Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Take... luck!

Have you ever had one of those extremely embarrassing "Take luck!" moments that comedian Brian Regan talks about? Here, let me show you what I am referring to:

Do you ever start to say something and in the middle of what you’re saying you decide to say something else completely? There’s already words out there. These friends were leaving the other day and I started to say “Hey, take care,” and I decided to say “Good luck” instead like half way through, so it came out neither.

“See you later, Brian.”

“Take…luck! Take luck and care. Take care of the luck. Good luck taking care of the luck that you might have…if you have luck, take it, care for it. TAKE LUCK CARE OF IN IT WHEN YOU TAKE LUCK CARE OF IN IT…[continues to yell nonsense words – lots of ‘em].” You’re sure to see them again.

Well, the other day, I contacted a Spanish Egyptologist, alumni of JHU, to ask him all about the Johns Hopkins program, and other random questions about my future. As I type now, I look down to extremely short, finally-growing-back stubs of fingernails, seeing as I ripped them all off in a moment of weakness. Basically, writing that email, trying to sound informed and yet not snobby, dreading his reply, and finally driving myself into a panic attack led to the utter destruction of my pretty, long nails. They have not been this short for years! And, if that was not enough, the next day, he CALLED. On the PHONE. As some of you know, I have inherited part of my father's distaste for phones.

So now, I sit, on the sofa, having had to stop in the middle of an Algebra test, smiling, and bobbing my head up and down like a moron, mumbling "yes!" "great" "oh?" and "ooooh"s over and over. Bumbling idiot! But, the best part was me trying to stutter out "graduate studies." I know, this is not a hard one. I have said it hundred of times before (probably more since I started writing to colleges). But NO. Annalisa could not bring herself, in that moment of dulled wit and strangled reason, to say "graduate studies" decently. It was definitely a "take...luck!" moment. "GraduATel. Gra-du-etl. Gra-dua... *sigh* Stoodies... stu.. stud.." Yes, truly embarrassing, and so incredibly silly. After all, Dr. whats-his-face was nice, kind, and helpful. And here I am, making myself sound like an idiot. Gotta love unexpected phone calls.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trees and chachquis

Today, for the first time ever, I was almost eager to have my own Christmas tree to decorate. Mostly because, after envisioning a lovely version of a cute little Christmas tree was taken over by the mob-effect decorating that takes place at our house every year.

Strange, eh?

Even stranger is the fact that, most likely, next year, I will be missing the little moments of decorating with the whole family:
-trying to decide whether to use the lemon tree or a little pine-like bush-tree that some random guy gave us
-having Schindler's List playing in the background
-after pausing the movie, having to go out to the TV cabinet and closing the door so as to shut the paused dead guy from sight
-having Joseph play "Christmas" music from his Ipod, which included the Ramones, ACDC, and a wild assortment of other extremely unique characters
-trying to convince Mom that the mantle can only hold so many chachquis at once
-trying to convince Joseph that the itty bitty tree bamboo-stake-propped-up-tree could only hold so many lights/ornaments at once
-going over to close the cabinet door again to close off the dead guy on screen
-unpacking boxes and boxes of THINGS--all which smelled of mildew to some varying degree
-trying to decide why all our little Pesebre figurines were OLD people, and why there couldn't be a young shepherd person that didn't look like a girl disguised as a guy in order to tend to the sheep
-putting plastic Poinsettia flowers in Tessa's collar, thinking how cute she looked, and then watching as she shook them off and began attacking them
-trying to dance along to Joseph's random Russian song that was playing, and ending up flat on my face as a combination of a sofa-hit-me-on-the-way-down and my-slippers-are-slippery

This is what makes the holiday season special:

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Hurrah! I am now officially over with SATs, SAT II subject tests, and the like. Alright, alright, I am still waiting for my last Molecular Biology test results, but, all that that influences is how highly/terribly Johns Hopkins thinks of me from here on out. Tests are done, college applications are done (as soon as I send in the one for JHU this afternoon, at least), and I have been enjoying myself immensely these past few days.

As I browsed through my blog in these precious moments of freedom, I realized that I never recounted my past SAT experiences and adventures. Yes, adventures. For SATs. Not even the test itself, really, but rather what LEADS UP TO said annoyingly-long test.

Last May I took the SAT for the first time--after two PSATs and all too many "Collegeboard Official SAT Question of the Day" redirected to my inbox. Why take it in Barcelona when I could fly up to Germany for cheaper? So, yes, I flew up to Germany, stayed with a wonderful family (what do you call a family, of which ALL of the members are your friends? Hmm . . .) and took the SAT as planned, as well as the AP Spanish exam.

For the first round of SAT II Subject Tests this October, I stayed in Spain, and went down the night before to stay with some friends that lived er . . . "nearby" the language school where I was to take it. This one was fun--in retrospect, of course, seeing as most of it can be considered as the very image of Murphy's Law. Three days before the tests (I was to take Subject tests in French, Spanish, and Molecular Bio), my AP Bio teacher sent me a link to some material to look over. The day before the test, I realized that there were roughly 30 pages (when transfered to a Word document) of material that I had NEVER seen. I take that back . . . 6th grade science class provided some background info, as well as the TV show House, and the last 3 months of my "religion" class in 4th of ESO. Long story that is no where near PG. So, I spent the night before cramming everything from the most intricate details of the digestive (talk about unpleasant) or just how a flower "works."

The morning of, we got up extra early, only to find that the digital watch I was planning on using had... yes, died. This was not even my watch (which had died the week before). The sheen of its blank face mocked me. So, mom hurriedly handed over her watch: extremely small, rectangular face, and it was a REAL watch, with HANDS. I knew then I was done for. But, I had to run up to the mirror to put my eyeballs in and actually SEE the watch anyways. Lo and behold, incident #3. Have you ever tried to punch holes in your notebook paper, and, it sort of makes this floppy half-circle, with one side still intact, so that you have to rip it off to actually "finish" the hole? Well, now, imagine a contact lense, with the center in this annoying half-punched hold state. Is that even possible? Well, sadly enough, it appears so. I have ripped, scraped, and torn contact lenses, but never had them do the hole-punch effect before. Just lovely before a big test. Add in the fact that, my usually-magical-bag could not produce an extra pair of contacts, but only my purple glasses.

So, off we go, out in the cold, trying to weave out way through the nasty one-way-streets labyrinth that is Barcelona. Of course, all streets that you NEED are going the wrong way. At long last--and laughing my head off by the end, seeing how inane the whole situation was--I stumbled into the school, more than half-blind (for my glasses are from YEARS ago, before I was blind as a bat), nervous as heck, and COLD. I have never dropped my pencil during a test before. I did this time. 7 times to be exact. In a row. Needless to say, I did horribly on my Bio M exam--luckily aced Spanish, and did very well on my French one.

This December Bio M test (yes, I took it again :P) was less eventful the day of, but, the night before was, a nightmare, quite honestly. The little 2 year old of the couple that we stayed with was sick. And she screamed. Very loud, very long. Who knew that someone with a lung infection could ring those vocal chords so loud without ever stopping to breathe? Seeing as this post is getting extremely long, I will cut myself short. Suffice it to say that I discovered that there is no need for 1-2 hours of sleep to begin dreaming. And, when your brain cannot easily pass from a conscious to a subconscious state, your dreams are incredibly realistic and vivid. That morning, I had a glass of Gazpacho, accompanied by a glass of Coke. Feed me, fuel me. What else could I ask for? :)

And, now, I must away, back to schoolwork, and finish up these essays for Johns Hopkins. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Diary

Well, I realize that most people keep a diary to KEEP others from reading their thoughts. But, I want to share this one entry from one of my many, many spurious diaries. Now, please keep in mind that this was back in 2000, so, I decided to show you EXACTLY what I wrote. You'll see :P Enjoy~

25 January-2000 Teusday

Today I had music. I lisetened to a music symphony by *erased, written over* Leopard Mozart. It was of a familly had a party. Their was some people that had to come a long way. They went in the snow. We closed our eyes and imagined it. When we opened our eyes, it was SNOWING!!! A little but snowing!!! W*scribble in an "h"*at a good day. I learned silent night on flute. 8:54. Oh no, time for bed. no, asleep!!

LOL. The attention span of a goldfish, I tell you. And, 8:54?! Goodness, I do not even eat dinner by that time anymore. And, amusingly enough, this entry is one of my worst grammatically. I mean, the others had cute misspellings here and there (just how many variations of "great" can YOU come up with?), but, my grammar was usually somewhat cohesive. This time though, excitement must have slurred my thoughts :P Really though, I read at an incredible rate. I devoured books, and I quote, Jan 14: "Today I finished the Return of the Indian. I loved it!!" and then, Jan 15: "I finished Seacret of the Indian today. It was good but I liked Return of the Indian better" and then go on to discuss possible new books to read. Crazy, I tell you.

And, as I mentioned before, while diaries are usually meant to remain secret--and merely for your own entertainment or nostalgia years later--, I am terrible at sticking with those kinds of unspoken rules. So, what do I do? Spill my guts to my mom. We laughed, we cried, we gasped in shock at how sad and lonely of a child I was back when... But, mostly, we giggled ourselves silly at my "grown-up-like" analysis of what was going on around me. Sad and lonely as I was, I was certainly a bright child :P Also, I can pinpoint the exact date of when I have cleaned my room, seeing as it usually results in one or two successive diary entries after a long time with blank space gaping at you.

