In Which I Count My Blessings (And Recap the Year in Pictures)

Remember how the world was going to end 10 days ago?*
And here we are- ready to ring the new year: 2013!

To say this year has gone by in a flash would not only be a cliché but it's a gross understatement.
2012, gone in the blink of an eye.
But I'm not complaining.

After a(n emotionally) tumultuous 2011, this year proved to be so much more than I expected; it opened  up my eyes and mind to the world around me and to the person I am. To the person I am still becoming.

So- to cut out the mushy stuff- here're a couple of highlights of this year.**

1. I travelled to Asia for the first time ever*** and lived in Bangkok for 6 full months.
I learned some Thai****, learned to smile more often, experienced a proper green tea ceremony with Japanese ladies, saw some of the most beautiful sunsets, was re-united with a college friend and overall enjoyed all the little things in life.




You can view my photos here

2. I officially drive in & around the city, by myself.
I got my driver's license last year but it wasn't til this year that I put it to good use and can call myself a real driver.

3. I  cut my hair short. Very short.
And now I fear I can never go back.

4. I'm a student, once again.
And it makes me happy. I'm getting over my fear of singing in public and embracing my love of musicals- after being a closeted fan for years.

5. I'm a teacher.
Something I never saw myself doing and swore against- yet I enjoy it. It's an incredible learning experience as it is gratifying.
Plus, there's the school vacation calendar... *wink wink*

6. My gratitude journal (which I began this year in February)
I truly am grateful for all the little things in life and am so blessed.

7. Hey, I read 19 books (& some plays) this year.
I hope to read more again (ha, and I call myself an English degree graduate....) but for someone who gave up on a lot of things in 2011, it's a start!
I read my first Agatha Christie novel and joined my first bookclub ♥ ♥

8. I am a quarter of a century old.
Finally hit that big 2-5 mark-yikes. But it feels good.

9. I met some new (and awesome) people and am happy to have them in my life. I've also kept in touch with those far away, those I care for immensely.

10.  I had a snowy Christmas.
And was reunited with my niece & nephew (and brother & sister-in-law) after a year of 'separation'.

11. I've never felt more at home in Mexico.
For reasons that I can (& can't) explain, I've grudgingly lived in my home country for many years.
And for yet a whole other bunch of reasons that I can't (& can) explain, something changed this year.
Mexico sure isn't perfect- in a lot of ways, really- but it's home. And it's charming It's beautiful.
It's a grand city.

12. Myself > myself
I've mentioned it a couple of times on the blog- it's something I'm still working on- and I've come to terms with who I am. I'm cool with messing up. I'm happy to make a nuisance of myself.
YOLO, right?*****

What are some of the highlights of your 2012?
Any epiphanies worth noting?

So, let's ring in the New Year with open arms (and jiving hips)!
[Earth, Wind & Fire's September is also worth a listen to get your groove on. Or for any occasion really.]
*Wishing you a spectacular 2013*
from Tumblr

* Poor misunderstood Mayans...
** cue My Favourite Things
*** And travelled around (some) surrounding countries.
**** Chan phuut pahaasaa Thai dai mai nitnoy!
***** Eeeeh, I said YOLO.

All pictures taken by me unless otherwise noted


At the End of the Day it's Just Another Film with a lot of Singing

Happy Holidays, folks!
It's been quiet here on the blogging front, but fret not, for I am still alive and well.
As healthy as an artichoke* for I got to see Les Misérables.
On my own. As is always the case.

If you recall my last post you will remember me confessing not being a Les Mis fan.
And I'm not just jumping on the Les Mis bandwagon because of the film- no. I have truly become a fan.

That being clarified, let's get on with another edition of my Ish-Reviews. **

I had mixed expectations going in, because I was blown away by the 25th Anniversary and expected an equally astounding vocal cast plus spectacular performances. [Of course, I excluded Russell Crowe from these expectations]


Never Say Never: Musicals Edition (Or How I Learned to Love the Classics)

I'm not a (true) Belieber* and I know it's a cliché, but that saying rings true to me.
It goes way back to when you were a young'un...
Mom: Have some of this.
Wee You: I don't like it.
Mom: But you haven't even tried it.
Wee You: Yeah, but I know I won't like it.

