October 16, 2010

August 25, 2010

New Neighbors

I always forget Gainesville is a real town with permanent residents. There are families and children and pets and people who don't even step foot on campus during the day. Crazy! One of these "real" Gainesville families lives next door to us in the new apartment. There is a mom, a dad, and a couple of kids running around. And I'm pretty sure they're pirates.

Ok maybe not pirates, but I'm pretty sure they're looking for treasure.

Alright it's probably not that either. But why else would they be hammering the walls at all hours of the day?

Let's stick with searching for buried treasure, savvy?

August 24, 2010

1 Day Down - 1,000,000 To Go

I successfully survived my first day of nursing school! Woo!

I accompanied PDubbs on his first Gainesville Bus experience from my apartment. Luckily we're one of the first few stops on the bus route. The people from our stop filled up all the seats, and two stops later, all the standing room was taken too! It was awful watching people waiting at bus stops along the way. The look of excitement as they see the bus coming and the mad-scramble to find their IDs. But very quickly that excitement fades to dejection as the bus doesn't slow down and they can finally read the "FULL BUS" marquee. I know from personal experience that once one bus passes you by, your day is downhill from there, my friends.

Been there. Done that.

Since PDubbs class started earlier than mine, I arrived to my class a fashionable 1.5 hours early. And instead of wandering aimlessly around trying to find the room, I hopped into the library and looked up a floorplan to the building online. SCORE! No more looking like a lost puppy!

Side note: speaking of lost puppies, freshmen have infiltrated the UF campus. They can be seen traveling in mobs, heading into Gator Dining and running into people as they obscure their vision with big-ol' campus maps.

All in all, the lectures weren't so bad. Granted, it wasn't a lot of new content but it was still A LOT of content - I took over 30 pages of notes for Patho alone! But the professor is awesome and makes everything simple, clear and almost fun. I'm looking forward to our 3-hour clinical orientation today :)

Dr. B and J are heading back to school today!

First of all, when did Dr. B get so old?! He's already heading to the 7th grade. Hopefully he won't follow in his oldest sister's footsteps and decide it's really cute to wear toe-socks with capris. I apologize for the lackluster words of wisdom but that's all I really remember from 7th grade. I try to repress most memories from that era!

And when did J decide it was OK for her to up and go to college? Doesn't she know that she's still that little girl in pigtails who liked to do Jane Fonda workouts? That same girl who dressed up as Dorothy for Halloween for 3 years? The one preferred to pick grass on the soccer field instead of kicking the ball?

Kids these days.

August 22, 2010

The Bane of My Existence

If I never see a moving box again, it will be too soon. It seems like that's all we've done this summer. But we moved PDubbs into his new digs yesterday, just in time for classes to start tomorrow!

After christening the new apartment, I spent my entire Sunday afternoon wrapping my ahead around the week to come. Between researching textbooks, jotting more dates in my planner and trying to find cute white nonporous nursing shoes (btdubs, they don't exist), I worked up quite an appetite. Just in time for dinner with the new roommates, Lydia & Jessica!

Lydia is the girlfriend of PDubb's friend and roommate. She went to the same high school as PDubbs and is from our area. She roomed with Jessica last year and they hit it off. Jessica also did the IB program - YAY IB! We went to Pita Pit and ended up talking for almost 2 hours. It was a great way to spend the last night of summer :)

As of tomorrow morning at 9:35 AM, I will officially be a student in the College of Nursing. This time tomorrow, I will have logged 4 hours of Pathophysiology lecture and another 2 hours of Communication & Health Assessment! And I will officially be back from my 7-month hiatus as a UF student. Hopefully my study habits come back to me - the habits I haven't used since December!

Hope everyone is enjoying their last few days of summer. It's been a strange summer but I wouldn't have changed a thing!

Besosssss

August 19, 2010

Filling It In

There is no blank space in my planner. The end.

August 18, 2010

Orientationing

Today was the first day of Orientation for the UF College of Nursing! It was a great way to learn about the program, see the facilities and get to know the people I'll be working with for the next 2 years! I'm so excited for the future and progressively getting more nervous as the hours pass.

But it was a taxing day between being bombarded by information (HIPAA, OSHA, BBP, OPMI, CON, GNAP - so many acronyms, so little time!) and working right afterwards. PDubbs had a busy day, too; for his chemistry research, he had to take a safety training seminar/course/thingy that took all day. He got to use a fire extinguisher and put out a small fire! [Edit: PDubbs informs me that it was a huge fire and it almost engulfed the library. Thank goodness he was there!] After busy days like this, it's always nice to work together in the kitchen to create a yummy dinner. Tonight it was steak (medium-rare, thanks), potatoes and stewed tomatoes. Yum!

I feel like I'm cheating at this blogging thing by posting short and useless posts because I'm too tired to expend any more energy. But I only set out to post every day and I've done that so far with the exception of move-in day when I didn't have internet. Woo!

Today I'll leave you with some interesting facts about the nursing profession. I'll tell you more about the program I'm about to jump into more later when I can actually wrap my brains around it :)

-For 8 consecutive years, the Gallup Poll has rated Nursing as the Most Trusted Profession. About 83% of Americans believe nurses' honesty and ethical standards are "high" or "very high".

-Florence Nightingale was also a renowned statistician. She was especially talented in visual presentation and statistical graphics. She created the polar area diagram, also called the Nightingale rose diagram, which is now commonly used in statistics today.

-In the 17th century, nurses had a reputation for being drunk and obnoxious. It was considered a low job in the social hierarchy.

-The profession gets its roots from both religious and military training.

