Monthly Archives: March 2012

Purge Anxiety


DON’T MAKE ME THROW AWAY MY BOOKS!!! This is what is going through my head right now as I go through my shelves for the third time slowly getting rid of my papery-wonder-filled friends.

We’re moving to Spain and really can’t take very much over with us. Since we’re not sure if we’re coming back, paying for a storage unit for 6 years only to have our parents get rid of things if we don’t come back doesn’t seem like a good idea. Also, I’ve been trying to tell myself that ‘things’ are not what make a home (but sometimes it feels like it).

Now, I have a lot of book (still) but not nearly as much as dear friend, fellow lover of books, language teacher, and linguist-nerd:  Maggie. That woman has a whole entire wall of her house with floor to ceiling shelves filled with books. If her house burned down I really think she would try to take the shelves out. Or, she would die from smoke inhalation standing in front of her shelves trying to decide which ones she’s going to save. Actually, I wouldn’t put it past her to have already organized a “in case of fire or natural disaster” section with a bag waiting next to it just in case she has to run!

I’m not as bad as Maggie, but my anxiety level is pretty high right now…

Over the past year I have been making mental tallies of the things that we will bring with us and the things that will find new homes. The “to Spain” list gets smaller and smaller as I am adjusting to the idea of getting rid of things that mean something to me.

But the books, THE BOOKS!!! Oh, it breaks my heart! I can’t part with something to which I’ve had such emotional connections!!

I have given books to friends, sold them in a yard sale and sold them at Powell’s. The last time I took a load to Powell’s I ended up getting over $100.00 for my books. I may have something close to that in this next round…

I know that books are books and you can get them anywhere, it’s just that I love them so much!!

So, what are some of the titles that are coming with me?

My favorite!



There of course are some linguistic reference and text books that will come in handy during my PhD studies, a couple cook books and souvenir books and some others that will probably “slip into” the keep pile… But for now, it’s the essentials. I can always get more books later, right?!

For now, I have to think that my collection will be making someone else happy and that they will all go to good homes. Maybe the loss of some of my books to the next owners will induce the same purge anxiety as they have caused me.

Keep changing lives, dear friends. Keep changing lives…

How my tampons broke the washer… kind of


I am about to confess one of my most embarrassing moments of my adult life… For those of you who know me well, will understand that making this story public will absolutely mortify me. Why am I about to spill my guts to the world then? Well, I’m actually inspired by a friend of mine, Cristina, who is always putting herself out there (and by Will Smith but that’s a different story). She’s not afraid to let us into her crazy-beautiful head. I am so proud of her and inspired by her. Her courage amazes me!  I feel like telling this story will help me lose my inhibitions and hey, we’re all human, right? Plus, this story is soooooo funny!

Now, I must say that I still haven’t told this story to the person that actually owns this washing machine. Although I recruited the help of his brother and sister-in-law (and I’m pretty sure they’ve told him the real story but, because they are really great people have spared me the embarrassment of letting me know they’ve outed me), I haven’t actually confessed this… yet. Miguel, if you ever read this, I’m truly sorry! Lo siento muchísimo! Mil perdones…

So, here it goes. The story of the Spanish washing machine and how I broke it with a box of tampons…


A little over two years ago I went to live in Asturias, Spain for an internship during my graduate studies. I was working at a program at a study abroad office that coincidentally was the same program I went through while an undergrad. No one really believes me when I say that it truly was a coincidence that I ended up in the same city twice! When looking for internships, the coordinator set me up with one that sounded perfect for me! When I found out it was in Spain I was happy. When I found out it was in the same city I studied in 7 years earlier working for the same office I studied with, I was ecstatic!  So, because I still had great friends in Oviedo, I ended up rooming with a good friend of mine, Miguel, who is a gem and such a good friend of mine. We spent a whole year becoming good friends the first go-around and had kept in touch when I moved back to the States. He was kind enough to let me room with him while I was working in Spain almost seven years later. I was very happy to be living with someone I knew, for many reasons. Now, moving in with a man as a married woman was actually easier than I thought… Accept for the part where if ‘woman’ things came up, and wasn’t living with my husband and it is way more embarrasing! The only man I had lived with, ever, was my husband. Furthermore in Spain, I was living with a man who had only lived with his sister and mother. And those women were outnumbered by 6 other men in the house!

