America

And then I became a teacher...

And then I became a teacher...

I started writing this blog post in February of 2012. Nearly two years later, I am able to look clearly at the progression of my job and see it within the larger context of my career and life. After applying for a job as a "Videographer," I am now a teacher, producer, and temporarily wearing the shoes of an ed tech coordinator. I've always believed that travel expedites growth and maturation, and if that wasn't clear to me in a professional sense before, it definitely is now.

Read More

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Thought it wasn't my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an art major and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had exhibited work always meant for others' eyes.

Read More

From Chelsea to Chinatown, a walk inspires words

From Chelsea to Chinatown, a walk inspires words

Vacation is when watery, oily, acidicjuices are plowed with crusty bread, where butter comes in clumps and goes down in littler ones, flavor bombs, when you have time to pour the second cup of honey with a punch of rose. Aimless and timeless, there might be no other method to managing a day for you.

Read More

At the MIT Media Lab doing some learning on our slow American internet

At the MIT Media Lab doing some learning on our slow American internet

My "Spring Break 2013" does not yet resemble Harmony Korine's visions of debauchery, but I've been enjoying this week, one unlike the usual work week. I decided that during this two-week break from school, I would relax in Boston and then use the second week to get closer to the sun. During this Boston-based break week, I've been getting back in touch with this ole blog-o-mine, photography, and activities I rarely enjoy at work, like reading or going to events around the city. Though my attempt to see an advanced screening at a cool, old movie theater didn't pan out, I was successful in attending a speaker event at MIT's Media Lab.

Read More

Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

This exhibition entitled "Far, Far Away" is a chance for some people in Wabash, Indiana to see destinations and cultures they otherwise might never see. Additionally, all the images were taken by people who claim Wabash as their hometown, adding a layer of accessibility to the images. The other person sharing the space with me will be showing many images from Antarctica. Just amongst the two of us, our images will span all seven continents!

Read More

A hauntingly beautiful snowstorm blows over Boston Common

A hauntingly beautiful snowstorm blows over Boston Common

On Friday evening, I was captivated by the oncoming snowstorm called Nemo that blanketed the city of Boston. From a perch overlooking the State House and the Boston Common, I could watch the sky darken and the air become increasingly opaque.

Read More

Adios, America. It's time for new places and fresh air.

Adios, America. It's time for new places and fresh air.

It's time to navigate away from Indiana again. The school year is starting, and I'm about to move to a country I've never visited. Come Tuesday, I will have some new students, new co-workers, a new home with someone else's furniture, and a new culture to study...thankfully in a language I'm already comfortable with. Last year's school locations of Ecuador, Thailand, and Germany look to be replaced by some diverse locales, all brought to you by the letter "B".

Read More

Reviewing Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods

Reviewing Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods

In a Sunburned Country and had me audibly exclaiming from his brutal descriptions of small-town life. In this book, Bill attempts to charge through the over 2,100 miles of mountainous footpath called the Appalachian Trail. This is probably as close as I'll come to tackling the trail myself, and through what vehicle would this vicarious journey be better than through the eyes of an underprepared 40+ year-old journalist and his even more underprepared, undermotivated, overweight, formerly alcoholic comrade.

Read More

Domestic deficiencies and my learning curve post-Ecuador

Living in one place for a couple months - regardless of one's experience - inevitably causes nostalgia upon leaving and for a succeeding period of time. If it was a bad time, the pleasant memories override the bad, and if it was a good time, as was Ecuador, everything habitual and endearing continues to perpetuate once home again. In my case, the lingering reflexes from previous travels usually mess me up in Indiana - sometimes big time. I tend to call these the ironies of my lifestyle, but lately I feel it's more a deficiency in domestic knowledge, exacerbated by my fondness for the last three months of international living.

I can't live up to familial expectations

Max after baptism, family

Max after baptism, family

Once I knew my work dates for December, my sister-in-law planned her son's baptism around my schedule - to make sure I could definitely attend. And there I was on the morning of his christening, coffee in hand doing the two-step warm-up dance outside in tights, watching my friend's husband jump my borrowed car's battery where it sat 90 miles from the church. It's not too hard to remember to turn the headlights off in the pitch black of night the evening prior, but that's assuming one gets those pangs of common sense.

...because I'm used to: cheap taxis and close proximity

When my school's transportation or my feet couldn't take me where I needed to be, I could stand on a curb in the historic center and hail a yellow car that never cost more than $5, even for a twenty minute trip. Distances traveled - in this country smaller than Nevada - were relatively miniscule compared my US of A expectations.

In my breaths between trips, I rely on my wheeling-and-dealing car salesman of a brother to have a means of getting around. Taxis in Indiana are as scattered as stars with meters that run like Michael Johnson. Not efficient, easy, or happening.

I've got plumbing confusion.

Cuenca resembles an historic European city with cobblestone streets, cloth napkin lunches, and more ornate churches than there are Sundays in a year. It is a lovely town with enjoyable nightlife and beautiful rivers flanking the walkable center. That's the necessary introduction for my dear American audience that will be disgusted with the necessary toilet paper disposal method: a trash can.

...because I'm used to: weak sauce toilets

The plumbing in Ecuador generally requires an 'exit-stage-left' strategy for used tissue. Not to divulge my rituals behind closed stall doors, but I have yet to not be confused with the protocol since my return. In the same way that I don't remember my current continent when my daily alarm rings, I have to go through a process of remembering where I am and what I'm doing every time nature summons.

The motor skills flop when cooking duty calls.

Whereas my fifteenth year was marked by an obsession with Food Network, today I chop vegetables at the speed and with the delicacy of Remy's first try. I can make a spectacular explosion of coarsely slaughtered salad ingredients, which is actually my most coveted meal when abroad, but anything involving even marginal levels of calculation and finesse isn't possible for at least a month post-trip.

I've actually got a known track record with the Indianapolis Fire Department with this issue.

...because I'm used to: $3.50 lunch specials and constant group meals

Near the end of Cuenca, I realized I hadn't cooked for myself - not a saucepan touched - in months. It was more cost-effective and timely to eat at a nearby restaurant with wifi than it was to assemble something palatable in the hotel's kitchen. I also felt like a bothersome house guest when I tried. And eating with the students meant a pre-set menu consisting of meat and potatoes, sandwiched by a creamy soup and a fruit platter curtain call.

I'm speaking the wrong language.

Ecuador presented me with daily challenges to expand my language skills, much like New York gave me the sensation of world travel the moment I left my apartment. I was able to push beyond my fluency from senior year of high school and regain the abilities swiftly lost with the apprehension of Italian.

...because I'm used to: never being able to communicate with the surrounding majority

This is nothing new. I was saying naka to my mother two months after Fiji - instead of 'thank you' - and even though my recent firings of Spanish have hit some native speakers, I am forgetting how to communicate to people at home in daily, civil settings. I am used to being a fly on the wall and observing life I don't connect with personally. In this environment, I can pop in and pop out; obligation to the place is non-existent.

With every trip abroad, the return home gets easier. I'm hoping these are the remnants of a dying reverse-culture shock trend. It's a plan to tackle one or more of these issues while in Thailand...and again when I return to the great US of A.