Category Archives: Life and Self

Guns don’t kill people, guns do




Before you attack my syntax, let me explain. Obviously I’m playing off of the ever-so-easy fall out of “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Well, um… yeah… we know that. In fact, if we want to go back in time, the first human ever to be born on this earth was a murderer.  And even if you don’t believe that the Bible is true, and just know it as a human mythology, there’s a reason that the story is there. It explains us. And going back to the first recorded sins, that’s a pretty large degree of separation if you ask me. Something like the third story in the Bible is about murder!! But it’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, it wasn’t a progression, as people like to put it out there: “In my day…. Back when things were good… In the good old days…” No, there were never ‘good old days’. People kill people and they always have. People are capable of the most beautiful and wonderful things, and at the same time, the most horrific and ugly things.

Now, let’s get back to the weapon part of it. Did Cain have a gun? No, of course not. Was Cain jealous, hateful, and selfish, and killed his brother, despite not having a gun? Yes. The first sons of man set up a dichotomy of a sort of tangible good and evil. They set up a relatable story of a loving family with territorial problems, daddy issues, and anger. Sadly, horrifically, regretfully, this is the way life is. This is the way humans are. They are good, and evil, and both at the same time. So let’s put aside the argument that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. This is a moot point in so many ways.

Let’s talk about the gun problem in America. And yes, America DOES have a gun problem. Or, as this educational video explains so poignantly, America has multiple gun problems. But I’ll get to the details of that statement later.  What I want to say now, to introduce these ideas, is that it’s not the machine that kills people, it’s people that kill people. WAIT, WHAT DID I JUST SAY?! DID I JUST GO BACK TO… Yes, I did. But let me explain what the “people” problem is and what I really mean by that, and why it’s really not what you’re thinking. It’s people, it’s a culture, it’s a community, it’s a nation that is so systematically wired to think that they need guns, that in the end, they do actually ‘need’ guns. I will explain this later, but what I want to say, what my whole point is all about, is that America needs gun reform, because gun reform is about systematically changing the dependency on guns and systematically changing the ideology and culture that gun dependency entails. This is it. This is what gun laws will do. It won’t fix the problem in a day, in a month, in a year, or maybe even 10 years. But it WILL fix the problem. Because guns make people do bad things. Because guns make people kill people. Gun reform will change the way we think, and therefore, the way we act. Gun reform will systematically change the way the people of America think,  it will systematically change the way criminals (and non-criminal) act,  it will lead to fewer deaths across the board, and  it will ultimately bring a nation together, one that has been ripped apart.

Gun reform will systematically change the way the people of America think.

America (the World, really) is as divided as Cain and Abel, good and bad, jealous and virtuous, with and without daddy problems, and all of the other human things that people deal with. And why do I keep mentioning daddy issues? I’m simultaneously sticking with the Oedipus complex and keeping away from our good friend Freud with this one. What this complex is all about isn’t really about sex (or guns), it’s about the psychology behind it and the power that comes from independence. It’s not really about Freud or Jung, anyway. It’s more basic than that. It’s about kicking the authority figure off his pedestal because “I’m old enough and independent enough to know what’s good for me”. It’s this constant yearn for an authority, and at the same time, a break-away from it. It’s in our American blood to rip away from the power-figure and make it on our own, sticking it to the man, and in turn, become the powerful, independent and free! We didn’t trust that the government, the father, wouldn’t screw us in the end (because he tries really hard). We have the RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS so that no one can ever take away our freedom; the freedom we won with guns anyway!

Ok, yes. That happened. And yes, I am an independent, free-thinking American woman who has (serious) authority issues and struggled for my place in the world because of my fight, because of my will, because I educated myself (read: I’m white and went to a decent school taught by people who believed in me, and even though I was on food stamps  and from a broken family as a kid… privileged), and even though I dropped out of college that one time (OK, fine, it was twice. Geeze, leave me alone!), I climbed to the top and got two Master’s and a PhD. Of course I did, it’s the way I was bred! Americans are taught to be independent. They are taught to be free! They are taught to make a goal and attain it! Perseverance! Innovation! Freedom! Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of this. I’m proud to be an American (despite the fact that I ran away and fled my country). I love Americans! But I also am frighteningly aware of the fact that I’m scared to be around Americans too.

