! So that's my homework for this week, keep up on my grammar learning. Also, what is the difference between Tell and Say. I propose that to you cuz I'm at a loss on how to *simply* explain it to Spanish speakers. Any help?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True Calling?

Today I get to go teach ESL and I'm very excited and it makes me wonder, is this my true calling?
From when I was very young, I always enjoyed school. Even before I went to kindergarten, I already had my little backpack ready and full of books. The year later when I actually went to kindergarten in Ms. Sharp's class at Bridlemile, I was in for a shock.

You mean, my mom can't stay? Who are all the strangers? I don't know these kids? Oh a sand pit, Mom, I'm going to play in the sand . . . oh look Mom, there is a play house . . . Mom? . . . MOM?? Where's my mom?

Before I knew it, my mom was gone and I was abandoned with strangers (felt my 5 year old self.) It took me a while to recover. I wouldn't sit on the magic carpet with the other kids, I wouldn't talk, I wouldn't socialize. I was painfully shy. Then one day, Ms. Sharp came to me and told me in a warm but stern voice that it was time I sit with the other kids. So I did. And thus started my love for learning and teachers.
Every year, I found something to love about my teachers so I showered them with drawings of me, of them, of my barbies, of my cabbage patches and they were always so grateful and appreciative. In first grade, Ms. Horowitz taught us where yarn came from and how it was woven. I also remember her favorite phrase was "I'm very disappointed in you" when she'd address the class for being naughty. That always made me feel bad and added an extra burden to my little self to be perfect and never disappoint (wow, interesting how that hasn't changed.) In second grade, we had a split class and Ms. Chung was our teacher. She taught us about Hawaii and we even had a luau in the cafeteria. I loved my teachers because they were so knowledgeable and nice. They made me feel warm and welcome. The students, well that was another thing. I didn't really have that many friends. I was still very shy. Come 3rd grade with Mr. Black, it all changed drastically from few friends to no friends. One of the leaders of our third grade class decided that I was not worth being friends with and turned everyone against me. No one played with me or talked to me, they were forbidden. So during recess, I always found an excuse to stay in class. Mr. Black finally suspected something and asked me why I didn't want to go to recess, holding back tears I told him I just didn't want. I knew that if I told on this person, this girl, I'd have worse reprocutions . . . So I said nothing. The second half of the year of third grade was a very lonely one, but I didn't care because I was moving to Mexico and I'd never have to see them again. Or so I thought.
Fast forward to high school. I had the same mentality I did when I was in 1st grade: impress and never disappoint. I had fantastic teachers, then too, who always adapted to the way I learned. One of my favorites that I had for 2 years was Ms. Wood, my English teacher. Like my 6th and 8th grade teacher back in middle school (Ms. Peizner), she was one of the few teachers that encouraged me to write and made me feel like I had something worth while to say, and that I was actually pretty good. I think my best writing was done in Ms. Woods' classes. Next, out of left field, was Mr. Smith, my senior math teacher. Math? I sucked I math! I even got a C in his class, but it was the best grade I'd gotten cuz I worked so hard for it. You see, I love math, I'm just not good with it and he understood that. At the time, I had noticed I was developing a sort of dyslexia with numbers, I'd keep flipping them, and he adapted to that and gave me credit anyway, even if the answer on the test was wrong. Because I told him of this dyslexia, he paid extra attention on all my work. Now that is a teacher that cares!
So now, here I am. I'm volunteering to each English to adults and I really enjoy it. I've always felt more at home with people that were older than me than my peer group or those that are younger. I feel that being older gives one more patience and understanding and since I have a tendency to be insecure, being around adults makes me feel like they're more willing to over look my faults.
So today, I have (hopefully) a fun class planned. I'm really into pop culture, tv, movies and television and I feel that people can learn a language by listening to what's around them everyday: tv, radio. I also learned from my university professor, Matt Garcia, how the melding of pop culture and history, can be used as a great teaching tool and I plan to always incorporate a bit of that into my teaching.
So today's lesson is in listening. My friend sent me a few of her 10-20 second radio news stories and I have the pilot for Ugly Betty ready to be watched, and listened to. Since most of my students are Latino, I thought it might be helpful and more motivating to see someone on television that looked a bit like them. I know I would have appreciated that. Then, today's homework will be listening to three songs I've burned on a disc for them, reading the lyrics along with the songs and answering questions I pose. It might be overwhelming for them, but in the end, I hope it will be helpful. Unfortunately, since I don't have a formal background, I'm just going on what I think will be fun and useful, but man, I'm so excited for when *I* actually get to take classes for this. I will learn so much and am excited to impart that knowledge to help others!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Halloween Run

