Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Oh my goodness I just had the most amazing Christmas Eve of my life!

December in general has been the tamest December I can recall. My first December with absolutely no snow, and the temperatures have been mild to warm with the occasional rainy day. Instead of stepping carefully through the streets as not to slip on ice, I found myself running to my favorite cafe to get out of the pouring rain. That was quite fun. I was soaked. This month has flown by, and that means I only have 5-6 months left here. Wow. My Spanish skills have gotten loads better just over this last month. I understand much better when amongst groups, and I can hold my own in a one-on-one discussion. I have gotten past the hard part of homesickness for the most part, and now it has really hit me just how short one year really is. I feel like I wasted a lot of time missing home. Sorry Mom and Dad, but you know what I mean. I just let it get in the way of the whole experience. But that is alright, because we all knew that would happen. At least I have that extra 6 months now to make up for it.

So Christmas itself was amazing. Instead of gathering the entire family from all around the world in at the Casa Rodriguez this year, we had a 'quiet Christmas.' Well, I guess I wouldn't call it quiet, but for this family it most certainly is. My Aunt Rosario that also has a home and family in New York decided to hold the Christmas Eve festivities in her home here. At 8:00 at night, all the family and I went to mass. Sorry, but this one turned out to be quite boring. Whatever. After mass, we all greeted eachother in front of the church. In total, there were only about 30 family members, but that is a whole lot in my mind. I met my Uncle José for the first time; he is from Cochabamba. He had his wife and their children. Also there were my favorite Uncle Juan Carlos with his wife Elena and their children that I also met for the first time. My Aunt Rosario had a friend with here and there were various other cousins I had never met. So after handing out 30 kisses/'besitos' we all met up at Elena's house to transport all the food and treats.

With a box of cookies in my hands, we headed back to my neighborhood , which happens to be where my Aunt Rosario lives as well. The mayhem began as soon as we stepped out of the cars. Typical family Christmas. People scrambling all over helping to get everything ready and lounging in the kitchen much to our host's dislike. After getting alcohol in everyone's hands, the crowd settled down and gathered in the living room. Well, packed into the living room. There was way too much craziness, so I kind of zoned out for the majority of that section of the evening. I was happy to finally be seated at the kitchen table with the rest of the cousins.

Rosario is an amazing cook, and all the cousins were beyond excited for the meal she prepared. Picana. It is a traditional Bolivian Christmas dinner. Very good. Not at all spicy either like I anticipated. It is a beef broth with chicken and beef, potatoes, and a piece of chocla. Delicious. We devoured that and headed outside to digest while the adults chatted. I was so happy to walk outside in my bare feet! A gorgeous starry night with a storm coming in from the east. All I could think about is how horrible the weather was back in Iowa at that moment. There you all are stuck inside with no electricity, and I am walking around barefoot. I love it! So we acted as reunited cousins always do...crazy. I would love to have another Christmas with all the relatives in Iowa sometime. I miss those days. We finally got called inside for a Christmas toast, which I was unaware of at the moment. In all the mayhem I called Mom, thanks to my Aunt Rosario! As I was talking at the top of my lungs I noticed that everyone behind me was incredibly quiet. They were doing the toast! Ahhh. I felt horrible, and then felt equally horrible as I hung up on Mom. :) Oh well. I ended up having to say something and, in typical Hayley-fashion, I did it while teary-eyed. I was just so happy and caught up in the evening that I couldn't help it. I loved everything about that evening. But that turned out in some nice 'aaawwwwwwwws' which made me feel not so ridiculous. Everybody understood how I felt. Everyone finished toasting and we ran around for a little more mayhem while Rosario organized.

Before returning outdoors with the cousins, my wonderful uncle Juan Carlos was elected photographer for the evening. That is him to the right. And the picture above him is of most of the cousins. He is hilarious. He hates my camera. :) I don't. But ya, the cousins were all really welcoming, though quite some years older than me. I still get to be among the youngest of cousins even in my second family. Geez.