Back on track. Americans feel a deep-seated need to defend their independence. I tell this to people all the time in Europe. America is still too young to have rid itself of its ‘recent’ past (I mean, I have a book on my shelf that’s older than my country, and the gun-slinging days of the Wild West was like two days ago). We’re babies. Well, we’re teenagers fighting, still, to keep tabs on the authority that we praise and hate at the same time. We love our ‘family’, our unity, what it means to be a community, what it means to be a pack who fights for each other, but at the same time have a fear and hate for our family members, a fear of our government, a fear of our father, a fear of our brother. We are afraid of each other! Because what’s mine is mine, and I earned it. Because ‘united and independent’ doesn’t work. We want it to, and it could, but the way things are now, it’s not working. Because guns. Actually, because we ‘need’ guns.

Why do we use the excuse of the ‘right to bear arms’ when really we’re using them on each other and ourselves? Do you really think that your gun is going to stop the evil government from screwing you? Look at the government. They kill you with lies and corruption and secrets. They don’t control you with guns. And, sorry to say, if the American government tried to overtake you with force, you would lose, plain and simple. Your gun isn’t going to do anything against the American military, period. Our gun culture created the most powerful military force in the world. Your right to bear arms has nothing to do with a coup. It has nothing to do with the way your government is controlling you. Instead, we use them to kill each other. We were supposed to use guns to fight the authority and bring the littles together. Instead, we are killing off our fellow littles, one by one. The right to bear arms has become something else.

“Ok:, you say. “Fine. I can’t take back my country with a gun, but I can protect my property and my family with it”. Here’s where it gets tricky. You’re actually killing more of your friends and family with the guns than you are the people who are trying to take them away from you (more about them later). Research shows that access to guns greatly increases the risk of death and firearm-related violence. A gun in the home is twelve times more likely to result in the death of a household member or visitor than an intruder. And even if you counter this argument according to the numbers, even if it’s not 12 times more likely to happen, it still happens way more than if you didn’t have a gun. I personally know two people who have died from an accidental gun-related incidents. And at the moment, they were not defending themselves. They had never had a gun pulled on them, or had someone come into their house, or since then, for that matter. They were horrific, terrible, and sad events. They would still be alive if it weren’t for those guns.

Then you say, “Well, I’m still willing to risk having a gun in my home because if someone comes to kill us and I don’t have it, then what?”

That brings me to my second point, which is really, the supporting argument for my first. Gun reform will systematically change the people of America think, and therefore, systematically change the way criminals act. That’s right. A criminal, not a psychopath (remember we can’t get away from those) does not want to kill you. He wants free stuff. She wants YOUR stuff. They don’t want to take your life. Really, think about it. Their aim is to get stuff, walk away, and never get caught. They don’t want a murder, or a mess to clean up. Then why do they have guns? BECAUSE YOU DO!  And they think you’ll use it on them if they get caught (and you will). Crime rates are not that different in the U.S. than in other countries comparatively. They are just more lethal. You have a gun because you think the intruder will have a gun. He has a gun because he thinks you will have a gun. Take away the guns, and you have less deaths (remember the intruder’s not the one dying in the end, statistically). A mugger on the street wants your purse. A knife in his hand is intimidating, but less lethal than a gun. The mace in your purse will get him off you (in the situation where no one has guns) but not kill him. If no one thinks the other one has a gun, they won’t think they need one and the circle of less-deaths continues.

Police violence (both on blue and off) will decrease. Every police officer in America has a gun because they know that we all  (maybe) do too. In Europe, not all police officers carry guns. You might think this is crazy, but it’s true. They don’t need guns to control or subdue someone. They don’t need one because the person they’re trying to subdue or control doesn’t have one either.

But then you say “A psychopath will find a gun no matter what. Taking away guns won’t stop them”. No, it won’t stop all of them. But it will stop many of them. Do the math. If it’s easy for ANYONE to get a gun, then it’s easy for ALL killers to get one. If it’s hard for everyone to get a gun, then you could reduce the mass shootings by at least half, if not more!

Fewer guns equal fewer deaths, period. If the bad guy doesn’t need a gun, then neither do you, and the cop doesn’t feel trigger happy either. If you don’t have a gun in your house for safety, then needless deaths don’t happen. If you don’t fear that someone has a gun, you can defend yourself in other ways. If you don’t need a gun, you won’t assume someone is trying to kill you, and in turn, try to kill them.

Will gun reform stop crime? No.

Will gun reform stop murders? No.

Gun reform is about systematically changing the way that Americans think, and therefore act. It will lead to fewer deaths across the board, and  it will ultimately bring a nation together, one that has been ripped apart. I love America, but where I live, I am not afraid to teach. I am not afraid to go to a movie theatre. I’m not afraid to walk down the street (I’ve been mugged once, and stolen from another and it never even crossed my mind that I could also die). Do crimes happen where I live? Yes! Are they gun-related with multiple murder victims? NO!!! I’m not afraid of the people around me, and they are not afraid of me. I’m not afraid that they can kill me in an instant. I’m not afraid! I’m not afraid! In fact, I feel more safe and (oh god, will I say it?) more free outside of the U.S. than in it, and that’s the truth.

