Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Although I'm not in Indiana enjoying my family this Christmas, I enjoyed the dessert sun and small family gathering to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. 
Although I will not be with family on New Years, I will enjoy being with another special person too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We are all a hybrid culture.
A good job, Starbucks.
Who was afraid of Jesus in the Bible? 
Those who thought they had power.
Who are the ones who were the closest to Jesus?
Those who thought they had none.

Pastor Tim Chaddick, from today’s sermon

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Blog

I have created a new blog that I will transition into using 100% eventually, as soon as tumblr updates their accessibility to non-tumblr users. Find it here:
I will keep updating here too but I am disappointed with this network blogspot lately!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"We need to be grateful for many things that did not happen." 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From a flea market in Santiago

To be honest...

It's disguised as a positive thing: 
"Making a difference, 
Changing the world,
Doing your part..."
But for me, I find myself searching for self-glorification in these catchphrases:
I am making the difference, so applaud me.
I am changing the world, so recognize me.
I am doing my part, so thank me.

My on going struggle is self-glorification.
I battle with comparing myself to the world's standards and yearning for wordly approval.
I need that Gold Star.
And when I don't get that Gold Star for making the world a better place, I feel empty.
But you know what I've learned?
If I do get that Gold Star, I still feel empty.
I have gotten these glittery rewards before, all in a row, perfect 10, tic-tac-toe.
But you know what?

It kinda means, well... nothing.

Where are the real relationships?
Where is the humility?
Where is the teachable spirit?
For me, they get lost somewhere between "I'd like to accept this award on behalf of..." and the thousand dollar celebration that follows.
My purpose does not come from Gold Stars.
My purpose isn't just even in relationships, humility, or learning.

My purpose is in glorifying God, the One who deserves it, not my own self.

God's plans for me might not be big by the world's standards. 
I might never receive a single nod from a single person for serving.
People might be confused at what I'm doing, they might think what I am doing is useless.
But the reward from doing what God wants me to do will not leave me feeling empty.
God does have big plans for our lives, but I have to accept that they most likely don't look like the kind of "big" the world says is important. 
And I have to be ok with that.
It's so hard for me to give that up, but I have to.

And only then will I find fulfilling how I serve, and only then will I be doing what I was made to do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"We are at best poor beggars telling other poor beggars where there is bread."

-Don Carson

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Pusuit of Happiness Comfort

When we are hungry, we fill up.
When we are in pain, we pop a pill.
When we have to wait in line, we complain.
When we are being challenged, we question God.

I am guilty of relating my overall well-being and my relationship with God based on my comfort level. Or shall I say, I relate my well-being: relationship with God: comfort level. Or visa versa really, as they are all 3 intertwined but rest on the foundation of how comofortable I am in my life. If I am? My relationship with God is great and I am well! If I am uncomfortable, my relationship with God suffers and I then I am not well.

But why is the issue comfort, I ask? What is so wrong with a little discomfort? As Chilean author Isabel Allende-- a favorite of mine-- said in a talk I heard her give last year, "What is wrong with a little pain? [Comfort]... is overrated." I think she has a point in that really, what is so wrong about it? We label discomfort as bad, naturally, but now with the technology and wealth we have around us, we avoid this badness at all costs. And for what? Millions suffer daily and actually benefit from a certain level of discomfort. "...We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance; and endurance, character; and character, hope."  In many circumstances that arise in our modern daily lives, it is perhaps more unhealthy into obessively pursue comfort than to in fact be temporarily uncomfortable.

Of course I can't make a general "we" statement and tell the West to stop complaining. But this is a personal revelation for me. To be aware of when I am filling myself emptiliy to satisfy my comfort level, and when I should revel a bit more in what God could potentially be teaching me through the discomfort. Even if it's on the simplest level of being ok with being hungry. 

So I'll start now... right after I eat breakfast ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"God has tested us this year"

President Piñera of Chile said at the ceremonious rescue of the 33 trapped miners, "God has tested us this year." I can attest to that on Chile and my own behalf! I feel the pain and joy and relief and disbelief of the world over the amazing recovery of the men involved in the longest entrapment in history. I felt the same after the earthquake happened in Februrary. And I feel the very same about my own life this past year; God has indeed tested me, and perhaps I have also emerged, like the miners, a little malnourited, a little unaccustomed to the light, with plenty of stories to tell, but safe. I definitely didn't suffer as they did, but my life is changed. That's, in one dramatic metaphor, is how I feel. 