Years later you try whatever food that was only to discover it is delicious.
Be it olives, tamales, figs, asparagus, mole, etc, etc....
Needless to say, I was a picky eater.

But what does all this have to do with musicals, you say?
So freakin' much!

I've been a fan of musicals for as long as I can remember (thanks to my Disney upbringing**). 
I jam to show tunes (well, to music in general) in my car, in my room, on the street- you name it.

Up to a couple of weeks ago I was anti- Phantom of the Opera and anti-Les Miserables.
I'd seen both Mexican productions back in my teens and came out thinking, "Meh. What's the big deal". Production-wise I remember they were superb- especially considering Mexico still wasn't big on Musicals/Theater back then- it was just the music that didn't do it for me.

The year is 2012. The month, December.
Ah, how life has changed!
I watched both 25th Anniversary Performances (of Les Mis & Phantom) and I confess I teared up on various occasions.

I'll let the videos do the talking....

[ Let's just pretend Nick Jonas wasn't cast in this ]

Also. Bring Him Home (aka The Prayer),  you kill me.

Sierra Boggess is PHENOMENAL.
And Ramin Karimloo. And Hadley Fraser. 
SO good.

-End of Fangirling-
*clears throat*

Do you like musicals? Which are your fave? What are your favorite numbers?
Have you ever changed your mind about something?
(Tell me more, tell me more....)

And will you be rushing to the Big Screen come Christmas Day to watch Les Miserables?

* Although I credit the Biebs with talent because, well, he does have it. The kid can dance. He can sing. He can play instruments. That's more than most pop stars can do nowadays... Actually, I'm surprised he hasn't done a musical. At least not yet anyway...
** I still have my Disney Sing Along VHS tapes


For A Musing Monday

"I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


Calaveras & Diablitos

¡Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Ah, November. One of my favourite months.
Winter is fast approaching as the days are now shorter and the cool breezes (even in Mexico City) nip at your nose and fingers.

My mother made some delicious candied pumpkin: chopped up pieces boiled in water with cinnamon sticks and piloncillo.
It's one of my favourite treats!


She also put up an ofrenda* with food, sweets and candles.
I placed my (last minute) jack-o-lantern beneath it.



Not pictured, but present beneath the ofrenda, are the typical ofrenda flowers: the marigold (or cempasuchil).
 Their bright orange petals really seem to radiate life.


I found the stencil online and I nearly backed out a couple of times, but pressed on and am pleased with the result.
It's the cat bus from Totoro!


Afterwards, I experimented a little with the shutter speed.
Had I been in a white lace dress and not in my PJs, this picture might've been more effective...

And if you're still in the Halloween/ All Soul's Day mood:
Can't get enough of skeleton dances?
Check out the Mickey Mouse Haunted House 1929 short.
They don't make cartoons like they used to...
I'm off to watch The Corpse Bride (for some more skeleton dances), eat  pan de muerto** and drink hot chocolate.
Happy Weekend!

* An offering for those we've lost.
** A delicious sugary bread made especially in November for Day of the Dead.


On Bullying (& Después de Lucía)

I think we've all been bullied one time (or more) in our lives. I also think we've been guilty of bullying to some degree.

When I turned 12 I moved back to Mexico, after living 6 years in Brazil. I had a hard time adapting and fitting in at my new school- I was a somewhat awkward (pre)pubescent girl.
It didn't helpt that my skirt was below my knees, that I wore long socks ie. that I actually wore the school uniform in its entirety (the cool girls wore the boy shirt, not the frilly-pouffy-sleeves girl shirt).
I recall boys, on several occasions, pointing out my hairy legs (I still hadn't begun shaving my legs) and  the lack of a bra (I wore undershirts since there still wasn't anything a bra could hold).
One time I was taken off guard by the lockers- alone and getting school books out, a group of boys walked by, claimed I was in their way and slammed me back into the lockers. This was as nasty as it ever got for me.
I later learned that ignoring them was effective; they found others to bother. *

Then, we all grew up.
Luckily, I was with a group of people I am lucky enough to still call my best friends.
I 'wisened' and toughened up.
Which is not to say hard times were amiss as the years went by.