Cain was the first, but he won’t be the last. So many American people are dying and afraid. So many American people hate each other, are fearful of each other, and form false bonds between groups that don’t really exist.

Because guns don’t kill (a lot of) people, (a lot of) guns do.

I’m not in Kansas… uh, Spain… anymore!


So, as most of you know, I am spending my summer in Cambridge, England for the summer working on some (to me, super exciting) research!  After living in Spain for 9 months, I really forgot what it’s like to move to another country (I know, sounds strange).  I have only been here for 6 days, but already there is so much to share with you.  Let’s start from the beginning!

I arrived in Cambridge with a very warm welcome at Homerton College, a college a little outside of the city center.  The campus is absolutely beautiful and people here are really nice.  There are 31 colleges (I think) at Cambridge and even though this one is the “reject” college (the rich kids with important daddies are placed in the ‘cool’ colleges), I think that it is the perfect fit for me!  The students here are super nice, the staff and porters (doormen: people who take care of general building and are present at reception) are extremely helpful.  When I walked through the door with my suitcase, they greeted me by name (I guess I was the only newbie that day) and made sure that I was comfortable.

When I walked into the student residency halls, at the risk of sounding cliché, I really felt like I was Harry Potter.  The College buildings are huge and old and beautiful. The huge wooden front doors are automatic so when I walked up I snickered to myself a little bit imagining some Hogwarts magic happening (haha).  The Great Hall, which is basically the dining hall is amazing as well.  It has a huge stained glass window that looms over the high-ceiling room with wooden tables and chairs. Minus the ceiling that magically turns into the sky above, and the fact that it’s quite a bit smaller, the Great Hall again reminded me of Harry and all of his ‘mates’.

My room is quite nice, and it even has a cute little fireplace. Aaaaand, we even have house-elves that clean our rooms and change our sheets and towels (okay, there are no house-elves but a nice woman named Hillary with the cutest accent I’ve ever heard and a huge heart for the students who live in the Hall).  I feel very, very comfortable here, and honestly, a bit spoiled.

Homerton College, Cambridge

Homerton College, Cambridge


Homerton College, Cambridge

Homerton College, Cambridge

Great Hall, Homerton College (clearly I did not take this picture)

Great Hall, Homerton College (clearly I did not take this picture)

Great Hall, Homerton College (clearly I did not take this picture)

Great Hall, Homerton College (clearly I did not take this picture)

Cute little fireplace in my room

Cute little fireplace in my room

I spent most of Friday running around getting things in order, most of Saturday sleeping and resting (my god, it’s been a long year!) and Sunday I spent roaming around the charming city of Cambridge.  It’s such a lovely town and the sights are wonderful.  Cambridge is an old university town with Colleges spread throughout the city.  There is no ‘one central campus’ but rather different department buildings and colleges, so most streets are filled with students and tourists.  I think my favorite place so far is at “The Backs“, which are the beautiful back sides of some of the oldest colleges that run along the river.

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The town is full of life and quaintness and I really think that I will enjoy my time here!

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Pretty much the only picture I have of myself so far (taken by kind tourist)

Pretty much the only picture I have of myself so far (taken by kind tourist)

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How does this one not scream Harry Potter? Hog's Head, anyone?

How does this one not scream Harry Potter? Hog’s Head, anyone?

On Monday, I decided to start in on my academic affairs and get to work. This means a visit to the University Library. Holy crap, the library! It. Is. Huge!!! It is so huge, in fact, that I couldn’t get it all in my camera frame, so you will have to settle for an image leeched off the internet.  This library holds over 8 million items and it is one of the three legal deposit university libraries in England, therefore it is entitled to request a free copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland. That is a lot of books, people! In reality, the library itself isn’t so glamorous.  The main floor is quite elegant but the elevators to the other floors seem like prison cells and the shelves are so tightly snugged together that there is hardly any light. It’s kind of scary, actually! Before I went I was talking with some of the students at Homerton who were prepping me for my first UL experience and telling me that it has an “Auschwitz” fell to it.  I wouldn’t go quite that far, but yeah… it’s kind of oppressive feeling. When you look out the tiny windows there is wire to keep the birds away and the sound of silence and florescent  lights kind of make you go crazy. But hey, you grab your book from the scary towers, jump back in a prison cell that will take you back to the main floor, and you’re back to library bliss! Back on the main floor, there are shelves and shelves of books, quaint little nooks, huge reading rooms, and library goodness.  Just don’t spend too much time anywhere else!


scary as hell North Tower!  This picture is actually quite nice in comparison with reality! Do not find yourself alone here!

scary as hell North Tower! This picture is actually quite nice in comparison with reality! Do not find yourself alone here!

