Monday, December 15, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities: Part Two, Madrid

Merry Three-Months-in-Spain everyone! That's right you've been with me through it all so we're celebrating this landmark day in my exchange, lot's of flashbacks to come. Woo hoo break out the balloons, cake and Christmas trees? Holy holly it's Christmas time guys!

Pamplona knows how to do its Christmas trees. With wine bottles.! Many people know about my obsession with the holidays, and some are fairly annoyed by it (but we'll leave those Grinches out of our festive holiday happyfest). I was expecting the day I heard cheerful carols or saw the lights turning our city into a Christmas card, I'd be doubled-over in sadness. Surprisingly, or not surprisingly (I've kind of stopped being surprised by my strange reactions) I haven't been the least bit sad. Maybe that's because I haven't had the least bit of time for it.

Always wanted to a princess for a day, wouldn't mind living in the palace either.

With a day of rest after Barcelona (well a day of unpacking and repacking) I was soon venturing off  again, this time to the heart of Spain, Madrid. Did I have hopes for this adventure. I was thinking how quickly these 3 months (nearly a 3rd of my exchange) flew by. I wanted to make the most these days, soak in every view.

Too bad missed out on 4 hours of it as my post Barcelona sleepiness hit me on our drive in. I woke up the way I woke up on my first day in Pamplona, opening my eyes as the windows opened to a whole new world sights, tastes and the sounds of adventure. But first I'd have to freeze my way through it.

The sun made it look like summer but really I couldn't feel my toes.
What most people don't realize is that Spain isn't all warm ancient cities and nude beaches. It gets cold, like really cold. After 2 years of living in Mr.Heatmiser's domain I've unknowingly become a wimp to the cold.

That is unknowingly until now. If I'd ever looked more out of place it would have been frigidly tiptoeing through the city streets of Madrid, luckily there were a hundreds of people helping blend me in.

"Visit Bernabeú" Check off the Bucketlist
Seriously I could not believe the amount of people bracing the frigid night. Another flashback to my first Juevincho in Pamplona, sooo many Spaniards crowding the streets and I the little foreigner finding her way through it all.

Now 3 months later I feel closer to being a Spaniard and closer to being me as well, if that makes any sense. I've stopped with the worry, stopped with the who how what do I look like to everyone else. At this point in time, on the streets of Madrid, I've literally stopped and started starring.

Smiling, I looked up at the grand building of lights, el Palacio de Communicaciones. The frozen winds blew threw my layers and I was iced into that spot. It was adorned in Christmas and Spanish. I hugged myself from the cold but also from the joy of feeling my pieces come together as I watched the lights and flags wishing me a Merry Christmas and Happy Exchange Year.
Don't really know what happened with the green there but it turned out kind of cool!

I was only frozen for a moment before we were off again marching through the winds, people and
lights of the city. Heat lamps popped up between montaditos (little restaurant/Tapa bars) with doors open to the cold night breathing people into their warmth. Even with a red nose and frozen fingers I felt warmer. The air wasn't just carrying chilliness but the sounds of Spain and a holiday spirit that followed me all the way across the ocean.

It all begins here, The Literal heart of Spain <3

Across the ocean where a Christmas tree was being "populated", cookies being iced and red pjamma's put out for the coming eve. I knew Our Christmas so well, it was only just now becoming clear how different this one would be.

Once again I felt the way I did looking down on that first view of Spain, that first landing, that first day in this new home, an unexplainable tickle in my tummy. Nerves? excitement? Or could it just be the love of adventure, that I think will continue to captivate me for the rest of my life.

First sunrise in Spain, Happy 3 months to my beautiful home <3

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities : Part One, Barcelona

I'm sure you have all been wondering "Oh my goodness where is Tanika and her smiles!?" or maybe I'm just giving myself too much credit here. These passed few weeks have been ridiculously filled with adventure and if I get into every story and detail my fingers will fall off and I'll be asleep before I get through the first description of our first magical destination. So to save my finger strength and your reading time I'll break it up into two posts, two parts, a tale of two cities. Here we go!