But, why oh why, do I write down the beginning and the conclusion of the juicy parts of my life? (The confused Annalisa with her first crush would be sure to send even the most reserved into a fit of giggles/chuckles, :D) *Sigh* Well, perhaps I should try my hand at writing a PERSONAL diary, meant only for myself, and written in on a somewhat regular basis? (As opposed to whenever I clean my room and find my diary, and then narrate the most interesting tidbits to my mother)

I just realized how strange parts of this post might sound to you, the reader. Tell my MOM!?! Juicy tidbits!? Hehehe. Well, I am proud, thankful, and happy to have such an open, honest relationship with my mom, to the point of reading her my old diary entries. That is what moms are for--especially such amazingly cool ones as mine (and many of you can second that, now can't you?) :)

Well, it is late (past midnight), and, my diary-reading session lasted for a little over half an hour, but, my room is STILL not finished. I have cleared off my bed, and made a path to it from the door--so, basically, I am back where I started. Although, it is true that the floor is clean, and you can see patches of golden tile gleaming through whatever is scattered across the floor still. Wish me luck?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cleaning your room

How to clean your room in under an hour: do not, I repeat, do NOT be me. Simple as that. For, I remembered today why cleaning my room should be left until a natural disaster or another such emergency requires it, or until I have to move. Most people do not realize what a painful, arduous, emotionally taxing experience cleaning my room is(it has been 3 hours already, and still maaaany many things to be sorted through and placed accordingly). And, before you roll your eyes at me (yes, YOU), hear me out at least.

TO most, cleaning your room includes sweeping/vacuuming their floor. Well, I have to find my floor first. Even so, that is never enough, because I HAVE to go through everything I own, and decide what to do with it. Unfortunately, other than clothes, most of my personal items have no place in the world, yet have that annoying "sentimental value" tying me to it. I am very pleased with how it is going so far, but, it has also been 3 hours. And, instead of finding my floor (which, I DID catch a glimpse of about half an hour into this whole adventure), I have erased whatever hint there had once been. I am beginning to doubt its very existence.

The funnest part of going through everything (and yes, I realize that actually paying attention to everything while going through it is what makes this all drag on for so long, but I cannot help it) is reliving my past. The handful of diaries that I have unearthed (with an average of 4 entries per diary--and, no, they are not extensive. There are a loooooot of blank pages, trust me) bring me back to the me from years ago. Photos, note cards, train or plane or bus or boat tickets make me think of everything I have seen. And, I keep most everything. Terrible habit, I know.

Even though it is a long, thankless task, it serves to remind some people of just what a simple suggestion can branch out to. Also, I have been able to see how far I have come, how I have matured, and what parts of me still remain the same. A truly soul-searching adventure, full of books, old creative writing assignments, photo albums and postcards. To all of my friends: I have most likely seen something related to you today, no matter how long it has been since we last saw each other. So, know that I am thinking of you today, and smiling at the silly all-school retreat moments, missions trips to Tijuana, GEM-K, or even from when I lived in Castefa. 17 going on 18 years gives a lot to look over :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Re: Annalisa Wells has just sent you an email

Have you ever received an email from yourself, that you never sent? Talk about deja vu! It worries you, it confuses you, it can even send your world out of orbit for the time that it takes you to realize just WHERE that email came from. For example, I send myself emails (not as sad as it sounds, really) with copies of essays or projects. My inbox is a great place to save copies until I submit them, and then I can go back and clean out my inbox until the next time I need some secure copies.

But, when all of a sudden, you receive a little notice claiming that you have just received an email from yourself, yet you have no recollection of having send ANYTHING to yourself recently, you begin to worry.

Usually, it is just a notification that I posted in a forum somewhere. Even so, it adds a spark of mystery to your day while you try to figure out just where it came from.

Silly post, I know, but hey. Also, please bear with me as I redo my blog's layout. So, if you see random things floating about, changing places, or just plain old wrong, do not worry, take a deep breath, and remember that the universe veers towards entropy anyways, so I am really just adding my little part. All will be well soon~ Take care!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dost thou know?

As I have stated in many of my previous apology-posts, "I LIVE!" And, for fear of sounding repetitive and insincere, I will keep it short: I am sorry for having overlooked you all, no matter how busy a week or month I may have had. Because, after all, this blog is just as much for me to express my thoughts as it is for you to rest at ease knowing how I am doing.

Please know that in thees last two months, schoolwork and college applications have taken their toll. For those of you curious as to which colleges I have applied to, please message me and I would be delighted to tell you. Sharing across the web just does not seem... prudent. ;) Also, this way, I get to hear from you personally, which would totally make my day!!

One of the subjects that I am working hard at is a Shakespeare class. So far, we have read, analyzed, dismembered and put back together the bard's "King Lear," and we are now starting with Hamlet. My post's title actually comes from King Lear--"Dost thou know the difference between a bitter fool and a sweet one?"--and the whole concept of "knowing" has occupied my thoughts today.

Recently, I have been keeping in touch with old friends, reconnecting with a few others, starting up new friendships, and keeping tabs on all those I love and hold dear to my heart. And, it struck me: really, what influences "knowing" someone?

What makes the difference? A year or 4 in the same class? A week in the summer or months together? Chatting online or in person? Light-and-fluffy conversations or soul-searching adventures? Happy times? Sad times? Bits of both? Learning each other's favorite color and flower, or discovering the depths of their mind?

Also, is it right to "classify" friendships, in a way? Because, personally, I can tell which relationships want to know the real you and which are just searching for a brief smile and precious memory. Are friends for the moment, for the past, or for the future? A little bit of both, I would suppose. Just because you have not seen a person in years, or have only kept in touch every now and then does not mean that they would not provide a much-needed shoulder to cry of if it comes to that.

So, my friends and readers, I challenge you to feel thankful for those around you, and to always remember that there are no hard-set rules for friendships: learn, grow, and care for those that support you. Cheers to all, and may you enjoy the delightful (for some) or annoying (for others) Christmas carols that are soon to flood the world. ;)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My post today is in honor of my watch. For those of you who have known me in the last couple years, you will undoubtedly remember the watch around my wrist, which always caused so much curiosity, debate, and random observations. Alas, that little purple mirror of time has ticked its last. When I woke up after a good night's rest, and wanted to see just how much time I had left before I needed to be well . . . doing things, I realized that my charismatic little companion was faceless. Needless to say, it has been hard looking down at my wrist only to feel the absence of my little purple friend, held in place by two never-been-used-on-hair pony tail holders (also purple), which reflected time on its glossy mirror.

Some tell me it is only the battery that needs to be changed. But, even so, I wonder if I will ever actually get around to changing said battery, instead of just buying a new watch (it is pretty wasted, after more than 5 years of daily use. A couple broken bands here and there, to be sure!). Only time will tell. Ah, the cruel irony!

Ok, I am done, I am good, and the sniffing will stop any time now. But... whoever will beep my sorry self out of bed in the morning, with its obnoxious, high-pitched beeping which seems to penetrate your entire skull, and resonate from within? And then, after those dreaded 20 seconds are spent fumbling at the buttons on the side, trying to get it to STOP, it chirps merrily one last time, and the echo dies down, and you completely forget about its annoyingness until the next morning. *sigh* Good, fond memories. Cheerio~

Friday, September 26, 2008

AP Bio: Evolution and pond scum

Seeing as APBio now fills almost my every waking moment, it is only logical that all of that information should leek in to and infect my blogging content. For one thing, the past few and the next couple chapters that I am doing deal with the theory of evolution. This is the first time I have experienced and realized the depth of some Christian brainwashing (to make it clear, I am still a follower of Christ, don't get me wrong. I just believe that a lot of Christianity and its institutions nowadays have been altered, and almost corrupted in a way. More on this later. Just know that, I am not TRYING to be an anarchist, per se.).

Any good Christian (according to my observations) would leap and howl and ruthlessly condemn at the mere mention of evolution. Don't get me wrong--why do I have the feeling that I am going to be mentioning that phrase a lot this post?--I believe that the basic foundations of the theory of evolution (which, sadly enough, has also been corrupted into the concept of Evolution) are... almost illogical (when in correlation with the Big Bang theory most especially). Nothing comes from nothing. Spontaneous generation has been proven both false and almost ludicrous. But, if we can laugh at how "naive" and "ingenuous" people were until relatively recently, then why are we trying to push the same concepts? For example, my book claims that, in the beginning, all of the mass of the universe was all clumped up, and, suddenly, it exploded. Now, I will play the inquisitive kindergartener: "Why?", "Where did that stuff come from?" "You have to have something there if it going to go 'Boom!'."

So, basically, and fundamentally, I disagree with it. God created the world, and everything in it, and everything around it, and so on. There had to be a "beginning" not just a "boom" of something that was already there. Now, what I do think makes logical sense is a form of evolution and natural selection. If a population moves or lands in a new environment, then there characteristics will gradually change. The ones with certain traits that make them the most able to adapt will leave more offspring than the others that are not suited to the new environment (because they won't be dead so soon, for one thing). This continues until reproductive barriers form. Then, they are a new species. Fascinating stuff, although I don't have time to go into detail.

You have most likely heard the infamous, sarcastic rebuttal "Right, so, we all come from monkeys, who came from pond scum?" If I wasn't a Christian and firmly, undeniably believed that God created man as "man", I could definitely see how they could trace human roots back, and find a common ancestor with other species (such as chimpanzees). Molecular technology nowadays is astounding. All this thinking makes me want to go an research it even more.