-By 2015, nurse practitioners will be required to have their Doctorate of Nursing Practice or PhD.

-Scrubs are comfy.

August 17, 2010

Purple Poo, Lady GaGa and other Weird Things

It's only Tuesday and it's already been a strange week.

1. Today I changed a diaper that was full of purple poop. 'Nuff said.

2. Lady GaGa went to nerd camp. We basically live identical lives, minus the superstar thing.

3. Just like music, PDubbs introduced me to gizmodo.com. It's like yahoo news but with other really weird things.

Tomorrow begins orientation for the nursing program. I'm not nervous (yet) about the orientation - but what should I wear?!

August 16, 2010

Heregoesnothin

PDubbs has eclectic taste in music and he's always listening to something new or finding a new fave band. One of his more recent finds is a 19-year-old kid who calls himself NeverShoutNever!

I'll admit I wasn't much of a fan when PDubbs first played me some of his stuff. But the more I listened, the more I liked.

Like, I really really liked.

And coolest part is that he does everything by himself. He layers his voice and even does harmonies with himself. And even though he probably doesn't have much experience in life or love like most people our age, his lyrics are cute, fun and catchy.

This is the song PDubbs and I listen to every morning on our way to work. It's a great pump-up song, especially when combined with this song by Hellogoodbye. (Warning: NeverShoutNever! is kind of a hippie-weirdo-dork and don't bother watching the Hellogoodbye video - it's weird anime cartoons but the song is catchy!)


August 15, 2010

I'm Lovin' It

Ikea, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
Yup.

Mhmm.
Oh yeah.
Uh huh.




Oh, baby.


Oh, my!




Just kidding on that last one :)

August 14, 2010

Facts & Figures

1460
the number of miles from Gainesville to Denver

686
the number of days since PDubbs asked me to be his girlfriend

498
the number of hours until Gator football begins

143
the number of posts I have on this blog

44.5
the number of hours I worked this week

24.76
the amount we saved at Publix today

9.27
the amount we pay when PDubbs and I eat at Moe's

6
the number of days my family has owned a dog

3
the number of baths I have taken in my new apartment

2
the number of boxes of Cheezit Party Snack Mix we bought today

1
the number of illegal bunnies living in my apartment

0
the number of times I have won a giveaway on thepioneerwoman.com

August 13, 2010

Boo


Boo! Happy Friday :)

August 12, 2010

Awkward Middle School

Brace yourself for one of the most awkward and uncomfortable pictures of all times.








Are you ready for it?















Are you sure?













100% absolutely, positively, super duper prepared?













Don't say I didn't warn you!











Ta-Da!

This gem was taken moments before our 8th grade dance. Here are some of my favorite awkward aspects:

-Claire and I sporting the universal sign of discomfort: the forearm grab across chest
-The fact that 50% of subjects have their eyes closed
-12-year-olds wearing high heels. 'Nuff said.
-Shawls all around!
-Awesome posing. Between Lydia's half-squat, Becca's half-turn and Melissa's sorority pose, we look good!
-And don't forget about poor William sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce on the ground. I'm pretty sure boys still have cooties in 8th grade.

But the really cool thing about 8th graders is that, despite all of the awkwardness, they still look pretty adorable!

August 11, 2010

What a Sweetheart

WORK WORK WORK. I've already worked nearly 30 hours this week and each of those hours has been quite a struggle. Like I said, most substitutes went home for the two weeks before school starts. This means that there are way less people covering all of their shifts. Every room has been having trouble - the teachers are stressed because the subs aren't familiar with each class's routine, the kids are stressed because they don't recognize the subs which further stresses out the teachers and so on. It's been exhausting but it has also made for a very interesting and rewarding week so far!

But since I'm so frigging tired, I'm gonna brag about what a great boyfriend I have.

-He deep-cleaned my condo for me. After I had a messy sublettee during the spring semester, I returned from Spain to a disgusting bedroom and bathroom. I had planned to make a day of cleaning the place up, but when I showed up, it was already clean! This was the best present I could have ever asked for - it was so thoughtful and sweet!!
-He has helped me move. From moving my life into a storage unit to relocating it to my new apartment. He even helped me and my family move J into her new dorm. He's been a great help this summer.
-He's letting me use his big ol' TV. And we can now enjoy cable television in my new apartment. Oh, how I've missed you, Food Network!!!
-He shares my love of Food Network and food in general. 'Nuff said.
-He cooked me dinner tonight. After a long day at work, I could hear my stomach growling on my way home on the bus. When I walked in my apartment, I was greeted with a hug and the smell of creamy alfredo. He's the best :)
-His name is really fun to write. Like any teenage twenty-year-old girl, I enjoy signing my first name with his last name like we were married. So many strange and unusual letters to practice!

There are a kajillion other reasons why he's so awesome but I'll save those for another time. Happy Hump Day, guys!

August 10, 2010

Breaking News

Fudgesicles still taste good after they have melted, turned into amorphic blobs, and refreeze.

That is all.

August 09, 2010

5 Pounds

We just received our first delivery at the new apartment!

PDubbs ordered 5 lbs of Haribo gummy bears. Party at the crib!

BYOTP (Bring Your Own Tooth Paste - you're going to need it!)

August 08, 2010

Glad That's Done

Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday! We're figuring out stuff with our internet but I'm back in business today :)

These past 24 hours have been INsane.

After blogging Friday night, Pdubbs and I finished packing up his apartment. Since he had to be all moved out by noon, we loaded up the cars to expedite the process a little. While we were packing up his stuff inside, we saw a helicopter with a searchlight circling the area - not something you see everyday! Later, when we were shoving his life into our cars, 4 police cars were surrounding a car in the parking garage where he was parked. And they were still there 2 hours later!