 Chilly air and the world is going golden. Fall to Winter in Pamplona.


Before continuing I'd just like to clarify something to the rest of the world. Barcelona or BCN is a city (an amazing and beautiful city) Barça is a fútbol team (an amazing and talented fútbol team) just clarifying before you make the journey out there which I know you all will because once you see this place you will never know another city like it. Ok on with the before-grandeur.

It had been a week of exams (sleeping in and hanging out with 10 year olds for me) and after presenting our school show in which I displayed my extreme capacity for embarrassment, it was finally time for the weekend. I'm going to skip Friday night because that's a story not worth sharing (as the Spaniards smirk at me and the Americans begin swarming me with questions) But Saturday was quite the opposite.

Taking pride in my baby bird, Twerky the Thanksgiving Turkey!

Thanksgiving!! I was a tornado in the kitchen swirling from oven to fridge picking up and putting down bowl spoon and -is this a whisk or a spatula? I was dizzy from the spinning. But after hours of Food Network worthy cooking I had finally done it, my first Thanksgiving all cooked by me and boy would Martha Stewart be proud of the presentation! I couldn't bask in the glory for too long because pretty soon it was on to the packing Barcelona awaits!

Barcelona Bike Tour

The blinding and beautiful Barcelona sun.
At first it started as a glow and then it started to grow! Until this Spanish sun, which I swear burns brighter than any other, was shining its way through antique window panes into my sleepy eyes, early morning imploring me to cease the day! 5 more minutes beautiful world! But the bike route had been planned and my super American neon coral Nike's were telling me and any onlooker within a 3 mile radius, that I was ready for it.

Here's the thing about Barcelona, its hilly... really hilly. We'd go up up up then down down down only to go up up up once more. I wasn't complaining though, the sun was out and even the run-down fruit stands looked like something you'd find on a vintage magazine cover (yes any vintage magazines looking for amateur photographers I am happy to apply!) I'd made it to the top of the world and back again and as I looked out from the artful over hanging of Parque Güell, or the open balcony atop the magisty of Sagrada Familia or even from the dusty roof of our host apartment building, thoughts over took me. I'm going to stop the touristy stories and instead share these thoughts with you.

Pieces of Me

I first had a thought, as we were biking. I had repeatedly passed mosaics, pieces of pottery beautifully broken and put together. They climbed buildings of low rent hostels and created the staple for Gaudi master pieces. No matter where they showed up they served the same purpose, fragments from other places coming together and forming something new, something magnificent. Without sounding too vapid, I thought of myself. Part Pervian, mix in some Boston, dash of Carolina and a sprinkle of Califonia now slowly adding the Spaniard its a recipe for something unique and I love the taste of different.

A master piece made of pieces.
The better thing about the mosaics is that they aren't perfect. They have bumps and cracks, smooth and rough. And that's life, at least that's the life I want to keep. Not perfect, but whole. I can always be working for something and know that things can get better but still take a step back and look at my life, look at myself and be happy with what I have and what I've worked for. In the end the cracks and the rough edges are what make beautiful things real. And when you step back the master piece is still just as beautiful and more unique because of them.

A Thank You to the Rainbows 

I admit, I haven't been to church since before I could spell "Conquer" (for my love of writing you think I'd make a good speller too but no I didn't get passed the 2nd round in the 3rd grade spelling bee) Any way it was a long time ago and only because my mom bribed me with ice cream but in Sagrada Familia, despite the tourism buzzing around I felt drawn to take a moment. Sitting on the wooden bench as stained glass rainbows washed over me, I bowed my head because it just felt like the thing to do. 

