Why should we settle for what is deemed practical?

*I was inspired to write this while my two friends played their guitars and sang by the river, each of us drinking some Cruzcampo

I feel like my life is:

  • 87.9% bull shit
  • 0.1% agony
  • 12.0% pure bliss

Which equates to two things:

  1. I lead a pretty awesome life
  2. There are a lot of things I can do to lead a more purpose driven life

I spent the last two days fixating and agonizing over a test that really in the grad scheme of life means nothing. But I guess that’s a testament to my character. It’s both a positive and a negative or a rose and a thron if you must.

  • Rose: The little things matter to me. Such as picking out a t-shirt for you in your favorite color or taking the time to collage/make you the perfect birthday card.
  • Thorn: At the same time because the smallest things give me abnormal amounts of anxiety. Such as if I remembered to close the garage door while on centre ave. and I don’t remember so I turn all the way around to close it only to realize that in fact I remembered to close it and that I’ve never forgotten to close it before in my life. Also, another example is that if I’m studying and I decide my eyebrows are too bushy I will proceed to pluck them until they are too thin just so I can go back to studying. (Note: this is an awful idea, and I do not recommend it.)

While I need to cut this bull shit out of my life, I don’t want to lose what makes me, well Katie. However, sitting here and writing this makes me realize that what is causing this stress is the inability to even remember my childhood dreams, and the doubt I have for my future. I don’t want to spend the rest of my adulthood at something I don’t love. And I know, I shouldn’t be focusing on this while I’m in Spain. But watching my two friends write music and talk about how they are going to pursue this dream of theirs after college, makes me worried that I’ve already given up on mine.

I don’t know when we tell kids that their dreams are impossible or silly. I feel like once you get in high school and they tell you that what you are learning will give you practical skills for your future, they just cut all of your hopes out of you. It gets even worse in college, when they start expecting you to want to make loads of money in your life time, over doing something that will give you tons of happiness.

To all the newly graduated and to all the other kids just trying to figure out our dreams, I say screw it. Just remember what makes you happy, and try to incorporate that into your career. Don’t stress on what is practical or achievable. Where is the fun in that?

Roses:

  • Talking about life with friends
  • Listening to really good poetry
  • Skyping my mom in 2 hours

Thorns:

  • Wandering and not knowing if you’re doing the right thing
  • Doubt
  • Dream killers
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Things I Want My Children To Know

Here are some of the life lessons I’ve learned in Sevilla that I want my children to know.

1. First impressions are important, but the second encounter is even more important. 

  • Everyone needs a firm handshake, great table manners, and the ability to small chat and network. While we stress the importance of the first impression, I think we should really stress the importance of the second impression, or the third or fourth. These are the impressions where you really get to know the content of someone’s character. First off, not everyone makes the best impression. Some of us are introverts and shy away from large groups; while others of us don’t have an opinion/ lack of information on the subject matter of the conversation so we stand on the fringe of the group looking awkward. Secondly, the person might just be having a bad day and thus in an instant you gather the wrong opinion about them. I like to say that 83.3% of the time my first impressions are correct, but I also tend to be more of an observer when it comes to first meeting someone. I gather my opinion on you, based on the way you treat and talk about others. However, I will say that I have been pleasantly surprised. I guess I want them to know to trust their gut (just like Colbert), but be willing to change their opinion.

2. Whatever you say about someone else, they are saying something even worse about you. 

  • Being a girl can be rough, even in college people will still gossip. People you think you can trust will tell your personal information to people who you would never share this information to. 1. I want my children to be like a girl in my program, who has never uttered a negative word about anyone. I want them to keep their opinions to themselves, and not be like their hot-headed mother. 2. I don’t want them to let gossip get to them, the way it bothers me. My friend and I discussed this last night and she said, “I think the best way to think about it though is to not take anything too seriously, it really doesn’t matter what people say anyway, and think of it as flattering that they want to pay attention to your life… it means its more interesting than theirs!” I love the optimism.
3. It’s not about being the most popular
  • It’s not about being the most well liked, it about being like by everyone. It’s not about being everyone’s best friend, it’s about having everyone only think nice things about you. It’s about showing everyone respect, and getting that respect back. I struggle with the thought of people not liking me. I think everyone does. While they may not like you, they probably just don’t know you.

4. Learn to say yes more

  • You miss out on so many experiences by saying no. Being cautious is good, but learning to be adventurous is even better.

5. Listen to your Mother … or should I say Grandmother

  • I should let the world know that my mom is the wisest woman on the planet. Yes that is right, the planet. She has taught me not only the basics like bunny-ear tying my shoes, how to make chicken noodle soup, but she has also built the building blocks of my character. I discovered this when talking to a girl on my program about why/how I could be so disciplined with my work. Even when it wasn’t exam time, I was staying in and doing my homework. This to a lot of people here is strange because all they want to do is go out. I have a good work ethic because my mother instilled in me the phrase “Be disciplined, you must be disciplined.” This plays over and over in my head when I start slacking off. More than just my work ethic she has taught me that killing someone with kindness and good manners are always the way to go. I hope that I can one day guide my children to have a great character just like my mother.

