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It’s cool, I’ve got plans anyway. July 30, 2008

Posted by Sparkel in realizations, to friend or not to friend, traveling.
2 comments

I love being in the mood to make proactive changes and get stuff done. I polished my resume and applied to six jobs yesterday. I cleaned the crap out of my kitchen and bathroom (and pretended not to notice when the kitchen later looked like a tornado (made up of food and silverware) blew through it), managed to eat exactly according to my new fancy diet plan, have gone to the gym every day, made a colorful and extremely convoluted budget using Excel, which came in handy when I decided that my gift to M for when he finished grad school next June will be a week-long trip to…somewhere. I’m deciding between Greece, Brazil, Puerto Rico or just going on a cruise. I’m setting aside a substantial sum each month that I can afford whether or not I get a better-paying job. And I feel GOOD.

I also came to the conclusion yesterday (which was reached in part due to the lovely and oh so helpful comments from yesterdays post that confirmed what I already felt) that I’m tired of chasing people. I’m tired of trying to better my relationship with people, or go out of my way, or beg people to hang out with me. The fact is, I know exactly who the people in my life are. I know when I’m being crapped on, or when someone is giving less than I give them. The funny thing is that it’s usually the people who are the most insincere and quickest to disappear who insist you’re their BFF forever and ever and you just mean oh so much to them. (*Barf*)

I don’t like realizing that someone is more important to me than I am to them. Especially when it’s already in the back of my mind and about more than one person. It’s bothered me more than I let on, and I’m just sick of chasing things that will forever remain just out of reach. I’m sick of working up the courage to let someone know something’s bothering me only to have them resent me for thinking they’re less than perfect. I’ve come to the sad conclusion that there are situations where confrontations do no good because some people don’t want to hear the truth about themselves. They don’t care that they hurt you, they don’t care that you’re inconvenienced. If they did, they wouldn’t do a lot of things in the first place.

It sucks because it’s lonely by yourself. But honestly, it’s lonely either way, and my time is better spent on better people.

Adventures in Luray July 7, 2008

Posted by Sparkel in I kinda love my life, M, traveling.
1 comment so far

Apologies for the semi-depressing last post. I’ve been in a funk for a while, but I’ve decided to jet-propel myself out of it.

This weekend helped some. M has been talking about going to Luray Caverns for months, and we finally went Saturday. I figured we really only needed a day to get there (2 hours) take the tour, stop by Skyline Drive on the way back for a few hours, and then drive home, but M really wanted to stay overnight, so we did. Actually M wanted to stay all three days, but I a) couldn’t and b) thought it was overkill. We moseyed our way through the tiny town of Luray, got some grub, then saw the caverns. They were pretty impressive and all, but does it bother anyone else when “natural wonders” are made completely commercialized? There were light fixtures all over the place, and the floor is paved. The final straw for M and I was when one of the tour guides turned an organ on from a switch inside one of the stalagmite formations. I mean, what the hell? Who wires stalagmite? We just cracked up. Also, the tour guides? Utterly useless. One girl took five minutes to shine a flashlight on two stones to not only tell you that they resembled a “sheep dog” and “flying camel” (?), but she took the time to point out “the leg………….the other leg………the tail………..” It was ridiculous. Nothing about how it formed, what will happen while they still form, even details on how they turned it into the tourist trap that it is. Just “this is what we think this looks like. Neato, huh?”

Also, does anyone else get aggravated at people en masse? I’m not trying to come off like a serial killer or anything, but every time I’m around more than say, twenty people at a time, I feel angry and annoyed by every little thing that everyone does. They tell you all over the caverns to not touch the formations, and everywhere you look some idiot is caressing one of them. There are these beautiful pools all over the place that are filled with coins. COINS! This is made even more incredulous by the fact that there’s a designated part of the caverns that is called a wishing well and is meant for people to throw coins, but apparently the visitors are not only too stupid, but have just waaay too much money. “Oh honey, look, a puddle. Surely we can toss $10 in pennies inside, and all our wishes will come true!” By the end of the tour I was just wishing for blinders and felt some not-so-secret satisfaction when a kid whacked his head on a guard rail while he leaned over to rub a stone.

Either I’m not fit for society, or society is not fit for my admittedly-high standards. (AKA common sense and respect for others.)