Afternoon sun became afternoon inspiration.
I wasn't really sure how to pray or if praying was even what I was doing. I smiled as I awkwardly made my way through a thank you letter to the air and whoever else may have been listening. So God or Universe or simply listener, I know we haven't talked in a while but since this is all your doing, I'd just like to say thank you. And on I went, smiling as I thanked for my mixed up background, for my mixed up families, for my mixed up life that I wouldn't change a day of. I just wanted to send out thanks not only for the people in my life but for the chances their presence had brought me, every chance. There had been so many, and the only thing I could say, I wish I'd taken more of them. But to whomever or whatever I was thanking I also made the clear promise to live this year and the rest of my life to the absolute fullest, day in day out, happy or on the lesser but still likely sad, I would be giving it 100% no matter how strange, hard or impossible it seemed.

Just outside Sagrada Familia, I love bubbles!
I know I got rather heavy on you all in that passed part but as my Spanish has begun conquering (yes I did spell check for that one) my English I just want to see if I'm still capable of thinking oh-so-philosophically. That was Barcelona. Now your thinking "What the heck Tanika you just talked about biking and how you compare yourself to a piece of art or soup or something?" Well fellow readers in another philosophical sense I've come to realize that the points on map, the moments captured in a lenses, even the emotions of seeing them, can't nearly match the significance of the thoughts we have in the moment or in retrospect and I'll do my best to keep those thoughts on record.

When I said you'll know no other city like it, I quite mean there is no other ciry like it.
So with a little lighter ending I have Part Two, Madrid under construction for you all! Holiday hecticness (I just found out that this isn't an actual word) is also on the horizon so if I disappear again just know it's because my love of Christmas has me embedded in a gingerbread baking, Jingle bell rocking, How the Grinch Stole Christmas marathon!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Smile's for smiles. I'm really not that generous of a person. I do things to make other people happy because seeing them smile makes me feel all fuzzy inside (make fun of my cheesy motives as you please). Soooo really I'm just a super selfish person trying to be happy all the time. With that said here are my latest Happiness-capades (new favorite word).

The stairs were worth it. Castle adventures!


With exams inching closer it seemed the stress radiating from everyone else was rubbing off a little on me. (Having mini temper tantrums over a hole in my tights or literal split milk, if that counts as stress?) None the less, I was still the lucky one to be spending my days baking muffins, preparing Thanksgiving lists and taking Sevillana's classes (yes, I plan on wearing a flowy red dress and dancing for you all. In due time followers, in due time) So when the usual "We envy you Tanika." came along I kept my smile small as my selfish joy-seeking mind started working.

These leaves are the veins of autumn.

A surprise, a stress-relieving surprise that will evoke the most smiles? I had quite a few good ideas but sadly was low on glitter and lacking in unicorns. My eyes passed over my bucketlist and almost as though it was speaking "Hey look I'm happy!" I saw it. Oh yes! Quickly I started jotting down a check list. There were moments of excitement and moments of blunder but in the end with only one popped balloon to the face and several heaps of scrapped paper. I had done it.

Not the best candid but here I am being the strange happy girl handing out surprise balloons!

With the pride of a kindergartner holding their first gold star I held my balloons high and lifted my cheeks to the sky (In the super-over-smiley way not the icky twerking way to other sick minded folk). It was amazing to watch peoples faces light up as they read they're little notes inside each balloon. With every "Gracias", each "¡Ah que mona!" I felt my slowing rollercoaster pick up speed and I was back on track of meeting my two goals, making this year the best year of my life (so far) and living a life worth loving, of laughs, friendships and the occasional cheesy Kodak moments like this day.

Intended for everyone else's joy but I just couldn't stop smiling either :)

Smiling Domino Effect

My little theory started as young as 2nd grade, with the laughing game. You stare at someone and try to make them laugh? Well when one person laughed or smiled it seemed contagious and soon we were all tummy tired with laughter. Now I've gone back on this happiness concept. When things are going well my mind creates all the more opportunity for more good things. Maybe I'm just overly happy all the time but ok,  I made people happy and now my calendar is filling with future activities to make more people happy. And so it continues, the train of joy, dominoes falling to the cheerfulness that is now my growing holiday spirit.

If we didn't take a group pic it didn't really happen.