6. Nothing is handed to you, you must work for it.

  • I come from an instant gratification generation, where we feel entitled to just about everything. What I have learned about Michigan, is that you have to work for everything. Yes, there are some students whose parents have connections just about everywhere. But what feels better in a job interview saying “oh my dad’s friend helped me” or “I reached out to them on my own.” I’ve never believed in short cuts. I’ve been blessed with a mother in business, who can look over my resume and cover letter for me, and can help me practice for my interviews. But all of the footwork I do on my own. I want my children to work hard for the things they want, because it is so much more rewarding when you do it on your own.

7. Life isn’t fair, stop whining this isn’t a new revelation. 

  • I’ve never known life to be fair. For example, I applied for a job at my University but they were looking at work-study students first (those who get scholarship but they need to work for a university department). Even though I was very qualified for the job, I knew I wasn’t going to get it. Someone asked me if that made me upset, that someone possibly less qualified would be getting the job over me. In all honesty I didn’t mind too much. Someone less qualified than you, will always seem to get things handed to them. You can’t let this get you down, you just have to keep working your way through it.

8. YOLO (you only life once)

  • Do what you love. Don’t forget about your childhood dreams. In America, anything is achievable.

 

Besos!

Roses:

  • Almost finishing exams
  • Cool weather
  • The apartment to myself

Thorns:

  • 14 more days of work
  • The heat
  • Procrastination

Reunited in Barcelona, Marbella & Gibraltar

My mom won a work trip to come to Spain, so I tagged along. I was so excited to finally be able to see her. The road to Barcelona was a little bumpy. I hadn’t realized that I had a field trip the day I was supposed to meet her, so I was forced to change my ticket which cost an extra 50 euros. I have no idea why I did this because the field trip was a complete bust and a waste of my time.

The actual flight was a lot nicer. Since I only had 2 hours the night before, I forced myself to stay awake (for the field trip) and I went to be at 9pm. I woke up super early 5am and headed to the bus stop. You know you’re in Spain when …

  1. The disco across the street from you is still bumping music
  2. People are just starting to walk home in their club clothes
  3. A couple is making out in front of the police, as their friend gets a ticket
  4. You get hit on by drunk men

Word of the wise be careful when flying with Ryanair. The tickets are cheap but they overcharge you on everything, which is obviously where they make their money. For example if you forget to print your boarding pass, for them to print it for you it cost’s 50 euro! Also make sure you measure your suitcase (if it’s a hard suitcase) before you travel. They have this contraption where they make your place your suitcase if it’s a hard suitcase and or looks like it is overstuffed and will not fit in the overhead bin. I watched this poor guy not be able to fit his suitcase because the wheels did not fit. It cost him 50-60 euro to check his bag! (they will not turn your suitcase sideways … because most people do not check bags). If you have a backpack or other bag that fits under your seat you’re fine. But remember ladies do not bring a purse! They only let you have one bag, no matter how small your purse is they will count it, so make sure it fits into your purse. Vera Bradley large duffel bags will fit, as long as they aren’t filled completely! Ok sorry, I just thought that may be helpful to someone someday.

Back to my actual trip! Instead of typing out a long essay (like the Ryanair rules part) I’m just going to list my favorite and least favorite parts of the trip, and of course show you some of my pictures.

Favorites:

  • In Barcelona
  1. The Gaudi buildings
  2. The metro system
  3. The beds at the hotel
  4. The culture
  5. Seeing old friends (from Sevilla and Portage!)
  6. People thinking I was fluent and complimenting my Spanish
  • In Marbella
  1. Seeing monkeys in Gibraltar
  2. Eating takeout
  3. The pool
  4. Tomando sol!
  5. People thinking I was fluent and complimenting my Spanish

Funny story about takeout in both Marbella and Barcelona: The waiters were all Chinese and since it is strange to see someone else with Asian heritage they just assume you speak their language. I certainly do not. The waiter greeted me with Ni hao, which I responded with hola. I think they were just happy that I spoke Spanish instead of English, and when I said thank you in Chinese they were very pleased.

Another funny story about translating, one time we were in front of the Sagrada Familia. A couple who I assume were Polish or German asked in “rough” English (or was it Spanish?) if I know how to work the public bathrooms. I explain in Spanish that they need to use smaller euros (as in 10 or 20 or 50 cents). As I was explaining this, a nice, old Spanish man tried to explain to them where to find free public bathrooms. Turns out this couple doesn’t really speak Spanish, so I had to translate for them where it was in English. I was happy to help them out (at least I hope!)

Least Favorite:

  • In Barcelona
  1. Too big of a city to really learn the language
  2. All the  signs were in Catalan
  3. Having to travel with old people (obviously not my mom!)
  4. NO FREE WIFI
  • In Marbella
  1. It was only a resort
  2. The beach wasn’t all that nice (the pool was a lot better)
  3. An old lady pee’d outside behind a bush
  4. Sleeping on a cot.

