Friday, January 30, 2009


I FINALLY got my visa. Well, I mean I'm on my way to get it stamped in my passport which means maybe in a month I'll have my carnet and be able to do things like get decent health insurance and go to the doctor when I'm sick instead of self-diagnosis.

Since I slept in about an hour I'd say I'll be waiting a good, hmmmmm 2 hours up down at Extranjería, but the point is I'll have it--YAY!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homage to Professor D.H.

My advisor and absolute favorite professor from college is being nominated for an award and some of his former students were asked to write a letter in support of his nomination. I got the email a few days ago and need to finish my letter now because it's due today. Now, I am thrilled to write it because anyone who knows me knows how influential this professor was for me, but I'm having a hard time writing a letter that's as good as I want it to be. I figured I'd use this post as an outline to help me organize my thoughts and I'd get a chance to talk about at truly amazing professor.

Professor H. really took me under his wing when I transferred schools and was having a really rough time with it, to say the least. We bonded talking about my Puerto Rican family whom he had met while working on his college thesis (over 40 years ago!) and he gave me brutally honest, but priceless academic advice. He listened to me talk, as I held back tears, about my transfer woes and about wanting to take time off to figure things out. He gave me all the academic support I needed to make a decision about what I wanted to do. He signed off on my petition form to take time off, but encouraged me to find a way to stay in school. Just his caring enough to listen made a world of difference considering I felt totally insignificant in all of my classes where not one of my professors knew my name (seriously, I made a comment halfway through the semester in a religion class and the TA asked if it was my first day there!). Now, obviously a lot had to happen to change my situation at school and a large part of it had to do with getting involved in extracurricular activities and improving my social life, but Professor H. absolutely shaped and guided my academic life in college.

A year and a half after transferring and finally finding my niche at UVA, Professor H. went to the mattresses for me and my fight to study abroad with a particular program in Chile. My school had some sort of deal with a certain study abroad program and would not let me study with the program I chose (I chose it over the other one after a lot of research and many recommendations from students and professors alike, mind you). If it weren't for him and his effort (think very firm/angry phone calls and letters to stupid 20-somethings in charge of ALL of study abroad programs) to make sure I got my program approved. I did! but it's only because he fought for me and got the entire Spanish department to do the same. I'd probably still be speaking Spanglish at best if it weren't for him and the program, of course!

Professor H. is also the most interesting and engaging professor I've ever had. He is an expert on Brazilian history, literature and culture and he's fluent in Brazilian Portuguese (including ALL slang), but what's more, is that his passion translates into excellent teaching. I took each of the classes he taught at UVA because his history lectures were fascinating and his Portuguese classes were so entertaining we students all brought friends to class with us. I worked my ass off to get good grades in his Portuguese classes because he really challenged everyone of us to excel.

Perhaps most importantly is Professor H.'s dedication to his students both inside and outside of school. Granted his classrooms were always small because there isn't a huge interest in Brazil and Portuguese at my alma mater, but he still went above and beyond for his students. Proportionally speaking (# of students and department $), he invited more people (professors, friends, famous musicians) to our school than any other professor. He often took his students out to dinner just to be able to practice Portuguese outside of school. I also remember he helped pay for a student's plane ticket to visit his father in the hospital because the student couldn't afford it. And for me, he is the reason my boyfriend got his visa to visit the U.S. last March, but I probably shouldn't get into it here or in my actual letter, haha. (NOTE: We have NEVER lied to the embassy! I can assure you all of that.)

I think I feel so compelled to share about this professor because I don't think he'll get the award, even though he deserves it. He singlehandedly created the Portuguese department at UVA and is a favorite among everyone from my major, but people at the top don't really care about. Portuguese and Latin American Studies don't bring any money into the school and things like that matter to the point that I think it would affect the outcome of a prestigious award like this. I hope I'm wrong, but if he's gone over 30 years without the recognition he deserves, I doubt "they'll" even throw him a bone as he retires. What's worse is that I think the Portuguese department will disappear after he leaves. He created it and I think his life's work will virtually disappear since he hasn't found a suitable replacement. It's tragic to think about, but it's very likely. Here's hoping...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recommended "I've been Wronged" Playlist

No, I haven't been wronged recently, but one of my closest friends here has. What she (and I) thought was a wonderful man recently behaved like a motherf*cking sh*thead. The point is that the other night, instead of crying at home being miserable, she washed her face, dressed herself up and went out (still miserable, but at least she tried!). I really admire her for being so honest about her feelings and then picking herself up because she knows she's an amazing person. Before going out, we talked about it at my place over a bottle of wine. I put on some music, but wanted to be very careful not to play anything that would make her sadder since there are so many amazing songs that just make you cry your eyes out in a situation like that. We didn't get a chance to listen to everything I had in mind before we left, but I decided to post some of it incase anyone else [hopefully none of the ladies who read this blog] needs it.