So let's keep the theme and the blogging going. This Sunday is the Run Like Hell! run at Pioneer Place. Last year, I invited my nephew to do the Kid's Dash, but much to my dismay, he is WAY too old to be running with 8-12 year olds. He is a teenager now, 13! Where has the time gone? Anyway, this year, him and I are going to race (for realsies) and who ever wins, treats the other to ice cream. It's going to be extra fun cuz not only will he be competing as an adult, I've decided to dress up. I think I will finally retire my german beer maid outfit and get it all sweating running a 5k. It was always my back up costume just in case. It's had a good run, but now it will have an even better one and I've got an even better costume for this year, stay tuned.
Also joining in on the fun this year is my friend Liz (I believe this is her 3rd run since she's started running about a year ago) and Laura, a seasoned runner who has a marathon (or two) under her belt and saved us from disaster during the Rockin' Relay. This year should be fun. So come Saturday, I'll be getting my teeny tiny apartment ready to have a 13 year old sleep over. I'll be picking him up and treating him to (hopefully) a fund day with his Tia Nena before I force us to turn in early (the race is at 8:45am). So I'm excited!
This was us last year. LAST YEAR! Keep an eye on the kid after this weekend, you'll see what a difference a year makes . . .

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Graphic by Kelly Powers

And I don't mean Christmas (even though that comes to a close second/third.) HALLOWEEN! It's my favorite time of year! The leaves begin to turn, Starbucks concocts new and classic ways to get us fat (pumpkin spice lattes anyone?!) The air is crisper, the wind a bit more biting, and people nuzzle into their sweaters and scarves. How I love fall. Not only do I get to wear sweaters, boots and scarves, it's Halloween season and I get to dress up one day of the year and be who ever I want. It's also a good time to proclaim my love for calaveras (or skulls) and not seem like a morbid goth!
This weekend marked the first of many baking sessions. I'd stopped baking after Easter, not much to bake for. Summer is kind of a tough time to want to eat warm goodies and as mentioned, there is something about fall and all of its baking possibilities. So this weekend's excuse? My brother's 39th birthday party. What do you get a person who has and can buy anything they want? Well food of course! In my case, you bake them something yummy! Since my brother has a very soft spot for pumpkin pie (his birthday "cake" every year) I thought I'd make him something along those lines and I found some treats called Pumpkin Whoopies from yumsugar (apparently, they're a Rachel Ray recipe.) I tried to describe them to Isaiah, but all I could think of was little burger sliders, so thus, they became known as Pumpkin Sliders.
Finally come Saturday, my bank filled with payday money, off I went to Trader Joe's. I know Joe's didn't have parchment paper so I decided to skip pass them and head to Fred Meyer. I figured all I'd need from Meyer's was the paper and off for my one stop shop at Joe's, bu that was not the case =( I finally came back to Joe's with the paper and pumpkin spice (just in case they didn't have it at Joe's) and did my shopping: cream cheese-check, confectioner's sugar-check, unsalted butter-check, pumpkin puree-.... pumpkin puree . . . Where is the pumpkin puree (the SOLE ingredient that makes my sliders Pumpkin.) "We haven't received our holiday shipment yet, " a dude at Joe's told me. Well crap! So here I am, a medium sized tiangis bag full of ingredients and no pumpkin puree . . . back to Freddy's I went.
I finally come home and start preparing everything for this day's bake. I like setting everything out so that it's more accessible as I go makes it more streamline. I must say, I totally recommend parchment paper for baking. It's so easy!
Below is the finished product. My Pumpkin Sliders:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Another request