Fuerza Chile!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So, I never shared with the public the art I created while I was in Chile in my citation-based painting and drawing class. Well then, here ya go. 
The link will lead to my full portfolio from the class, the slideshow just shows the pictures.

I can't believe in only 12 weeks I produced 9 paintings all outside of class. Well, to be exact, in my host casa, on the floor, trying not to spill paint on the carpet. 
In my current advanced painting class at USC, we will paint 4 works in 12 weeks, and even that is shooting high. I was so impressed with my fellow students at La Católica; their works were at times detailed and large and almost always thoughtful and well-constructued. I was the slacker in the class, mostly because I would paint in between weekend travels and weekly excursions. 
But still, the Chilean artists I met in my class still inspire me. My current body of work is actually based completely on experiences of magical realism I witnessed in Chile. And athough it will only be 4 paintings large, I hope it will do my friend Chile proud!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"A good 
has no 
 plans and 
is not 
intent on 
-Lao Tzu

Friday, August 20, 2010

Traveling well is not really fair.
You are suppossed to go in with an open heart and invest in relationships with the poeple there.
The best times are when are you with those new friends, exploring, learning what it is to be a local, just hanging out,
But then there is the inevitable good-bye, and you have to leave your new friends.
You tried so hard to make these friends, and then you just have to leave them.
Potentially forever, never to see them again.
This is terribly painful!
How can you return from anywhere away from home where you've made dear friends and not want to return? 
And not be sad to have them only in an isolated place in your history, in only a little box of time?

Time and relationships are often at odds in my life; there never seems to be enough time to spend time together. 
But then do I just "settle down" and never leave a fixed location to solve this?
And forskae the longing I have to constantly be moving? 
Or just stop caring as much about other people?

A beautiful friend told me that if you leave behind your new friends in your place away from home and are saddened, it means you understand what it is to love well. 
Well loving well is painful.
And thus traveling well is too.
And it takes a lot out of you!
I've been packing, moving, unpacking starting over, adjusting, loving, struggling, and saying good-bye every 6 months since I graduated from high school. 
I am tired! 

Friday, August 13, 2010

El Sur

So, I never got a chance to upload and update you all about my travels to the south of Chile. To put in pocas palabras, it was cold and rainy (however the people were warm and sunny), the towns were small and quiet, and the scenery was abundantly green and forest-y. 

My travel mate Ali and I went to 6 towns in 6 days by bus, van, ferry and car, all with our trusty backpacks and polar fleece long underwear. The architecture and food were very Germanic (think cottage-style hotels and kuchin), so it was a nice change to the Spanish and boxy buildings of Santiago. The landscape was also a nice change, with beautiful snow-capped volcanoes as the backdrop to vast lakes and giant green trees, it was like an Indiana-Irish countryside with an Antarctic twist.

One thing that never fails is that in every single established town in Chile, there exists a Spansh Plaza de Armas, with a center plaza, church, a government building, and sometimes a central market. The varrying sizes and styles of these town centers was interesting to observe and compare, but my favorite was the capital of the island we visited; the central church is an unlikely shape and is made entirely of wood, inside and out. This island itself however, was rather creepy as we were seemingly the only tourists there and the local folkloric tales of evil trolls and witches were a little too real in the pitch black, mysterious noise-filled nights. 

The moral of the story is that the region is surely a different world in the summer time when vacationers and sun abound and outdoor activities and tours are not impossible to do. All I can say is, thank goodness for the cute cafes were found in every stop and the indoor stoves for heating!

Here are some photos of the trip, credit goes to Ali for the first 11!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chau Chile

I'm back from the ends of the earth to the land of the free and home of the brave, and boy have I changed a lot. To organize my ramblings and thoughts since my return, I have categorized them per topic, ish.  

On the Top 3 
When asked on my evaluation form from my study abroad program the top 3 things I've taken away from my experience, I answered:
1. Stay humble.
2. Keep an open mind.
3. If at first you don't succeed...

On Time Travel
I have time traveled. I traveled from the rainy winter of Santiago where the students are just beginning their 2nd semester, to the hellish summer of Phoenix where people are still in vacation mode, mildly starting to prepare for the back-to-school mindset of a new school year. I skipped the summer blues and pool parties and will be technically entering into my 3rd first semester in a row in just 22 days. I feel like I missed Christmas. It’s rather difficult to explain. It confuses my mind to think that the vastly different worlds of Santiago and Phoenix—both my own— exist simultaneously and both will continue to move along finely with or without me. I will no longer be able to witness the passage of time, the developments, the day-to-day of Santiago, yet it will flow on normally just as it had before we ever met.