Eventually, we made it around to the best part. Everyone gathered again in the living room for gift opening, but before opening the gifts everyone had to do a somersault. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. There was one woman that had to be at least 65 years young and she even did it. My uncle José explained the Bolivian tradition; once the music stops, everyone in the room has to do a somersault. I did mine without any hesitation, but my left shoulder hurt a little bit afterward...and I am only 19! So we got through with that, opened gifts, and walked over to Sandra and Lucho's house. Not as fun there, but there were a lot more people. I suppose we remained at their home until about 1:30 in the morning before going home to wait for 'Papa Noél.' Jorgito ran straight to bed all happy and such, but Vivi and I had some last-minute wrapping to do. That is Bolivia for you. I ran all over town with Vivi on the afternoon of Christmas Eve to do shopping. The stores were absolutely packed with last-minute shoppers. I was surprised to see that all the stores were open all day on the 24th! More of Bolivia--they can't afford to not work. I woke up on the 24th expecting to be a lazy bum all day like we would do in the states, but that was not the case. The same goes for Christmas morning.

I woke up to an 8:30-knock on my bedroom door. My family was ready to open the very quaint amount of gifts we had prepared some time before then. I love that about Christmas here. There were hardly any gifts under the tree. Apparently only the kiddies get gifts, but I guess I count as a 'kiddie' since I also received a few gifts. I was incredibly happy to receive the Twilight books in Spanish. Sorry everyone, for my lameness, but that just made my day. I am currently on page 37 and proud to admit that it is equally delightful in Spanish as in English. A sucker for romance....which is even better in Spanish. haha. Anyway, Jorgito got the Wii he wished for. He is a horrible liar too. He saw the box in the storage room one day, but he decided to keep it secret from Jorge and Vivi. Of course, they are aware he knows, but Jorgito doesn't know that. ;) Jorgito opened his boxes Christmas morning knowing exactly what they contained. He didn't even jump up and down screaming in happiness. He acted like a perfectly guilty young boy. It was pretty funny.

So we finished gifts and got ready for some more festivities at Faviola's home. She is the sister of my Aunt Sandra. That was a nice, peaceful afternoon. The food was delicious and the home was absolutely phenomenal. The same goes for Rosario's home. She has New York right in the middle of Bolivia. She is a very classy woman and it matches her amazing home. Faviola owns an interior design store, and it shows in her home. Stunning. We probably left there around 5:00 and played Wii until bedtime. :)

All in all, a magnificent holiday break...with power. Well, we actually did have power problems last night during the magnificent storm we got upon returning home from the Valley. I will blog about 'The Valley' later. Maybe this afternoon, as it is a lazy Bolivian Sunday and it is storming again. Gee that makes me happy. I will also try and post a couple new albums on picasaweb if wifi starts functioning again. If not, I will write again after January 7th. We are going to be leaving tomorrow morning for vacation in Iquique, Chile. yay.


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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wow. What a great December. I managed to get past the homesickness I was feeling just after Thanksgiving and I have been insanely busy this month. Busy in the good way.

Jorgito and I were feeling extra Christmasy one day, so we took a morning to put up the Christmas tree and that afternoon to bake Nana's Sugar Cookies. Jorgito decided to get started with the tree on his own, and by the time I stepped in to put the top pieces on, the whole tree was trying to fall over. After taking a look at the base, I noticed he had used a can filled with sand. My guess was that Jorgito, in all his eagerness, just slammed the base of the tree in as deep as he could and called it good. At that, we pulled the tree out of its can, and I sent Jorgito to get a bowl to hold the sand while I held up the tree. He came back with some plastic bags and layed them neatly on the floor, thinking that we cold just dump the sand onto the floor. Well, that idea didn't go over too well with me, so we opted for dumping the sand into the bags. The bags had holes, of course, so we ended up with a sand-covered floor anyway. We managed to contain most of the sand in one bag as I held the tree up in the can. Jorgito, with the bag in his lap, got the duty of refilling the can. Well, 9-year-olds aren't very logical when it comes to that kind of thing. He sat about a foot and a half away from the tree with the bag in his hands, and this is how it went: Jorgito cups his hands together in a calculated manner. He grabs sand and stares at the base of the tree as though he is aiming. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he just whips his hands out and releases the sand, only hoping it will reach the can. It didn't reach the can. I took over after that and completed the task with minimal sand-spillage. We went back to decorating and the tree just wanted to fall over again. :) Jorgito and I settled for leaning it against the wall. Aren't we clever. As my family always says, book smart but lacks common sense. Jorgito and I are just two book-smart peas in a pod.