But, I must cover the "pond scum" concept first. Have you ever seriously studied cellular slime mold? I had never even realized that it EXISTED before today. Do you even know what it is? If you are just guessing, please, google it. So, I now have yet another path to track down and research, and figure out just what slime mold does. But, from what I have seen and concluded through careful analysis and observation, slime mold is a strange, almost communal "being" with a sort of primitive intelligence, and the ability to change shape, its cell structure, and modify and specify cell function, etc. I will discuss it with you when I have read more. You know me, I would rather offer a lecture when I truly KNOW than pointlessly speculate beforehand. Take care! Must sign off for today! Why? To do more APBio, of course.

College countdown?

Well, since we began contacting colleges last year, I feel like there is a sort of pre-separation weaning going on. My parents are slowly and gradually coming to terms with the fact that I will not be... here. With them. At home. Eating their food and making cookies or cakes. It is a very odd feeling, to be honest. I mean, seriously! Why not turn the "you'll be gone in a year anyways" into a "you'll be gone in a year, so let's enjoy the time we still do have." Perhaps that is merely my own wishful thinking. I believe that, although they all will miss me--yes, J, you too, will miss me, even though you are loathe to admit it--my Dad will most likely have the hardest time after I am gone. Let me rephrase that: my Dad will the the one to openly make a big deal of it. Mom will miss me, and then try to contact me somehow. Dad will miss me, complain about it, and then resume whatever he was doing, only to mumble about it again later. Joseph will... find it eerily quiet, and that there is a lack of commotion and random comments flowing about, I predict.

I will most definitely miss them all, but I do not feel like forcefully separating myself from them emotionally because of that. Instead, I am more of a "enjoy every day to the fullest" kind of girl. And, that is just as well, because, with this strange type of memory that I have, every adventure and conversation remains vivid in my head if I feel like recalling it. So, the more adventures we embark on now, the more memories I will have to console myself with when I need to.

Yes, memories, like perfecting the art of sushi (although, I made that by myself at 1am, and I unknowingly tried to poison my parents with raw shrimp. You mean, you have to COOK frozen shrimp, not just defrost them? Oh, boy.)
Just a random thought and commentary on my life :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Hi, my name is..."

At times like introductions, I wish I could be as random and spontaneous as I am afterward. Unfortunately, I am usually not. I sound stiff and formal and utterly boring. For example, in my Shakespeare class, I stumbled into class after an excruciating half hour of technical problems. As every first class, it was introduction time. "What is your name? Where do you live? How many years have you been at (name of school)? What is one interesting thing about yourself?"

Bright child that I am, I mumble on about my name, where I live, and that I've been with the school for 4 years. Let me reproduce my moment of glory for you:

"As for an interesting fact... well, I like to do a little bit of everything. For one thing, err... I like to cook... and bake... and I never seem to follow the recipe... but er... it always turns out great, so hey."

Talk about a lame introduction. About 5 minutes later it dawned on me: interesting fact? I guess being able to read and write in hieroglyphics is not all that common, eh? But, at that moment, it did not even occur to me that it was out of the ordinary, because it is an essential part of me that I think of as, "Duh, of course I can read Middle Egypytian. Can't you? *blushes* Oh right, my bad."

So there you have it, my pitiful introduction, and my brilliant afterthought. No matter where you are introducing yourself, never forget that, even if you feel like an idiot saying something boring or simple, you are a lot more complex, interesting, and amusing than that! That's my little word of advice and encouragement to you today! Take care!

Classes begin

I know, I know! My title is just a LITTLE too thrilling for most of you to handle. Never fear, I will somehow keep it from becoming a post full of massive adrenaline rushes and fluttering heartbeats. Somehow ;)

I had my first class online this Wednesday (Advanced Algebra, *tries to sound convinging* yay! *realizes that she failed* *sigh*). Like last year, my curriculum consists of two different online schools: one with you're-on-your-own classes, and the other with live, synchronous classes (all the students log on to the same virtual classroom, at the same time, and the teacher proceeds to teach us, using our screen as a whiteboard/blackboard, for the next two hours). Although my Algebra syllabus looks disappointingly similar to my math class two years ago, I feel that it will be a good change for me. Just think of it: I will learn the same things, but this time around, with a nice, caring, helpful, fun teacher who actually believes in TEACHING. For some of you, it might come as a shock that *gasp* most all of my teachers were complete jerks that only show up in the classroom because they get paid each month. Even so, they are pretty far from professional, just like the students lack respect: shouting matches between students, between teachers, or between student/s and teacher/s (the whole class against one teacher is a truly blood-chilling experience), and insults abound, just as much as academic material lacks.

But this year, it looks brighter. I have Advanced Algebra in the middle of the week, as well as a Shakespeare class (with one of the teachers I had last year that I really enjoyed studying under, hurrah! Now that was a convinced cheer~) another evening. And, during the second semester I get to take Economics from 12:30 to 2am. I will be sure to tell you ALL about that when the time comes. Until then, I will simply put it from my mind, instead of dreading the after-effects of getting addicted to Pepsi...

And, with a new schoolyear come new experiences. New friends (mostly online, although some I will eventually meet), new places, and other novelties. The one that has occupied most of my time recently is actually that a good friend of mine just got her first boyfriend (who also happens to be a good friend of mine). Strange feelings, yet happy ones all around. It will be most interesting to see how this all plays out. For now, I can only cheer them on and ask them, as only selfish I can, to please not kiss in my presence. I am happy for them, but I think that might just send me into an emotional coma for a while. We shall see... :P Take care! Good luck with new classes!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fading with the sunflowers

One of my favorite parts of summers here in Spain would have to be the sunflowers. I did not get the chance to take any good shots of the fields and fields full this year, sadly, because I was out seeing the world while sunflowers back home were blooming. Even so, every now and then, we will stumble across a not-quite-faded sunflower patch next to the road. Even this small dabble of color can brighten the darkest of days.

With the sunflowers wilting away, I realize that my summer is also weaning away, soon to become nothing more than a beautiful, precious episode, safely preserved within the memories of my heart.

Of all of the things which I must tell you, dear Reader, about to keep you updated, working at the Expo in Zaragoza was an entirely new type of experience. I volunteered for a week at the Expo, helping out at the Evangelical pavilion every afternoon from 1:30 to 6:30. That is a long time to be on your feet, greeting people at the front door, keeping them happy and entertained while they wait to go in to see the video, explaining what each NGO (non-governmental organization) does and who they help, or getting the video room ready for each new wave of people. My less glory-ribboned tasks included stamping brochures and magazines with the "Agua Viva" logo (Agua Viva was the name of our pavilion), stuffing fliers, organizing boxes, and of course, chatting with the random people helping out. I made some very good friends that week, and finally was made aware of just how much work it takes to keep anything running, and then, just how many different people it takes cooperating to get that work done. My first fumble into the working world.

Another thing that I am particularly proud of, for some odd reason, is that I took my first long-distance train. Alone. 1 hour down to Barcelona, then, switching at a major train station (Sants = chaos), having them X-ray my luggage (I had never checked in through security for a train before. That was exciting, to say the least. I started to wonder if they had the same liquids-restrictions. PANIC. But, all was well), and then not only finding my train, but my car, and then my seat. Oh yeah, and lifting my big old bag (most of you know that I usually pack light. Except when I am traveling for a week across the borders of Catalunya and have to bring a big old light microscope. That adds both bulk and weight) onto the luggage racks up above the seats. Enter achievement here. I did it! I got that bag up on the racks with no help whatsoever, twice (Spaniards are only rarely inclined to help, and never when it looks strenuous or dangerous. Leave that to the petite blond with the flowered bag). Although, I will admit that I ASKED for help to get it down. I did not want to risk major injuries right before I started working at the Expo :P

The morning after I got home from the Expo, my mom whisked my whole family off to the beach for a few days of computer-free relaxing time. A much-needed break, which resulted in a nice tan and a bucketful of stories to tell. Someone remind me later on that seaweed, jellyfish, and boogie boards are all related. :)

I must go now, the real world calls, as does a painful amount of AP Bio work and preparing for my first synchronous class this afternoon! Advanced Algebra, yay, I suppose. Oh yes, and for those of you who do not know what synchronous means, I merely use it in reference to the online classes, where teachers and students alike log on to the same virtual classroom, at the same time, on a set date, and the teacher teaches in real-time, and the students grumble and fumble through equations and graphics and functions in real time. :) Take care everyone!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Left behind

I am having one of those gloomier days, when the sun does not shine as brightly, and the colors around me seem muted by a strange melancholy. This afternoon, I finally was able to identify the cause of my strange mood: I am feeling left behind, in a way. The all-school retreat at Berean (the high school I attended my freshman year, back in CA) starts today. As soon as I heard that, tears started to well up inside me. Why? Because I long to be there. I miss all of my friends there dearly. And now just those at Berean, nor just those at BFA.

As of late, many of my friends have uprooted and left for college, be it a city, a country, or a continent away. And, no matter how many good friends I have around me at the moment, I cannot help but miss others close to my heart.

On this dreary day, my natural ability to be content in any situation has not quite kicked in yet. So, I am going to go eat ice-cream, then go jump in the pool, no matter what I am wearing, and either try and convince myself not to cry at all (having contact lenses is a very good reason not to cry. They get all hazy and sensitive to light if you cry too much) or let my gloom mingle with the chlorinated pool water. Either way, I will come back inside feeling much perkier, and I know that I will pray for and encourage my friends, just like I usually do, instead of wallow in this petty display of loneliness and a degrading self-pity.

Having said this, I am off to eat ice-cream, my true comfort food, and stick that smile back on my face, right where it belongs. Your now-almost-cheerful blonde signing off~ Take care!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


"The answer to any riddle, now matter how simple or complex, is, and always will be, Jello"

If you have ever heard this tidbit of wisdom, you probably have been talking to me recently. Or, you have been to a summer conference or winter camp with me. If you had never heard this, engrave it in your heart and mind, and know that it will come in handy before long.