I'll save my future happiness-capades for next time. I can only imagine how grand they'll be with Thanksgiving around the corner and then the jiggle bells-y, tinsel town-y epitome of all joyous warm feeling... CHRISTMAS!! In the mean time I hope you all get a chance to take on a Happiness-capade of your own or it least share some smiles, I don't have a claim on the wonderful little things :)

Just me failing as being Rapunzel, but still a smile on my face :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Fatal Flaws of a Heroine's Heart

I never really grew out of my "I want to be Super Woman phase". Before I continue I'd like to mention that my left middle finger is paralyzed due to a fatal accident that I'd say was a run in with a mystical creature, but really it was a more fatal run in with a stubborn door (Why am I having such difficulty with these doors here!?) Anyway, my temporary handicap has left me with a greater obstacle of typing this post, but for all of you I will do my best and awkwardly tip tap my way
through it :)
Ever so dainty, after a less than graceful evening.

That water made me wish I was a mermaid. No different from any other day.

Just Want to Fly

Super heroes have quite the lifestyle, saving the day, living two lives and getting to wear colorful tights. I've always wanted to be one. (Yes for the cool wardrobe) In truth, it's hard to explain but since my days on the playground, watching the big kids cut in front of the littles whilst in line for the slide, I've wanted to be a hero. (Cape optional, but always a nice touch)

We now enter the gardens  a sprawling green heaven.

I tried my best to be the hero. Sharing my animal crackers turned to sharing my notes and now I think sharing smiles just isn't enough. We're closing in on exams here, ("we're" I won't be participating in such educational exploitation) but as the date gets closer the class is getting more and more stressed. Literally I feel my own muscles tensing as I watch them struggle through the hours of study. How can this be, this happiness homicide? I've already attacked the educational system so let's keep this on a positive route.

I found him, my Spanish prince has arrived.

Damsels in Distress

Whether it's my "We should be alive!" American Teenage spirit or my "Make me a super hero!" Childhood mindset, I'm feeling the need to do something for them. Something, period. It's like my rollercoaster of an exchange year is slowing down and I'm not sure why. Is the fact that I can navigate the bus systems, or that I can ask for una cerveza, sin problema? That's it! I'm comfortable.

After so mnay google earth pictures, you're finally real!
I've hit the point where my conversational Spanish is good enough that I can really stop trying if I want to. But I don't want to! Now that I've hit a plateau in the making friends department, "Ok I have friends and everyone else thinks I'm crazy (in a good way), now what?" I need something to punch through the ceiling of average. Please Willy Wonka lend me your glass elevator and take me to new heights! (It has been a really long time since I've seen an American classic) So I have ideas, grand plans! That you'll just have to wait and see because yes the Spanish have infiltrated my blog and they're always watching (¡Hola chicas!.. Y algunos chicos?.. Pero tampoco espero que no leeís mi escritura y mis secretos tan femeninos!)

Beautiful piece of artwork, yes, I mean the Pepper.
So with that readers and writers (from all the heart warming comments I get, I'd say you are!) I bring my story of superhuman aspirations to a close and hope that in the weeks to come I can prove to myself that being a superhero doesn't always require saving the planet.

I always have my cape, ready to save the day, even in the smallest way.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

These Little Lists of Happiness

I was trying to keep these posts a weekly thing but the adventures and I've been working on a presentation I'll be giving next week (let you know how that goes!) Now I've doubled my overjoy in one post to make up for the days that I've been away! So if you're in the "Let's not smile" mood well then I encourage you to read on because this will get very happy and rainbow-like in a few moments.

Please ignore my baby hands and enjoy the Pepper looking magnificent.

I'm big into lists, which doesn't make much sense considering how unorganized and scatter-brained I am. But the fun lists the, "Places to Go"&"Adventures to take" -lists, those are my favorites. Since I have around 30 hours of class a week about 15% is spent on listening and the other 15.5 hours (yes that is about all the math I've done since June) is spent on day dreaming, drawing and creating these little lists of mine. I'm sorry to all of my hardworking Spanish friends that study there butts off while I'm being a no work ethic little FES (Foreign Exchange Student, come on do you watch That 70's Show?) You all inspire me, and I'm sure in a year I'll start studying again, but for now I'm indulging in the fruits of fun.