I’ve only been here for 6 days, but I’ve already found myself a routine.  Most mornings are calm. Most of my days are spent in the library, and my evenings give me time to either go for a run along the river or spend some time in the dance studio at Homerton.  I absolutely love the dance studio! It’s open whenever I want it and most of the time I’m the only one there! I have spent hours already dancing my heart out and loving it!

In the dance studio ready to rock out

In the dance studio ready to rock out

So, this is my life so far and I am loving it. It’s a tad lonely, however. Most students are finishing exams. They are either studying like mad for exams they are about to take, or partying like mad because they’ve completed exams. Either way, they don’t have much time for a newbie 🙂 I did make one friend, however. The porters thought that I was Spanish (not only because I come from a Spanish university, but apparently they think I speak English like a Spaniard too… right… Crazy Brits) so they hunted down the one Spanish student in Homerton so that we could meet.

So, that’s my life and routine at the moment. But what about the differences between England and Spain, you ask?  Many people have asked me if it’s strange to be back in an English speaking country. Well, yes, it is.  For one, the English is hard for me to understand.  It’s kind of funny because I’m a language nerd but have a hard time with my own! My husband, Patrick, makes fun of me because often when we watch a film from the UK, I have to put subtitles on because I can’t understand what they’re saying! And it’s not only the accent, it’s the vocabulary.  Mailboxes are called “pigeon holes”, trucks are called “lorries”, I can’t figure out if a “coach”  is a bus or a train, “jumpers” are sweaters, “anti-clockwise” is counter-clockwise, a “chemist’s shop” is a pharmacy or drugstore, a crosswalk is called a “zebra crossing” (I know, ridiculous, right?), a “biscuit” is a cookie, a wallet is a “purse”, and a purse is a “bag”.

I was in the Homerton Library one afternoon and a librarian walked up to me and said “They’re squashin’ biscuits downstairs”.  I didn’t understand why anyone would squash a biscuit in the library. She then explained to me that “squash” is juice and that there are “squash and biscuits” provided to students every day at 3:30.  Ooooooooooh, now I get it… kind of.

Squash (juice) and biscuits, not "squashing biscuits".  This is very important.

Squash (juice) and biscuits (cookies), not “squashing biscuits”. This is very important.

There are other differences too. For one, you all know that they drive on the other side of the road here.  I have a mild heart attack each time I cross the street. I get so confused! Even when I know which way I’m supposed to look, my instincts scream “Amanda, for Pete’s sake, look the other way, you’re going to be squashed like a biscuit!!!”

I am also often confused, and piss off other cyclists/runners, on the trails as well.  It feels strange for bodies to be moving on the other side of the path. At least in England, people actually notice you and get out of your way when your barreling past them on the trail.  In Spain, they wait until they are millimeters away until there is even a hint that they care about you crashing into them. That’s another thing.  I forgot about “personal space” for a while there.  Spaniards’ “personal bubbles” are much, much smaller than those in the UK and US cultures.  I forgot that when it even seems like you may bump into someone you have to say “sorry” for potentially invading their space.  In Spain, you don’t often hear “sorry” or “excuse me” unless there are mild concussions or arms out of sockets involved in the collision.

Look right, even if everything in your body and soul tell you to look left!

Look right, even if everything in your body and soul tell you to look left!

There is also the whole “what happens at what time of day” thing.  Mostly this is has to do with eating schedules but also the time of day people wake up and go to bed. In general, Spaniards stay up way later than those in the US and UK.  In Spain, a normal lunch time is between 2-3 in the afternoon and a normal dinner time would be around 9-10 (and could be even later if you’re going out to eat at a restaurant).  In England, like the US, lunch is at noon and dinner is at six.  The dinner hall here at Homerton closes at 7:30.  In Spain, you wouldn’t even be able to sit down to eat that early, the kitchen wouldn’t even be open!   I’m also not used to most stores and libraries being open all day long and until 11:00 p.m and even open on Sundays! In Spain, most places close for a couple of hours during lunch time and on Sundays there are very few places open for business.  That is one thing I actually miss, everyone being on a similar schedule. Most people eat around the same time and on Sunday, there’s not much else to do other than to rest, no errands, no shopping, no business.

Well, folks. That’s all for now, I’ve got some work to do.  I hope to post again at some point soon. Cheerio!

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!!!


fear factor


Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil,pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feelingor condition of being afraid.