As with most things, Jello is directly related to friendship. I prove this hypothesis recently when K decided to have me meet one of her friends. Although I am good at striking up friendships in person, over the internet is always harder. Especially seeing as I had no idea who this person was, or how I could connect with them. So, I crawl back to K, and ask her how to make friends. Now, the two of us have had many long, and extremely deep, serious conversations about this. Even so, after all of those beautiful discussions, we had never stopped to think of the internet as a friend-making environment. Boy, were we mistaken.

So, what do I do? Abandon all thoughts of "oh"s and "if"s and plunge mercilessly into this friendship. A day later, we are getting along like we have known each other for years, and are already planning our first meeting. It will include lots of food, some random fighting, and possible swing dancing. What else could a friendship want?

And, after all this, you might be wondering, however does Jello come into play? Well, that was my ice-breaker, and has continued to be the running joke throughout all of our conversations.

To all of you who are reading this today, let me just remind you that there are opportunities EVERYWHERE to make friends. And, if you cannot seem to get the conversation started, just refer to Jello. I promise that a lively discussion will ensue. Cheerio all!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Personal reflections on conference 2008

As usual, conference is more than just a time to hang out with friends. That is a major part of it, I will admit. Even so, for me, it is a sort of spiritual bubble, where I can go and praise the Lord with all my heart, sing my guts out to Him, spend quality quiet time with Him, and share an amazing feeling of fellowship among believers. This had been my pattern every year (I avoided turning it into a pattern, but that is what I naturally came to do).

This year, I was overwhelmed by the difference in spiritual climate. Never before had there been so many people struggling with, "God, where the HECK are you!?!?" And this year, even including myself, we all felt as if God has been distant for the past year/couple years. Even so, I was greatly encouraged by my small group leader, who has been going through the exact same phase as the rest of us. Of everything that she said, what touched me most was the following: "Even though I cannot feel God, I will continue to praise Him. Even though I am not getting any answers, I will continue to trust Him. Even though I feel almost like I'm being ignored, I will choose to love Him and follow His Word."

Thank you, Liz! You know the amount of questions that twirl around in my mind, and so, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart just for having been there, and willing to talk to us and share your thoughts with us.

Apart from the spiritual changes, I must admit that I surprised even myself with my personality. Characteristics that I have never considered that would come naturally to me poured out in torrents. Perhaps it was because it was my last year, perhaps because I am approaching grown-up-hood-ness. Who knows. Apart from playing a caring mother hen (totally naturally, and from my heart), I recognized compassion, helpfulness, cheerfulness, thankfulness, joy, peace, willing sacrifice, kindness, and a general justice-bringer/peacemaker in a strong yet gentle way. It is during moments like these that I stop and wonder if God is not actually so distant, and if it is more like we never stop long enough to recognize His presence. Although I am a caring person, compassion usually does not ring strong in me, nor does sacrifice. For example, a friend of mine needed to go running almost every morning to get herself back into shape before her Track activities started up at school. I hate to run. Really hate it. I can skip, hop, twirl, sprint, but no continuous running. Even so, I clenched my fists, and said yes. Not out of a sense of duty, but, because, she is my friend, and I want to do anything I can to help her. Even if that includes running until your legs cramp and feeling like you got run over by a truck the next day. Days after conference is over, I am still glad I went running with her, and I would not trade those moments we shared together for anything.

As I told K, I might actually be approaching grown-up-hood-ness some time soon. So, my prayer and hope for all of you reading this today is that, even though you might feel confused or frustrated or ignored by God, you will allow Him to reveal His presence to you today. Keep your eyes open, you never know. I had not even seen Him work in me until I finished writing this right now. Even at the beginning of the post I was planning on reflecting His absent-ness, and ended up realizing His present-ness. Amazing.

Sheep = Mission --> CANDY

So, what did I learn from this GEM-K conference? Well, first of all, if you yelled "MISSION" fast enough after they said sheep, you get candy. Oh, and, if you use the universal riddle-solver, "Jello", when asked to describe one of the leaders, they all recognize the practicality of Jello.

This conference was both one of a kind and an experience I wouldn't trade for any other. First of all, many of my dear friends were not present, including two of the most amazing leaders ever, D and A-P, and then many of my friends had other important things to do that week, such as move back to the States and start college. Likely excuse... So, before even arriving in Sopron, I mini-self-pep-rallied myself into a happy frame of mine, eager to enjoy the new and remember the old fondly, instead of wallowing in unnecessary self-pity. And, sure enough, I had a blast. With over 10 "first-timers", the dynamics of conference shifted a lot. Add on the fact that I was one of the "old" people, was good friends with two of the younger leaders, and had befriended many of the other leaders in years past... I ended up being a leader without all the responsibility. Well, that, and the life of the party (although I still do not understand it myself. K could explain it all, I am sure).

We honored previous traditions such as Nutella Parties (many of you reading this were sorely missed!) with an amazing 8-person Dutch Blitz game raging on, while Angie serenaded us on his guitar. VeggieTales songs and Disney movies were sung loudly at every random bus stop where we were present. A bunch of us hiked up to the cliff and watched the sun slowly creep out from the depths of the sleepy horizon. And, of course, K and I made the best of our short time together to sing our hearts out--DUDE! I even participated in the talent show!--

New fun activities popped up, such as nail art parties (kudos to K's amazing goldfish and dominoes, and I must mention my dots...), many aspiring jugglers (thanks to Fred's guidance), and SWING DANCING. That was definitely a highlight of the week. I still have bruises everywhere, but I love what they represent. You see, I volunteered to be the test subject for most of the spins, twirls, dips, catches, and flips that we ended up doing, thereby resulting in many test runs, with little adjustments here and there so as to not drop Annalisa again :) I loved every minute of it. THANK YOU J!! And, I even got Angie to be my dance partner--and what a wonderful partner he was! :)

The all-nighter was amazing always (although, in contrast to winter camps, there was only candy, no apple-roasting). It included many games of Psychiatrist and Maffia, as well as swing dancing, singing, laughing, coloring (they had left boxes of crayons everywhere this conference, with "perfect-tip sharpeners" on them... how could we resist?) and enjoying the deep bonds of friendship that we were either cementing or re-cementing :D

Although it felt odd not having some of my favorite people there (I kept turning around to mention something to one of you, but then suddenly remembered you weren't there... tragic, I tell you), I feel as if this was truly a good conference, full of delightful memories, food, and swing dancing. What more can a girl ask for?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pase el agoa, ma Julieta dama

I've been running around the house chanting this 15th century villancico, "Pase el agoa, ma Julieta dama" (which, translated, comes across as, "Come across the water, my Lady Juliet). Some how or other, I must have sung it enough times to subconsciously make my mind fulfill it. This afternoon, I went over to A's house ( a guy friend of mine) together with B and G (both good girl friends of mine) for lunch. When I say lunch, I mean, of course, the full Spanish/Catalan meal: a three-plate course plus some aperitifs beforehand, and dessert after (well, some consider dessert to be the 3rd course. Some of us know otherwise). And of course, the full-on meal included A's parents, his brother J and sister E, J's girlfriend, and all of his grandparents, both maternal and paternal. There were a lot of us. There was a lot of food and noise :) Life is good. (Especially when they serve you chicken and escamerlans, oh boy, yeah.)

After lunch, we played an uncountable number of games of ping-pong. I lost every time, and in very embarrassing ways. 14 to 1 never looks good. Now, I could blame the wind (which there was a lot of, and never in my favor), or a lack of practice (although it has only been a few months), or my contact lenses. This last would be the most appropriate, seeing as half-way through our little tournament the air was so dry that my contact litterally dried up, and fell out. It didn't want o come back to llife, so I walked around half-blind all afternoon. Simple charming. Especially since I had a ping-pong tournament to play. Some would gracefully retire. I am not that bright, so I decide to continue playing. Even though my amazing reflexes scored me a point here and there, my depth-perception was totally skewed. That was fun :) It is always much funner to play taget-practice and hit the person across from you than try and hit the table. :D

The later it got, the less pity the sun had for us, and glared down at us with its "angry eyes" on.So, we headed to their little inflatable pool out back. Now, I had forgotten my swimsuit, but that has never stopped me from having fun. *sigh* Unfortunately, A's younger brother wasn't as thoughtful as the rest of my friends, and wasn't satisfied with my doing a grape-stomp around the pool. Splash number one. He drenched my entire right side with this itty bitty bucket. Without even hesitating, I drenched him right back. Bad idea. I ended up very wet, and actually ended up sitting down in the pool, with my clothes on, of my own free will. B and G just smiled, knowing me, while the two brother stared at me in disbelief and, well, amusement. It's not often that girls here drop their pride and decide to have real fun.

Many splashing wars ensued, and I ended up with battle wounds (two very grotesque looking bruises, one one each knee, and lumps here and there). But, I take pride in my achievements: I was finally able to dunk him, head under. Do you have any idea how hard it is to dunk a tall 16-year old in a kiddy pool? A very very very hard task. Now, he didn't find Annalisa hard to dunk at all. I have not been dunked in a while--mostly because, while I am used to playing with Joseph's friends, they are either all bark but no bite, or they are still scared of me, must be all those stories they heard from Joseph, and the nasty glares I give out when they try to dunk me. When strength alone cannot save you, glare. And, if you live in Spain, glaring becomes second nature to you . . . such as having staring/glaring competitions with random people on the metro, or trying to look as grumpy as the people walking past you. It is so sad when everyone around you looks sad or grumpy or bored.