So, I was asked by yet another friend (2/3 people that read this) as to when I was going to write another blog. I've been wondering that myself. As of late, I've been kind of in an emotional rut, paralyzed by insecurity. Pretty heavy stuff, huh? Well, yeah. And painfully enough, it all came bubbling to the top on Sunday. That Sunday, I realized a lot of things about myself that I'd been trying to store away in that heavy oak chest in the back of my brain. But unfortunately, not only did I tuck away my fears and insecurities, I stashed my self-confidence and esteem. Not a good thing. I had a realization that much of my anger came from the fact that I am severely insecure about who I am. Am I social, or a hermit? Am I a risk taker, or take it safe? I don't know. Then, it was me getting mad because I was not this enough or that enough, but really, I threw that anger at someone else, instead of myself, but now I see that. I'm not mad at the world cuz they can't accept me for who I am, I am mad at myself because I can't accept myself for who I am. But here's the real question: Who the HELL am I, and where the F did my confidence go?
So those are a few things I've been going through lately, just trying to explore who I am and who I'm not, and accepting and loving myself for my faults and also for what I do well or for how great I might be. I have a lot of baggage from my childhood that prevents me from many things, including being selfish, and praising myself, and accepting compliments, etc. So that's what my brain has been up to, just so you know. I guess I'm going through a kind of quarter life crisis. But it's ok, it's good to assess things and figure out what you're missing and what you need to add to make you a whole person again. And I'm glad I have friends and loved ones to help me along the way. I promise the next post won't be so heavy.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I was told I haven't posted in a while, and while it is true, there isn't really much to say. I've been busy at work, volunteering, singing, and working out. That's pretty much all I do. I don't have internet at home, or well, not enough to just hop on there and take about few hours to write a blog or ponder life, I just check email, check calendar, look up an address and I'm done.
My job has changed a bit in these last couple weeks which is fine by me. My position (which is about 8 different jobs in one) has been split in two. We have a person come in early in the mornings, part time, and leaves around one during the school year because she has two children in school. In the summer, she's a bit more flexible about covering later shifts, which is cool. So after both her and I getting our barrings, we've split up the duties. She answers phones, deals with clients, schedules and knows more techie things. I deal with more off the accounting part: accounts payable, receivable, invoicing, following up on invoicing, ASCAP submittal, so that has actually kept me pretty busy and away from boardem, which is good for me, bad for my blog writings.
One thing I am looking forward too this month, is like always Halloween, but not just thank BAKING! I'm so excited! I've got a few recipes I've seen in some magazines and websites so I'm just dying to try them out on people and try to get a bit more skill under my belt. I'm a pumpkin JUNKIE so I will be trying out a lot of pumpkin recipes. I'm also going to try to make soup. I wasn't very successful that one time I made Hungarian Mushroom soup, so hopefully a butternut squash or something of that sort will be better. So, that's probably what most of my posts will be about, all the baking I will do. I am excited for this month, cuz I just love fall, the colors and all of it's flavors so probably in about two weeks, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On Teaching

Yesterday was my first day of volunteering to teach English as a second language at a church in Hillsboro. Why so far, you ask? Well, I got a good feeling is all. When I drove out there for the orientation 2 weeks ago, I realized just how far it was. On hwy 26, it would take 30 minutes. In rush hour? Nearly an hour. I told my self the first time I drove out there " This is a bit far, if I don't get a good feeling, I will decide not to do it". But to my luck, I had just the right feeling. You see, I've realized something about myself over the years: I have to feels safe in order to take risks. I think it's ingrained in our psyche from the time we used to give birth behind trees and in shrubbery. I remember being in my anthropology class: The Evolution of Human Adaptation. We had a guest speaker who was a midwife and from her lecture, I remember something very important about giving birth, but the concept I try to practice everyday. She said that in order to have a smooth birth, the mother has to feel safe. If she feels she's in any danger or if she's uneasy in some way, it will be harder for her. And well, that make sense to me, in my case. I've never given birth, but I can see how feeling safe would make me focus more on pushing than anything else. Maybe I'm just that type of person, i have to focus on the task at hand or else I won't enjoy it. Isaiah and I were talking about this today, in order to learn something hard, you have to at least like it first, that way you'll try harder to learn it. Makes sense to me. So that was the conclusion I drew with this new challenge. I've never been a teacher, I've never taught a class, and yet, I want to go into Teaching English as Second Language master's program, so I thought I'd give volunteering a chance. I knew that if all the elements were right, all I would have to do is focus on doing a good job rather than, I need to get home, is my car going to get broken into, I don't like the coordinator, but I liked it all. My students, just the 4 of them (one women, three men) were responsive, one of them extremely outgoing. They said their main problem was that listening. When people speak to them, they don't understand, and that is totally understandable. So I asked them, do you listen to English? They all sheepishly said no. So I gave them homework, out of the 7 days they had, they are to listen to 1 hour of English, just one hour: radio, tv, cd, anything. I want their ears to get used to listening to English. I think for next week, I'm going to compile a cd for them to listen to. I want them to hear different music and what people say and how they say it and what stories they tell, cuz not everyone is going to speak clearly or even care to "slow down". Some people can be mean that way. I'm excited for the possibilities, but I also feel a little lost in the sense that I've never done this before and I don't know if I"m even good at what I'm doing. I'm not following the packet at all and I know I totally should, but I"m still a little timid, a little shy and a bit unclear. The coordinator constantly says, oh just go with it, follow the book if you want. And I'm sure a lot of people hate structure and hate being told what to do, but this is my first time, so I need a clear set of guidelines . . . But all in all, it was a good night, I just hope I'm not a failure to these people that are really hoping to learn.