I think that what a person is afraid of can tell a lot about a person. Some people live their life according to their fears and others seem to throw caution to the wind. But we’re all afraid of something, right? I don’t think that I am a person who lets fear get in my way (most of the time) but it definitely will put a kink in my day if I don’t have the cojones to just stand up and do something when I’m afraid of the outcome.

I’ve actually always been one of those people who “like” to be scared. If my mom only knew the torture I put myself through as a child with all of those scary books and horror movies (all of these activities were hidden to her…) she would have put me in shock treatment therapy right away! I don’t know what my obsession was when I was little, but I LOVED the feeling of being scared. Now, this may actually show how good I had it as a kid for I was never in actual real danger. There was never anything I actually had to be afraid of so I looked for the “thrill” elsewhere.  My life was simple, fear free and pretty tranquil. I guess instead of running to drugs and alcohol to spice it up, I got my fixes from Steven King (my 3rd and 4th grade drug of choice was watching Pet Cemetery, IT and The Shining… not that 3rd and 4th graders are on drugs…).  I also was quite the daredevil. When I was 8 years old I jumped off of a 20 ft. diving platform at a water park. I also spent summers as a child jumping off the bridges at Cove Palisades.  I loved roller coasters and I always got sad when I was too young or short to go on the scary rides.  I also started a club with my friends modeled after the T.V. show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. We would climb into a clearing in some bushes near our house, place a flashlight (couldn’t start a campfire like we really wanted to) and told scary stories in the dark.  I loved ghost stories and always wanted a real encounter with one. When I got older and was able to drive, my cousin and I would go on ghost hunts regularly. We would research hauntings in the area and try and provoke some spirit to come out of the woods to scare us. I slowly grew out of my “evil spirit” and dare devil thrill seeking antics the older I got.

I have, however, come to realize that I hold onto some pretty real fears. Most of them are pretty silly but they scare the crap out of me! If I let these get the better of me, things can go down hill pretty fast. Below is a list of things that I am afraid of.

1. Spiders: Well, I actually have a strong fear of any creepy crawly if it is congregated in a group of other creepy crawlies.  You see, this all started when I was a child sitting on our swingset with my brother (now I’m sounding like my mother who has an childhood anecdote to explain all of her adult behaviors) who told me the earwigs we found on the swing set would crawl into my ears at night and eat my brain and lay eggs. I actually, to this day, am afraid of insects because I think that they are conspiring against me to attack! And don’t laugh, but I have experiences that tell me that they are capable of it and they are smarter than we think!!! Watch out for those little suckers if they are in groups… they’ll getcha!

2. Rejection (everyone has Daddy issues, right?)

3. Public Speaking: Yes, I know I’m a teacher and speak in front of over 90 students a term but that’s completely different! (I know my fellow teachers are nodding in agreement when they see this).

4. Death: I am not actually afraid of my own death, but rather the death of others that I love. This I think comes from some of those abandonment and rejection issues but it is one of those things that freaks me out! If someone I love is getting on a plane, the worst things go through my head.

5. Public Bathrooms: I actually wet myself in the 5th grade because I didn’t want to use the bathrooms at school. Yes, I have gotten over this enough to actually use them… That experience helped quite a bit! haha

Now, before you think I’m a crazy person, think about the things that you are afraid of. I’m willing to bet that a good chunk of them are irrational.  But I think that one thing we all fear is the unknown. What will our futures bring us? Am I making the right decision by taking this risk? Will things work out the way I plan them to? The thing is though, I think we should all be afraid of NOT taking those risks. Life has its way of working itself out in a nice way. I tend to not regret things because I know that whatever the outcome, I’ve learned something. Even if not so pleasant things come out of the risks that I take, I know that the experience of taking the risk far outweighs the negative outcomes.  I don’t want to sit around and think “what if”. That is one fear that I do want to influence my life. I want to go out on a limb and put myself out there. If I don’t, I run the risk of regretting not taking those leaps, of not risking comforts of the known. I don’t want to look back on my life and say I was too afraid to make changes.

I know that the changes that I’m planning for my life now are good. I know that even though they are scary that things will work out. If they don’t, I can always change things to make it better. But if I don’t go out on that limb, I risk the scary, scary life of boredom, complacency and mediocracy. World, here I come!!!

supernatural powers


I’ve been thinking about superhero powers lately… Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just roll with me for a second!