Anyways, here I sit, typing up my day, proving that I ended up "coming across the water" and getting completely soaked, while propping up my wounded legs and singing "Dona Nobis Pacem". Hopefully, tomorrow will put aside any goings-across and head towards "Give us peace" Take care everyone!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Different Kind of Free

Well, to help me relax out of an exhaustingly intense day filled with the marvels of AP Bio, the torture of AP US History, the annoying repetitiveness of Geometry and thought-provoking English essays, I have been listening to music. Now, I am very picky when it comes to music. Unlike most people my age, I do not necessarily have a favorite band that comes to mind, nor a singer who I just NEED to get tickets to her concert. Sure, I have bands and singers that I like, but I rarely like the WHOLE album, or their band as a whole. Honestly, I focus more on individual songs. Even if the tune is catchy, I always focus on the words. Words have power, even if you aren't listening to them. I first realized this back in my Dark Age in Banyoles. The sadder I got from school, the more I listened to music. The more dark, depressing, "the world is falling on me" and "everyone is out to get me" songs I listened to, the more aggressively rebellious and depressed I became. Although I can now follow that argument through with my amazing logic skills, no one had the heart to tell me back then. Anyways...

Recently, I started cleaning up my room (LONG process, do not expect me to finish that soon, if ever. Although, conference is coming right up, meaning I will be traveling again soon, therefore I clean my room up nice and neat right before--so that I can clutter it up after taking apart my luggage) and stumbled across all of my old CDs. I have not owned a CD player (other than my laptop... which, I just realized, can PLAY CDs. Imagine that) for years now, so it was truly the equivalent of a time capsule. Amidst David Bisbal's first CD, and a pirated Chenoa CD that I was forced to accept, I found my old CD case, full of a bunch of Christian bands. One of my favorite groups form that "era" of mine was Zoegirl. It is one of those groups that every little good Christian girl listens to in 4th grade. Well, I have never really been one to honor frenzies, and only got it as a gift when I left the States in, you guessed it, 4th grade. I actually liked their music.

It not only had a good beat to it, but it also gradually improved my mood and was a major factor in my ascension from darkness, and it really helped me morph into the cheerful, warm and caring girl I am today. Ok, I see some of you giggling at me. Yes, I once was dark, and yes, I am now kind and nice, for your information. Deal with it ;) As for Zoegirl, it was one of the few groups I spent my money on to buy their new CDs. Here, in the pages of this oh-so-secret diary, I will admit that some of the parts that made me cry then still bring tears to my eyes today. I have found these songs to be soothing, healing, uplifting, cheerful, etc. OR, they make my heart cry out for various reasons. Their lyrics really speak to my heart, and sometimes it comes as a big reality check. It wakes me up to the harsh life that some people face every day, and it truly makes me wonder what I can do for them.

Over and over, I feel like there is nothing I can do, yet I don't want to give up without a fight. There must be SOME way to help the girl they sing about in "She." The more I learn about the world, the uglier it can look, yet, I will not give in to just seeing the negative. For as much bas as there is, God fills our days with little things, good things, that bring us relief in the form of a smile and a giggle. I'm off for today, but I want to wish you all a great Wednesday full of smiles and happy memories, as well as the ability to recognize the many blessings God pours out into our lives. Take care!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Granada: the Alhambra and more

I have NEVER seen so many olive trees in one place. Ever.

Annalisa reporting back. Well, this summer is, as you can tell by the lack of posting and by the condensed nature of my rare posts, packed with work and trips.

Together with my family and a family that we know from here, we all traveled to Granada, at the south of Spain. We flew to the Granada airport, then rented a big 9-passenger van and headed down a couple hours southeast, to visit the dad's family down there. We were welcomed by lots of, "oh, my, how much you've grown!"s to the J brothers (one is Joseph's friend, and one is in elementary school, and they hadn't seen this part of their family for years now) and lots of food. Got to love Spain. : As expected, olive oil flowed like water, and was everywhere, in everything. That was due to the vast extensions of hills, valleys, crevices, plains, and rocky mountains atop which olive trees grow. I say again, "I have NEVER seen so many olive trees in one place. Ever." Although it may be hard for you to fully comprehend, there were literally olive trees everywhere (except for the little stretches of dirt or asphalt cut out as roads): including on extremely steep cliffs of a rocky mountain. I kid you not.

After a day of feasting and napping (the siesta is a MUST down there, not because they are lazy, but because it is too hot to do anything for the midday hours), we hoped back into the van and drove up to Granada city. The main focus there was to see the Alhambra, and meander through the famous Arab souk (market) (It was funny to realize how much knowledge I had stored up from reading all of those Amelia Peabody books.
Amelia mentions the souk in Cairo many times, and now I finally got to see a miniature version of it!). I honed my bargaining skills--although the elder J brother would disagree. He basically just sat back and laughed at me as I eagerly tried to bargain down the store owners--needless to say, I got much better deals than he did. They have gorgeous earring for cheap down there. I am a sucker for shiny things... always have been. And, if the price is right, there is no throwing me off the trail.

The Alhambra (the moorish palace. Granada was, after all, the last Muslim stronghold on the Peninsula, and the sultans sure made themselves comfortable) was... awesome. Not awesome in the typical teenager way, no! Awesome as in awe-inspiring. The delicacy of its wall carvings, and the overall beauty of it washed over you from the start. Then it was a whole day of it, yet I never grew tired of it. There were no people or animals portrayed, due to their customs, but, the intricate geometric patterns, and the white marble everywhere made up for it. Swirls and curls and gleaming white stone stalactites hang from the walls and ceilings. Certain rooms actually have an 8-star ceiling, towering up toward the vault of the heavens. It was truly magnificent. [Pictures to come, soon, I hope]

We spent two lovely days in Granada, miraculously avoided the infamous heat that Granada is known for in mid-July, took hundred of pictures, bought boxes (OK, Only I bought a box... but I wanted to add to my box collection :D), and teased about the belly-dancer outfits displayed everywhere (I would have tried one on for the fun of it, but they don't really consider the need for changing rooms... whereas, I do. Punto finito). Ah! And we had tea at a very comfortable, very dark and cozy tea house, complete with all sorts of delicious tea (Persian tea--black tea, orange blossom, rose, vanilla. That was for all of you tea-connoisseurs out there). My brother and his friend were slightly disappointed not to get to smoke the water pipes there, though (They all decided against it when the owner of the store told us that it was "fruit tabacco" instead of tea. I didn't know you could smoke tea... Anyone?)

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and I loved getting to travel with the G family. They are a blast, even if they consider my taking pictures of architecture a boring and odd hobby. But hey, it kind of is. Few people actually appreciate my "artistic shots" ;) Take care!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Have any of you ever felt that someone regarded you as a daughter-in-law already? Of course, this question is mostly directed at my female readers. Guys, if someone is looking at you as a future daughter-in-law, run as fast as your legs can carry you and don't look back. Then, of course, tell me the whole story :)

Well, I ask, because, every now and then, I feel that way. One of my friends (adult friends, mother of two boys and loving wife) really likes me, obviously enough. So much, that she seems to want to have me in her family--officially. Now, smart woman that she is, she reasoned out logically that, the easiest way to do this is to marry me off to her son. Usually people try to marry off their sons, rather than marry their sons off to gain a daughter. Who knows. Anyways, she has a son about my brother's age. Real nice guy, and actually treats me with some chivalry (HE OPENS THE DOOR FOR ME. This shouldn't be extremely exciting news, but, so far, he is the ONLY Spanish/Catalan/European guy to even consider holding the door and letting me go first). Some people call it flirting, others call it being a gentleman. Quite frankly, I don't care which it is. That might sounds weird (Ok, Ok, I admit, it DOES sound weird), but you have to understand that I use to hold doors for other, and wondered why I couldn't be a guy (nowadays, that thought of being a buy is so far gone, believe me. Personally, I am loving shopping more and more, and painting my nails has turned into a hobby. Not exactly manly past-times), and that way have at least one gentleman in the world (Other than my dad, and my brother when he was little. The whole door-holding thing slips away during their teens, I believe).

Strange child I am. So, you see, I already have people around me pushing people at me, wooing me into their family trough their poor victim of a son (I'm not that much of an ogre, but I can just imagine how utterly disturbing it would be for a teenage guy to have his mother determine his fiancee, and perhaps even force him to comply.)

Not that any of that is really happening, but that is what the behind-the-scenes story looks life from center-stage.

So, although I have not been married off yet, there are those who try. :P

El escriba ha vuelto a casa

"The scribe has returned home"

After a wonderful week down in Barcelona, my English grammar is almost non-existant, my Spanish has "resorgired" and my Egyptian grammar is at its height. I now erroneously expect others to understand me when I speak in sentences with no verb. And I'm not talking about elliptic verbs, either. I mean, NO verb. Or, sentences where a prepositional/adverbial/nominal/adjectival phrase suffices in place of a verb. I have been analyzing sentences for a solid week, taking them from the verb-less Egyptian (although it was always fun when they suddenly threw a verb in there, just to confuse you) to Spanish. FUN! Really, I mean it. But, it does affect one's other "assolired" grammars.

Apart from that, I met up with a bunch of people this week. First of all, I got to take the second part of my Hieroglyphics class, a year later, with the same teacher (hurrah!) and the only girl there last year (we became friends REAL fast, and formed an unstoppable team. It was great) in a class of 8. This week, one of the guys that I befriended in last year's class came to "visit" and say hello, and my teacher, and us two students (once a student of hers, always a student) meandered around Barcelona for the afternoon. The next day, I met up with a friend down at the famous pigeon square, and chatted away for hours while enjoying an ice-cream on amazingly comfy couches in the downstairs of the ice-cream shoppe.