My last year of high-school, three different students took their own lives.
One was a classmate of mine.
All three were considered to be 'outsiders', 'loners'.

I'm not saying they were bullied into their decision, but they certainly weren't getting encouragement or positive behaviour from others.

Don't forget, we're all fighting hard battles.
Be kind.

Source: google.co.uk via rik on Pinterest

Después de Lucía follows Alejandra, a 17-year old girl new to the city after her mother's death.
After a wild night out with her new 'friends', she gains notoriety and becomes an easy target.
 What starts out as verbal harassment turns into physical abuse.

For fear of speaking up, many lives are changed.

On a different and lighter note: Tessa Ia's wardrobe was super cute. #want

(images via IMDb )

I left the movie theater feeling all sorts of things; disheartened, impotent, angry, upset and grateful. Grateful because I've never lived such abuse or humiliation.

It's not right to treat each other like shit. It's not right to hurt or violate the rights of another human being. It's not right to keep quiet. It's not right to pretend it's not an issue because it is.

Sometimes, the brave thing to do is to ask for help.
To talk. And talk. And keep talking.
We must never keep silent.
Después de Lucía urges people to talk and open their eyes.

I asked a young girl today on her thoughts on bullying, she said, "Well, that seems to be the way life goes nowadays. You're either the bully or the bullied. It's how people get by."
I understood what she was saying, but I just wanted to scream.

No. No. No.
We're human beings. We should treat each other as such. We should respect. We should love, ourselves and others.
We should be happy.
We should revel in our differences.

I encourage you to.

See also:
-My friend's blog post on bullying HERE

* I feel like that's not the case anymore.


This is Just to Say...

I've been busy with school and "work".*

I've been listening to this non-stop this week.

I spent some time with my nephew.

I built a bear (or rather, rabbit)!

I got my All Hallow's Read book in the mail!**

I also may or may not dress up for Halloween...

Hope everyone's enjoying the weekend!
And stay safe if Hurricane Sandy is approaching your whereabouts.

* I am actually working- it's still a little hard to believe at times.
** Ana from Things Mean A Lot organized a book swap. This was the original post :)


The Weekend in Pictures

I know the weekend isn't over just yet, but it's never too soon to post pictures. Right?

This week I finally started my new job as an English teacher!
It's been good so far and I have survived (especially early mornings*)- which to me, is all that matters really.

Being a teacher by day and student by night is the perfect antidote for my procrastinating ways, methinks. **
But it also reminds me to wind down and enjoy some me time. 

And there's no me-time like me-&-pet time!


(This is not my pet- but rather a creepy crawly I encountered out there)

There's a cute little pathway perfect for dog walking or bike riding (the latter really takes its toll on you, what with the ups and downs of the winding road...) or what have you-ing.



And if you can't laugh at yourself or have fun...

Then you need to smile more often and not take life so seriously.



My kitty and I proceeded to enjoy the afternoon sun (after a 3-hour nap, that is...***)

How was your weekend?

* Something I wasn't accustomed to any more. Especially on Saturdays. 8am lessons? Blergh. (Although I'm really not complaining).
** And yet, here I am on my blog instead of finishing a write up and getting some reading done... 
*** New record! (And if you knew me, you'd know I just broke all my nap rules).


Once a Procrastinator, Always a Procrastinator?

Being back in school has reminded me of my procrastinating ways.
They date back well into my teens when staying up late (or rather, early) wasn't an issue for me. It was feasible.
College? Yup. Mug after mug of English Breakfast at 3am and an ocasional Peanut Butter & Jelly interim the day before an assignment was due was the drill.

