March 20, 2012

A Wee Bit O' Irish in Colombia

On Monday of this week I had the day off from school for the Feast Day of St. Joseph, observed by Christians around the world, in celebration of the Virgin Mary's husband. While I am not really sure what Colombians do to commemorate this national holiday besides go to mass, it was a holiday nonetheless.

On Saturday night, we celebrated a different saint here in our apartment with less Christian-observation and more green-beer-drinking.  It all started when our friend Sam suggested via a Facebook message to Kelsi and I that "someone" host a St. Patrick's Day party. We got the hint and decided to step up, despite both of us having to be at school by 7:00 AM on Sunday morning for the Destination Imagination tournament. I sent out this adorbs picture of Neil Patrick Harris' (AKA Barney Stinson's) twin babies dressed up for St. Patrick's Day to get our friends in the spirit and we went about brainstorming green foods and drinks.

Thankfully Sam stepped up and helped with some DIY green shirts and of course we invited Cassie because she looks up awesome themed treats online, makes them, and then shares. In the end we ended up with a sampler platter of green tortilla espanola, rainbow cupcakes, a rainbow fruit platter, chocolate wrapped as gold coins, guacamole, green beer and grasshoppers. Yum!

The evening ended up being mostly relaxing girl-talk and eating while we waited for the boys to show up two hours later. Once they got here, projector in hand we spent about an hour watching March Madness games projected on a wall of our apartment.  In the end we headed out to an English pub in Cali, only to find it CLOSED! so we pretty much called it a night and prepared for our 6:30 wake up call. Overall, a relaxing, fun, green-filled St. Patrick's Day!

Jess, Sam, Kelsi, me & Cassie in our newly painted shirts!

March 19, 2012

On Solo Dates: Finding Balance Between Busy & Lonely

I said in March I would fulfill my 2012 goal to go on a solo date by myself, so this past Saturday I did just that. I woke up on Saturday morning to an empty apartment, as Kelsi had already left for the Destination Imagination tournament at school, made my breakfast and waited for the time to leave for yoga.

Here's the thing though. I'm not very good at waiting. Patience might be a virtue, but it isn't really one of mine. Hashtag understatement. I'm hopelessly always five ten fifteen minutes late for things because I don't want to waste my time by showing up early with nothing to do. I'm always trying to squeeze in one more thing before I get there/leave the house. In college, I was totally that girl biking furiously to class, narrowly missing casual walkers on the sidewalks of La Crosse, Wisconsin because once again I took too long to get out of the house/stayed talking to someone at work/stopped to say to a friend/just was late.

On Saturday I learned a new reason why I don't like waiting - it makes me nervous. I thought to myself: I could just stay here and do yoga in my apartment. What if the class is cancelled for whatever reason and I go all the way there just to turn around? What if I feel awkward being the only English speaker without Kelsi and Mandi there with me? What if I cannot figure out how to walk to the restaurant I want to go to for lunch without getting lost in between the twists and turns of Cali neighborhoods?

THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Here I am claiming to be this honest, independent, free-willed, 24-year-old woman and I can't even go to yoga and lunch by myself. That's it. I have to go now. If only to prove to myself that I can. (Patience might not be one of my virtues, but you bet that determination damn well is.)

And so I went. I showed at 10:00 AM for a 10:15 class to find a locked door and no lights on in the studio. I knew it!! Why did I convince myself that this was a good idea? Then a woman in her car on her cell phone asks if I am there for class.  I say yes and she explains the teacher is on her way. Minutes later the teacher shows up, we all go inside, and enjoy a wonderful yoga class with only the five of us. Afterward, the teacher asks how long I have been in Cali, what I do here, etc. Since there are only five of us, we exchange names and stories before parting ways. (Note to self: Introduce yourself to the people you are going to be sweating next to for the next two hours and it makes yoga class much more personal.)

Then I walk myself straight out the door and through the streets of Cali - two blocks uphill and one very giant staircase later and I have reached the next neighborhood without having to go the long way around via the river. Success! Now for some lunch....

The time is 12:30 PM now. Turns out the Liberia Nacional, my lunch spot of choice because we have all been wanting to try it, does not open until 1:00 PM on Saturdays. Awesome. I consider just throwing in the towel and walking to the Subway on the river road. And I almost do. But can you really count it as a solo date if you take yourself to Subway? I think not, so here I am waiting again. I took out my iPod and caught up on the blogs I read - namely the latest headlines from MLB and Twins blogs.

At 1:00 PM I went in, feeling quite awkward that they literally just opened and here I am for lunch 30 seconds later. I proceed to browse the shelves for 10 minutes before my hunger won out, and I sat down to lunch at a table for two. I totally wanted to sit in one of the four person comfy-looking booths but felt as though that might draw more attention to my solo-ness. Maybe next time. So I sat there, ate my chicken/apple/candied walnut/blue cheese salad and drank my frappucino. I read a bit of my book, I'm A Stranger Here Myself, about a man returning to live in the United States after spending 20 years in England. I laughed out loud to myself at the funny parts. I reflected on what it will be like for me to live back in the United States after three full years of just visiting. I people-watched and made up stories in my head about what their lives are like. I didn't check my email. I didn't text anyone. I didn't make conversation with anyone besides the waiter. I didn't try to fit in my bites of food around the flow of conversation.

At home later that day I told Kelsi all about my solo date - how I almost didn't go and then realized how silly that was because it was awesome! I realized that while I love to spend time with the people I love and care about, I also love spending time with me. I realized that I don't do that as often as I need to because I am scared of feeling lonely. In a world of constant connectedness and communication, I am still scared of feeling lonely without another person there in the flesh.

Now I get it. This is why I am so busy. This is why I go to bed every night an hour two hours later than I should. This is why I never say no when a friend asks me for help with something. This is why I have Skype dates that start at 9:00 PM on weeknights. This is why I say "yes" to 99% of the things that are asked of me. This is why I take on responsibilities at school and refuse to delegate, even though I could.  This why everyday I feel like I can barely catch my breath as I run from place to place. This is why I leave my door open for students to come talk to me during break and lunch, even though technically it is my break and lunch time as much as it is theirs. This is why I usually work through my lunch hour even when students don't come in to ask me questions. This is why I have a Google calendar that syncs to my iPod, so I don't forget any of the commitments I have made. This is why I have a constant to do list - separated into "life" things and school things, inside my school agenda at all times.

It's 2012 and we're all busy people. We like being busy. The busy is what helps us lead full, happy, successful lives. The busy comforts us and reminds us that we are needed and cared for. That people love us and want to spend time with us.

But the busy is always what makes us stressed out, tired, exhausted, rundown, frustrated, impatient, worried, etc. And at 24 years old, I am not ready to make a commitment to a life that looks like that more often than not. I do not ever plan to list "frantically busy" amongst my best qualities, but instead I would like to say I arrive as a whole, rested, relaxed person to each new endeavor. That transition is probably going to take a million little baby steps, but it is one I feel 100% committed to for my life. In order to be the best me I can be, the best friend, daughter, sister, teacher, girlfriend, granddaughter, cousin, and godmother I can be - something's gotta give, you know? So for me, in 2012 that thing that's gotta give, or in this case gotta go, is my habit to be busy all the time and thus spread myself so thin that each thing or each person gets a second-rate version of me.

Cause I just spent a day with the first-rate version of me, and she's pretty awesome. :)

Now, excuse me while I go on a lunch/movie date with Kelsi - because every good solo date/solo day/solo time leads to a better adventure with the people we love.

Happy Monday!
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