All in all, it was a wonderful week, full of fun, laughter, and learning. What more could I ask for?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hieroglyphics, part 1

Hi to all!

Yeah, we got home really late last night. We drove all the way back from past Teruel (Aragon). Around... 1-2ish maybe? it was late. real late. Between that and a very tired and slightly emotionally unstable little 15-month old (but I love her anyways), I only got about 5 hours of sleep. What's a girl to do? Even so, I LOVED today. Class was amazing--althoug it is slightly taxing on one's intellectual abilities when listening to a teacher reading you off excercizes not only in Ancient Egyptian, but in oral transliteration, no less, with a Spanish accent, and nice and fast. Get those little grey cells moving.

I met up with Angela, the girl in my class last year that I really hit it off with. Ok, ok, the ONLY girl in my class last year. But we really did hit it off :) So, I sat next to her in class. Good memories :) Surprisingly, there is only 1 guy this year (well, "boy" is more accurate, whatever), and 5 of us girls. Kind of the inverse of last year, where us girls were outnumbered 2 to 6. Also, we have the same teacher as last year, which means it is going to be a blast! Once again, thank you so much for this! it kind of restores my faith in Spanish society each time I come back, seeing as I find that it really is possible to laugh, tease, and even cooperate with people in perfect harmony (the laugh and tease part imply that BOTH parties are enjoying themselves, not the typical ridicule).

My commute was intersting. I took the metro this morning, seeing as last night was way too late to start looking at which bus stops where. Quite frankly, I think that I'll continue taking the metro. It's fast, its easy, and I don't have to explore uncharted waters all over again (as I would ahve to know those streets by heart to know how to get to the Museum from whatever bus stop I hop off at). This morning I left extra early, so that I could buy mysef a lunch... Do you have any idea how utterly uncooperative this city is in terms of takeout? If anything, they open at 10 or 11, only at lunch time, or after 6. Go figure. I ran around, finally found a Fresh&Ready, bought myself a Caprese sandwhich (which looked so bad that it was obvious that I was both short on time, and desperate. Although, then again, it was the least disgusting-looking thing there. It had pesto. And cheese. And poppy-seed bread. yeah) for a ridiculous price, and skeedaddled over to the museum. Of course, it does not open till 10. and I mean open at all open. Light are OFF until 10 kind of closed. Very exciting.

Then, after and exciting day of summaries, repaso, guesswork, transliteration, and translation, (all very fun, no matter how it may sound to others), I was dead set on buying myself some sort of food. Whether for right then, or tomorrow's lunch, I didn't care. I needed food (no breakfast to speak of, a puny sandwhich, and a day later do that to you :D). So, I wandered ALL around the Passeig de Gracia/Diagonal/Urquinaona/Plaça Catalunya/Corte Ingles/Clot area. It's a big area. I found a KFC on the other end of the world, a Dunkin Donuts (which I already knew was there), another Fresh&Ready, a bunch of random asian buffets (not takeout. you'd think, of all buffets, they would be the bright ones with takeout. But no), and bakeries with nothing more than croisants. Don't get me wrong, croisants a re great and all (I actually bought 3 of them. That made me happy), but I was looking for pizza or something lunch-like.

I finally found some random Catalan cuisine takeout. I'm doomed. I can't escape from catalan food. But, they had a menu for a reasonable price (pasta, croquetes, dessert, drink. a real meal :P). So, I bought one for tomorrow. Of course, they open at 10, and then again at 6. So, I get to play around downtown for an hour. It goes by really fast when you are parading up and down these big /small streets, looking for more than 6€ tapas. Also, I stopped by a Mango store, and browsed for a while (I found a pair of really nice pants, but they turned out to be those wierd, not-entire-pirate-pants-but-just-a-tad-too-short-for-pants things. It makes it look like you are wearing pants tht you grew out of. Anyways). I also combed the entire Corte Ingles supermarket floor. You'd think THEY would have food, no? NO! Well, lots of food, but not anything take-out like, or instant anything, or, well, much other than squirming fish and skinned rabbits. I stayed extra-long in their Oriental section (well, part of a row), and found a bamboo rolling matt. I decided not to buy it after all, because I really was on a food run, and would hate to not be able to buy myself any form of take-out I could aquire because I bouhgt a bamboo sushi rolling matt that I cannot use. It would have been one thing if they had nori (seaweed) near the mat, because then I would have tried making sushi for myself for tomorrow. But no. It might be just as well.

That is a pretty thorough and complete narration of my day, taking out the 7 hours of class time that would probably confuse you more than provide you with any entertainment value. All I can say is that we got to go through the museum again, and translate things rigt off of pots, statues, or papyrii. AWESOME.

There we go! Update complete! Now, on to APUSH. Thrilling, as you know. Soon, I WILL post my Paris experience and my Alcorizas (Aragon weekend trip) memories. The latter includes real footage of a "corrida" I went to down there. I got the whole thing: bull-fighting ring, bulls and "vaquillas" (slightly smaller, but fast as anything), lighting their horns on fire, people dashing in our and around the bulls, people jumping up on the sides to get out of the way... a very very very drunk Captain Marvel (decked out in an extremely tight, sequin-decorated, bright red torero suit and cape. Needless to say, I had my camera out and ready to film the moment of his death, if it were to roll around--which we all expected, honestly, and, if not death, a good mauling.

Anyways, ciao for now!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Flood, flights, and my fun-filled summer

Once again, I start off my post with an apology at not having written for such a long time. Well, this month, like many previous months, has been extremely crazy.

I will explain it sometime in the near future (someone help keep me to this :P), but now I must get a bunch of schoolwork done before we leave to go pick up my dad at the airport to welcome him home from the States. I told you it had been a busy month. Everything seemed to kind of crash down all at once.

Take care, and have a wonderful day, all of you!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Olive oil and chopsticks

I love my life. It's unique, its full of perks and quirks. I mean, how often do YOU eat salad with chopsticks? Lately, we seem to be eating a lot of Chinese food (no clue why...), and I am loving it. I absolutely LOVE to try to eat anything with chopsticks. Seeing as my brother grunts and grumbles when I just use them randomly, I enjoy it ever so much more when we make Chinese food, seeing as it gives me a valid reason to play around with our "stolen" chopsticks--they used to give you wooden chopsticks with your meal at Catalan/Chinese restaurants here (never to be confused with "Chinese" restaurants, because I am still doubtful about the actual percentage of recipes and flavors here that are still untainted by the er... unique catalan taste), and, it is just like taking sugar packets: if they are just going to throw them away once you walk out the door, I would much rather walk out of the door with a new pair of chopsticks :D

As the never-ending college hunt goes on (you'd think that one month after the SAT would be... relatively calmer. BUT NO!), my parents are already giving me tips and pointers about life. Interesting how that works. I wonder if this upcoming year will be full of "life tips when you leave." Probably. Sounds amusing :) One of the most painful realizations that they want me to come to terms with is the fact that olive oil is NOT a staple food in the States. Silly people! How can you NOT have olive oil as your base ingredient for... everything!?! Food? Homemade beauty recipes? Ear infections? (Yes, we actually know of a full-fledged doctor telling a friend to "rub some olive oil on it" when her little daughter had a bad ear infection. Forget drugs or painkillers! Olive oil, pure and simple!) After trying to wean myself from this precious liquid--without much success, rather, I seem to be increasingly dependent on it--I have recognized and put into words one of those undeniable truths that people become famous for:

Olive oil is more than a staple food. It's a way of life!

I am not as brave as a friend of mine who managed to cut herself off from it when they moved back to the States last year. And I am not strong enough to deceive myself into believing it ever existed. So, as much as I love Ramen, I have to be true to my heart (gotta love those Disney values) and realize that olive oil will always hold a special place in my heart.

PS-- For those of you who are wondering why in the world olive oil is such a big deal, and want to tell me that "it's not like you can't get it here in the States", you should come visit me. You will see just how MUCH I use. I am a simple MK after all, and right now, I'm tearing myself apart between leaving on as little as possible in college and actually living with style (culinary style. "Fashion" itself hardly exists in my dictionary. Unless, of course, there is a 'NOT' of some sort between me and "fashion": "Annalisa does NOT follow fashions," for example)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Earth to Annalisa!

Yes, I AM alive! Wow, has it really been an entire month since I last posted? Well, I am extremely sorry for those of you who actually wanted to read something this month... shame on me.

So many stories to tell, yet so many distractions: writing papers, completing projects, studying for tests, taking tests, catching up, sitting back... All that after getting back from Kandern.

While in Kandern, I'd have to highlight: my first hand-written essay all year (for the SAT. Bad time to practice my 'A's"), using a pencil again, discovering that you can get virtually anywhere in Kandern within 10 mins on foot, "culture shock" when I was among the "hundreds" of Christian, English-speaking teenagers at BFA, attending "school" for the second time this year (the first also being BFA :D,)the Cookie Dance, laughing out loud during the Spanish AP exam, girl night (complete with a chick-flick, nail-polish, and French braids), quality pre-prom girl-time, my own version of prom (me all dressed up in a fun purple velvet dress with a bunch of people watching "Transformers", drinking hot cocoa, and then watching Veggie Tales during the wee hours of the morn. It was wonderful.)...