Now, I'm 25. I can stay up late. I can wake up early. But not one after the other.
I can no longer pull an all-nighter and be completely functional and present the next day.
I can't.

Is this what growing up is about?

It's a rather rude awakening (haaaa) as I realise I need to work on managing my time.* 
I'm like a dog in training.

But why am I talking about procrastination?

I came across this awesome** video a couple of days ago and thought it was brilliant.

[ via nowness.com ]

Miranda July is quirky and that's why I love her.
But there's so much to her quirky-ness that it causes you to pause and think.

And in my case, inspire me to work.

Are you a procrastinator? How do you get your work done?

* Hey, some 8 year old kids are already born with it. I wasn't one of the lucky ones.
** Ah, there's that word again...


Ying & Yang: In which I get a little personal...

Recently I've been good- by that I mean, I've felt good about mysel. I've felt happy about life in general. I've been grateful for all life has given me. I've decided worrying and anger only hurts yourself.
I haven't felt like this in a long time, let alone for long periods of time.

I discovered it takes a lot more effort keeping up the "I feel like shit, I need someone to console me" gig than letting myself enjoy every day and moment. It's so easy to let the light in- even if you are in the lowest of lows. Just know it's there. And you can let it in, little by little.

Source: swiss-miss.com via Mariana on Pinterest

[Marc Johns illustration*]
Guys, it is so much easier being happy. Just being.
Being yourself.

That's not to say shit happens. Because it can and it does...

Yesterday I was a little too high on positivity that my concentration was not where it needed to be.
Needless to say, I crashed the front of my car on a sidewalk and a tree stump.
I did not realise I set the gear on Drive, when I needed it to be on Reverse- and being affected by my overall frenetic state, I didn't hesitate in pushing the gas pedal.
No, I wasn't drunk. I hadn't had a drop of alcohol.
I don't know what it was, but I screwed up pretty badly.

I immediately felt awful, naturally, but realised (in retrospect) that most of my mortifiation came from "What will those who saw me hit the sidewalk think of me?!" Whenever I asked myself that question, I would cringe.**

After I realised what was happening, I had to stop myself and say:
"Hey. It's okay. You're not perfect."**
Everyone screws up.
Let's not forget to be grateful.

It's silly to look back on things and see how you're affected most by judging youself through other people's eyes***, instead of letting yourself be and grow. Learn.
Happiness is a warm gun (bang bang shoot shoot) is anyone and anything at all that's loved by you.

And lesson proved: no matter how bad things may be or can get, it will get better.
Maybe not immediately, but it will.

Just don't be so hard on yourself.

* One of my favourite illustrators! 
** And this is not to say that crashing your car into things is okay either.
*** Speaking for myself here. 


Warbling Wednesday

Wednesday; when the week is no longer anew nor has it ended.
My favourite day of the week.

It is also when weekend plans start taking shape- or they don't (in my case). 
But that doesn't stop me from enjoying the weekend!

This picture has been popping up on my feeds (tumblr and twitter) and I though I would share it.

Analogue Sunday
via Flickr user thenausner

We forget to disconnect ourselves from the hubbub of our social media/technological lives. And it's so easy to do!

So, I encourage you to have an Analogue Sunday of your own.
Breathe in the fresh air.
Look up to the sky.
Be inspired.

What will you be reading?

Source: tumblr.com via Mariana on Pinterest


I have a blog?!


In the meantime, while I get my head rambles together, I leave you with this little ditty that always gets me going.

Hope everyone had a fun weekend!


And the Emmy goes to...

I'm not very excited about the Emmy's this year (well, I don't think I ever have been), but this video is just too good to not share.

Parker Posey is hilarious.
I've always said that if I could have anyone's acting career, I'd choose hers.