Who says Spain doesn't do Halloween?
So why do I love these lists? Quite simply they let me dream which gets me to the ultimate goal, making me smile. Without further ado, my little lists of happiness.

The Bucket List

The most cliché yet most important of lists, The Bucket List outlines our most ambiguous dreams while also leaving room for the little adventures we take along the way.

I have left space for the grander ideas yet to come.

"They say I'm a dreamer" because how many people plan, as in have already looked up the amount and cost to fill a pool with Jell-o (about 300 boxes at 50cents each, a total of $1,500 for an experience of a life time. I'm really doing more math today than I have in months!) My Bucketlist encompasses the short-term long-term wild ideas that cross my brainwaves. Some with more effort, more time or more money required but ultimately all the same. You can't put a price on happiness... but you can describe it.

500 Reasons to Smile

Though they aren't on my list, Pamplona tomatoes the size of my head definitely make me smile.

If you're tired of my over-positivity well then I doubt you're reading this post anyway, but if you like to smile too then please join me on this happy smiley journey of happy smiley things. The other day my host mom and I were having a conversation about happiness and how it's choice and lifestyle but sometimes something more. She said asked me a question that really made me think. "Algunos nacen feliz. Como tu. Desde que eras un bebé has sido tan feliz como asi no?" >> Some people are born happy. Like you. Since you were a baby you've been this happy right?

So this is what I do in class. I'm hoping my messy handwriting keeps you from reading them all... some are strange I guess :)

Though I don't know my 9 month old self I have a feeling she was a happy one. (Except for my Terrible Two's which I made truly terrible, or so I've been told -"I WANT BARNEY!!!"). Going through this list I realized that I've spent the majority of my life smiling. I thought of all the moments when I felt the unexplainable warmth that builds inside, and it lights up your eyes, your smile, your life! Don't leave me hanging people! It would be a sad, sad day for me if I found out that none of you have felt it too.

Well we made it! I felt great pride in filling this empty space with happiness.

This list clearly transfers from the things that can make anyone happy, to the more personal (and/or strange) things that make me particularly happy. So I'm opening up to you all now, please don't laugh. Or better yet laugh, laugh a lot because then I'll have accomplished my goal, #501 making my readers happy :)

I got a care package this week that also made me smile!

Spanish Adventure 2014-2015

This is yes another bucket list but of a specific category, my epic journey as a FES (refer to the second paragraph if you've skipped ahead. Do people actually do that? :/ ) I can't wait to feel the prideful joy of checking them all off!

After only a month and a half I have been able to check off a lot of these!
Check off #8 I'm still alive!

Making these lists and making this post created a lot of smiling-at-inanimate-object moments for me and so I thank you for that readers. You give me things worth smiling for :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

So You Had a Bad Day

I now realize that I have mad a horrible grave mistake in this blog. I have created a world where you all believe that my life is perfect! In this alternate universe I'm no longer a blogger, I'm no longer a human, I'm some fairytale super girl. Though I see most of the world with bright lights and positivity I can't let you believe it's all perfect all the time. Everything I have said up to this point has been 100% true but I haven't shared the moments of stress that even for an overly up-beat smiley face like me, happen. Welcome to the dark side of Mrs.Positivity *Mwuah ha ha* ... Ok not really that sinister!

A little Sunday morning run while the city sleeps around me.

Lost, Lost

Yes, I have been lost twice in this 1st month (but 2 times for 30 something days isn't too bad). My first time was a pretty big stress bomb. It was my first week of school and thinking I was close to home (when actually on the other side of the city) I decided I'd walk back.