We woke up early Saturday morning to pack up some final things, met my parents at the storage unit, and went to move into my new apartment! We were lucky that the weather in Gainesville decided to throw us a bone for once and delay the rain until after everything was already moved in. For the past two years, it has rained every time we try to move!

I'm so grateful to my family and PDubbs for helping me with everything. I honestly couldn't have done any of it without their help! Dr. Brother even did his part and provided some comic relief during lunch at Panera, where we ran into some friends from my U-12 soccer team. It never fails to amaze how often I see people I know in Gainesville. UF is huge but it seems like everyone I know is here!

Back to the job grind bright and early tomorrow morning. Now that classes are over, most of the other substitute teachers have gone home for the last two weeks of summer. I'm bummed that my new friends won't be working with me but it also means I'll be working lots and lots of hours. And lots of hours means more money to buy cute scrubs :)

August 06, 2010

Huh?

I'm sure the image of the Quizno's Rat/Prairie Dog/Raccoon/Roadkill Thing from a few years ago is burned into your cerebrum. (Here's a link if you need a refresher!)

Their advertising geniuses are at it again with this gem of a commercial. I realize this is the second video of a kitten I've posted this week, but this one is not so cute.




Um.




What just happened?

I have a hard time believing this is the work of qualified college graduates. (And I really really hope I'll be more effective at my job after my college education!) Is this supposed to go viral? Be artsy & creative? Or just downright annoying? I just don't see any merit in this type advertising scheme. The creepy meat juice already freaks me out but now a commercial of dancing kittens singing off-key? I can think of a ton of better places to spend my 5, 4 or 3 bucks. But what do I know?

But enough ranting and negativity. I'm so glad it's the weekend - my family is coming early tomorrow morning to help me move into my new digs! I can't believe classes start in about 2 weeks. It should be interesting since I haven't studied since December :)

What are your plans for the weekend?

August 05, 2010

Baby Steps

Hi, my name is Megan and I'm a Telephonolaliophobic.

I have a weird fear/ anxiety of talking on the phone. I put off phone calls as long as humanly possible. I break out into a cold sweat. Words kinda slur out of me like a drunken sailor. Needless to say, I text or email whenever possible.

And yes, I do understand the importance of telephones. They provide a fast, simple and cheap way to communicate with the world. Their use is practice and essential for all types of environments and situations. But I just don't like 'em.

Today I went to work expecting a day just like any other day. Everything was going swimmingly for the first half-hour or so until I got a call about staying later. See, the way they trick is by asking you if you want to pick some more hours. Who wouldn't say no to that? I rarely ever do, and today was no exception.

But you don't know what you're signing up for. They don't really tell you until after you agree in what room you'll be staying or even how long. Today was no exception.

Our preggo secretary called in sick today. She and the baby are OK but someone had to answer the phone. So guess who got to play Pam Beesley-Halpert for the day?

For the most part, Pam's portrayal does not begin to demonstrate the complete boredom I experienced today. I had a useless computer sitting on the desk in front of me that I couldn't use because I'm not an authorized full-time employee. So there it sat, just taunting and teasing me for 5 hours. That bitch.

But I much preferred those moments of quiet time to the anxiety-ridden moments when I had to answer a phone and talk to a human being. And due to my anxiety, I have avoided telephones like the plague and have therefore never learned how to work a lot of a standard phones functions like putting on hold, transferring calls, etc. And unfortunately, all of these things are highly important to a secretary, who acts like the hub of all incoming and outgoing phone calls.

5 hours later, after a couple botched transfers and a scavenger hunt through the hospital, I came out of the office unscathed (besides some shaken nerves). Even though it sucked at the time, I'm glad I kept at it and saw it out until the end. I've fallen into such a routine lately that it was good to step out of my comfort zone and shake things up. And it temporarily diminished my fear of phones - what a life improvement!

After work tomorrow, PDubbs and I will be packing up his apartment for our 4th move of the summer out of our 6 total. And after that, we'll get to enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer before classes start again. Where has the summer gone? Scratch that, where has this year gone?

Hope everyone is having a perfectly lovely week. Anyone have any exciting plans for the weekend?

August 04, 2010

Kind Words

One of the teachers in the 2-year-old room at the daycare has been out sick the past few days. Since I just have a one-hour shift early in the morn, I was asked to pick up her shifts.

I'm pretty familiar with the kids but there's a lot that goes into taking care of those kids, which takes time. Since I'm relatively new, I'm still figuring out the routine and details that go with the job. Like with any job, it can get a little overwhelming. Throw in the fact that you're in charge of taking care of someone else's human and you've got a party!

In the past few days I've learned that two-year-olds are difficult. They're like "almosts" of childhood. They almost understand grown-up talk but not entirely. They're almost fully-coordinated. They're almost potty-trained. I'm not going to lie - it's been rough.

But it's all worth it when you make a breakthrough and the kiddo opens up to you. I walked in the room this morning and was greeted by a chorus of "Miss Megan!" One of them even ran across the room to give me a big bear hug. Hearing those words was a great pick-me-up at 8 AM.

Later during nap time, one of the full-time teachers and I were talking about the day thus far and general life things. She asked me about school and what I was studying. I asked her about her baby-on-the-way and her experience at the daycare. During our conversation, she told me I was doing a good job with the kids. My inner people-pleaser rejoiced!