After getting back from Kandern--other than schoolwork, which took up most of my time, quite honestly--I discovered a new passion and hobby: hair braiding. It is simply amazing how many different types, styles, combinations, etc. have to do with braids. And, oh, the skill!! I might post pictures soon. :)

Another highlight from this past month was my random day-trip up to Cerbere. A good friend of mine who is moving back to the States for college and I decided to see each other one last time before that. So, what do we do? Meet in the middle :) Cerbere is a quaint little coastal border town just above Portbou, with more birds than people. Seeing as there really wasn't anything to do in town, my friend and I took to the hills. Quite literally. There are cliffs leading down to the sea, little coves that speak of pirate adventures of old, and flowers everywhere!! This trip was definitely one of the major highlights of this month--even the trip home on the train, where my look-menacing-so-you'll-be-safe tactic broke down and I ended up befriending a Spanish lady, a little old Catalan lady, and a random French guy; so much for keeping to myself!--after Kandern.

May has been extremely busy. Je suis drôlement desolée, mes amis. But, I hope to catch you up on a little more, as soon as I can, and then keep you informed of things as they happen, rather than do a summary of my month. :) But first... that dreaded Logic exam...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Explosió de colors

"Explosió de colors", or "color explosion" is what I first thought when I reached Germany. There are flowers everywhere! I feel like I've stepped into the flower festival in Girona, but these are actually PLANTED. Imagine that!

As I was doing my schoolwork this morning, my computer suddenly froze and decided to be its typical, obstinate, ornery self and just refuse to humor me in any way. While it took its jolly sweet time to shut down, and woke up at the same glacial pace, I decided to hop on downstairs and make good use of my time. I had a camera, some free time, and FLOWERS everywhere outside. Let me put in a simple equation for you math people:

Annalisa + camera + flowers = computer overload-worth of pictures

For any of you starting to pity my computer and side with her, DON'T! Its all a lie. She (yes, I have decided that it is a she, because of her increasingly sneaky methods for making my day miserable. She's in cahoots with the Internet connection, I'm sure of it! I guess everything turns into a conspiracy when any electronic devices you own come with their own personalities) should be happy and content, and not turn even the smallest task into a constant struggle.

Anyways, I promised to send tulip pictures, and I am ready to honor my word. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nails, planes, and tulips

Nail art, airplanes, and tulips basically describe today :) As I was packing for my trip to Kandern, I stumbled across purple and white nail polish... and, with me, this naturally leads to some fun :D Maybe that's why I never clean my room--because I always end up getting distracted by the random things I discover.

Right now, I'm writing from Kandern, hurrah! It has been so amazing to fly across Europe and still feel right at home. I'm looking out the window onto a beautiful little German town, with the sun setting in the west, bathing the multi-colored treetops in a soft golden light. There are tulips everywhere! Pictures to come...

Today was actually my first trip "alone alone" I've traveled without adults before, but always with a companion before. Today, getting through security, clambering up the rickety Ryanair ladder into the airplane, putting mu laptop case in the overhead compartment, sitting down in the window seat with no competition whatsoever... quite frankly, it felt kind of lonely. Traveling is so much more fun with someone to laugh with! Even so, I always feel at peace when I'm up above the clouds, looking down onto the myriad of shapes, sizes, colors and textures of the clouds below.

What can I say, my blood runs thick with TCK emotions :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Uniquely normal

During these past few days, I have had random things swish through my mind. Yes, swish. Everything from decided that, sometime in my youth, I want to be a tree in a play. Not exactly your typically-desired role, but I think I would enjoy it :) I also want to wear a fake mustache around for a day, and do my hair prom-style for once.

Another thing that made me extremely happy this week was that, when my mom came home, she brought gifts from afar. Ok, ok, "The United States" is only across the pond, but it still seems far when many of your friends are there and you are here. Well, my best friend and I are unique, to say the least. Just like most MKs, we understand the importance and true value of exchanges. Food is usually the trade-mark, but in this case, we traded chapstick. And I mean CHAPSTICK. I got four little things of chapstick in randomly fruity flavors, and I have been smiling to myself ever since (chapstick encourages smiling, I have found, especially because then you get to taste the delicious Orange Cream that you have smeared on your lips). Some people are happy when they buy chapstick, but only those of you who know me personally can appreciate the true extent of my simplistic bliss.

I get excited about the little things in life, and, as I can still quote from Anne of Green Gables, "I live life with trebled intensity."

Most people nowadays just fling a casual "Hello, how are you?" at the person they're talking to, but when I say something, it usually sticks to its original meaning. When I say "take care," I truly am thinking about that person, and praying that they will be safe. When I ask, "How are you?" I generally give an honest answer, and expect the same from others. I mean seriously, if you really do not care how I am, or just want the "*grunt* fine" answer, then please do not ask the question to start out with. Even though I attribute real meaning to what I say, I cannot hope that everyone else will, and I have gotten used to the casual questions and small talk. I do not expect everyone to actually mean what they say, although it would be nice. But, I know that this is just another way to distinguish friends from true friends.

What a wild world we live in. Alas, these little perks and quirks are what make me me, so I can safely say that I am uniquely normal.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"We'll be fine!"

It all started this morning... B, L and I took the 1:30 train down to Bcn. We met A (these code names are starting to get to me!) there, and headed off to a different town nearby. They have this amazing, once-a-year event, where they reconstruct life in Badalona during the Roman Empire. Its VERY convincing to see these people get dressed up as ancient Romans, believe me! I felt like I had flown back a good couple millennium and landed in the busy harbor-city life of old Baetulo.

Although that was utterly fascinating, I have to admit that coming home was even more exciting. It all began (and always seems to begin) when A left us. As soon as he was out of site, things started going from bad to worse. It always happens: someone stares creepishly at B, someone almost falls onto L, etc. Today, it was obviously my turn.

A had heard of our little "post-A's-disappearance adventures", and armed with with two little pictures of himself (it was a good idea...), and then set us off on a wild goose chase. Not only did he KNOW that the train he told us to take back was dangerous at night (so he lets three girls brave their way home), but, he got us on the wrong train. Then, at the train station back in Badalona, before we were even on the "homebound" train, things turned to chaos.
One train pulled up next to Platform 1. Everyone else hops on. Train 1 stops, and doesn't look like it is about to start any time soon. Train 2 pulls in on the other side of the platform, pointed in the SAME direction as Train 1. This NEVER happens, and sure as heck SHOULDN'T happen. So, then, everyone from train 1--who has seen that that one was going no where--migrated to Train 2. Picture the Exodus. You got it? Add two trains, and one platform. Everyone and their dog ran to the other train. THAT one decided to stop as well. Both of them just sat there for over a half hour. Finally, Train 1 started moving, so EVERYONE, now on Train 2, ran over to Train 1. Doors swung open and closed again, only to be reopened by hysterical passenger-wannabes. That one left. The other one sat there for a while, then left.
"Our" train--namely, the one A told us to take to save the 5E it costs to go back to Bcn and then back up to our normal stop--pulls in. We all get on, A gets off at the next stop, and L, B, and I sit in a corner, looking grumpy and as intimidating as we can. Of course, this is when I realize that I have lost my phone. Not even my phone, but my dad's phone. We spent the next hour's ride thinking WHEN I could have lost it. But, none of them seemed likely--unless someone somehow opened my purse flap, opened my zipper, reached in, pushed my bulky camera and my wallet aside, and found the little phone at the bottom, which didn't even feel like a phone.

Everything unraveled from there. B's phone finally gave out, and her battery died. We transfered the, "just-in-case, have-a-person-ready-to-call-and-dialed" part of our defense scheme to L's phone, but, her usually reliable dad hadn't even answered 4 times before when we called at the station. So, I'm glad we didn't get mugged, because we would have been out of luck by then.

We somehow, finally, arrived at the not-usual train station, which was "where God forgot his hat and never bothered to come back for it," and found it to be one of those ghost stations that only exists in terror movies. Lights are all out, we're freaked out as it is, and then, as we're walking towards the station building, this single light appears in one of the dark train wagons. No person, just a light (like a lighter flame). Talk about making one jump. The three of us hurried along, looking as scary as we could as bith a psychological attack (on potential evildoers) and as a defense (to make us feel like we were even remotely safe). We got to the station, and, of course, L's dad wasn't there yet. Also, there was literally NO WAY to get out of there, because there were just train tracks on every side, and the little crossing area that one would THINK you could use said, "DO NOT PASS." Go figure.

Past 10:30... What to do, what to do? We ended up befriending two random guys that were trying to get to Girona (an impossible feat that spoke Spanish with a German accent, but I then later heard speak English flawlessly--just my luck--and this random, jolly old station employee who didn't stop chatting. I have the feeling that he thought we were prostitutes... I just kept getting that feeling. Well, it's not that strange, seeing as the last lady that we saw standing on the platform at that station, who had later found a taxi somehow, WAS one. He was actually quite entertaining, when he wasn't making unnecessary puns. But, I fended off the rude remarks quite admirably, all the while sparing with him verbally, and laughing away as he combined random Spanish, Catalan, and English. We had told him that we were Catalan, but that didn't keep him from inserting random words like "girls" and "New York" into the conversation, no! I think I kind of shocked him when I spoke a line of almost flawless English (I put on an accent for show. L and B almost died laughing). So, here I am, the manager of two top models, ready to board the train to Hawaii, while stopping through Copenhagen, all the while eating spaghetti and singing old "habaneras." Yes, that was the story that we all ended up concocting. It was actually a lot of fun to chat away with this guy. It might sound creepy from your point of view, but we always had us three plus another 4 or 5 people each time we talked, so I felt rather safe, and, quite honestly, thankful for the entertainment. I would have scared myself silly if left only to my thoughts at that place, that time.