When breakfast is too perfect not to photograph.
Follow the mountains, I live by mountains right? Well little did I know that Pamplona is kind of surrounded by mountains so that plan took me up down and all around a city that I didn't know as well as I thought I did. It's ok just ask for help. But, I can do this I'm Tanika the wonder exchange student and I can find my way home! My pride kept me from asking and I was once again following a rotating mountain.

Here is where my words of positivity fell a little short. I was lost for the first time, with too much of an ego to ask for help and the beautiful Spanish sun that I'd come to love was now burning through my button up and my positivity. I stopped for a moment and let the weight of my backpack fall from my shoulders. Like a numbnuts I carried all my books home (5) unsure of which locker was mine. What the hell am I doing. I'm not a super hero, I'm not a Spaniard, I'm not "The Great Tanika". I'm just me. And my 15 minutes of Failure stopped there.

"Just me" is more than enough! I've been moving and learning and growing all my life and one new city is not going to change that. I closed my eyes, shed my button up (yes I did feel tempted to tie it around my forehead like Rambo) and let the sun become beautiful again. When I opened my eyes I looked around. I recognized a bus station and an odd sculpture that we had passed before. I didn't know exactly where I was but I knew I had the right idea.

After a few wrong turns I saw the super market we shop at, and the church we live near. There weren't many people around so yes I did a celebratory dance. Skipping all the way to my front door I pulled out my-- keys? Where are my keys. Greaaattt.

Even as fall begins, the green goes on and on.

Doors, Locks and a Place for Socks

I've had very few enemies throughout this journey. The first being, the door, or more so, the lock. Every day after school I would struggle with this lock, Open for me, WHY WON'T YOU OPEN!!! There were even times of climbing over fences rather than dealing with such a nonsense. I stared down the lock like it was my last set at the gym, I'm sweaty, I'm drained and I'm a beast. I will beat you! Is it sad that I used the same montra for lifting heavy things as I did for opening a door? Nope, because after a few miles in the hot sun I was at that point. I didn't get it the first time, nor the second, not even the third. But after a week or so of hard work and dedication (again, I'm just opening a door and I attack it like a sport) I finally got the satisfactory *click* and yes again I did a victory dance.

Along these castle walls I'm Repunzel, ready to let down my hair, forget little worries and just enjoy life.

Yes socks have been a struggle for me. To begin, maybe it's the fact the my parents lived in Japan, but in the states I always took my shoes off in the house. Here, that isn't a thing. So when I'm walking around barefoot I feel every track of grass or bread crumb sticking too my toes. The second sock problem I have is that they don't last! I walk/bike/run everywhere here, therefore my run down converse and miss match Pippy Longstocking socks are no match for the miles of cobblestone I take to everyday. Smelly and torn, I made a trip to the mall specifically for sock shopping! But even as I say this I want to kick my self with my now open-toed converse because I sound so darn, foreign.

How can anyone be sad when there is a such thing as gelato roses?

Foreigner for Sale

Right from the beginning I did not want to be labeled as the "American" but this is high school people where labels identify this generation #speakingtruth. So after realizing no matter what I did, I'd still be the American, I figured I could at least be the Nicest-Funniest-Craziest American they'd ever met. But to do so the language would come first.

Ohhh colors!

I know I had it way easier than most exchange students, 4 years in Spanish class and a dad who speaks fluently but knowing how to say your colors and where's the bathroom won't make you the cool kid in school. So there were days when I'd be in a group and if I listened I could understand what was going on. But heck that took a lot of effort with 20 people motor-mouthing and me reassembling every sentence. It became a tiring challenge. And speaking up? Forget about it! Some days I'd have to talk myself through the frustration of not being instantly good at this but if it wasn't a challenge it wouldn't be worth it.


After a few weeks of forehead scrunching I've finally reached the point where I can not only listened but be involved in the conversations. My biggest fear was that all my joking and sarcasm wouldn't translate and I'd just be awkward without my whit to carry me but get this, they actually think I'm funny! (Maybe it's the random dancing, yeah, that hasn't changed)
Freaky spided made of metal why must you look so cool!