Even though I know I'm far from perfect in my job it was still awesome to be recognized for hard work. Just a few kind words like that can really turn someone's day around. We're always commending children for a job well done, even if it's something as mundane as pushing in a chair or saying "please" or "thank you". And that's great - it encourages them to continue that behavior. But grown-ups need some encouragement sometimes, too!

I'm going to try to compliment someone everyday. It might seem silly and probably a bit hippie-ish but if it makes people feel better about themselves, who cares?

More than halfway through the week, folks! Hope everyone had a great Wednesday :)

August 03, 2010

Drawing a Blank

I got nothing today - 9.5-hours with a bunch of 2-year-olds is totally draining me of any creativity or energy. Sorry, guys!

To make up for my lethargy, enjoy this video of a cute kitten!

August 02, 2010

Social Norms

Let's say you have a 25-minute walk to work every morning. And let's say that at different points along this 25-minute walk, you pass the same people.

Is it socially acceptable to say good morning and/ or make small talk with these people in passing?

I ask this because Barney's lessons in manners didn't quite prepare me for this situation.



On one hand, these people are a part of our daily lives and we are a part of their lives. We share a common human experience of walking in the same spot of the world everyday. We recognize each other and we're aware of an intimate part of their daily routine. Plus, communicative interaction is one thing that sets us apart from most of the rest of the animal kingdom.

But then again, it's a little uncomfortable, don't ya think? It's not like you're going to stop your commute to work to have a meaningful convo with these people. You don't even know their names! They could be a Level 10 Creeper for all you know. If you do say anything more than "Good morning", the person is likely to have already walked past you, making conversation even more difficult.

Personally, I think a quick "hello" is plenty. It's polite and concise and far better than ignoring the person's existence all together. But anything more than that is a little too creepy for me. Did you hear that, creepy-middle-age-man-that-walks-by-me-every-morning? Commenting on something scrawled across my chest is not appropriate, even if it is my place of work.

What do you think?

August 01, 2010

Let's Do This

I know I've been slacking at this whole blogging thing. Again. I just feel like I haven't had much to blog about lately - wake up, work, eat, work out, sleep, repeat. But a lot is happening this month so I've decided to document it daily through this blog thingy. Hopefully I can pick it up as a habit and work it into my daily or almost-daily routine! We'll see how it goes :)

Today J moved into her temporary dorm at FSU! She's up there in Tallahassee at this very moment with her 3 new roommates, who are also freshman soccer studs. The fam picked PDubbs and I up this morning to complete the final 2.5 hours of the drive to our rival school. After a quick lunch at Bruegger's Bagels (we need one in Gainesville ASAP!), we checker her into her new dorm.

As far as college dorms go, this is pretty freaking nice. Each girl has her own room complete with bed, desk, and dresser. There's also 2 bathrooms, a common area, and a full kitchen! They really spoil them before throwing them into the normal dorms after their 2-week preseason training, which begins later this week.

I remembered all of the excitement and nervousness I felt as my family dropped me off that first day. And that incredible sense of hope that comes along with an unknown future. While her status as a student athlete make her circumstances quite different from mine, I bet she's feeling those same things right now! I'm so excited to see where her adventures take her :)

But even though her schedule will be packed between balancing soccer, school and living life, she won't be a complete stranger this semester. I'm going to try to go to as many games as I can - I'm especially looking forward to the FSU vs. UF game on September 10th! I'll be that girl from the Swamp cheering for the Noles!

And just like when we moved into Hume that faithful day in 2008, it began to pour as we said our goodbyes. But this time my parents went home with one kid as they dropped PDubbs and I off after a yummy sushi dinner. Not to worry - Dr. B won't be an only child for long. Puppy Day is only a coupe of weeks away :)

June 24, 2010

Obvi

I can't believe I left out such an important detail in my last post. Like, epically important and exciting and cool.

I got into the Nursing program at UF!

I've been waiting and waiting to hear back since I turned in my application in December. We were initially supposed to find out back in May but they kept pushing the date back. And back. And back.

I had heard that a few people had received their packets by last Friday but I was still anxiously awaiting mine. I knew I had the grades and I thought I nailed the application but I was still worried about my lack of volunteering experience. In a program that had over 600 applicants, only 100-120 were accepted. In that competitive atmosphere, experience in the field can really make it or break it between evenly-matched applicants.

I got a text from my good friend from high school, Affy, early Friday afternoon saying she got accepted. I was so excited for her and quickly texted her back, congratulating her for all of her hard work she's done the past year to get her grades up. While I was totally excited for her, I was also anxious about my own fate. She texted me back asking if I had heard anything but I didn't respond. I figured the packet would be sent to my home address instead of my Gainesville address; I didn't want to be disappointed by asking someone at home to check!

Fortunately, my dad called me 10 minutes after hearing from Affy telling me that I got in! I was so relieved and excited and elated all at the same time. I know it will be tough but I think my experience in IB has prepared me for the marathon ahead of me. I can't wait to start in August!

Catching Up

So much has happened since the last time we met! The biggest change in my life is that I moved back up to Gainesville last week to begin my new job. Like any new job, it's a little scary and intimidating at first, especially since I'm responsible for someone else's children! The kids are so much fun and there is never a dull moment. Of course I've made some mistakes along the way, but that's how you learn, am I right?

Right?