My husband, Patrick, and I have just started streaming the T.V. show “Heroes” and quickly became huge fans! Yes, I know it was on a while ago but we never got into it until now.  The show is about these seemingly random strangers that find themselves blessed/cursed with super powers.  The onset of these powers can destroy the world but it’s up to the characters to use their powers for good and save the world (save the cheerleader, save the world… just had to throw that in). The characters on the show can fly, make fire, run with superspeed, heal, read people’s minds, put thoughts into people’s heads, time travel, steal other people’s powers, etc. Of course one power isn’t better than the other and the only thing that makes someone bad is their choice in using said power. So it got me “casually” thinking about what type of super power I would have. It wasn’t anything serious, just a thought…

Then, in the Spanish class that I’m teaching, we are talking about hypothetical situations in the present and asking things like: If you had a super power what would it be? Because of my recent streaming television adventures, I got excited about thinking on this. Of course I didn’t let my students know what a dork I am and just how much I enjoyed this particular hypotheticality.  I held in all of my newly forming thoughts on this particular topic and pretended to listen to them while really I was imagining my own powers…

So what would my power be? Well, I’m glad you asked.  At first, I just thought about what the best powers would be and what I would do with them. Honestly it was a really hard list to come up with but I will share with you my top three choices.

1. Touch of Gold: With this, I would be super rich and be able to travel wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted and still have the means to see my family often. I, of course, would donate a lot of money to special causes as well and make sure that everyone I love had what they needed.

2. Invisibility: With this power I would spy on people and find out when people are really telling the truth or not or find out if they are up to an evil plan. I could save the world by breaking up some pretty evil plans out there!

3. Time travel: Oh this sounds like the most fun.  Honestly, I don’t have too many regrets so I wouldn’t really go back to change anything. But, I would go to the future and use the information to win a bet or the lottery. I could also go to the past and tell everyone how messed up the futre is and if they only would change this one decision things wouldn’t have to end up a certain way.

Then, I got to thinking about all of the bad things that could come out of these.  If I had the touch of Gold then I would probably give everyone gold because I wouldn’t want anyone to go without.  And then, since everyone had all this access to gold it wouldn’t have any value anymore and we’d all be back to where we started. There is also the chance that I could be like Hurley in Lost and hate the fact that I had all of this money all of a sudden and see it as a curse instead of a blessing…

If I was invisible then I would probably turn rotten. I could do all of these things in private but call others out their secrets. I would have some sort of god complex and just be miserable to be around.  No one would ever trust me because they would think that I was spying on them all of the time…

If I time traveled I wouldn’t really learn from my mistakes.  The reason I don’t have many regrets in my life is because I know that everything that has happened has made me who I am today.  I would love to be able to go back in time and stop me from hurting people but then our relationships would be different because there wouldn’t have been any hard times to go through together…

I don’t think anyone would ever choose the right power for themselves. They  would come to us naturally and spring out of our existing personalities.  It just has to work that way. No one would ever choose the right power and they would end up ruining themselves and a whole lot more.  So then I decided to change the way I was thinking about this whole super power thing.  What would come out of me even if I chose it or not? I decided that I there must always be two possible powers for each person. One is the villain power that could emerge if someone is bad and the other is a good power that they only use to help people with. First I’ll talk about my villain power.

If I were a villain I think that I would have the ability to sew people’s mouths shut. I know how morbid that sounds but we’re talking about villains and personality flaws here, people. I think this would be my power because whenever anyone says something really mean to me, I get really angry and wish that I could do just that, sew their mouth shut!  This would be bad  because it’s actually pretty easy to hurt my feelings so their would be a lot of sewing. I’m pretty sure that everyone I know would have their mouths sewn shut and then I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to…

(this photo really creeps me out by the way)

My “good guy” power would be a very interesting one. I’ve thought long and hard about this one and I’ve decided that it would be the ability to take physical and emotional pain away from others.  First of all, let me remind you that I would never choose this power. It’s what I think would come from me naturally though.  I hate seeing other people in pain. It actually makes my body hurt. I’ve never met anyone who describes sympathy pain in the way that I do, or claim that they feel it as often as I.  If I see someone get hurt, I hurt. I can’t watch violent movies because it hurts me to watch it. Any time I see someone get hurt my stomach flips and I feel this weird pain. Sometimes it’s over my whole body and sometimes it’s concentrated.  I’ve compare it to the phantom feeling that is described by amputees. The limb isn’t there but your mind is telling you it is. That’s kind of what the pain is like. I know I’m not hurt and it doesn’t hurt in the same way that it would if my body actually was injured, rather I feel this hovering pain that’s there, but not there. Any time I see a violent movie or see someone get hurt, it physically affects me.  I also can feel emotional pain of people. A friend of mine lost her baby in the fall and for days I had this emptiness in my belly. I’ve never been pregnant and I don’t know what it feels like to have a life inside of me, but for a few days I felt empty inside; like something had been taken from my body.  Today, actually, I was walking down the hall at work and I saw this man sitting in a chair that looked so sad.  I’ve seen him before but he’s never caught my attention like he did today. This feeling of pure and deep sadness rushed into my body and it shocked me. So much that I actually teared up and rushed into my office. I can’t even describe the sadness that I felt when I walked by him. I wanted so much to say something to him but by the time I cleared my eyes and came back out he was gone.  It was so out of the blue and random.  I don’t know why I got so sad when I saw him but I just felt like he was so sad about something and I wanted to take it away from him.

