11.06.2017

Passive-Agressive Haikus

so when will I be
able to stop giving boys
all of the power?

I was nonchalant,
telling myself, "I don't care,"
'til, of course, I did.

you told me that you
wanted to keep dating me,
but didn't mean it.

you asked to kiss me.
I said yes, not knowing that
it would be the end. 

I keep my phone close
with the vibration on loud,
but you don't text back.

keep in touch, you said.
I'll be back soon, you said too.
should have known better. 

without sex, I have 
no value to you. guess I'll
wait for someone else. 

10.19.2017

Equipo Ecuador!!

**sung to the tune of "Good morning, Baltimore" in my head.



So...we went to South America! No, not to pester my cutie little brother on his mission in Guayaquil (T minus one month till he's home!!), but just to visit for fun because we found cheap tickets. And so, even though that meant missing a couple classes in only the 2nd week of my first quarter of grad school, I'm so glad I went!



It turned out to be one of the funnest and most adventurous trips. #YOLO #noregrets



PLUS, having friends again and actually knowing people was a literal dream. (If you want to be lonely, move somewhere you don't know a soul and then live by yourself.)



I've never played competitive sports, but I imagine the camaraderie of being on an athletic team is similar to taking a group of 13 friends abroad and then figuring out how to navigate the language, dodgy food, and transportation. Oh and the whole having-an-entire-bus-to-yourselves is something sporty people do too, right?



(To be clear: I planned and navigated exactly 0 parts of this trip and was 100% a lemming.)



We spent our first day in Quito exploring the city on foot after a rather questionable breakfast, walking through the old town and enjoying one of the most prominent neogothic cathedrals, the Basilica del Voto Nacional. 



While I can always get down with some vaulted barrel arches and stained glass windows on their own, we also paid $2 to climb up into the literal rafters of the cathedral, out onto one of the turrets, and up a series of steep and probably unsafe metal ladders to the top of one of the cathedral towers, which offered us a striking 360 degree panorama of the densely packed buildings below.



In the older part of town, there was a gigantic metal statue of a winged Virgin Mary figure crowning a prominent volcanic hill known as El Panecillo, and for some reason we decided to climb all 1300 steps to the top. 

Approximately 9,000 feet above sea level. 

The thin air probably addled our brains and tricked us into thinking this was a good idea. It was a brutal climb, but worth it for the (literally) breathtaking view at the top. 



From there, we all clambered onto a city busy and took a one-hour ride to the equator for forty-five cents. Let me say that again: FORTY-FIVE CENTS! When was the last time you paid $0.45 for anything substantial, much less an hour of transportation to the center of the world?? Talk about a bargain. 



Now, I don't know that we saw the actual ACTUAL 0 degrees latitude equator center of the world because one touristy place told us the equatorial line was a 6" red stripe painted on the ground and another place told us the true location of the equator could vary across a 5 km swath...but we basically went to the equator, or at least close to it, wherever it is. Close enough to balance an egg on the head of a nail, at least. 




Our guide performed some middle earth science experiments with us that may have been real but could also have been fake news, though it was entertaining all the same. We also received a crash course on the indigenous head-shrinking Shuar tribe apparently still around today, and our guide showed us a penis fish IRL. (It's technically called a candiru, a species of parasitic freshwater catfish that lives in the Amazon river and is attracted to the ammonia in urine and will, yes, swim up into your urethra for a fun surprise. The more you know!) 




Upon returning to our shanty hotel rooms at the JW Marriott that night, we found out that through a weird and kind of inexplicable turn of events, our group had been upgraded to the Presidential Suite, as if we were all of a sudden celebrities who had their own foreign reality TV show. Let me say one thing: chandelierS. As in, plural.  I lost count of how many bedrooms there were and felt sufficiently humbled by the half-bathroom that was bigger than my entire studio apartment. For one night, we lived in the undeserved lap of luxury, and like true American millennials, we celebrated with Domino's delivery and had a pizza party in our palace.



The next two days we spent on a little bus tour to Banos, which yes, means bathrooms in Spanish, but was so named for the town's famous hot springs. Probably one of the coolest things we did there and, let's face it on the whole trip,  and okay fine, in my entire life, was when we went white-water rafting in the freaking AMAZON river.  (The tour company we went with took photos for us but still haven't sent them out yet, so I cross my heart it happened, regardless of our lack of photographic evidence.) 

The entire time, I couldn't stop reveling in the surreality of the moment. In my regular life, I was supposed to be in class right then, but instead I was paddling an oar. In an inflatable raft. In between these mountains. In the Amazon. In Ecuador. Like, how was this a real thing?

But man, paddling through those rapids was, in the voice of Buster Bluth, Rough! I had newfound appreciation for the Boys of '36, that's for sure. It was exhilarating and so, so thrilling and no one got bitten by any piranhas or attacked by any penis fish and we were all a little disappointed when it was over.

Later that day we also visited the Pailon del Diablo/Devil's Cauldron waterfall, which was loud and wet and impressive, to say the least.



(For some reason this photo below looks weirdly photoshopped but I solemnly swear, we were all physically on this bridge.)



We stayed that night at a little hostel that was no Presidential Suite, but full of rustic charm all the same, complete with stunning views of the cute town and surrounding waterfalls from the rooftop.



Hashtag no filter. Hashtag blessed.



Saturday we all went ziplining through the rain forest, which wasn't quite as adrenaline-inducing as rafting, but still a cool jungle experience that afforded stunning views of the canopy as we zipped along at high speeds, flying super chica style, going tandem, or zipping upside down like Spiderman.