L's dad finally shows up. All three of us girls literally RAN to him, and all gave a sigh of relief at the same time. We miraculously found our way out of that joint and got in the car. We all decided that we should give A his pictures back: instead of keeping bad things from happening to us, they only seemed to heighten our susceptibility to Murphy's Law (which states that, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"). Our little trip home ended with fireworks. Literally. Up ahead, there was a random, unscheduled fireworks display. It only lasted a minute, but it seemed to mark the end of our little adventure. After all, B's mom had told us to have fun, but to "Keep those adventures to a minimum." We always seem to stumble onto adventures, so we merely replied, "We'll be fine!" I think that lady us better than we know ourselves! And, to end the wonderful whirlwind of experiences for tonight, "Staying Alive" came on the radio as we left the station and saw the fireworks. Talk about a grand finale!

Friday, April 25, 2008

From old to new...

Ok, ok, I know I already posted today, but I just stumbled across the most interesting little sentence while doing my English work.

"There is probably no pattern so common [as the Journey] in all of narrative literature, from the Bible, to the Greek epic the Odyssey, to modern films like The Wizard of Oz and Forest Gump.

Ah yes, "modern films" indeed. Little things like this make me realize how far humanity has evolved in so relatively little time. What we now watch as "classics" were at one time "modern", and what we now consider modern will eventually become a classic. Although, I highly doubt that many of the movies they've made recently will ever aspire to the noteworthy title of "classic." Nothing classic or unique about them. Just a random two hours of entertainment that leave no lasting imprint on your life, or don't spur any discussions afterward. Discussions? Yes, perhaps I have been in Europe too long, but I do enjoy a good discussion about a movie, and sometimes love to delve into the plot, examine author themes, messages and ideas it is trying to get across, and any viewpoints that it is trying to push. Call me crazy. Alright, I'm going, I'm going.

I just wanted to point out how far we've come, and how fast time really does fly by. The new becomes old at an alarming rate, doesn't it?

Home again, home again?

In our busy lifestyles, it is always incredibly nice to have someone come home. This may sound silly, but, after having had Mom away in Switzerland for a week, it feels REALLY good to have another girl in the house. Trust me. As usual, our reunion was a joyful one, accompanied by song, dance, and plays, just like the old days. Ok, no song or dance, quite literally, but we did reenact certain moments of this past week that we considered as highlights. So, no song or dance, but lots of laughter and smiles. I love that part about my family: the fun we have together. It does not matter if we are recalling a very er... original soup, a rock-paper0scissors incident, or code-name "Tropical salad", we laugh all the same.

On another note, our "reunions" will happen much more often in the future, as mom travels more and more. But, I for one cannot complain. This next Wednesday I am flying to Kandern. "What a frabjuous day! Calooh, callay!" (that is all I remember from that poem, honestly) Why, you may ask? Why, to take the SAT and AP exams, of course! Don't you fly to a foreign country to take standard tests like these? No? Oh, just me? Well, it was cheaper to fly to Germany and stay with friends for the couple weeks I'm there than it was to drive down to Barcelona twice. So, go figure :) And this way, I can see many of the people I love and hold dear. So, my friends, watch out, Annalisa is a'comin'!

So, speaking of the SAT, I must go study, and prepare for the AP Spanish language test that I decided to take as well. Might as well get it over with! :) AS Kate would say, over 'n' out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We're all freaking doomed

Well, as the title indicates, I've had a reality check this morning. Ok, so I've been having them for days now, but I've just now finally ordered them in my mind and realized how seriously messed up this world is. I've always known that, but it smacks me in the face, mercilessly, from time to time. And, whomever says that studying history is worthless has just never used it for the right reasons. It is shocking how many similarities there are in social/economic/political trends and patterns, and the consequences of each. Me? I see a crisis that has already started, but is going to get much, much worse, and the consequent revolution of the people when they get trampled on.

My theme this time: corruption.
It all started in my English class, when I had to read the Declaration of Independence. One phrase caught my attention,

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

I've never been in to politics, mostly because of the mistrust that I've inherited from living in Spain all these years. But, now, I see just how far gone our government is, and, quite frankly, it scares me. All governments lie, all governments use propaganda. But, when I can TELL that they're using propaganda to sway the opinion of the masses, it makes my blood run cold. With elections coming up, everyone is barking at everyone, and more and more videos come out on Youtube about government corruption.

I'm heartbroken, and it brings tears to my eyes and a sharp, piercing pain to my heart. Worst of all, there is so little I can do to change it. As much as I want to, I never seem to have the "right arguments" to show people what is really going on--then again, is the claimed, "really going on" real? or just more propaganda, but in a different direction?--and what they need to know. I'm remembering past conversations, or, more like, tongue-lashings, with people here about the war in Iraq, in the very beginning, and the reasons for declaring war. As any proud patriot, although I am not usually a very convinced one, I defended what my President stuck to. In retrospect, I feel ashamed about it all. All lies, and I followed blindly, foolishly trusting the ones that I considered as interested in the future of America. Now, I have my own conspiracy theories swirling about, and I'll probably never be able to prove them (otherwise they would be "fact", not "conspiracy theories"), and I'll be branded as a heretic no matter what I do stand up for in the end.

At least now, I yearn to make my own decisions, but am not foolish enough to believe I actually can objectively. All I can do now is try my best, take information from both sides, analyze it, test it, and come up with my own conclusions. I'm learning that the truth usually lies somewhere in between each extreme, and sometimes, it is completely off the charts. "You cannot serve two masters," I recall, and, history shows us just how true that is. You cannot bring about a true reformation from your couch, wallowing in riches, greedy for more. Revolution calls for sacrifice. And, although I attempt to brace myself for the impending crisis, I doubt anyone will ever be truly ready.

Oh, but I pray for my country, I pray for those who lead us, I pray for the people of America, that they would wake from their stupor long enough to realize that everything is not hunky-dory, and that there are changes coming, at an alarming speed, and it doesn't look too good.

I'll leave you all with this cheery thought, and hope that you'll at least dedicate a minute to realizing what is going on in the world--not just America, please do not get me wrong--and pray for the future.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What a wonderful world

Over the past few days, I have experienced, time and time again, little things that make me undeniably happy.

--Sitting outside, with my laptop, doing my schoolwork while the sun shined down on me and a gentle breeze caressed my hair. Then, it started raining. But, not the usual, dark and gloomy kind of rain. It was sunny and bright, with hardly a cloud in the sky, and beautiful patched of azure peeking through. Yet, even so, little drops of cool water splashed down all around, making beautiful little ripples on the surface of my pool.

--Hearing from dear friends, knowing that they're safe and sound, enjoying life, and even thinking about me from time to time.

--Crawling under the table chasing a wiggly little 10-month-old girl who looks just like Boo (from Monsters, Inc. Same rosy cheeks, giggly smile, and little pigtails) who was in turn chasing down Tessa. Her giggle is one of the cutest sounds in the world, an unimaginably warm sound that just makes me smile.

--Looking back through my old files, finding little writings and journal/diary-style notes here and there, seeing how much I've changed, or what I aspired to, and what has become of those aspirations.

--Feeling tied down by schoolwork, yet reaping the benefits of hard work.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beautiful Soul

I don't want another pretty face
I don't want just anyone to hold
I don't want my love to go to waste
I want you and your beautiful soul

I heard this song on the bus the other day, and it has really gotten me thinking. I couldn't help but feel that that is how God must feel, to some degree. He sees us down here, struggling to get by, yet blissful and full of thanksgiving other times.

The older I get, the more I realize just how much effort it really takes to be a worthy woman of God. Lately, it seems that things that never used to really bother me are starting to surface, and I find myself looking in the mirror more often than I'm proud of. Vanity really had never haunted me this much before. I'd stuff my hair into a messy ponytail, throw random clothes on (I managed to make them match or look decent, in some subconscious way though), and put chapstick on my poor cold/dry/humidity-intolerant lips. Now, makeup has opened an entire new world for me, and I can't say I'm pleased. Buying $10 lipgloss for $3 is a bargain, but just what does it entail? How will it affect me? Over the past few years, I've become very happy with myself. Not in an arrogant, self-righteous, boastful way, but just happy to be alive and with the gifts that God gave me. Nowadays, I have to keep examining the true thoughts of my heart: why am I dressing up? For whom am I dressing up? I earnestly yearn for the answer to be "for God, and for His glory," but, just as honestly, most times it isn't. Luckily, I've always stayed far away from the typical boy-craze, and I'm still not dressing up for them, Praise the Lord! The day I find myself doing that, I'll raid my pathetic little collection of makeup and mirrors and lock them away for a week. Not sure if that will help, but it will definitely give me time for a reality-check and a large enough wave of downright shame to make me realize how far I've gone from my original purpose of merely boosting my self-respect and my beauty in God's eyes.

How can I give my all to God, and through His power, turn my current self into the beautiful soul that He wants me to have? I definitely do not want to put His love to waste, but I don't think going about in a scraggly tee-shirt and jeans, looking disgusting on purpose, is going to solve anything. Sometimes the simple T-shirt and jeans brings out the best of people, but I don't think that God wants us to purposefully put ourselves down as punishment for wanting to be beautiful. Somehow or other, inner beauty and outer beauty are connected, but how to strike that balance is far beyond the current me to pinpoint. Well, here goes, another crazy search for the unknown. I never know what I'll end up finding, but I have to admit that God always blows my mind and answers my questions in ways that would seem almost too clear to be real.

How do we balance outward beauty with the beauty of the heart?
Signed, the struggles of a girl