Despite the problems, it was 

I loved this market, you could buy anything from …

… meat to …

… candy to …

… fruit and …

… seafood!

Mom in front of the old catedral in Barcelona

Roger and Mom in front of the Sagrada Familia

Ceiling in the Sagrada Familia

The holy family by Gaudi – Christ growing up

My favorite house of Gaudi – Casa Batllo

Such a smart monkey! He’s using the wire to climb down the mountain and then …

… and then he uses the wire to swing to the podium!

“I’m so smart!”

I can’t wait until my brothers come to visit!

Un beso!

Roses:

  1. Wasting another class time
  2. Remembering the fun vacation
  3. Having nice weather

Thorns:

  1. 2.5 weeks until I start taking exams
  2. Only have fast internet at school
  3. Missing pets that I become obsessed with monkeys

He left for a package of Skittles … We Are Trayvon Martin

If you haven’t heard about Trayvon Martin, then you are probably living under a rock and or studying abroad. I first heard about the case from one of my favorite poet’s tumblr. Joshua Bennett had posted the now famous petition circulated by the Martin Family, and at first I thought it was one of those incidents where they didn’t have all the facts. Where the police were blamed, but the lines of justice were so blurred that anyone could be at fault. The more I read, the more I think that this isn’t the case.

This story is everywhere. You know a news story is big when it shows up on ESPN.com (I mean come on it’s only supposed to be about sports). However, major stars like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade from the Heat and Amor’s Stodamare from the Knicks and  Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush donned hoodies in solidarity for Trayvon, forcing the matter to transcend the Florida town and occupy world headlines and pop culture. Some (like a British columnist) said the case is about “gun control”, and a girl (who is no longer a friend of mine on facebook) said “you hear about white on black crime, what about  black on white crime?”  While both of these have some validity in their point of views (no matter how much I don’t want to agree with them), it is beside the point. Race relations run deep in our countries history. Some may argue that the turmoil we have now are due to our ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1897. However for me the issue is less about race, and more about profiling and the death of a young man.

I think we all profile. We all make snap judgments that can be detrimental to our relationships with others. I think that George Zimmerman was wrong, but think about it, we all judge people for the clothes they wear. We shouldn’t only be mad at Zimmerman, we should be mad at ourselves. This incident should be a wake-up call for so many Americans  humanity. I thought in this day-in-age we would be passed judging others based on their appearance. However, Trayvon was killed because he looked “suspicious.” His hoodie has become iconic and created a revolution. Hoodies do not indicate a “hoodlum.” You are not dangerous based on the clothes you wear. I wear hoodies all of the time, especially when I travel. I can’t even count all the times I’ve put on a hoodie in brisk weather, it’s the perfect weight to keep me comfortable. It’s almost an automatic thing for me too, if I leave the house I’ll grab a hoodie. When he was leaving the house, I bet he never thought that hoodie would contribute to the end of his life.

I think this case has turned more into a movement and a broader social issue, that we forget it was the death of one 17-year-old boy. The media likes to defame people to get a bigger headline and create more controversy. They try to turn Trayvon’s suspension for finding traces of marijuana as if he had an issue with drugs. They try to take photos of him from the internet to define him as a “gangster” poser. These issues have nothing to do with the case, they just distract from what really happened. The media wants to create a bigger story, but what’s a more shocking headline than: an unarmed child being killed, and nothing being done to persecute his killer? But do you know which over-hyped headline gets to me? The media’s argument that the main photo of Trayvon isn’t recent. They argue that it’s a lopsided representation, that he looks so young with his innocent baby face. To that I say, any photo of him demonstrates a young and innocent face. He was only 17 years young. I also think that his family chose a photo that represents him in their mind. To them he will always be their baby. I’m sure even if he had ever reached the aged of 50, his parents would still see him as their baby and envision him in this manner.

It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to think that he just threw on a hoodie and walked out the door to run to the local corner store. He was getting a snack, something I do so often here in Sevilla or even back at home/school. He probably said he was leaving, but I’m sure he didn’t say how much he loved and cared about his family. I’m sure his last words to them were nothing profound. I imagine they were something like: I’m running to the store, I’ll be right back. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine watching a loved one leave, thinking that they were just running a quick errand and they never come back? I can’t tell you how upset and sick that makes me feel. You never really think how much someone means to you when you’re running errands. You never think to tell them goodbye or give them a big hug and kiss and tell them how much you love them. You never think you’re going to be shot when you run to the local store. You never think that your death will become a major social movement. You never think about these things.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this story. I read new articles daily and every time I finish reading them, I just think about saying I love you to my family. I think if anything the death of Trayvon should make us hold our loved ones a little tighter. And most importantly, don’t let them think they are unappreciated, you never know when it’s the last time you’ll see them.

Roses:

  1. Family
  2. Knowing how loved I am
  3. Signing a petition to support Trayvon Martin

Thorns:

  1. Death of such a young man
  2. Burying your child
  3. Defamation of the deceased