Okay, back on track. Not too long after I moved in, I had started the habit of putting my dirty clothes in a plastic bag in my closet so that I could wash them later (make-shift hamper). One day (I think it was the weekend because I wasn’t working but my roommate was) I went to wash my clothes. I took out the plastic bag from the closet and threw the whole thing in the wash while holding onto the bottom of the bag. The bag was full of clothes and I just shoved everything in. The washer is a typical Spanish washer that is a front-loader with a glass window in front (I happen to have a very similar model at home now). Well, when I came into the kitchen a bit later to check on my clothes (yes, in Spain washers are kitchen appliances much like dishwashers and refrigerators) I saw that the load was done and the clothes were washed. I also saw ABOUT FIVE SOGGY AND EXPANDED TAMPONS STUCK TO THE GLASS!!!!!

I had forgotten that the plastic bag I had been putting my clothes in was the same bag I had taken my tampons home with from the grocery store!!!! I didn’t even realize that I had been putting clothes into a bag with a box of unopened tampons. So, I went to open the washing machine to get these soggy tampons out of my clothes when… here it gets bad… THE HANDLE BROKE AND I COULDN’T OPEN THE DOOR!

Imagine me freaking out! I have a washer full of expanded tampons stuck to the glass and I can’t open it to get them out! You can imagine all the things running through my head: OMG, OMG what am I going to do?! My male roommate is coming home in a few hours and I’m going to have to explain this! AAAAAND, if we have to call to get someone to fix the door, they are going to see this too! So, I decided to call Miguel’s sister-in-law, Elena. She is a wonderful woman who is so sweet and kind and has had the experience of living abroad before and was perfect person to call in this situation! I dialed Elena’s number but she didn’t answer. I left her a message telling her that I had a problem and that I was hoping she could help me… Time past and time past. I was freaking out so much that I decided to leave the house to calm me down. All I could think about were my wet tampons stuck to the glass just waiting to embarrass the hell out of me.  So, I went down the street to a coffee shop to sit and think about how I was going to explain this fiasco to my roommate…

Then, Elena called. I was sitting at a coffee shop with two old Spanish women sitting next to me. The whole time I was there they were gossiping about so-and-so’s son and whoziwhats’s neighbor. Now, not to generalize but old Spanish women get their kicks off of small-town gossip as much as another. I didn’t want to sit there telling my tampon-washing-machine story with these two blue hairs sitting there knowing that they’d listen in and run home to talk about the crazy foreign girl with hygiene issues.

¡Ay por Diossss, qué chavala más tonta!

I knew that Elena had spent some time in England working and had even heard her English. It is very, very good so I thought that I would tell her the story in English so that the two gossip-queens wouldn’t over hear. I proceded to tell her the story of the tampons, the broken handle and how I didn’t want Miguel to find out! Elena tells me that she is going to call her husband, Miguel’s brother, to come fix the washer. “Noooooo! I don’t want Javi to see this either! Please explain to him that I didn’t know the tampons were in there!!” I knew that this was my fate, that someone was going to see the mess I made but I was glad, at least, that it was a married man. I was glad that it was someone who had lived with a woman and had a little perspective and compassion…

So, Javi the engineer comes over to save the day! I was embarrassed but thought, ‘oh well, it will all be over soon.’ Javi came in to evaluate the damage. He stood there for a little and looked at the washer… and looked some more. He looked at me, and then back down to the washer… He tried jiggling the handle and trying to get it open but it just wouldn’t budge. We tried many things but without breaking it off completely, he didn’t know what else to do. It had been about 15 to 20 minutes of trying to get it open and we knew that we should at least open the washer. Javi and Elena were so nice not to talk about the tampons. They were trying to be considerate of my feelings. Or so I thought…

Elena left the room to find some more tools and when she did, Javi looked over at me and the following conversation took place:

Javi (in a concerned voice): “Amandita… um…why did you wash your tampons?”