We went to Skyline Drive yesterday and M wanted to see a waterfall. So he saw a sign that he swears said “something-something-falls,” so we stop and start walking. Three and a half miles later we arrive at a stream that sorta-kinda-but-not-really flows down through a few rocks at one point. I don’t know if M’s waterfall was just farther down or in fact imaginary. All I know is that hiking the three miles back uphill while on meds pretty much sucked. I think I lost a lot of M’s admiration and respect due to my constant huffing and puffing and “can. we. PLEAAAAASE. STOP!?” and “WHY OH WHY DO I LISTEN TO YOUUU?” rants. He offered to carry me piggy-back, probably assuming that the normally sweet and stubborn and “oh no, you take the last piece” loving girlfriend he thought he knew would insist on walking so as not to put him out. Because when I stopped and grinned for the first time in an hour and charged at him with a gleam in my eye, he had the nerve to stick his hands out, eyes wide with horror, and push me away insisting “see, you just ran! I knew you had it in you! Come on we’re almost there!”, then walked on at a faster pace, assuming that my rage at his piggy-back teasing and subsequent sudden NEED to kick him would cause me to practically chase him to the car. There’s no drug like adrenaline? No. There’s no drug like “I’m going to KILL. YOU.” womanly anger.

I realize I didn’t make it seem like it, but the weekend was a lot of fun. We also saw Wall E (so! cute!) and bonded even more (which didn’t seem possible.) And needless to say, we’re both happy to be home.  Though whenever I go on a trip, even one a mere two hours away for two days, I sort of expect time to stand-still while I’m gone.  So when M woke me up at 6:15 this morning and said “we gotta go,” I squinted at him and angrily demanded “where?!”  M: “…work…”  Me: *blink blink*  “What happened to Sunday?”  *pause* Ohhh the hike…”  Nuff said.

Hope you had a good weekend too!

How I know I’m just a little sheltered April 24, 2008

Posted by Sparkel in traveling.
4 comments

M just called to ask if I wanna go to a Wizards game tonight. Me going out on Office nights is frankly unheard of, especially for a sports event (not my cup of tea) but he’s excited so I complied. M works in DC, so he said it makes sense for him to go to the game straight from his job.

Now, calling back to my last post, I SERIOUSLY entertained thoughts of going to Europe by myself for years. I would travel around, make friends, and come back a new person. Easy as pie.

So why then, when M suggests I meet him in DC, did I go straight into “omg, BY MYSELF on the METRO??? Just me??? ALONE???” mode?

Oh world…much as it pains me to say, I don’t think we’re ready for eachother yet.

The Trip January 8, 2008

Posted by Sparkel in traveling.
2 comments

Where to begin…

We got to the airport at Tegucigalpa in Honduras. It was tiny compared to the airports in DC. We met M’s brother, his brother’s wife, and friend, and they took us to a fast food place to get lunch. Then we drove for three hours to get to M’s brothers house in San Miguel, El Salvador. Honduras is beautiful. There are mountains everywhere you look. I was expecting more people and more houses, and while there were a lot of people, for the most part there was just open land. It was a nice change from living where they build condos on top of buildings.

We spent the rest of the first day relaxing and talking at M’s brothers. His mom was there, along with his brothers two kids. One of the kids is an adorable one-year-old named Sofia, who talks a little. She says “no mono!” (mono is a cute word they use for “kid”) or “dejale mono!” which basically means “leave it (kid.)” She said “dejale mono” to everyone aaaaalll the time. If you picked her up and she wanted to be put down, if you changed the channel when a cartoon was on, if you changed the radio station in the car. She gets very jealous and defensive of her parents, and if anyone hugs her dad while he’s holding her she hits them and says “ai no!!!” She says “ai yai ai” and “uh oh.” She’s a very amusing baby. She called M and I “tio” and “tia” (uncle and aunt), which was very sweet.

We spent the next week at his brothers. They took us to small towns, the beach, and to a river that is on the border of El Salvador and Honduras. We had to walk about two miles down this dirt road to get to it, so M and I were joking that we could tell people that we walked to Honduras. We went swimming in the river, which was FREEZING because the water came from the mountains. There was this really huge rock that some boys were jumping off of into the river, and it looked like fun, so M and I did it too. We went to this bar/club with M’s brother and some of his wife’s family, and there were these amazing dancers who put on a show. At the end of it, they call up a girl and two guys, and the male dancers dance all up on the girl, then the female dancers dance all up on the guys. They called M up, and he was the second guy to go, so one the girls told him to lay down on the stage, and they walked/dance over him and then one girl gave his face a lap dance. He was so embarrassed/happy. It was endearing, mostly because M is so tame and shy when it comes to strippers and things like that. It was a very fun week.

We spent the next week in San Salvador, which is where M and his family grew up. On the way there they warned me that I’d “seen how rich people in El Salvador live, so now [I] was going to see how poor people live.” The house M grew up in was one of many that were attached in rows, one after another. They have three small rooms, a living room, kitchen, and one small bathroom. The floors are made of cement, and all the houses have bars so the windows don’t get stolen. They technically have running water, but it only “comes twice a day,” so there is a back room in each house that has a humongous cement sink that you fill up when the water comes. You use that water for everything, including the shower, which frankly kinda blew my mind. You fill up a large bucket, then use a smaller bowl to pour the water on yourself. I felt almost ashamed of how privileged I’ve been throughout my life.

