BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS »

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break!

Or, Semana Santa as we call it down here!

My dad is coming to visit at the end of May and you know what that means- deliveries from the USA!  Okay, it also means I get to see my dad and his wife which is super exciting (especially since his wife has never been to CR!).  But it also means I can special order only-available-in-USA products and have them brought down.  Don't judge me, Sriracha, fish sauce, and lotion tissues are really important!

So I was also looking at getting Perlita a doggy backpack.  My sister mentioned while she was here that I should get her one and fill it up with rocks or something so she gets tired faster on our walks.  It's important now because I think she's picking up fleas from the park, so I want to tire her out without having to let her into the park.  So doggy backpack it was.

I found a few online for about $30 and I thought that was a great deal.  Until yesterday when Oscar said "why don't you make Perlita her backpack?"

Ummm... great idea!  Oscar is working this week, so I'm at home, miserable in the heat without much to do.

I found this great pattern online, well not so much pattern as simple instructions.  I went to a pasamaneria and got fabric and notions.  They didn't have any nice backpack material so I got a less durable material in a prettier pattern.  I mean my dog is fancier than khaki.  Have you seen her fancy collar??

Fancy collar, a gift from Jay!

Everything was about $5 together.  And it came out GREAT.  Great!  It's a little big, but I think it'll be okay. It took me about 4 hours and half a bottle of wine to make.  

random side story:  I've been drinking tinto veranos.  Well, more like a bastardized version of tinto veranos.  I first had this drink in Spain.  I'm sure there's a fancier way to make it, but it's basically cooled red wine with either seltzer water, orange soda or lemon soda.  My favorite was always with lemon soda.  But lemon soda is damn hard to find.  Even in the USA you have to go to Whole Foods to find a bottle.  But it's totally worth it.  I remember going to the beach with my Nalgene full of tinto verano and ice cubes.  De-LICOUS.  Can't find lemon soda here, so I use Fresca.  Yes, I put Fresca in my red wine.  Why would I ruin perfectly good wine with Fresca? you may ask.  Well my friend, you hold me to too high a standard if you think I'm buying good wine.  We get $5 bottles.  So I think it's perfectly okay to pour Fresca into stuff that normal people wouldn't even use for cooking.  *Warning*- tintos are dangerous things my friend.  They're girly and cool and delicious.  And you can drink a whole bunch before realizing your bottle of wine has been finished off.

Back to the story-

So I totally made a great little backpack for Perlita for FIVE DOLLARS instead of the thirty you have to pay to get one online.  I win.

Here's some pictures!  It's a little big because the pattern was for a bigger puppy.  Perlita LOVES her new backpack! =)






Well I am currently coated in a fine layer of sweat because the heat here is insane.  I can't wait for the rainy season.  Off for a shower and a nap!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sucky ass teacher


Let me be honest, there's not a lot of things in which I excel.  I'm not a great athlete, not a great artist (okay a BAD artist), not a genius.  I'm just sort of mediocre.  Which I'm cool with, I live a very happy life being mediocre.  Mediocrity is totally underrated.

But there's at least one thing I'm really good at- being a teacher.

I'm only in my 3rd year of teaching so of course I have tons and TONS to learn, but I feel like for a third year teacher, I'm doing a pretty banging job.  I'm great with classroom management (aka- keeping those brats quiet and orderly), I'm great with building relationships with the kids (in my own sarcastic way), I'm totally cool with asking questions when I don't know what to do, and I know and love my content area- biology.

And I'm proud to be a good teacher.  I went into education not because of some inspiring teacher I had who made me want to be better.  No.  I went into education because I remember sitting in classes thinking "I could do better than this"  And so I did.  I wanted to be a teacher so maybe the kids would have one less sucky ass teacher to deal with every day at school.

But now I've become the sucky ass teacher.  In English.

I told my director I didn't want to do it, I didn't feel comfortable, and I had no experience.  It didn't matter.  I've been teaching English for about a month now and I'm just freaking terrible at it.  Part of it is because I have no idea what I'm doing and part of it is because I find it so freaking boring I can barely stand it.  I feel like a failure and I hate that I'm letting myself and the kids down.

In my biology and even dopey little kid science classes I have so much more enthusiasm, so much more energy, so many awesome projects and experiments.  English is like "let's read this boring-ass two page story and try to make it into a full 80 minute class somehow..."

So I've made an executive decision to read a book as a class.  I'm going to pick stories I want to read and we're going to analyze them.  I think this will help because the stories in the textbook are so short and so boring and so awful...  I can easily go over parts of figurative speech, grammar, etc while reading an awesome story.  Instead of a POS about some blind guy in a tower.  I'm going to start with some Kurt Vonnegut for the hell of it, and then go into Edgar Allan Poe because he's a nut job and that's always fun.  The kids seem to think they're up for Shakespeare but I sort of doubt it.  I might give them a list of books and they can pick one next Monday.  Then I'll have about 3 weeks to re-read (or read!) it before we actually start discussing it in the classroom.