Me (realizing that for the last 20 minutes he didn’t know what happened with the box but was too afraid to say anything until now): “WAIT, WHAT???!! No, I don’t wash my tampons! They are not used!!! I accidentally washed a box of tampons because they were in the same bag I was putting my dirty clothes in!!! IT WAS AN UNOPENED BOX!!! I thought Elena had explained that to you!”

Elena, hearing the commotion, came back into the room and had heard what I was saying. She explained to me that she didn’t really understand what I was saying on the phone in English. All she knew was that the washer was broken and I needed help. She was honest to say that she was very surprised to come into the kitchen to see the tampons on the glass too… Oh man!

Well, after Javi clearly became more relaxed knowing that these weren’t used tampons stuck to the glass, we had a little laugh about the miscommunication and to make me feel better Elena told me one of her most embarrassing moments (mine is worse). Javi broke into the washer by ripping the handle off (we were going to have to get it fixed anyway and at least now Miguel wouldn’t have to see my ‘dirty laundry’). We got all the tampons out but things were quite a mess from the cardboard box they came in that had disintegrated all over the inside. Miguel came home to know that his washer handle had been broken and we needed someone to come fix it.

His birthday was not too long after this incident so for his present I gave him a toy washer with an apology card saying that I got him a new washer.

To this day (maybe) Miguel doesn’t know the real story of the broken machine. I’m willing to bet that Javi and Elena have had more than a few laughs about this one. Honestly, so have I. Now I think it’s a really funny story and am looking forward to telling to Miguel in person one day…

My juicing adventures


Last summer I was flipping through my Netflix streaming and came upon this interesting documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s all about this guy who was dying because his diet and lack of exercise was nearly killing him. He went on a crazy juice fast for a couple months and documented his weight loss and change of health. It was amazing to see what fruits and veggies did for his life! It got me researching juicing a bit because I’ve always suffered from digestive issues…

A year and a half ago I came down with mono and it totally kicked my food allergies into high gear! I found out that I’m extremely allergic to gluten. When I eat it, I get super tired, almost like I’m drugged, I get a headache, my stomach swells up to the point that it looks like I’m 6 months pregnant (I’m not joking) and my intestines bleed!!!! I’m so sensitive that I can’t even eat pre-shredded cheese (a lot of times it has a light covering of flour so that it doesn’t stick together in the package). Even if I don’t eat gluten my stomach issues are so bad that I throw up in the morning and have crazy heart burn.

Although I wasn’t looking into starting a complete juice diet to lose 50 pounds, the more I looked into it, the more I saw how much juicing was helping those with digestive issues. I bought a juicer and fell in love! No one can eat as many fruits and veggies as we’re supposed to, but if you juice it, you can! For example, this is my typical breakfast:

There is no way I could actually eat this every morning! But, I am sure to get my fill of fruits/veggies every day. And, what it’s done for my body is amazing!! It gives me energy, I don’t throw up in the morning, my skin is more clear and I feel so much better! I usually switch off every morning with either veggie juice or fruit smoothies. I’m eating vegetables that I usually wouldn’t eat very much like chard and kale and the stems of beets.

If you have any type of digestive issue or food allergy, I would highly recommend juicing. Of course, the best thing that we could do is eat whole, fresh fruits and vegetables because of the fiber like this article says. But go back to that picture above and tell me you could actually eat that for breakfast…

I usually juice at night for the next morning. They say that it’s not ideal because so many nutrients are lost during the sitting time. But, it’s a lot better than not juicing because I don’t have time in the morning (I am NOT a morning person!!). But, if you fill your container to the very top to prevent as much oxygen as possible from getting in and store it in a dark, cold place (refrigerator), then you still get most of the vitamins and minerals.

If you’re interesting in juicing, there are a couple of things you should know. One  is that there are many types of juicers out there that vary in price drastically. My suggestion is to not buy a juicer that costs less than 100 dollars. The cheap ones usually don’t juice as well and you waste food. But, you don’t need the crazy ones that cost more that 150/200 dollars. The brand I use is the Jack Lalanne  juicers. Did you know that this dude lived to be 96 years old!!!

En fin, juicing has changed my life in such a drastic way and I highly suggest looking into it! Please don’t stop eating and see it as a crazy fad-diet. Just think about all the fruits and vegetables you could be eating!!!