"I Fall into My Family Ways"

In the rare 30 degree heat (about 86F) the weekend was making out to be a splendid one. We spent it in Bilbao, between a tennis tournament, soccer game and a twisted titanium museum that you can't pronounce without putting on a funny accent >> Guggenheim (Gooooo-gen-hi-em) I started looking at the map when then I heard music, so folky I swear I heard the beards behind the banjo's before I  saw them. It was a room titled "The Visitors". I could never have expected what was about to happen next.

The famous GoOOOooogenheim
 I walked in to a dark room of people some standing some sitting on the floor, their faces were illuminated by 10 screens. Each screen had a different person playing a different instrument of the same song in different rooms of the same house. (Are you following? Sorry no pictures were allowed) I listened and they were all singing the same thing over and over "Once again I fall into my family ways." At first it was a mantra and then if felt like a trance, I sat down with my back to the center wall as the music vibrated through my spine.

I closed my eyes and mouthed the words, each time "Family" passed my lips I saw my family. My dad hugging me, my mom crying in the airport, my sister waving goodbye. The room was dark so I let a tear slip and held my heart. The music started picking up, the voices becoming more impassioned and then they were moving. All the people in the different screens started moving to one. All of us "Visitors" did the same. We drew to that screen like bugs of the night, to our only light. These musicians of different height, different color, different places all coming together to make beautiful music in one family.

The last lines I mouthed along and this time each "Family" I saw more. My two dads , my two moms, my two siblings and so quickly I felt lifted. How lucky am I to have not one but two families who care so much. And in that moment the year ahead stretched out in front of me promising memories, lessons and a lifetime in one year.

I found California! It's as though I never left!
I don't get down too often. maybe my biggest problems are torn socks. But why should anyone spend more than a moment of the day being sad. With only a year to capture a lifetime I want to be awake and alive to do it all. So that is why all my posts seem so happy, why all my days seem so happy, why I am so annoyingly happy because as cheesy as it sounds life is beautiful and I'll keep enjoying it with a smile on my face.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dreamy Days of 1st Impressions

Monday was my first Rotary Presentation. 5 minutes of talking sounded close to nothing for a motor mouth like me. Then again this was my second language and the day of the presentation I hadn't a clue of how I'd like to present myself to the people giving me the year of a lifetime. Good thing I had a day of class to prepare, if only my brain could focus on one thing!

This is that notebook everyone. No I do not know why it is upside-down.

Some days (ok most days) my brain is on hyper active "Let's explore every daunting question of life or at least draw pinterest stuff" mode. So focusing on my first impression took some work. And now I'll take you through the up down and all around path I take to get something written, including this post! Surprisingly all my teachers have responded nicely to my lack of studying. They find me to be "Una chica muy maja y con ganas de aprender" > A very nice girl with motivation to learn. (exchange student perks, but a smile always helps!)

Bio notes to Zentangle drawings with the snap of my fingers.
I seriously don't know why they're upside-down.

So about this presentation, Hola me llamo Tanika.... blah blah boring blah. I have to make myself sound exciting, funny, I have to be the most Tanika I can be! Oh but that sun feels so nice. I sit right next to the window, which doesn't help with my fluttering thoughts. Amidst school bells, children screaming and the wind blowing my hair around making me feel like a super model (quick cute Spanish boys look I'm being attractive!) it's a surprise I even read in class. Now as the sun is warming my left ear I just have to soak it all in and dream.

His coffee cup = My cereal bowl

Today I thought of trampolines. I haven't been very sad here yet, actually I don't think I've been sad at all.  But now as I let my mind bring me back to the days of jumping on my trampoline I felt this huge indescribable longing. Is it the freedom to be a bird "just cause I said so" or is it simply the need to feel something beneath my feet that will spring me back up, instead of tripping me up (Cobblestone streets and clumsy girls do not mix) Loving family, lifelong friends, my greatest love my hot-dog BoBo, all worth missing and I haven't cried once. (Am I heartless that the longing for trampolines makes me want to cry but for my family hasn't or am I just incredibly weird? Don't answer, I'm choosing the 2nd) So as the school bell rang I choked back my first almost sadness and let the sun be a sign, a sign from the universe that I today is my day, this year is my year. Each step in the sun brightened me a little and I looked the universe right in the eye. Yes I can universe, and yes I will.