Moms & J just got back yesterday morning from a week of galvanting around Baton Rouge for a Regional soccer tournament. All of the State Champs from the southeast region competed to become Regional Champs and earn a ticket to the coveted National Championship. I know they worked their butts off to win the State Championship a few weeks ago and Regionals were like icing on the cake. They did awesome, making it out of group play and all the way to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual Regional Champs in a 1-0 heartbreaker in the last 3 minutes of the 2nd overtime. They went farther than any other team from Florida has gone in their age group and they had a helluva ride! I'm so proud of my little sis :)

And finally, the good ol' US of A pulled off a killer win over Algeria. Their win yesterday morning puts them in first place in Group C, which is a pretty big deal. They play Ghana on Saturday, which is also the wedding day of our good family friend, Chicken! I love watching this team AND weddings so Saturday has all the workings of a fabulous day.

Hope everyone is having a great week - it's almost the weekend!

June 17, 2010

Soccer & South Africa

Last Saturday, we attended a USA Watch Party at Chandy and Tammy's house. I always love seeing their smiley faces and it was awesome to have a throwback party to the days of the 2002 World Cup. Back then we would wake up at the crack of dawn to watch the underdog US team miraculously make it to the quarterfinals as we happily munched on junk food. Those were the days.

Unfortunately, I've barely been able to keep up with the World Cup hysteria this week. Between beginning my new job, taking the requisite naps after said job, and the lack of cable television in my condo, keeping up has been pretty difficult. My fantasy bracket is also shot - I had Spain winning 4-0. Whoops! I'm seriously considering switching all of my picks for the next round to the underdog and hoping everyone else picks the favorites :)

But I have been able to keep with the blogs of some of my closest childhood friends who are currently in South Africa. They're not there as tourists for the WC (even though they managed to score some tickets!!!) or even studying abroad, but helping out the impoverished. And while we're seeing the beautiful new stadiums and a facade of wealth and prosperity, these girls have been able to witness the poorest of the poor that lay just outside the tourist zones. And the government has been putting more and more money into creating tourist infrastructure as their poor live in shantytowns across the countryside. The rich-poor gap is obviously still a huge problem. My friend, Sarah, wrote a really interesting article about just that, and you can check it out here. Both Michelle's and Sarah's blogs chronicle their experiences this foreign world and provide some insight into what's going on there besides soccer.

And it's officially summer here in Gainesville - the weather forecast says it feels like 105° F. I'm already looking forward to hanging out my the pool with Stacy this afternoon :)

June 11, 2010

BSHS c/o 2010


What do these two people have in common?



Besides a tendency to forget to put on a shirt and tattoos supporting their fave World Cup teams? (TODAY! TODAY! TODAY!)


As of Wednesday, they are both officially graduates of this high school!




Congrats to the the best sister a girl ask for! I'm so proud of you and all of your accomplishments. You've grown into beautiful young woman and I can't wait to see where your bright future takes you. I love you!


June 07, 2010

Photo Contest

Last Friday I mentioned a contest sponsored by the UF International Center. It's a contest for students and faculty affiliated with the UFIC and the contestants are asked to submit pictures of their travels abroad that fall under the theme of "Global Culture." It's not a huge scholarship but it would be really neat to be recognized. Plus it would be a good use of my kajillion pictures I took in Spain!

Here are some of my favorite pictures that I took while I was over there. These are all pictures taken with my own little digital camera and then edited with either picnik.com or Photoshop CS4 (I think that's what it's called but I'm not going to pretend like I know what it's named or even what all the little controls do!).

I also provided a little background information as to why I chose each picture. So if one of these guys is way better than the others, feel free to shout it out in a comment :) Thanks!

1. For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ronda, Spain
This picture is attempting to capture the beautiful landscapes surrounding the ancient city of Ronda. Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway are two famous foreigners who fell in love with this view as tourists and continued to vacation there every summer. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was based on an account of the murder of Nationalist sympathizers in Ronda during the Spanish Civil War. They were thrown off a cliff just like the ones in these pictures. Even though they have a pretty morbid past, these mountains and hills are absolutely breathtaking in real life.


2. Nuestro Rey (Our King)
Malaga, Spain
This was taken during the Semana Santa celebrations. Each Catholic church has its own trono of Jesus Christ and another of the Virgin Mary. These tronos are crazy intricate and are carried by armies of men (in Malaga, only one trono is carried by women!). They are carried all over town in a slow procession that lasts for hours. During the year, they are housed in their respective churches, where they remain until the next Semana Santa. This trono is about to make its rounds. It will begin around 8 PM and won't be back until at least 3 AM!


3. Broken Plates
Barcelona, Spain
This was taken in Parc Guell in Barcelona. The park was designed and engineered by Antoni Gaudi, the renowned Catalan artist. He intended for the area to be used as a housing development, but, when no one moved in, he suggested it be changed into a municipal park. It's filled with totally unique structures and spaces, including this serpentine bench that surrounds a huge terrace overlooking the city. The mosaic was actually made from broken plates donated by local Spanish women!


4. If Plates Could Talk
Barcelona, Spain
Same picture, just highlighting some of my fave tiles.


5. Protecting the Parc
Barcelona, Spain
Another picture from Parc Guell and the bench, just from a different angle. You can see the serpentine shape of the bench a little better. Gaudi actually designed the curvature of the bench based on the butt imprint left by a woman in some wet sand. This picture also showcases some of the interesting statues and structures with the silhouette of the lion sticking out of the wall.


6. Faceoff
Malaga, Spain
This photo captures one of the scenes from the bullfight we witnessed on Easter Sunday. The matador pictured is Jose Tomas, one of the best Spain has ever seen. During this brief interlude in fighting, Tomas is assessing the bull's level of energy and taking into account the animal's temperament to determine his next move. I love Tomas in this picture - the outfit, the pride and showmanship in his posture, his intense eye contact with the bull. Everything.