1. Let it Die ~ Feist (Ok, so obviously if you're going to talk about it, you're going to cry so this one's to get that out of the way quickly!)

2. The Million You Never Made ~ Ani DiFranco (Now, be angry!)

3. Bloody Motherfucking Asshole ~ Martha Wainwright (different stage of anger)

4. Breakin' Up ~ Rilo Kiley (dance and sing it on out. I wish this song had come out when I could have used it because it's so fun to dance and workout to)

5. See Line Woman ~ Nina Simone (if done well, a song about a prostitute can make you feel gooooooood)

6. Radio ~ India Irie (i love a little girl power..OK, clearly i love a lot of it)

7. Not About Love ~ Fiona Apple (a deeper insight into the whole shebang)

8.. Single Ladies ~ Beyonce (too little, too late. Learn the dance and get Beyonce's body for that extra KICK)

9. Ella ~ Bebe (some Spanish reinforcement)

10. Precious Things ~ Tori Amos (One line in this song makes it just so amazing. Hint: it starts with, "so you can make me..."

11. Untouchable Face ~ Ani DiFranco (you just have to get that one last f*ck you in there)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Santiago's toll on my feet

My feet are not very pretty in general. Unfortunately, I inherited my dad's feet which not only means two ugly big toes, but foot problems as well. Then, I didn't help things by breaking both feet (at different times) so badly I had to get pins put in in them to correct the break.

So, the point is that my not so attractive feet also hurt me a lot because I refuse to wear tennis shoes around all the time. I LOVE cute flats and sandals and wedges (although I broke my foot wearing wedges so I seldom take them out of my closet here on these sidewalks), but since I walk so much in Santiago, I am constantly comparing the cuteness to comfort ratio before I walk out the door and I always carry backup band-aids just incase.

I thought I was in heaven when I found a pair of adorable Puma flats that were both comfy and stylish, but they turned out to offer zero support and I felt every uneven step in the city. Walking down Paris or Londres near my apartment just killed me. So, lately I've opted for a newer pair of flip flops, but my feet get totally destroyed in them and I get very grossed out when I step in unidentified liquid knowing it hasn't rained in forever. I went to get a pedicure once and the woman spent the entire time scolding me about neglecting my feet when I'm actually very good at giving them extra care in the summertime--they just suck!!

So now after a day of opting for cute flats even though I knew I had a lot of walking ahead of me, I'm suffering enough that it prompted me to dedicate an entire post to my feet woes! I'll use better judgement tomorrow.

sidenote: I'm doing pretty well on my resolutions so far. I'm farther along in Cider House Rules and loving it of course, I've been good on my diet except for Saturday at our asado (yummmm choripan!), and my man and I have a movie date tonight with our usual snuck-in wine and home-popped garlic popcorn.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A brief appearance at La Cumbre del Rock Chileno

So, Italo's sister scored 4 free tickets to La Cumbre del Rock Chileno today and invited her friend, Italo and me to go. I was pretty excited because Italo and his sister went last year with tickets from the same person and got to sit in the VIP section. I was hoping for shade, seats, and easy access to refreshments--not quite.

We got there at around 2pm armed with some sandwiches we snuck in and realized we were going to be with everyone else roasting under the sun in the big field(full of litter, mind you). We were going to buy water and any other food once we were inside. Once we got in, we realized there was a ridiculous, yet all too Chilean system for buying food and drinks. You have to wait in a huge line to buy a ticket for your food and then go wait in an aggressive crowd and push your way to the front to actually get your food or drinks. Now, I'm not knocking the ticket thing entirely because I've seen it done well at other concert venues, but it clearly didn't work there today. There were way too many concert goers and too few people working.

By the time the four of us got our water (30-40 minutes from the time we first got in line), the heat had ruined me. I drank my cup way too fast and was left worried about when the next time I'd drink water would be. The lines had gotten even huger and no one was very interested in paying 1.000 pesos for a cup of water and then actually getting it an hour later. I am a very hydrated person so thirst is my nightmare and thirst plus heat minus shade makes for a miserable me.