So, That’s what my super power would be. I would be a pain catcher. (This sucks really because I actually have a really low pain tolerance). I would never choose that power, but the power has chosen me.

Now that you’ve let me show you what a dork I am, it’s your turn to tell me! What would your super power be? What about your personality would morph into a power? I want to know so if I ever have to save the world (or a cheerleader) I know who to call!

nunc est cudendum (Hammertime in Latin)


How do you say “hammer-time” in Latin? Well, let me tell you!

1. nunc est cudendum: This means “now is (the time) for hammering”

2. malleus incipiat: This means “let the hammer begin”. It is more of a subjunctive use and it shows desire for “hammer-time”.

Now, you may be asking yourself how I came across this little tidbit of knowledge.  The truth is, whatever you’re imagining is far more fun than what actually happened so I’m not going to tell you.  Would MC Hammer tell you that the real reason he wore hammer-pants was because when he was a kid he used to dress  up in his mom’s skirts and one day his dad came home unexpectedly so he had to pin the bottom of the skirt to his ankles so that it would just look like he was wearing the future iconic and worst clothing phenomena that came out of the 80s and not actually dressing in his mother’s clothing? Of course not! He would tell you something way cooler and un-weird of course.   So, I’m not going to tell you how I know how to say hammer-time in Latin.

I will, however, tell you that the real reason that I’m writing this post is not because of our beloved Stanley Kirk Burrell (a.k.a. MC Hammer) and his most inspirational lyrics, rather something my student said to me the other day that made me smile.  I ran into her on campus while we were both dashing between buildings to stay out of the cold.  We stopped for a minute to talk about her plans for next term.  She told me that the real reason she was taking Spanish was so that she could understand her grandpa’s Cuban songs he used to play when she was a kid.  She said that every time she tries to translate them they come out sounding really strange and she knows that there must be something lost in translation (which made me think of hammer time… what the hell does that even mean anyway?).  She wants to not only understand what each word really means in the songs but also what the songs mean within themselves and to her grandpa. She wanted to feel the meaning behind the words that she used to try to overpower with her own pre-teen music by blasting up her speakers every time her grandpa would have his music on.  She says she feels really bad that she used to do that to her grandpa and wishes she would have learned Spanish when she had a chance to learn it from him.  It really made me happy to know this about my student.  What a wonderful reason to learn Spanish: to learn about your heritage and to honor your family.  I love that every once and a while those students pop up who have a really cool story behind their language passions.

I wonder if our friend Hammer ever took a Spanish class…

P.S. You can’t touch this… just sayin’

shame spirals, tail chasing and words of wisdom from grandma


A shame spiral characterizes the loss of self-control over something that makes one feel worthless and pathetic. Due to these feelings of low self-worth and guilt, the action that triggered the shame spiral is repeated and the degradation of one’s self continues. It is a cycle that repeats itself, bringing one down further as it repeats.

I learned this term (and feeling) when I was in grad-school.  You could count on any one of your classmates to be shame spiraling at any given day.  Mostly this was self induced because when someone gets down on themselves it usually is coming from something small that they’ve let morph in their head into this giant moster that takes over and consumes your mood.  It’s natural though because you’re under so much pressure and stress.  The ideas start small and you think there’s some huge bomb that’s about to go off but really it’s all like that German 99 balloons song where everyone is making these childlike things out to be adult nightmares…You know,  like a look you got from your professor when you turned in an exam so they must be really disappointed in you and it totally makes sense because you sounded like an idiot the other day in class and now, just as you are, they are wondering how the hell you ever even got into the program and who on earth isn’t doing their job and kicking you out?  Or when all of a sudden your students are dead-faces during a grammar explanation and you now know they all hate you and think you can’t hack it as a teacher and you look like an idiot in front of your professors anyway, your students were all you had left, now that’s all over and just wait till they rip you a new one on their evaluations and tell all of their friends not to take your class.  Or when your mom is making you feel guilty about not spending any time with the family and you realize that you’ve been spending all of your time “building your career” but really what you’ve been doing is putting yourself in the most sadistic situation you ever could meanwhile your family is starting to hate you for being so selfish and will you even have friends when you get out of the program? I mean, you haven’t seen anyone for two years, maybe they think you died or something, or maybe they think you’re a snob for ignoring them… The great thing is that I am now done with this chapter of my life (not to say that I’m not thinking about starting it all over again in the not too distant future).  I am graduated and now am an educated professional… well, sort of.

