December 31, 2009

bruce springsteen is actually a baller

Bruce Springsteen is basically my father's musical Mecca. The end all, be all of lyrical genius, performance intensity, and all around amazing-ness. Since I can remember we have been blasting The Boss's records in our house, cars and any available local with a good sound system. I have been to four Bruce shows despite the fact that I am about 30 years younger than the average Bruce concert goer. Senior year of college, my brother Joe and I even drove 6 hours round trip in one night to see Bruce perform his Working on a Dream concert at the Minnesota Xcel Energy Center. In summary, loving and appreciating everything E Street isn't so much an option as it is a birth right.

Bruce started this year with a rocking Super Bowl performance that left me speechless and stunned as I watched the intensity and energy he brought to the stage even at the age of 59! (He turned 60 this year!!) He sang, danced, and played an amazing show - better than anything else that happened on the field that night if you ask me - and EVEN left one cameraman in shock as he slide a little too far across stage. AMAZING.
Bruce finishes the year with the Kennedy Center Honors, during which he sat side by side with Barack and Michelle, who he campaigned for at the end of last year. LOVE IT.

Check out this video of Barack speaking about "the quiet kid from Jersey" - as cheesy as it is, I LOVED the part where he describes Bruce using titles from his songs. And "his concerts are more like communions" - PERFECT. Finally, Barack finishes with "I'm the president, but he's he boss."
Finally, Jon Stewart speaks about Bruce Springsteen's influence on his life and American music in general.
I love that he received this award, and that so many people recognize his amazing influence and the profound wisdom he integrates into his music, his life and our country. With this somewhat random post, as I take a break from discussing life in Colombia, here are some of my favorite Bruce lyrics - and yes, it was hard to limit myself to these. :)

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again
Don't run back inside
darling you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me
[Thunder Road]

But there's one thing I know for sure girl
I don't give a damn
For the same old played out scenes
I don't give a damn
For just the in betweens

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love
[Into the Fire]

My father said "Son, we're lucky in this town
It's a beautiful place to be born
It just wraps its arms around you
Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone.
That you know flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we'll do and what we won't."
[Long Walk Home]

I'm working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it's here to stay
I'm working on a dream
Our love will chase the trouble away
[Working on a Dream]

What is this land America so many travel there
I'm going now while I'm still young my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely I'll send for you when I can
And we'll make our home in the American land
[American Land]

I'm going to make this girl move to Cali, Colombia - it's non-negotiable

As you can tell from Allison's guest blog, she has arrived here safe and sound and we are enjoying our time together! I CANNOT believe we spent so long apart, because after 48 hours of her in the country it feels like we never left each other's sides. Isn't that the best, when you can see friends after such a long time and feel like nothing really ever is going to stop you from being best friends? LOVE IT. Here is some photo documentation of the time we rocked Cali, Colombia juntos (together).
Day 1: Day of the Pacific food festival at CAM Plaza - note the large nativity scene behind us - clearly we are embracing the time we spent working together at a religious gifts store :)
Official poster for the Feria de Cali, Cali's huge annual festival that took place December 25 - 30.
Allison's first cholado!!! A mix of fruit, condensed milk, raspberry syrup and a wafer on top! Note that this picture looks just like the photos we take of us drinking Jamba Juice - even on different continents we still rock at life.
Ready to go out to the Super Concierto with Marc Anthony.
Parque de las Banderas - across from my house.
Oh hey Marc Anthony.
Fireworks display when we were leaving the concert - they were SO LOUD!!
Day 2: Taking the Mio (Cali's mass transit system) during my favorite time of day in Cali, Colombia - just before sunset!
Allison looking gorgeous in the new dress we both bought! Getting ready to venture to Loma de La Cruz for some artisan shopping.
At Loma de La Cruz overlooking Cali.
Enjoying some malts (malteadas) at Macondo, a cafe we love in the San Antonio neighborhood.
La Alhumbrada - the Christmas lights display along the Rio Cali. As soon as I saw this for the first time, I knew Allison had to see it because she loves Christmas and decorations. The lights display the history of Colombia in chronological history...this is the part of the conquistadors.
A famous Cali landmark - El Gato (The Cat).
Of course we had to take a photo with the light up baseball player as a result of our mutual obsession with the Minnesota Twins.
Hooray! Allison tries the national drink of Colombia - aguardiente for the first time and LOVES it!
Aquardiente :)
My new purse from Mu - an amazing leather purse shop that I took Allison to. I just had to buy this gray and purple purse and I am 100% in love with it.
Inside of my new purse!
We are spending today packing and getting ready for our adventures in Santa Marta, Colombia - we leave tomorrow at 10:30 am! Later I will be posting a little bit about what we are up to during our travels - check back for details about our six day jungle hike!!