That field, like playing on green clouds.
Will what? Gosh I just wasted the whole day doodling and was still empty on presentation ideas. (Oh hyperactive brain why must you skipper scamper all over the place!) Ok I still have a few hours still, I can manage that right? Well, wrong.

They don't have homeroom, study hall, free period whatever you'd like to call that class where you get to "study" aka. do nothing. But once a month the students the students celebrate all the birthdays for that month by bringing food for a "Merindola" like an in-class pot luck. Here's the catch, instead of bringing treats for the B'Day Boys and B'Day girls the ones being celebrated are the ones who bring food. Does this sound reverse to you? Me too. But in my overachieving "Let me spread some American sugar culture" way, I promised to make brownies. Did I know if I had the ingredients let alone the time to do this? Hmm nope! Once again in over my head and without baking powder to make chocolate goodies rise. It's off to the super market.

If when it looks like an icky gray day. There's always something to smile about.
I mounted my bike and zoom-zipped through the now familiar streets, stopping at Eroski supermarket. (My biking abilities have improved so much I'm seriously considering asking for a new bike rather than a car, oh how my parents would love me for that!) As I pondered the isles in search of all things chocolate. I reviewed all the things I could use in my presentation, well there are my families, school, soccer, my fatal shoe incident- maybe we'll leave that one out. I was stopped by the clock. Realizing I had 50 minutes to get home, get dressed and bake some brownies I nearly threw my Euro's at the cashier but not knowing how to say "Keep the change" and finding him fairly cute I took the extra 2 minutes to wait for my receipt to print. With a quick "Gracias" I was out the door and pedaling my way back to the house. Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go go go!

Fall is in the air and on the ground! Hot apple cider and Halloween!
 Wait do they do that here?

I'm not sure my mom knew what to do. I was a twister in the kitchen chopping, mixing, converting (why can't we all just use the metric system!) but once the brownies were in the oven I took a moment to breathe. With only 22 minutes to get beautified I looked down at my baggy sweat pants and flour covered Keep Calm t-shirt (oh the irony of life) and asked her "I can go like this, right?" She laughed as though I was a 100% kidding when I was only about 90% serious. What happened to this night needing to be my best first impression?

These were my 1st attepmts at Crunchy Banana-Nut Muffins.
 Without baking powder, they were more like cookies.

In 20 minutes the house smelled of chocolate and I of roses. Rotary Club de Pamplona here I come. Despite making the continuous mistake of offering my hand when hellooo we are in Spain where it's all about the kisses, I felt confident. It didn't matter that I had next to nothing prepared for my 5 minutes of fame, I'd been winging it half my life and done pretty well. We sat down and the room quieted. Presentation time. No volunteers? You guessed it. I was first!..

Taking pictures with yummy waiters because I'm an exchange student and we do these things shamelessly!

The Spanish girl inside me, blossomed. Though I don't remember all the things I said, I know exactly how I felt. I've always loved to speak in front of people. When I should be scared, I feel empowered. All eyes on me and if I can manage to make the crowd laugh with my jokes then any slip up is worth it. Luckily the slip ups were few and my overly bright smiling made up for them. After I attacked "dinner" (A table of appetizers does not constitute as dinner for a famished teenager) I continued talking with Rotarians and future exchange students, finding it easier and easier to just to be me. In another language I say that deserves brownie points.

The sun inside me won't stop shining even on the rainy days it keeps it's glow burning strong.
My biggest fear was that I'd lose myself in a new language but if anything I've discovered more of me. I take pride in each smile I can make shine and even if it's only one person a day I feel accomplished. I'll keep on shining for months to come because Spain, followers, anyone who feels the sun, this year is our year!