My shame spirals are definitely different now.  For one, they don’t happen NEARLY as often. In grad school it was one shame spiral after the other and often times you would have two or three of them simultaneously haunting your constant thoughts. Now, there is less to worry about.  There is no one to impress and you don’t have to fight to keep afloat and you have time to be with family and friends. But they happen in other ways.  Now, living the life of an adjunct I have to worry about finding full-time permanent work.  I hate the fact that as soon as you’ve secured temporary work for the term you have one minute of relief but are thrown full swing back into the panic of having to secure something for the next term. I have to overanalyze interviews and self-scrutinize all of the cover-letters I send out and wonder what that person really wanted me to say when they asked why should they give me a job.  It also starts when you know you’re competing against your friends. This is the worst part of it. When you actually know the person who got the job over you.  What do they have that you don’t? I mean if it were an anonymous person you could at least imagine that they must have been so absolutely amazing that there’s no way they couldn’t have gotten the job.  If it’s your friend, you just think “what was it?” I know I am as good as them, why did they get it? What did they say that I didn’t? What are they doing that I’m not? Why is it that when I graduated I had all of this confidence and knew that whoever didn’t hire me would be a fool but now I’m realizing that I’m the fool for thinking I would have a full time job without any hassle. But the truth is that there are not a whole lot of full-time permanent jobs floating around. It’s hard enough to get the good part-time ones let alone have anything with the slightest chance of job security! I understand that it’s the life of an adjunct. It just scares the crap out of me when I’m at work talking with other adjuncts who have been that way for over 11 years! Come on, people. Don’t you realize that all I want to do is teach for you and I’m a damn good teacher and you should realize how dense you are for not creating a job for me?!

These shame spirals make me feel like my special needs can in many ways.  She is deaf and slightly mentally handicapped.  She spends most of her time eating and sleeping but when she’s awake she gets in these crazy self-destructive fights with her tail.  I know what you’re thinking: every cat chases their tail and isn’t it funny and cute.  But you need to understand the severity of my cat’s tail chasing.  I want to start with that she just doesn’t know her own strength and she tends to use it on herself.  When she chases her tail and bites it… she REALLY chomps down! I mean really hard.  She’ll sit there with her tail in her mouth while growling really low and howls.  You know what a cat fight sounds like; angry, deep growls and helps. Well, this is the sound of my cat “playing” with her own tail. No joke, she even leaves large swollen lumps on her poor tail and has drawn blood a couple of times.

Belle the Cat

It makes me sad to watch.  It makes me even more sad to think that I do the same damn thing to myself! I sit there and beat myself up and I don’t really even know how hard I’m biting down until it really hurts. If I would just realize that it’s me who is doing the biting I would just stop, right?  This leads me to think that all I really need is a good attitude adjustment.  Immediately my grandma pops into my head (they are good at inspiring attitude adjustments).  My grandma always says two things: “This too shall pass” and “There’s no use crying over spilled milk”.  I appreciate these words of wisdom from my grandma.  She dropped out of school in the 8th grade because the kids called her fat and went to work at her parents’ store.  My charming and much older Navy grandfather visited the store one day, they met and 63 years of marriage, 8 kids, 18 grandchildren, 19 (I think) great-grandchildren and an amazing life later, she sits in her front room table watching the world go by her window on Jack street in Milwaukie with her vodka-orange juices, Virginia Slims with a blue cloud surrounding her  and tells me this every time I need to hear it.  She reminds me that life happens and when all is said and done, those hard times don’t mean so much. And if they do, they were just something that you learned from. See, Grams has something going for her.  She is constantly adjusting her attitude.  She knows that life is full of ups and downs and there is nothing that can stop life from moving forward.  “This too shall pass” and such.  She knows that you can’t do anything to change the past and all you can do is learn from your experiences.  If the milk spills, there is no use getting all “excited” about it (I never understand why she uses this term either… I’m not excited, I’m freaking out!).  Just know next time not to put it too close to the edge or just stop flailing your arms around when you talk and you won’t knock it over (that happens to me all the time).

Thanks Grams.  I’ll take your advice and not cry over this spilled milk and I will remember that “This too shall pass”… until the next shame spiral begins.