We took care of sweeping up the sand and waited until after lunch to make the cookies. I finally got fed up of the monotony of smashing dough, waiting ten minutes, and removing cookies, so we called it quits with a little remaining dough. Jorgito, being the 9-year-old that he is, chose to dig in. Literally. His hands were covered in dough, but that adorable, little, devilish grin kept me from rolling my eyes. That warranted some Kodak Moments that will be posted in their entirety on picasaweb at the rapidly approaching end of the month. The cookies were a hit. My family quite likes them, but I might have to retry someday. They just weren't the same. Anyone who has ever eaten one of Nana's sugar cookies can understand that.

One day, I went to catch a movie with Laura--something with Bruce Willis that was so dumb it made me laugh quite hysterically at the end. Anyway, upon purchasing tickets I noticed flyers for some cake decorating classes. I always told myself that if I ever had the opportunity to work at a cake decorating business I would totally take it, no questions. Well, of course I had to take the three-day course being offered! So Laura and I randomly decided to go to these classes. It was pretty fun. We learned to make a million different decorations from Goma Pasta and we ended up baking fruitcake. The fruitcake actually wasn't as terrible as I always imagined it would be, but still not my favorite thing in the world. We learned how to make fondant and decorated a bunch of different cake forms. It was fun to watch, but we didn't actually get to participate. The best part was learning all kinds of new baking terms in Spanish. I laughed hysterically when she prepared something using a 'Baño María.' Earlier that week Dad had emailed me a cheesecake recipe telling me to prepare it with a Bane Marie water bath. I never knew there was actually a name for that technique, but I did know what he was referring to. So I found it quite amusing that our teacher would use that technique just after I had learned its name. Maybe that isn't funny, but whatever. It made me smile. :) On the second day I met a nice woman named Nelly and chatted with her while walking a few blocks. I ended up forgetting my cookbook on the last day, but luckily we had exchanged emails on the second day. Nelly wrote me saying that she would like to return it to me. Hopefully we can meet up for tea and treats this week to get that done. There are some recipes I would like to prepare before Christmas. I am on a baking craze now. I made Rice Krispy Bars the other day with CocoaKrispies. They were a hit here, and I just found out that Maria Jose LOVES eating them in the states. Now I found another sugar cookie recipe and I want to decorate them with Jorgito for our family Christmas. I am a nut. But ya, the decorating class was something random and fun. I am glad I did it. My favorite was the cake pictured here that looks like a gift. It is so cute! If anyone ever sees the form for a square cake, buy it for me and I will pay you a million dollars.

My birthday was on December 12, and I really enjoyed it. We just had a nice little lunch of Chicharron, potatoes, and chocla at the house in the company of a few family members and family friends. It was my ideal weather and nothing grand. Just relaxing. I have said this enough, but I will say it again; I love the way adults party. We sat around outside talking for a couple hours and finally got to the cake. Vivi ordered a beautiful chocolate cake from Las Delicias, a popular little cafe in town, and I was just dying to cut into it. For the first time in my life, I really enjoyed having a group of people stand around me and sing. It felt good to turn 19. I have grown up a bit, and it felt nice to have people recognize my growth. That moment passed and I remembered I would have to participate in the tradition of taking a no-handed bite out of my cake. My uncle's hand was rested suspiciously on my back as I did so, but he only managed to get chocolate around my mouth as he tried to smash my face into the cake. After that I got the duty of slicing the cake. Vivi wanted me to cut it since we cut cakes differently in the states. The cake was absolutely delicious. Refrigerated cakes here are incredibly moist with this milky goo throughout the entire center. I LOVE IT!!! After eating cake with family, I met up with Cecilia and Fercha in the plaza. Of course, we had to go eat at Las Delicias though I had no desire to eat. We met up with Isabel there and ran into Ericka and Chelito. It was an hour well spent in good company. A great Saturday. A great birthday. I really enjoyed my 19th birthday. It was an important one for me. Way more important than 18 or 16. I feel a lot more like an adult as far as my thought processes are concerned.