We also visited the swings at the end of the world, which probably weren't worth the wait in line but made for some cool photos.



And then....we jumped off this bridge.



Now, I KNOW in my Instagram video that it looks like I snapped my neck. As the saying goes: it's all fun and games until Katherine gets paralyzed. But for the record: none of the above happened.

Let me also say: everyone else in the group besides me did it right, jumping out and off the bridge gracefully, headfirst, so the cabled harness they were attached to caught them and swung them up in a gigantic and exhilarating arc parallel to the opposite side of the bridge. As they were supposed to.



I climbed over the bridge's fence against all my rational instincts, up onto the paltry 2' x 1' wooden platform. The guide held my hands from behind in order to steady me as my knees quivered and I severely questioned my own sanity. I'd already jumped out of an airplane, why did I need to prove to myself that I could do this too? He cautioned me to not look down, but to jump out and go headfirst. I was too adrenaline-riddled to listen and instead basically stepped off the platform, effectively belly-flopping through the air until my harness pulled taut and the acceleration abruptly jerked my body upright. That was NOT how it was supposed to be done, and I severely bruised parts of my body that were never supposed to be bruised.  Lesson learned, and I hereby promise my parents that I'll use better judgment in jumping off possibly unsafe bridges in the future.






Sunday we'd thrown around the idea of exploring Cotopaxi, but after a plague of food poisoning took out 1/4 of our numbers, we decided to go to church instead. Not necessarily to pray for the afflicted, but just because sacrament meeting was less of a time commitment then an all-day hike. I didn't understand anything from the meeting, which was obviously conducted in Spanish, but the ward members welcomed us with literal open arms, wanting to hug and kiss us and shake our hands and make sure we sang along with the hymns. 

We also stopped by a bustling open-air mercado on our way back from church to sample fresh produce, warm sugary empanadas, and these cheesy fried corn cake things that I will never be able to recreate.



And then we drove back to Quito and waited in the airport for 8 hours to catch our red-eye flight back to America so we could eat Chick-fil-a again and enjoy ice cubes and not having to pay to use public restrooms.

It was kind of a random trip, but in the best way, and I loved the adventures we had, whiplash and all. It was worth it for the waterfalls and the frozen bananas and seeing my cute friends again.

Long live Ecuador Eleven!



PS. Please bless that we never forget the time Michael lost my bet in "What are the odds?" and had to eat all of this gross nacho cheese. As per usual, he was unnecessarily dramatic about it. 
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9.24.2017

Where Fun Comes to Die

^^The (unofficial) motto of my school.  


No, the real one is "May knowledge grow from more to more, and so be human life enriched," but close enough.  

As long as the school gives me free t-shirts** the motto can be whatever it wants to be. 


I've been in the windy city for three weeks now, and after lots of solo exploring and devising how to visit all of the museums for free, I'm a little forlorn about giving up all of my free time to commence classes tomorrow.  



But then I remember that I'm trading endless episodes of Gilmore Girls for scholarly reading and academic writing, and I get all tingly with excited anticipation.  


To my surprise, despite an emotional deracination from Arizona, this transition has gone smoother than I anticipated.  I LOVE living alone more than I've ever loved anything before, and I feel as though I'm honoring my most true self by finally succumbing to the introvert's playground that is my own cozy little apartment.  I also LOVE the scholarly dream land of campus with all of its stunning Gothic revival architecture and stained glass windows and ivy covered walls.  



And even though I've only been here for three weeks, I already have so much inherent Chicago pride.  Not only is the flag super cute (I had no idea cities could have their own flags!) but there's so much culture and history here, and I'm exhilarated to belong to it.  


I want to follow people around and point out to them that Quaker Oats and roller skates and Crate & Barrel and spray paint and Radio Flyer wagons and pinball and the Ferris wheel and Twinkies were all invented by Chicagoans.  


I will happily sit down with any random passerby to discuss how Chicago has the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris.  


I will talk to anyone willing to listen about the World Fair/Columbian Exposition of 1893 or the great fire of 1871 or even the Iroquois Theater fire of 1903.  


I want to slip notes under people's doors to relate that 2017 is the 75th anniversary of UChicago scientist Enrico Fermi ushering in the atomic age by achieving the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.  

I've noticed that when people discuss Chicago, they are eager to use superlatives like "the best/biggest/oldest/first," anything to showcase and distinguish this diverse and unique city, and now I totally understand why because I'm doing it too. 



So far, my only real qualm about living here is parking.  

Firstly, I regret taking gratuitous parking for granted my whole life.  Now it feels like such an extravagance - how could I ever have been so entitled??  


Secondly, I map out errands according to which stores have parking lots as opposed to street parking, in part because I never learned how to properly parallel park and am thusly suffering greatly.  


I constantly find myself intensely preoccupied with everyone else's transportation means and want to ask friends and strangers alike in conspiratorial whispers where they parked and if was on the street or in a garage and how much did they pay for it.  That's cool that you went to a rooftop wedding downtown, but where did you park though?? Or did you take the train? 


When I found myself in a labyrinth of one-way streets on my way to the contemporary art museum the other day, I realized that paying to park my car is basically the equivalent of paying a babysitter when you go out.  Just as parents of young children have to arrange for childcare, I have to arrange for paid parking.  So yeah, I get it, moms.  I am one of you now.  


Other than that, I'm blissfully enjoying the actualization of the autumn season for the first time in five years and doing what I can to avoid getting mugged.  Cheers! 

**that are costing me literal thousands of dollars in tuition :)