December 29, 2009

Guest Blog- Journey to Colombia!

As soon as Kristin announced she accepted in Cali I knew I would be there at some point. Mostly of course to reunite with my sarcastic sidekick who keeps me on my feet 24/7 whether I'm in a bout of St. Paul road rage or requiring a personal wake-up phone call to get my 23 year old self up and off to work. With one last winter break in my college days and the prospect of a long Minnesota winter, I booked the tickets to warmth and made the countdown to our reunion.
Just preparing for the trip was fun. Class time turned into google pictures of Colombian beaches time. I went shopping for chacos, water purification pills, and other outdoorsy gear that empowered me to believe that I might very well just take over the world in our upcoming jungle hike. I mean really, who in their right mind would even think of challenging a shockingly pale, skinny, Minnesota nice girl who's dangerously armed with a blinding head lamp and Venus razor? Fools.
With everything packed up including the largest jar of peanut butter known to mankind for Kristin I trekked off to the airport at 4am. After 20 hours of waiting, reading, napping, and losing my mind to idle thoughts I finally had the moment when I knew this trip was going to be amazing. Crammed into the window seat on a plane full of Colombians, we came down for our landing and as soon as the wheels of the plane hit the runway the entire plane erupted into a deafening cheer that would make the metrodome seem sullen during a Vikings game. AMAZING. Enthusiasm at its finest. As a whole hearted proponent of all things happy, I instantly felt connected to the people around me as everyone looked around cheering, clapping, and smiling. I knew that I was going to love the people of Colombia and could not wait to start exploring! Seeing Kristin at the airport made the longest day of traveling and delays disappear and as soon as we bear hugged, I knew it was just the start of an adventure.


December 28, 2009

christmas in pasto: the daniel * experience

*Well, if I am not sharing my last name I cannot really share anyone else's, now can I? And, yes he really did call it the Daniel * experience.
December 23rd I show up in Pasto, Colombia, the capital town of Colombia's most south-western province, Nariño. For the next five days I basically enjoyed having a personal guide to a city I knew nothing about before arriving. Daniel grew up in Pasto and knows the entire town - both the places and the people (he got stopped to talk to people more times in a day than my mother does coming out of church...).
Before I get into some trip highlights, I should probably try to paint a picture of who Daniel is. Well, picture a skinny rugby-playing Colombian guy who is pretty much bilingual except for the fact that he cannot keep his/her pronouns straight. He's super nice, and seems pretty shy until he starts talking and you figure out he's actually got a lot to say, and most of it is quirky and hilarious. His favorite food is bread, he makes a mean batch of huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), and is a fantastic moto driver.
Here are some of the highlights from the trip:
On about hour 4.
About 45 minutes from Pasto.
  • Looking at Christmas lights around the different plazas in Pasto. Colombians love decorations and they love lights, so every square has it's own unique, yet brightly lit, theme.
Church in Pasto lit up for Christmas.
Santa Claus/Papa Noel
Enjoying the lights!
  • Phone calls from home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Hooray for my parents figuring out how to call my Colombian cell phone from Skype!!!
  • Visit to Laguna de La Cocha, a lake about 45 minutes from Pasto that reminded me of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We explored the small town next to the lake, went for a boat ride on the lake with our new friend Carlos, walked across the small island in the middle, and then had fresh trout for lunch at a hotel on the lake. The hotel had a fabulous playground and lots of gorgeous flowers to look at (& photograph!)
Sign at the entrance to La Cocha
Colombian National Park on the island in the middle of the lake. Colombians make you pay to enter national parks and then you hand-write you name, address and phone number in a log book for God knows what purpose. Under reason for my visit I wrote: Turismo (tourism). Daniel wrote: Find bears. (in English) I am still shocked we didn't get kicked out for being ridiculous.
Across the island!
At the hotel post-lunch.
Swings in Colombia! HOORAY!