Just this last week I started Spanish lessons in this great international Spanish school. I have two-hour lessons every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This place offers all kinds of activities and volunteerism opportunities. I was thrilled to see that they had a cooking class last Wednesday, so I signed up right away. When I got there at 6:45 Wednesday evening, I stood awkwardly amongst a group of foreigners I'd never met while waiting for our teacher. We finally got moving once the teachers arrived and not one person in that tiny room could quit talking. The plan was to bake a traditional Bolivian Christmas dessert of sopapillas, bunuelos and api, but we accomplished more talking than baking. Maybe that was the reason we didn't leave until 10:30? Either way, I had an absolute blast. I have never met so many amazing people all at once. It makes me want to do some serious traveling some day. I got to talking quite a bit with Rebekka from New York and she had some very interesting stories about her travels. She started out in Ghana and contracted some super funky infection, so had to stay in some hoo-haw specialty foreign disease hospital for a month in London. They never figured out what it was. I also talked a bit with some woman from Germany. She was just a great person to talk to. Elena was with her spouse and they are from Cyprus. Tessyl was a 19-year-old from the Netherlands(I think) traveling alone! Almost couldn't believe that. She was a sweety. One of the guys was from Switzerland and he was just a hoot. A couple other super tall blond guys and a woman whose name I could not even imagine how to write nor remember how to say joined in on the fun as well. What I found amusing is that we all talked in English! People from all corners of the world in a Spanish school talking English. I love it. It was just an all-around great time. I loved it and will continue to participate in the school's activities. It is a real eye-opener to the real world being able to learn from so many different people. Amazing.

What else. Well, I have been doing all kinds of fun things with friends this month. The other night I went to see a ballet with Cecilia. She and I are exactly alike, so I am my crazy hyper self when in her company. We waited for it to start for about a half hour, in which I was bouncing off the walls. Just hyper as could be. I finally decided to calm myself down with a huge sigh and threw a "scheisse" on the end for good measure. For my Rotarians and all good readers that don't use profanity, you may understand that the word 'scheisse' is my whole-hearted attempt at ceasing to use profanity. It is German, and that is all the information I will tell you. Not exactly a horrible word, but not polite either. Used loosely by the young population. Anyway, just after I said it these two blonde women turned their heads and grinned obnoxiously. I am pretty sure I turned beet-red at that moment. Of course they had to be Germans. Of course! So thank goodness they spoke English, because we dealt with my rudeness right then and there. After I apologized they were actually quite happy. One said it was nice to hear German, and especially that word in specific because people always say it differently. So that set Cecilia and I to tears in laughter, but I think I will knock the volume of my 'scheisses' down a notch. :)

I went to see Avatar with Oriana the other night. I had been exhausted all that day, and I had expected to fall asleep in the middle of the movie. Of course, I loved the movie and was happy I didn't even think about sleeping at one point. Great film. And afterward, Ori and I had yet another great discussion that still puts a grin on my face when I think about it. So I left the theatre at 10:30 wide awake, but prepared to sleep like a big fat rock after being so exhausted all day. So I get home and shut my brain off in order to stop being so ecstatically happy and thus be able to sleep. Man, I slept. I slept like a big fat rock. Until one of the neighborhood dogs decided to bark hysterically for 15 minutes nonstop at 3:00 in the morning. That made me REAL happy. Real happy. There was another dog right outside my bedroom window growling viciously the entire time as well. Thank goodness for my newfound calmness and understanding, because I managed to zone it out and fall happily back asleep as soon as they decided their throats were sore. That was almost too much irony for me to handle in one night. Exhausted all day. Thrilled to go to sleep. Sleeping like rock. Bogs dark obnoxiously on the one night that I want most to sleep. They have never barked like that before. Ugh.