*Now, if only that gal had dark hair and darker skin . . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Weighy Issues

For as long as I can remember, my weight has always been an issue.
[And let me pre-empt this with the fact that I am NOT fishing for complement, or am in need of pity. I'm just chatting, just writing, just expression my feelings.]
No matter how many times my mom called me bonita, I still had a sense of "being fat". I was never a stick of a child, I wasn't one of those that had toothpick legs with bony knees and then grew into myself. Nope, I was a cute, normal chubby baby, chubby kid, then a fat adolescent, and, in retrospect, (always) a normal sized teenager. No, I could not wear bikinis like many of my cheerleader friends, but I didn't look half bad in a bathing suit. I'm not sure where it started but most people say, it usually starts with your mother, as I'm sure my "problem" started there. My mom was that person, she was the one her family called huesos, or bones cuz she was so skinny. After getting pregnant the first time at 21, she lost all the weight. The second time, lost most of it, and by the third time (that's me) kept it all and then some. She told me once that I was the one that made her fat, jokingly of course, but true (way for passive-aggressiveness, that also seems to run genetically in our family.) There were a lot of good things and bad things in our family that as a mother and wife I'd like to keep and change. One of them is body image. I would like my daughter and sons to realize exercise is for health, not necessarily "looking good" but I do wonder how I will accomplish that if I don't even believe that. The other thing is the double standard. When I was in elementary school, a nickname given to me by my brother was "fat". Yes, it's true. But if *I* called my brother fat, wow, did I get a talk to. So for 10 years or so, it was ok to call me fat, and even though yes, I was a chubby elementary kid, perhaps I'd grow out of it, but I was already far too self-conscious. I mean, was it ok to call me that if it was true? When I hit puberty, I didn't have any idea what was going on, and I lived in Mexico. So the lets say 10 pounds one normally puts on, doubled because I was not eating right according to the weight I was already gaining during puberty. So by the time I came back to the states, yeah, I was a bit fat for my age, and tall. I was taller than all the boys. I think my parents just assumed I get taller and lean out, but no, I was 5'3 in 5th grade and stayed that way. I didn't wear the most flattering clothes and had to be informed of it by my mother, through my brothers. They suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to take me shopping to find clothes that fit me better. By this time, I was tall, fat and had boobs. None of the girls did. So I was not only self-conscious that I looked horrible in clothes, I also had boobs I had to deal with, thus beginning body-conscious phase that has lasted oh, let's see . . . till now? Nah, it's pretty much on going.
So this little dumb story brings me to today. Everyone has a different concept of "fat", "chubby" and "obese". The media tells us Eva Longoria gaining 5 extra pounds on her 110 pound frame is suddenly fat. If that's the case, what am I? Lately I've been trying to figure out what I can change, why, how and if I want to. I've also been trying not to be so hard on my self. With all this soul searching I've come to a very confusing conclusion: I feel pretty good, I think I look pretty good, but yet I don't loose weight and I've actually gained about 3 pounds. So I'm not sure where I stand as of right now with my body. I will tell you this though, I was 10-15 pounds heavier 5 years ago, so yeah, you do the math. It really is a "change in lifestyle" versus a damn diet. I hate diets. I don't like restrictions, but oddly enough, I like rules and guidelines. (Man, I am all over the place with this post!)
So yeah, a confusing state it is to actually feel good about ones body, and yet feel like you're not supposed too. I just keep having this idea that everyone is lying to me and once I believe them, they'll just laugh in my face and say "Gotch, fatty! How could you *ever* think you were actually hot! You are an idiot!" But that's a therapy issue for some other time.