I hope I get better.  I hate being the boring class.

Props to Project Gutenberg for providing me with so many free online books and stories to choose from!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Does the rest of the world really hate Americans?

I've been wanting to write a blog like this for a while now, but I really started to think about it the other night after watching "Argo".  I was told the movie was all "hoo-rah!  We're America and we save the day!", which I actually didn't see.  I thought it focused a lot on how the USA got itself into the position by being obtuse and how it was actually Canada who saves the day.


But anyways, my general answer to the question: Yes and No.  Maybe after my "rest of the world" friends finish reading this blog it might just be "yes"!

Let me go ahead and clarify the word I use- "Americans".  Here in Central America and South America, lots get testy when people from the USA claim to be "Americans".  This is because technically "America" is- all countries in North America, all countries in Central America and all countries in South America.  But I gotta say, I just feel like this is just another reason to hate American tourists.  I've gotten used to saying I'm from "los estados" down here, but I've even gotten flack for saying that!  I once told a guy from Mexico I'm from "los estados" and he got all pissy saying "los estados de que?" because Mexico is also technically "los estados de Mexico".  When I went to Spain, France and Germany and said I was from "los estados"/"the states" everyone looked at me like I was crazy and I had to clarify "America".

Why does this have to be so difficult?  Do I need to say I'm from "los estados unidos de America"/"the united states of America" every single time?  I just feel like no one in Central or South America would ever claim to be "American", so why make it an issue?  If you're not even going to claim to be "American", why do you have to take it away from the people who do?  In Spanish there happens to be a very convenient word "estadounidense", but not in English.  So I'd like to say this right now to the rest of the world- when we say we're American we're not trying to be offensive.  We're just trying to say where we're from.  Give us a break.  Okay?  I get why people don't like it, but no one is trying to make you angry.  Let it slide, okay?

Anyways, back to my question- does the rest of the world hate [United States of] Americans?

I've had lots of USA friends who like to say they're form Canada so people won't "hate" them.  But I've never done that.  The USA is not the greatest country in the world, but it's also not the worse.  I was given a plethora of opportunities just by being born in middle-class USA.  I was able to achieve so much by being raised in a wealthy country.  (of course this is also attributed to being born into a middle class family, who cared about me, encouraged me, fed me, etc.)  And for that, I'm eternally grateful for being American.  I'm not claiming that these opportunities don't occur in other countries, of course they do.  But I am saying that these privileges (free education, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, public libraries, paved roads, etc) do not present themselves in every place in the world.

Some of my friends like to make jabs at the USA or Americans.  And I'm cool with it.  I can take a joke, and I agree with a lot of things being said.  But there comes a time when it's time to lay off my country.  It's sort of like jokes about women- I find most of them funny, but if that's the only joke you have it gets old and it gets offensive.

I find the "rest of the world" seems to think it's okay to constantly critique the USA, its people and its politics.  And again, a lot of the times they have a point that I can certainly agree with.  But no one comes from a perfect country free of corruption and greed.  You'd never see me constantly picking apart someone else's homeland, it's not my place.  I have my opinions about Costa Rica, sure.  But I don't spend my days researching ways its government has failed and offended me and the rest of the world.  I try to make the best of any situation, or find ways to improve what I don't like or find unfair.

I've never met anyone who wouldn't talk to me because I'm American.  (side story- my mom lived in Spain right when Franco died and told me she had friends who thought she was French.  As soon as they found out she was American they left and never spoke to her again.)  I've never even met someone who judged me for being American.  Although, maybe I was judged for saying I'm "American".  I have felt zero prejudice for being American, anywhere.  I haven't traveled the entire world, haven't even been to all the continents, but I can safely say I've never felt unwanted because of my nationality.

My opinion is the rest of the world doesn't hate individual Americans.  They hate the idea of the rude, ignorant, fat, selfish, imperialistic, rich, gun-totting, toothless, bigot asshole that is "America".  

I hate that "person", too.  And I try very hard to defend my people's integrity by educating myself and showing the world that Americans can be okay.  You should see the shock on people's faces when they realize I actually speak Spanish.  I often get comments about how "gringos usually don't speak Spanish".  The USA is a huge country full of lots of oblivious, uncultured jerks.  But that's not the only type of people that live there, and the USA is not the only place in the world they live.  For the most part, I think the "rest of the world" knows that.  And for that, I'm also thankful.

I hope I didn't come off as a "wise I've-been-to-Europe-so-now-I-know-everything young person" in this blog.  Just wanted to write out my thoughts.