I was going to go on the Rotary trip, but I opted against it for my own awesome reasons. All the exchange students will be in Sucre for the first part of the trip so I am anxious to participate then and finally get acquainted with all of them. I talked with Rotary and my parents here and they said that I am free to travel Bolivia on my own or with a friend if I so please. Of course, I am going to take full advantage of that much cheaper opportunity. I have a friend that is hoping to travel with me in January to visit Lake Titicaca for a few days. I am hoping to line that up with the Rotary trip also and spend more time with all the exchangees. You all are reading the thoughts of a very very happy young woman right now. I really hope everything falls into place, but we will have to wait and see.

I had a really weird dream the other night that is sort of a recurring dream. Torty, I will leave the interpreting to you. It better be good. :) So I am on the dock at a lake that isn't really Spirit Lake, but it holds the same feeling for me somehow. I am with family and friends, but the only person I really remember clearly is Mom. We are getting the boat ready to go out, but these waves come up all of a sudden. This storm rolls in from nowhere and things just start going nuts. For some ridiculous reason, we jump into the water to secure the boat properly. For yet another ridiculous reason, I have my beloved camera in hand. Well, a huge swell comes up and knocks the camera right out of my hand and into the water. I start balling hysterically as though I had lost a family member just then. Mom has to pull me out of the water via shore as I am just limp and weakened by my anguish. If anybody can interpret that, please let me know. I don't get it. But I have always had recurring dreams that include dangerous waters. The dreams are always different, but they include that theme. I have always had a certain fear/respect for the dangerous ocean waters, but I don't know. I am goofy.

I want to go make frosting right now. I don't know why. I just feel this really strong urge to bake, but we have no ingredients and frosting is probably the only thing I can make.

My host mom got mad at me the other day when I told the family my stomach hurt and all I wanted for lunch was soup. She accused me of eating too much chocolate that I in fact did not eat. Of course, Moms are always right, so I just agreed and went on with life. So 45 minutes later I go upstairs with 1 cherry in my hand. Abu laughs thinking it is a piece of chocolate and says, "And you continue eating chocolate!" I immediately defend myself and Vivi gets mad at me all over again because cherries are hard on the stomach and that 1 healthy, lone cherry is going to make my stomach even worse. Again, I agree with her and leave to finish eating my 1 cherry in privacy. Mom's are always right. There is no winning. Whatever. Sorry RealMom, but some small part of you must know what I say has some truth to it.

I am excited for Christmas here. We go to church on Christmas Eve and that is all I really know. We will get together as an entire family in the Casa Rodriguez at some point, but I am not sure when exactly. We will be vacationing to Iquique, Chile, and will leave on the 26th probably. Very happy woman right now. Very happy woman.

Had lunch today at El Huerto, a great little restaurant that is a favorite of mine. El Huerto means The Orchard, so consequently they have an amazing salad bar that I could just make a meal out of. We ate with my Aunt Sandra, Uncle Lucho, and their three boys. I always love their company. That family knows how to laugh. Even when I don't have a clue what they are laughing about I laugh hysterically. Great people.

I am getting fat. Fatter. December in Bolivia makes for some serious weight gain. Plus my newfound desire to bake and my lack of exercise here. I love it here, but I REALLY will be happy next summer when I can just whip out the bike and bike to and around yellowsmoke all day long. REALLY happy. City life is just not good for my health. I am about to my breaking point when it comes to breathing in toxic black bus fumes.

I just started participating on a great little photography project of Brad Bonner's. If you go to you can look at all my fotos for this project called SeeVida. Basically, Brad is trying to get photographers from each country of the world to take a photograph per day and post it on his SeeVida set. That way you can see the whole world from the seat of your computer desk. Very cool idea. Yay BBonner yet again for your awesomeness. To see the project in all its entirety you can go to, but remember it is just getting started and there are not many photographers or photos yet. It has proven to be a learning experience for me as far as figuring out yet another program(flickr) and gaining a bit more insight into all that Picasa can do. It is fun and reminds me to keep my eyes open. I am no photographer, but it sure is fun acting like I know what I am doing. Thanks BBonner.

I am really glad I found JetPuffed marshmallows the other day to make Rice Krispy Bars. That made me happy.

For a birthday gift my parents got me a book by Paulo Coelho titled El Alquimista. That translates to The Alchemist. I am thrilled to report that I understand it almost entirely. I ran out of books to read in English, so I am moving on to reading in Spanish and it is much easier now. I love reading in Spanish. Way easier than speaking or listening.