Thursday September Jam (Of Yore)

Now, I'm not an avid radio listener. No. I prefer to spend 3 minutes of 'semi-silence' skipping over every other song on my iPod to the right song* than listening in on people calling a DJ.** 
That being said, I'll tune in every now and discover a new song.

Well, new to me, that is.
Like this David Guetta & Sia gem.

(Hey- it's the kid from Super 8!)
It's almost a year old come December, but I can't get enough of it!

So, are you just as out of touch with new music as I am?
What are some of your new musical discoveries?
Please, I need your help :)

* It normally ends up being a Judy Garland:Live at Carnegie song. 
** Lame conversations with awful jokes? Nah, I'm good.


Bad (Blogging) Form*

Fact: Being back home has proved great for me (personally) but awful for my blogging.

1. Maybe it's a little too soon to tell- after all, it's only been 9 days- but I dig being 25.

2. September 2nd, morning moon greeting.**

3. I'm in school again.
And I love it.

* Said in a Uncle Dusty Hook voice...
** Jet lag still had its curse upon me. I guess seeing the moon in its splendour at 5am makes up for being awake at an ungodly hour.


In Which Cat Lady Reunites with Her Favourite Feline Friend

All is good in my life again.
Well, at least all is more complete

Our first encounter was a little rough- after a 6 month absence she wasn't entirely sure it was me (and with 36 hours of plane rides/airport-ness on me, I can't blame her).

She proceeded to show her affection the way only Buttercup knows how to- which was a little too much for me to handle.  

But we settled on a comfortable togetherness.*

A lot of purring (hers, not mine) occurred. **

Tomorrow I shall be turning a quarter of a century.
Yikes! I've hit that mark in life.

But hey, things only get better, right?
Happy Weekend!

* As in we-will-not-be-parting-for-a-while-but-will-bask-in-our-human/feline-warmth-and-mutual-love kind of thing....


In Retrospect

My days in Bangkok are coming to an end. 
Today I had my last Thai class. This marks my last weekend here. Monday will be my last full day in Thailand.
And I do not know what to make of this!

Although it's not terribly exciting on why I spent 6 months in Thailand*, it has been an incredibly gratifying and unforgettable experience. I pride myself in being adaptable (even though there were times the language barrier / cultural differences got the best of me) and I can truly say Bangkok was my home.
 If only for a while.

I did not master the Thai language but am able to leave understanding every other word and have become sensitive to speech.** I've learnt to eat phet (spicy) and with nothing but a spoon and fork. 
I rode on tuk tuks and motorcycles (clutching to the seat for my life!) and favoured the BTS (Skytrain) over a car- traffic jams are the real deal here (and I've also discovered Fruit Ninja is the best game to play in traffic).
Asia has helped me free my kawaii/cute side, something I rarely owned. And it feels good.

One of the main reasons I was looking forward to coming (apart from always wanting to come to Thailand, that is) was to TRAVEL. Here I was going to be, for the first time, in Asia. And here I was going to be with all these new countries right around the corner.
*sigh* Everything looks closer on a map.
And one forgets about air fares. And accommodation. And other important travel expenses. And Visas. And... you get the point.

That's not to say I am going away "empty handed".
Here's a sneak peak at my recent travels/re-discoveries.... (not in chronological order)



Laos: Kouang Si Waterfall & Mekong River


Thai Sights


Ko Samed


Cambodia: Ta Prohm, Siem Reap

I will be writing sparsely in the coming weeks as I settle back home, cry a little over being a year older (not really), return to classes, visit my family and take everything in, calmly. 
Changes will come, blog-wise. ***

When I think about it, if anyone has had an overall good and happy life, I can say I have.
And to say I am grateful is an understatement.

Hope you all have a lovely and beautiful weekend!

* My father was transferred here for work and I just tagged along. My 24 year old self. Jobless. 
** That's what five tones in one language will do to you!
*** So far, this blog is nowhere how I had wanted/imagined it to be. That's neither good nor bad. I think it's a reflection of my airy-fairy personality, which is something I'm actively working on.