M has a large family who still lives there. His aunt, her husband, and one of his cousins lives in a house around the corner with their three kids. Oh those kids…I fell in love with them. One was a girl named Camilla…she’s nine and seriously the sweetest kid you will ever meet. She tried to translate for me when someone said something I didn’t understand (she knows a little English, but mostly just repeated what was said much more slowly, which was cute.) She held my hand all the time, and played with my hair and did my makeup one night. The other two kids are boys. One is named Antonio, and he’s unbelievably nice. We took them to see the Bee Movie (in Spanish! And I understood a lot of it!!), and M told me that Antonio “invited [him] over for a coke,” proudly announcing that he had $8. So sweet.

We spent New Years lighting fireworks in front of the house. It’s apparently the tradition there for everyone to come out of their houses and do their own fireworks. There were some huge ones in the distance too. It was a really fun night. Unfortunately all of the dust from the fireworks gave me a really bad cold the next day. I also got an ear infection because we went swimming in a fresh water reservoir thing. (My immune system’s way of reminding me that I am, in fact, a weak gringa 😀 )   Thankfully M’s brother and his brothers wife are both doctors, so they gave me about six different kinds of medicine. We spent the night I was sick at another one of his cousins’ house, which was gorgeous. Then his cousin took M and I to seriously the most perfect beach I’ve ever been to. It was behind this little restaurant called “La Dolce Vita,” and the beach was almost untouched. There were maybe three people. We laid on the beach, then ate fish at the restaurant while they played soft Brazilian music. It was probably the most soothing day there.

We did other things too…mainly visited little towns and went shopping. I have so many pictures. I will never forget the trip. It was so eyeopening. I understood M’s culture, which is so different from my own. Everything is so family oriented. Everyone crammed into M’s moms house the first night we were there…sharing beds, sleeping on the hard floor…and none of them seemed to mind. It feels cliched to say “they have so little, but they’re rich at heart,” but seriously…they are. M’s brother and his wife are wealthier, and they’ve alway struck me as greedy and self-centered. Their son is the same age as the other kids, and he is spoiled rotten. He literally won’t pay attention to you unless you buy him something. He has an allowance, and M’s brother was saying that the kid has over $200 saved because he’s so cheap. His parents got him a Wii for Christmas, and when we all came back to their house this past weekend he refused to let the other kids play. The first time I said anything remotely angrily was to tell him to let the kids play too. He pouted and I think his dad even got mad that I yelled at his kid, but I really didn’t care. He kissed up to M and I when we were buying snacks at the movie even though his dad gave him money specifically for the trip. Little Antonio smiled proudly and handed me the $5 from his $8, and refused to let me give it back. It took serious effort to not burst into tears on the spot. There wasn’t one dinner or outing that they didn’t offer money to help. Camilla and her mom kept giving me hair clips and necklaces as gifts. When we left, they all sent little cheese or bread they made because it was all they could afford to send and they “couldn’t sent nothing.” M tried to give them money to help them out, and they all refused. M said that they have nothing but their pride and each other. I learned a lot from them.

I also understand why so many people come here illegally. I’ve always sympathized with the illegal immigrants, but witnessing first hand that so many are poor and they cannot find jobs because there are no jobs because the government does not take care of them. So many have college degrees and are underemployed. And the waiting list to get a visa is ten years. Ten years is an awful long time to be unemployed when you have a family to feed. And I realized how hard it must be when they come. It’s such a different life and culture. We drove past some coffee fields, and M told me that the workers get out there at 4 am and stay all day. They get paid less than a dollar per pound, and a lot of them bring or send their kids. We saw little kids walking with huge buckets on their heads. It was heartbreaking. And also, put Starbucks in a much less favorable light.

So basically I had a blast. We’ve already decided to stay for longer next time. I’ll update with pictures later!

Back! January 8, 2008

Posted by Sparkel in traveling.
2 comments

I am back from El Salvador!  I’m sleepy as hell right now, but figured I’d post a thanks for the warm wishes for a good trip.  It was amazing. 

I’ll post about it manana (oooh that’s right, who’s officially on their way to being fluent? 😀 )

Getting Ready December 24, 2007

Posted by Sparkel in traveling.
3 comments

Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go.  M’s sister gave us luggage as a Christmas gift, and my bff Jess was kind enough to lend me a big bag, so we’re all set.  I can’t wait until I’m on the beach 😀

I just wanted to post a quick Merry Christmas and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I’ll see y’all in January!