Geez, I think that is all I've got. I will try and get one more post in December right after Christmas, but that depends on when we travel. If not, then I will write in January. Have a great holiday season, everyone. Merry Christmas, and I love you all dearly. You can't even understand how much I have changed and how much more I appreciate you all. Thanks Rotary, family, and friends. You rock my socks right off. I mean, they are like dancing off of my feet as we speak. Holy goodness, one just rocked all the way off. It's because you all rock so much. :) I will log off now. I have spent a good five seconds debating whether or not I should delete the sock-rocking part, but hey that's me folks. :) Shelby Jentz, you are laughing right now. I think I can hear it. :)

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Passing Puberty!!!

I always kind of knew I was a quiet person deep down, but I am proving it here. Maybe 'proving' isn't the right word, because I can always change that quality if I so choose. I have become quieter here at least. I struggle with opening up to people entirely, and yet I have always preached that such honesty is the best policy. I know it is. If Truth were revealed in every heart, life would be so easy to endure. We wouldn't have to play the mind games. Everyone in my life would have an honest insight to my mind and my manner of being. They may not understand or appreciate my manner of being, but at least it would be honest and we could end the game right then and there. No guesswork in life. Everything just plain as daylight. I have only been so honest with three or four people in my life, and even that is debatable and often has to be forced out of me. I thank those people that are capable of extracting the real me. I am pretty sure you know who you are. You are the people I miss most.

I have always claimed to hate a lot of things when in fact, or so I believe at the moment, I might love them and really want them in my life. I believed my own theories for so long in order to endure the crap life throws at us-- if you really want to call it crap. I am a cynic deep down, but I often contradict myself with a very hopeful heart. Or maybe it isn't that I am a cynic deep down, but rather that I have a hopeful heart deep down and the cynic is the exterior-- the sarcastic part that appeals to the witty side in everyone, thus encouraging laughter which creates only the illusion of hope. That is the side that I once believed was a way to open up to people, but I believe now that is all wrong. It is a fake exterior. An easy way out. I always try to emphasize the negatives of certain things in the hopes of preventing any heart-breaks or chances at failure. I would rather just avoid something entirely if the risk of sadness is involved. Dating, love, marriage, debating with good reason, drinking, trying something new, letting loose on a dance floor, looking like a total fool, breaking the law. All those things and more I now desire and want to enjoy, but I have spent the last 7 years of my life convincing myself to hate them. I deny myself these pleasures, and yet I literally yearn for them. I have lived a contradiction for the last 7 years judging happy people all the time while living my life in secrecy and morose solitude. It is a sick habit one loves to justify, and so I will argue that this marked solitude does have its pros along with its cons. My mind is a constant rollercoaster always thrashing with new thoughts, and with all that thinking I recognize a lot of life's oddities in ways that my peers don't recognize too often, but at the same time I am not always good company. I may appreciate the things that go on in my mind, but I always fail to express those things so that people may enjoy them. I return yet again to my favorite quote, “Happiness is best when shared.” I have been a walking contradiction, and that is very hard on the soul.

I have been denying myself of specific pleasures and desires for a long time now, and, had I lived honest to my heart and fulfilled those basest desires, I imagine I would be a much happier and succcessful person right now. That which one desires must come naturally, right? Maybe not. I made decisions to avoid all those human desires in the hopes that such decisions would eventually pay off some day. When did I think they would pay off? I have been waiting for seven years, and I think I am finally fed up. I could wait around for 40 more years and probably find some good in my reasoning, but I just don't have the patience. And so I would love to now give into my desires even though I still have that little tug of inhibitions hindering me. That tug is me giving up an entire 7 years of highly-valued thoughts. One strong tug, let me tell you. I am trying to give up on all I have stood for in the past; however, I shall not pursue the exact opposite of what I have believed. I shall merely change. Take a new route in life—if I truly have the guts. I say this all now. Easier said than done, but I think that is only true if you live in lies. If we all lived in honesty, 'said' and 'done' woud be of equal easiness. But life keeps going down its funky path, and we will all continue to live in our little worlds of lies—myself included. Life goes.

