Tag Archives: work

realismo magico

Santiago de Cali

Santiago de Cali

Despite an incredible backlog of posts here for my life in Ireland, I’m interrupting the daily grind to bring news from Colombia, la tierra de realismo magico. I’ve been in Colombia almost a week, initially for a meeting and now just for fun. I’ve been in Cali, where I’ve had some incredible experiences and met great people, and in another day I’ll head to Bogota and then places beyond.

Colombia gets a bad rep. Everyone thinks it’s funny (or maybe they are being serious) to say “don’t get kidnapped” upon hearing I was traveling here. Years ago, that might have been some good advice (we’ve all seen “Romancing the Stone”). These days, though, unless you head into some really remote areas (generally to the south), you’ll be fairly safe, at least from terrorism. Regular crime (muggings, mostly) are a completely different matter. Continue reading

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a lot can happen in a year

I have to get the hang of this posting frequently business.  I thought that I would be lazy on blogging because I had nothing to say.  It turns out, the busier you are and the more you do things, the less often you blog.  I’m not sure if it is because of the time commitment, the attention span, or something else.

A lot has happened since the last post, and since before then too.  In fact, a lot has happened in the past year, which lends credence to the whole “a lot can happen in a year” cliche.  Because, you know, it’s so true.   Let me serve as an example.

This time last year, I was sitting on a beach in Kerala thinking about which book I wanted to read next and whether I’d wake up early enough for morning yoga.  I had a “routine” of sorts: wake up, maybe take yoga, grab a late breakfast (kerala coffee, whole wheat toast with pb, maybe fruit and yogurt, or even an omelette), sit on a terrace, watch the ocean, check some email, window shop, dip my toes in the water, take another yoga class, rinse, repeat.  On March 2nd, I left India for Malaysia, where I spent 3 weeks in Borneo pretty much doing the same thing (minus the yoga, plus more alcohol).

That was my life, basically until late May.  I did return to the US in early April, but, with no job as yet, I headed back to Asia for a couple more weeks – a last hurrah maybe – before finally returning and settling into the 9-5.  And so, right around Memorial Day weekend, I started a job, which, for the second half of 2010, basically consumed my life.

But it wasn’t the only thing – the end of the year was also marked with the entry into a yoga teacher training program, which proceeded to eat up any leftover free time I had (after work sucked most of it).  What a change from counting coconuts in palm trees from the second floor terrace of a beachside hotel.

The beginning of 2011 saw the end of teacher training, which I suppose means I am now a yoga teacher.  It also saw more long work hours, and in a few days, will see the move back into a permanent home of sorts.

And I’m leaving out a couple of trips to Ireland, two other moves, and a gym membership that I definitely do not make the most of…

So, in a year I went from wandering aimlessly for several months around Asia, to taking on an important and intensive work committment, to moving and moving again, to starting and completing yoga teacher training, to the beginning of a nest.

A lot certainly can happen in a year.

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emergence

It’s been almost 6 months since I last posted, and I have no excuse except that life got busy with the new job, after a year or so of a low-key lifestyle.  The difference between life “over there” and “over here” is stark.  In Mongolia, I had a small community of friends, limited social activities in a smallish town, and lots of free time to experiment in the kitchen, wander the city, or take a few weeks to head into the countryside.   Some things fell by the wayside – my yoga practice wasn’t regular, for example – but I did get a chance to do lots of things I’ve always wanted to do.

The biggest difference, I think, has been in the kitchen.  In Mongolia, I got to spend time making things I’d never think about making – so long as I could find the ingredients.  And when I couldn’t, I learned to substitute.  And when you are forced to make something “imperfect”, and have it turn out ok, I think that slowly starts to penetrate other parts of your life too.  Frankly, that’s a lesson this control freak could stand to learn many many times.

But here, we have everything again, and I don’t have to think too hard about making something.  In fact, sometimes I don’t have to think about making anything at all, as evidenced by the other day when I ordered baked pasta for delivery.  A simple 4-ingredient dish and it was much easier to order in than to go to the store and buy the ingredients and make it myself.

So I’m trying to get back into the habit of cooking, because I like to do so, and because it’s healthier.   I’m experimenting in different ways now – instead of trying to figure out substitutes, I’m making creative dishes with disparate leftovers of ingredients before they go bad.  The results have been not too bad – putting feta in polenta, brussels sprouts in risotto, persimmon in cookies, candied ginger in bran muffins, parsley and soy sausage with whole wheat pasta, etc.  Freezing overripe fruit for smoothies.

The latest attempt tonight was cranberry ginger bran quickbread.  The recipe started as muffins, before I realized I only had a small muffin tin.  So I used a shallow loaf pan instead, and it baked up beautifully.  After it cooled, I sliced it up and have frozen half of it for morning breakfasts (maybe with a little peanut butter?).  The cranberries were dried and sweetened, but I might try fresh ones next time.  The ginger I candied myself, and keep stored in the fridge in its own syrup (which I added to the recipe).

So here’s hoping this is the start of a new old habit again…

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back to the grind

So I have a whole slew of unfinished posts about Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, yoga, food, and adjusting to life back in DC.  But the big news for now is that I am back to the 9-5 working life… or maybe more like 10-6… 11-7…. or whatever.  This time around I’ll be working on a project a bit different than my academic interests, namely violence prevention.  It’s a huge topic and one I’m excited to tackle.  I’m particularly excited to be working with some incredible people.

But first, the daily slog.  Sitting 8 hours a day at a computer is something I haven’t really done in over a year.  It’s not easy to adjust back to it, especially when you already have attention span issues…  (which might explain why I can never update this blog in a timely manner).

Then there’s the whole HR/taxes/benefits deal, and don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to get health insurance coverage, but the options can be bewildering.   We often made jokes about the lack of options in Mongolia, but there is something to be said for limited choice.  I mean, there’s even research out there showing that people are happier and have less stress when they have are restricted in their options.   Making choices is a somewhat bewildering and paralyzing process these days.

The commute might be the worst part, though.  I am definitely not used to crowds.  I miss the wide open spaces, even in UB, a city of over a million people.  Now, I have to push my way on to the train (and it’s the least crowded line!)  and take deep, deep breaths.   Luckily, I move to a new place next week, and I can walk to work.

A routine is nice too.  Now I can plan meals, and yoga classes, and drinks with friends, and farmer’s market trips… which doesn’t really sound all that exciting, given that the past few months involved planning flights, and hotel rooms, and spa visits….  but maybe that’s what the 9-5 does to you.

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