7. Standing Ovation
Malaga, Spain
Another shot of the Easter bullfight. Jose Tomas has just defeated the final bull of the night with amazing skill. He's accepting the crowd's ovation as he makes his way to the center of the ring for his final bow. I get warm fuzzies just looking at this picture because it sums up some of the physical landmarks of Malaga - the Plaza de Toros, the Alcazaba silhouetted in the backgroung, the gorgeous sunset. And then the fact that I got to experience a real bull fight in the company of some great friends just makes it so much sweeter.


8. A Night of Carnaval
Malaga, Spain
Carnaval is the equivalent of Mardi Gras in the United States - the celebration before the beginning of Lent. Cadiz is the most famous center for Carnaval in Spain but Malaga also has its own traditions and celebrations. Most celebrations in Malaga, whether Carnaval, Semana Santa, or Feria, make their way to Calle Larios, pictured above. It's a huge pedestrian avenue, lined with shops and restaurants and paved with the granite and marble taken from the Roman Amphitheater (so they say). Calle Larios is decorated for each holiday with beautiful festive lights that reflect off the smooth walkway, as pictured.

June 04, 2010

Help Wanted

The title of the post has a plethora of meanings for my life right now (I love words that multi-task!). And by a plethora, I really mean 4.

1. JOB
I'm in debt. It's nothing too serious - I decided to take out some student loans to finance my trip to Spain. It was DEFINITELY worth it and I don't regret it for a second. But it means I have to make some sacrifices and work to pay them off. After spending a week in Gainesville filling out a gazillion job applications, I finally landed at least one gig at a daycare center. I start next week and I can't wait! This job is totally perfect because it's working with kids (which I want to do for a living), the hours are super flexible and plentiful, and it's a hop, skip and a jump away from where I will hopefully be taking classes next semester. Hooray for being a productive member of society!

2. HOUSESITTING
J had her 3-day orientation at FSU this week. Both the parentals joined her in Tallanasty - I mean, Tallahassee to soak in the brainwashing that is college orientation. Unfortunately, the only time that worked with her crazy summer schedule was right in the middle of the week when Dr. Brother was still in school. Since my job doesn't start until next week, I was available to housesit. Dr. Brother and I got to enjoy some quality togetherness for the past 3 days, which has included:
  • chocolate crepes for breakfast
  • listening to the MJ morning show
  • Frappe Friday
  • a complete summary of all 3 of the books Dr. Brother is reading at the moment
  • almost killing some kids/ being killed while driving to his school
  • jamming to Usher's "OMG". Actually, Dr. Brother was too embarrassed by my dancing to truly enjoy the jamfest.
I'm so glad I got to hang out with that kid for 3 whole days. It was a really sweet reminder of what a great kid he is. I can't believe he's almost a 7th-grader!

3. HALFER
I want to run a half-marathon in December or January and I'm looking for some running buddies. Any takers? I also plan on fundraising for a charity or organization so stay tuned for more details!

4. POLL
I'm applying for a small scholarship through the UF International Center and I need help deciding which 2 pictures to submit. The theme is "Global Culture". The new header is a little preview, and, in the meantime, here's a link with more information and the photos of past winners that are truly incredible: UFIC Global Culture Photo Contest

We're planning on a relaxing weekend around these parts, including celebrating a special someone's birthday tomorrow! Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend and get to enjoy the beginning of summer fun :)

May 25, 2010

Not Just Another Day

Happy Half-Birthday to Dr. Brother! Today he turns the big 12.5 - 6 months until he can get a Facebook. Watch out, world!

Now off to his first band concert. All day I've been mentally preparing for the sounds of squeaky clarinets, overly ambitious flutes, almost in-tune trumpets and and rockin' drum solos :)

May 11, 2010

A Taste of Spain

Last week, I set out on a day-long process of making croquetas! They sat in the freezer for a few days while we raced around town getting J prom-ready but we finally got to share them as a family last night, along with a yummy tomato dip called Porra Antequera.

These croquetas were really special to me for a number of reasons. Simply put, they represent my experience in Spain. They bring back a chain of memories that fill up a typical day as a student in Spain - from hunger pangs throughout morning classes, to that perfect first bite through the delicate crust into the warm, delicious gooeyness beneath. And then the feeling of complete and utter satiation afterwards and wanting nothing more than to lay down in a food coma. But, begrudgingly, I would walk back to class instead. And from these small moments, I reminisce about long lunches spent watching Karlos Arguiñano with Emma, spending 3 glorious hours in the morning speaking Spanish, running along the Mediterranean Sea, intercambios, and I fall into a straight daydream of those awesome 77 days.

After a semester of hearing Emma and I squealing with delight at the sight of croquetas on our plates at lunch, Maria Jose graciously invited us into her home to teach us how to make these fried balls of heaven. And what began as a cooking lesson turned into a 10-hour marathon of cooking, eating and sharing and my favorite day of the entire adventure.

Emma and I began our day early Sunday morning by getting quite lost on the way to Maria's house and asking several friendly but unhelpful Spanish people for directions. The Spanish are notorious for their direction-giving and they certainly lived up to their name that day! But at least they were friendly!

But we finally made it and were welcomed with open arms and besos. We met Maria Jose's kids and puppy, Honey, and then got right to work! We made the filling for the croquetas, canalones filled with spinach, tuna & pine nuts and smothered in homemade bechamel sauce, fresh mussels with lemon and parsley, and a simple salad made of romaine lettuce and covered in a sauce of fried garlic and olive oil - all before lunch! The whole time we were frantically copying down the recipes in Spanish and taste-testing anything and everything!