  • Moto ride around the volcano (I know, the word volcano made me nervous too but apparently it hasn't erupted "in a long time") to lots of little towns around Pasto. We spent about five hours on Christmas Day visiting the towns of Nariño, La Florida, Sandona, Consaca, and Yacuanquer. I was struck by the amazing stillness of the mountains and the quiet nature of these towns. I was somewhat terrified to be riding via moto through the Colombian hillside, so thank goodness Daniel is an excellent driver. Favorite Daniel quote from the trip (when discussing how random it is to see people living in what looks like the middle of nowhere): "Look at those houses just on the side of the hill, like what the hell?"
Scenery on the ride.
Loving the scenery.
Overlooking one of the above mentioned towns... I don't know which one.
  • Exploring the city of Pasto - including the Plaza Mayor, Cathedral and Cafe de la Catedral (along with its delicious crepes!)
Plaza Mayor in Pasto
Cafe de la Catedral
  • Engaging in several hours worth of embracing local customs...with Daniel's crazy friends. This day including watching an official car race through the streets of Pasto (yeah, it was about as random & dangerous as it sounds), lots of aguardiente from Narino, running through the rain to Mister Pollo (aka Mr. Chicken) for lunch, after parties, a trip to Perro Loco for hot dogs and finally a trip to Carrefour...after which Daniel and I may or may not have eaten an entire loaf of French bread in about 20 minutes.
Friends. :)
Annnd we're off to Carrefour (the grocery store)
Direct quote about where I should place the baguette in the cart: "I just don't want my baguette touching anyone." You sort of had to be there but the tone of his voice made it sound like this was the most serious conversation we would have all day.
  • Learning how to be a pastuso/pastusa (person from Pasto) or Pastusian as Daniel thinks it would be in English. People from Pasto say really obvious things that should not need to be said aloud, but they do anyway. For example when we stopped by to visit a friend of Daniel's, the person at her house told us "You need to come back and visit, but come when she is here." No kidding. They also said -ito or -ita (which means little) for everything!!! On the first day Daniel's mom told me she got some deserts that were grandesito. In Spanish grande means big but adding -ito to the end of a word means according to pastusos grandesito means not so big, not so small. Isn't the word for that medium?
All in all, I had a fabulous trip to Pasto! While it felt weird to be away from home for Christmas, I am so glad that I got to spend the holidays in a new place with new friends and new adventures. Thanks to everyone for the phone calls, emails and messages during the holidays - I appreciate them so much!
And now??? Off to the airport to pick up my friend Allison, who arrives at 9:00 pm tonight! I CAN'T WAIT!!! :)

December 27, 2009

if i wasn't a math teacher, then...

***Scheduled Post***
We often times find ourselves saying, "If I had a million dollars..." (cue Barenaked Ladies theme song...) If I won the lottery, I would do _________. If I had the money, I would ________. When I retire, I will ___________.
I don't typically spend a lot of time thinking about what I could or would be doing in life, because I am trying to do my very best to live in the moment each day and just do it. However, there is one thing I do think about a lot. What would I be doing if I wasn't a math teacher?
While options certainly abound for careers I would find interesting, one in particular has always fascinated me. If in fact I was not a math teacher, I would most definitely pursue my love of photography.
As you might have noticed from the substantial number of pictures I take and place on this blog, I love photography. Ever since my senior year of high school, when I worked as editor on the yearbook staff and took two photography classes, I have been fascinated by pictures.
Photographs capture specific instants in time, and in a world where time feels so fleeting I often want to capture everything. Photos can take you back to a time, a place, a feeling, just with one simple gaze. I try not to be one of those people who always has a camera in their hand, so much so that they miss what is actually happening, but I do love taking pictures. In recent years, my photography interests have broadened from just taking still, posed pictures to taking pictures of landscapes, people who aren't looking directly at the camera, or in motion photos. I want my pictures to be a reflection of my subject, but also a reflection of what I was thinking or feeling at the time.
My interest in photography does not just end with taking the picture. I also love developing the pictures, seeing how they turn out, and editing them later. I am a HUGE fan of Picnik, which is an easier to use, free, online version of something like Adobe Photoshop (which I still want to own one day...when I have the money). You can edit photos, use borders, place text, crop, enlarge, and do all sorts of crazy things. Many of the collages you see on my blog come from Picnik...because what better way to procrastinate than to play around with photo editing? :)
Now, don't get me wrong, I love being a teacher and for the foreseeable future I do not envision any major career changes. However, teachers do have all of their summers off - probably to take pictures, because that is what I plan on doing with my summer vacations. Or perhaps one day I will have my own little photo studio and take pictures on my own.
Until then...I'll stick with, friends and family to be my subjects, editing on Picnik, and teaching wide-eyed 13-year-olds about the joys of Algebra.
I leave you with some of my favorite pictures that I have taken, coordinated, or edited as well as some of my favorite quotes about photography. Enjoy!
(p.s. Does anyone else find it odd that the word edited only has one t? Who knew??)

Segovia, Spain, July 2007
San Sebastian, Spain, July 2007
Plaza Mayer, Valladolid, Spain, July 2007
Somewhere between Pisa and Rome, Italy, August 2007
San Andres, Colombia, November 2009
New York City, New York, October 2009
Some plaza in Florence, Italy, August 2009
Chicago, Illinois, August 2008
Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2006
Fort Meyes, Florida, March 2008
Keith Urban concert, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2007
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, May 2009
You don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it.

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
[Ansel Adams]

When words become unclear, I shall focus on photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
[Ansel Adams]
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