We sat down for a while and ate and played the cards I'd brought as I baked in the sun. Now, I am a baby when it comes to heat so I admit I can't handle situations like that very well, but everything was made worse by the thought of 8 more hours outside with no water, food or shade. I didn't say anything, but Italo knows when I'm uncomfortable and he very sweetly said, "let's go", but I insisted I was fine, in fact thrilled to go home by myself so he could stay and enjoy the day with his sister and friend. He was impossible to convince so we both ended up leaving early (exactly 2 and half hours after we got there). I was a little embarrassed because I hate being finicky around Italo's family. I think they think gringas are more high maintenance in general and I know I've done some things that are totally normal in the U.S. that they view as complaining or being particular (like asking to be switched from smoking to non-smoking because I made a non-smoking dinner reservation or insisting on renting an apartment with heat and having a fan in the summer). I don't like to perpetuate the stereotype nor do I want them to get sick of my gringa ways, but I think it was all worth it for the sheer bliss I felt chugging my first and second bottle of water just as we exited the the concert gates. Then, the cool breeze walking to the bus and the yummy ice cream we bought on the way back made me almost forget we had even been to La Cumbre...almost.

Maybe next year I'll try it again with a big umbrella and buckets of water, but this year it just wasn't for me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Big sigh of relief/What the f*ck?!

This past Monday I went into work to pick up my paycheck and get my attendance book for the one class I had that didn't end in December. To my surprise, SOMEONE there told me that my students had asked to stay with the teacher who subbed for me because there weren't many classes left and they didn't want to switch around anymore. I wasn't sure how to react because that didn't make sense considering I've been with these students for 4 months so I asked, "en serio?!?" and the response I got was, "en serio!". I was assured that it had nothing to do with my teaching, just convenience for them, but I found that hard to believe. I asked a few more questions because I wasn't satisfied, but I got to the point where my only options were to cry because my students didn't like me that much after all or, just leave and deal with it like a big girl. I chose to walk out and deal with it, but it was still really bugging me today. These students and I had such a fun time in class. They're the same ones who invited me to their company's big anniversary party. I brought stuff back from the U.S. specifically for them and we had planned to get together this weekend. So naturally, when I thought about it more it seemed really mean of them or highly unlikely that SOMEONE was telling the truth. Well, just a few minutes ago the mystery solved itself. I got an email from one of my students saying how upset they are with the new teacher and that they're trying to get me back because they don't know what happened. Ok, so 1. YAYYYY! They like me! They really like me!! and 2. Why the fuck did the institute take that class away from me and then lie about it???!!!! I am very relieved three people I really like don't hate me, but I am also pissed at SOMEONE from work. I am waiting to calm down so I can ask about it again without getting angry, but I am determined to get this class back!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Morning thoughts and resolutions for the new year

I am experiencing a very blissful morning. I got the best night's sleep I've gotten here since getting back and woke up just as reruns of my favorite show, Gilmore Girls came on. i am lying in bed, feeling the nice breeze of my fan, drinking coffee and planning my day. I've only been back at work 2 days, but for some reason I felt like I really deserved an undeserved break. Luckily (not for my bank account!), two of my classes don't start until next week so I'm still on a semi-vacation which gives me time to catch up on my doing nothing. Although, I am adding more reading, gym time, and healthy cooking to that so I'll be slightly busier.

I haven't posted about New Year's Resolutions like many other bloggers. It's probably because I kinda hate New Year's, although I like the idea of resolutions. And I made some resolutions without thinking about them going along with the holiday, but I guess even I got into the New Year's spirit so I thought I'd share them even though they couldn't get more cliché.

1. Keep our apartment cleaner. As my friend L. put it once, Italo and I are like two little kids in the kitchen who don't want to take responsibility for the messes we make. We both think we're master chefs which means there's no one to clean up at the end of the meal since we both did the cooking. We get into the nasty habit of cooking dinner at night and leaving the dishes for the next day. I really want to stop that because in our tiny kitchen, one dish, let alone many that not put away makes it very cluttered. I also want all of our books, work things, and clothes where they belong. This is my resolution, but it pertains to us both. Luckily, Italo is right along with me on this one. My next one is slowly breaking him down, though.