We enjoyed lunch with Maria, her daughter and her son, who have both been to the US and speak English wayyyyy better than I speak Spanish. They were all so friendly and welcoming and we feasted on the food we had just made - all with fresh ingredients and made with love. We talked for a bit afterwards as our tummies rejoiced with all of the deliciousness and it was back to the kitchen for us.

While the croqueta filling was still cooling, Maria shared some stories from her past, from her childhood, through heartbreaks, and finally her true happiness in life, her children. She shared some typical Spanish desserts over coffee and tea. She shared her photos and her philosophy for life. She completely opened up her home and made us feel like part of her family. We continued to write down recipes and just enjoy each others' company. After 10 hours of full bellies and great conversations, Emma and I reluctantly took said our goodbyes and headed home. We both sat in complete silence on the bus ride, physically and mentally exhausted from a great day of cooking with a beautiful and strong woman.

And even though they were nowhere near as good as Maria Jose's, they reminded me of that great day and the love that she put into everything she did. I'm sure there was no better way to spend one of my final days in Spain with such great company. It's a day I will never forget and now I'm so glad I get to share some of my life in Spain with my family and friends! And Emma has a great post about it that perfectly captures the day, filled with awesome pictures. Miss you, chica!

May 02, 2010

The Perfect Storm - In the Best Possible Way

This has been a very important past three days for a couple of my favorite people in the world.

1. PDubbs said goodbye to his teens as he hit the big 2-0 on Friday. We celebrated with his super Polish family by going out for some sushi! His sister even drove all the way to Gainesville to surprise him at dinner - precious!

Happy 20th birthday! Love you, kiddo!

2. After 2 years of living on-campus in tiny, squished, and claustrophobic dorms, PDubbs finally made the switch to a real apartment on Saturday! We spent most of the day Saturday transferring his stuff from his third-story room to our cars to his other third-story room down the street. And Florida decided to usher in the new month with 90-degree weather and humidity to match - sweat was plentiful. But he did it!!!

3. Last, but certainly not least, today is anniversary of the day of birth (aka as birthday to normal people who aren't me) of my beautiful, youthful, and caring Mom! To celebrate, we're hanging out at home and then going to PF Chang's for dinner. Only the best for our darling mother :)

Happy birthday to the best mom in the world! I love you!!!

April 24, 2010

Spain Montage

I'm still working on some posts but here's a slideshow of photos from all parts of the trip. Enjoy!

(P.S. Many pics are stolen from facebook :) )

April 18, 2010

Jetlag

77 days have come and gone and I am now hanging out in Gainesville after a 2 day stay at home (thanks for the laundry, Mom!). I have some posts planned about my last few days in Spain but between the jetlag and Pdubbs time, I haven't had a chance to write everything down. But they're coming, I promise!

On another note, some of my new friends decided to travel around Europe for a few days after the program ended. But due to this freaky Icelandish volcano ash, they are all stuck in different parts of Europe with no way of getting home until Thursday at the earliest. My hopes and prays go out to all of them and their families and I hope they get home safely!

But here's some silver-lining: at least they're stuck in some pretty cool places - Rome, London, Malaga? Yes, please!

And I hope everyone else is happy and safe right here in the Uh-merica. It's great to be home :)

April 12, 2010

Que triste

My last full day in Malaga will be spent classing, packing, writing car notes, studying, enjoying some Italian food with my amigos, maybe some more studying. I can't believe it's already coming to an end! I've been speaking way more Spanish than usual today to get my fill before I go home and lose all that I've worked on the past 2.5 months.

Who else will understand my broken Spanglish if not for these kids here? Probs no one.

On to the packing. Time to rock out to some Hanson, The Killers, and Cheap Trick. Hasta luego :)


April 11, 2010

Almost Perfect Timing

Unfortunately, my camera has bit the dust. After several fights with 5'2" falls, it fought its last battle in the piercing store when it had a little run-in with a tile floor.

But don't shed a tear; it had a long, happy life, filled with action shots, macro photos of flowers, and even some sweet videos. It was a worldly traveler, having seen Jamaica, Mexico, New York City, Portugal, and all of Spain. It's been to bull fights and captured memories of graduation. It's snapped really awesome pictures, and not so awesome pictures. It's seen it all.

So from now on, the pictures you see on this blog will be borrowed from other sources until I muster up the funds to buy another. Thank you for you understanding.

See you in 4 short and (bitter)sweet days!

love love love love love

April 09, 2010

Cena Despedida

Last night we had our goodbye-dinner. Valerie prefers to call it out see-ya-later dinner because we're all in denial that we're going home in just 5 short days. I agree with Val - "goodbye" is way too harsh!

The only things we were told about the night were to dress to impress and meet in front of our school at 8:15. And we finally got a picture of Pepa before we left!

Love her!

Once we met up with the group, we all walked over to this authentic Spanish restaurant called Papulinos, where we were treated to a real Spanish feast! Fresh bread, salad, croquetas, fried eggplant, kebabs, and desserts of course!


Jesse about to dig in to some fried eggplant covered in honey and molasses. Don't bash it until you try it!


Baby cakes to share!

In between one of the courses, our directors and a few students give toasts. Some had us rolling on the floor laughing one minute, as one student proposed to one of our directors with a plastic ring and a bouquet of lollipops. Others talked about the future and memories we will take away. And others had even the boys wondering if it was getting a little dusty in there. It was another perfect night to enjoy each other's company and savor the last few days we have together in this wonderful country.

Best roommate award should def go to us :)

Group photo!