I am reminded of the oh-so-clever thoughts of Dorian Walker, a Rotary exchange student whose writing I find to be quite amusing. He wrote that living in a foreign country isn't so much about changing to fit in with the natives, but rather about about being comfortable enough to shine in your own skin. I was questioning this one morning on my class trip to Rio Selva Resort. I am pretty much settled in here as far as friendships are concerned; I have friends I trust, and I can be my goofy self around them if I so choose. This would apply well to Dorian's philosophy; however, I was struggling with this after the third night of watching the majority of my classmates party themselves into a drunken stupor. I am all good with the fact that pretty much everyone my age here drinks—a lot. That is all part of the culture, and I personally find it amusing to watch them stumble around laughing at nothing. I do that without alcohol. However, when I participate in the festivities and get bombarded by drunkards demanding that I sing karaoke, I freeze. It would take a hell of a lot of alcohol for me to sing willingly for anyone. After refusing, I managed to ignore their anger and all my lameness was forgotten within ten minutes as they continued screaming and dancing and drinking. The surprising thing is that I didn't pull a super-freak and walk out crying. In that sense I have matured. My tear ducts have somehow malfunctioned since my arrival here, and I consider that a miracle as they once functioned on a daily basis in the States. Instead of blaming everyone else for my discomfort, I just endured it and moved on. I knew everything would be forgotten, and that it didn't matter if they were mad or not. I didn't have time to worry about what everyone else thought. So in that instance at that moment, I was comfortable enough with myself to say no and sincerely mean it.

What bothered me the morning after though, is the fact that I really wanted to sing. I really wish I had it in me to sing for people without trembling to the point of tears. I really wanted to be as comfortable as the rest of my peers to sing obnoxiously and not care what everyone else thinks. This applies to the whole week of partying. Each time I attempted to enjoy their forms of entertainment, I just got tense and angry and annoyed inside. That isn't good right? If I am not comfortable enough to break loose in my own skin, I should oppose Dorian's philosophy and become one of the natives, I thought. What the hell is it that keeps me from enjoying the same things as them?! Well, I finally realized it. The alcohol. Everyone else was so liquored up that they didn't have a care in the world. Everything's fun with alcohol! So I got to thinking a little more. If I need to be intoxicated to do certain things, why would I want to do them at all? I guess I just don't think I should need a false high to enjoy my life. So I waited 7 years of my life to drink alcohol because I convinced myself it was just the nastiest and most vile thing on Earth. That delusion turned out true for me. And you can't say I haven't tried it, because I most definitely have. My curiosity took over recently, so I asked permission to drink at my graduation party. I did not like it. Alcohol is some pretty nasty stuff. In this instance, I am glad I grew up convincing myself that alcohol is an evil thing. It stopped me from doing anything stupid and regrettable in high school. Those seven years of contradictions set my head level. I think twice about doing things, but I now at least am open to them. I am comfortable enough in my own skin to say no to alcohol, but I can also loosen up enough to have a few sips and not judge everyone else that is falling over in the bushes.

I hope I will always remain the quiet, pensive young woman I am, but I can do that and be a happy person at the same time. I don't have to hate things to stop myself from enjoying them, but I also don't have to pull a one-eighty and try everything. I can stop and think hard about things before making any decisions. And I can choose to sit on the sidelines while everyone else is out on the dance floor begging me to cut loose. I enjoy sitting back and watching everyone else party. Quiet observance. I have learned to not judge those that participate in the fun. Now I can appreciate their enjoyment while enjoying my quiet peace at the same time. I have found this new sense of peace. I really am comfortable in my own boring skin here. Dorian was right.

I think I just got through a part of the teenage phase. No going back to change it, so I just as well find some good in it. I learned some stuff along the way, but just when we think we are prepared for the next phase in life we get all confused and the catharsis starts over. Life goes. Holy smokes. I am about to turn 19. Thank goodness I got through puberty. I never want to go through childhood again.

By the way, if you would like to check into Dorian's blog here is the address: He is an incredible writer. Tina, you would absolutely love to read his stuff.