2. Eat healthier foods. My last 2 years of high school and my first two years of college, I was a health nut. I tried to eat all organic foods and snacked on nuts and freeze dried berries. I was also a vegetarian so I lived on tofu, beans, cheese, fruits and vegetables. I loved eating like that (minus the vegetarian thing now) and I'm not sure what happened. I looked back on the last 6 months in Chile and realized my eating habits had gone to shit so now I'm determined to bring healthy back. That means absolutely no deliciously disgusting Chilean white bread. It also means no more bleached grains like pasta and rice and no more (or very, very little) red meat. I can't do the no carbs thing because I'm a carb addict, but I can cut way back. So far, I've only bought whole grain pasta and the rest has been legumes, fruit, veggies, eggs and cheese. I've also switched my quick dinner recipes from Rachel Ray to Ellie Krieger (her recipes are easy and delish!). I've been making and storing snacks incase Italo or I get hungry between meals (hummus, roasted chickpeas, almonds, yogurt popsicles, etc). Drinking less beer and other alcohol on the weekends is a must, too. The one thing I cannot and will not give up is red wine. It is too wonderful and inexpensive here and I love it too much. After 3 and a half days of this new diet, I feel great. I have more energy and I just feel happier. Italo was starving the first 2 days, but now he's into it. He's lost about 5 pounds (I hate that about men!) just because he's not eating white bread so I think he's pretty motivated, too. I'm also being really creative with our dinners so he doesn't miss the breads and pastas. All in all, I think I'm on the right path with this resolution

3. Exercise More. I know, I know. EVERYONE vows to workout more at the start of each year. I'm doing it too. This is another thing I used to be adamant about. I want to get back into the routines I was in before. I'm not worried too much about being heart healthy because I walk everywhere and now that my discount metro pass ran out, I'll be walking even more. I'd just like to get back into my strength training routines and be able to mix it up. I found some pretty cool variations for cardio and strength training in some fitness magazines and I'm going to get a new gym membership so I can do my trusty elliptical workout. Italo and I have also been saving to buy bikes (and helmets!) so we can do cerro San Cristóbal and Santa Lucía on the weekends. I'm terrified to ride my bike in this city, but I'll have to overcome it. In general, I want to be more active. I miss that drive to workout everyday I had in college. I'm trying to get it back.

4. Be better at keeping in touch with friends and family. I haven't been very good at writing some people on a regular basis and they told me that when I was home. I can be pretty bad about responding to emails and messages sometime and I have no excuse. It's not that I don't want to keep in touch, I just get distracted and forget sometimes. I promised I would be better because I miss these people a lot while I'm here and I'd like them to know that. So far, i've been doing a good job about it and I hope I can keep it up.

5. Prepare better classes for my students. It took me a while to take my job seriously, but just before Christmas, I started really getting into my lesson planning and enjoying my classes more. I'd like to continue with that and make them even better and more organized. Since teaching English looks like my occupation for a while, I want to feel like I'm good at my job and I'd like for my students to know that I'm trying. So far this semester, I have some great students so it shouldn't be hard.

6. Read more books people recommend to me. I have a lot of friends and family members who constantly recommend great books to me. Some of them even give me the books. I am always very grateful and have every intention of reading the books, but I seldom get around to it. I am going to change that. Especially because two people in particular always read the books I recommend so I need to stop being lazy and do the same. Yesterday, I finally started Cider House Rules by John Irving given to me by a certain A.H. I've read A Prayer for Owen Meany (it's on my top 5 favorite books list) and The World According to Garp so I really have no excuse for not reading his other books. Then, I'm going to start on another one and another one and hopefully another one and so on...

7. Spend more quality time with my man. For those of you who know me, you know I spend a lot of time with Italo, but during the week, it can become very routine-like since we both work. True to my astrological sign (Sagittarius), I hate getting locked into a routine, especially when it involves love, so I want to change that. I want to be able to devote time every day just to hanging out and doing new things. And actually, I think this diet and exercise thing goes along with this resolution. It's been fun grocery shopping and cooking together the past few days and once we get bikes, it means another shared hobby (aside from eating!). We went for a bike ride when we were in Virginia and it was the first time we'd done that. I loved it! Italo's first love was a bicycle (ok, not really), but I wouldn't be surprised to see him tear up talking about his old bike, and I just loved that we were doing something together that he was so passionate about.

OK, I had more resolutions than I thought! Also, Happy new year to everyone!

random comment because I don't want to post another blog, but for anyone in the U.S., I have to recommend the movie Doubt. I went to see it with my parents and sister and we were all extremely impressed. It was by far the best movie I've seen in a long time. it's pretty impressive that my whole family thought that since we all have different tastes in movies.