I've loved every minute of my time here - even all those cold, rainy days in February. But I'm ready to go home. I miss you all and can't wait to see you in less than a week! Abrazos y besos para todos!

April 08, 2010

Random Happenings

This week has been non-stop so far! Here are a few random happenings that I feel the need to share. Disfruta :)

For dinner on Tuesday night, a group of us went to La Queseria, a restaurant in Malaga that specializes in... wait for it... QUESO! Beautiful, bubbling crocks of cheese, perfect for spreading over a piece of fresh bread. We split a couple *cough*several*cough* cruezilitas of specialty cheeses and some tostas, which were also covered in cheese. And just in case we didn't get our daily intake of calcium, we went out for ice cream afterwards. When in Spain. :)



Wednesday was an epic day full of fun stuff. It started out with a lovely culture presentation by Emma, Alissa and Leigh about Spanish food! They handed out recipes to try at home and passed out typical Spanish food, like Malaga raisins, almendras (almonds) and local pastries! And since we had food on the brain AND it was Treat Wednesday, we popped into Aparicio for a pre-lunch snack.

Biscocho y merengue :)

That afternoon, we also got a guided tour of the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo (CAC). But before all that, a few of us chicas wanted to commemorate our time here by piercing our bodies! Nothing too crazy - noses, lips and ears. Just a little something to always remind us of our time in Spain. Or at least until they close up.


New Spanish friends!

The CAC was pretty guay. There was a temporary exhibit called "Jack Freak Pictures" by these two guys Giblert & George. I wouldn't have understood or appreciated their trippy art if it hadn't been for our tour guide who explained everything. The museum also has some permanent works that were interesting to say the least.



And after the museum, we made a beeline for 100 Montaditos for our last Euro Tapa Wednesday. Good food, good tinto, good friends, good night :)

Corrida de Toros


On a beautiful Easter Sunday evening, a group of 10 amigas set out to experience a time-honored tradition of Spanish culture. With wide-eyed wonder and curiosity abounding, they were headed to the Malagueta to see the festivities. The streets were swarming with stylish Spaniards dressed to impressed. The nearby restaurants were overflowing with people enjoying their pre-dinner tapas and aperitivos while the scent of cigars wafted through the cool Spring breeze.


They entered the plaza in a wave of people. They could feel the anticipation and energy in the air as the crowd worked its way up to the top flight. After pushing their way through the row and filing into their respective seats, the girls were ready just as the band began their rousing march to begin the show. The performers entered the arena to a hefty round of applause and many an "Ole!" before retreating to their respective corners. And now the bullfight can begin!


Sunday marked the beginning of the bull-fighting, or Corrida de Toros, season in Malaga. The seasons generally last from March until October but every region is a little different. Malaga's season has only just begun and it will reach its peak in August for the Feria, or city-wide fair. Spain is all about fiestas :)


Professional corridas in Spain involve 3 matadores that each fight 2 bulls, for a total of 6 bulls. These corridas generally last 2-3 hours as the matadores take turns dancing with their respective bull. And that's exactly what it's like - a dance! And even though they're fighting against 500 lbs of pure muscle, they are so in tune with the animal's tendencies that they can make it do whatever they want, just like a choreographed dance. You can check out the video below to see just what I mean :)

José Tomás during the Tercio de Muerte

We were lucky enough to see what Pepa calls "el mejor matador en Espana" (the best matador in Spain!). His name is José Tomás and he was by far the best matador we saw that night. If the crowd thinks the matador does a fantastic job, the will wave whatever white things they have on hand (napkins, hankerchiefs, toilet paper...) to show their support. If the Presidente of the Plaza agrees with the audience, he'll grant the matador the honor of cutting off the bull's ear as a sort of trophy. And if he is really good, the President will allow them to keep the tail. José Tomás was the only one to earn this honor that night and actually went home with an ear from both bulls!

Cuadrilla during the Tercio de Varas

There are so many traditions and rituals involved in a bullfight that I can't even begin to put it all into a single post. So I'll bullet-point it all in case you want to skip the boring stuff and just go straight to the video!
  • Each matador has 6 assistants that make up his posse, which is called a cuadrilla. Each assistant has a specific job throughout the course of the corrida. The matador wears a traje de luces (suit of lights), which is custom-designed with silver or golden thread.
So fancy! And this guy isn't even a matador - we can go fancier.
  • A corrida is generally broken into 3 stages.
  1. The first stage is called the Tercio de Varas where the cuadrilla tires the bull out and gives the matador a chance to see the bull's personality.
  2. Then the picadores of the group weaken it more by trying to place banderillas (barbed sticks) into the bull's back and shoulders. This is done in the second stage called the Tercio de Banderillas.
  3. The final stage, the Tercio de Muerte, is the most exciting - the dance between the matador and the bull. The matador puts the bull through a series of passes to weaken it and show off his moves. This can be the most gory part as the bull becomes more disoriented and the matador finally puts it out of its misery with a sword.
  • Once the bull is killed, it is immediately butchered and the meat is given to local orphanages and soup kitchens. So while it may not be the most humane sporting event, it does provide a great service for the community. Plus, the bulls have a it made leading up to the corrida - plenty of room to roam around in, tons of food, and their choice of the best ladies for breeding purposes.
This picture captures so much of Malaga - City Hall to the left, a palm tree, and a paloma (dove/pigeon), all silhouetted against a beautiful sunset.

I'm really glad we all got to experience it. One of the girls in our group has been to a bullfight in Madrid on her last trip here so it was great to have her there to tell us what was going on! It's such a unique part of the culture here and it's just another thing crossed off The List. :)

Enjoy!