On Relational Cities
The cities I have lived in or visited in my contemporary life seem to appear to me in these sort of personages that relate to me in human terms, in varying person-to-person type connections. Scottsdale and I have a sibling kind of relationship, where I love hanging out with him/her (Scottsdale has no particular gender to me), feel super comfortable, and yet sometimes get annoyed and can be harsh. Sometimes I just have to yell at Scottsdale to grow up and leave me alone, but it’s really only because I love him/her so much since he/she’s family. Los Angeles is my lover, because we have a love/hate relationship where I generally do not rest at a balance but am filled with a passion (mostly of love) on either end that changes frequently and abruptly. I fight with LA but we always make-up with a kiss. Of sorts.
And then there’s Santiago, who is a dear and closer friend of mine. We have our days of short tempers or frustrations, but I have a steady and deep adoration for what the city teaches me, surprises me with, and accommodates me, like an old friend. We are not very hot or cold and I’m not tied by blood to love, but we are just a good and drama-free match. That’s why I truly feel like I could live there for a longer time, because it is just so easy to be with Santiago. Best friends for life.

On Culture Shock
Things I want to keep up that I learned in Chile:
  • Greeting people more personally when I enter into a room or see an acquaintance on the street. I loved that Chileans kiss everyone at the party when first arriving and take the time to 
  • Saying “chau.” Because it’s fun.
  • Eating a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner, plus avoiding eating right before bed. Good habits, although I will take my American breakfast, thanks.
  • Taking public transportation and walking when possible instead of driving so much. Oh if only LA or Phoenix were as good as the micros and metros there…
  • Photo-copying pages of books, readings, etc. for school or personal use. Quite handy.
  • Being very faithful to my good friends and family.
  • Speaking Spanish with my random chilenismos and sayings.
  • Wearing my poncho and fanny pack forever and ever amen.
I miss you, Chile. I miss you, new friends. I miss you, family. I am ever thankful!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's my last week in Santiago. 
I am ready to come home, home
But I of course am not ready to leave this home, hogar
"Home is wherever I'm with you." 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I am 22 today. 
I actually do feel different now. Un pare de patos, a pair of swans, double digit luck. My only birthday I've ever spent in a parka. I think I prefer a sundress.

Recently I have been traveling to enjoy my "summer." I went snowboarding in the Andes, to a beach town up north and its surrounding valley, and now I'm off to la Región de los Lagos down south where I might potentially freeze to death. All of the adventures have been completed with my faithful companion, Ali. She is wonderful.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hap Burday Amurca

In honor of the birthday of the United States of America, the country of which I am a citizen of, I would like to pay tribute to the beautiful things that are tan nuestro, so ours, as United Statesians:
  • Mega-chain coffee shops with ground coffee, soy milk, and sugary syrups: Yes, I am being serious, I actually miss the fact that you can count on these corperate hounds to satisfy your sweet tooth, caffinated desires at any corner strip mall of suburbia. 
  • Breakfast: Big, hearty, all-food-group-encompasing, American breakfasts. Pass the bacon.               
  • The ability to be able to count on super stores like Target and Michaels for any random object you find yourself in need of (or in want of): It's just that assurity that you can count on that makes you feel secure in life.
  • Readings that do our culture, landscape, and history proud: Ralph Waldo Emerson's poetry, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain's literature and witty quotes, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Time Magazine, and the Sunday comics. 
  • Regional stereotypes, accents, styles, foods that actually can be rather fun to see realized in real life: California valley girl-isms, Texan cowboy hats, Midwestern gravy, New York City yuppies, etc.
  • Road trips: Pacific Coast Highway, Route 66, middle-of-nowhere diners and nothing but road for miles.
  • Rock n' Roll baby.
And, some of my old photos that to me, are also so Americana:

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Again I Might be Wrong

My favorite personal motto: "Again I might be wrong." 

An ex-personal motto I have gotten wrong: "Follow your dreams and it will all work out."

A characteristic that is not sufficient for sustainability, joy, or fulfillment but one of which I value above many others: Passion.

A presentation that exemplifies all my breakthrough realizations on these matters: Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs (see video below). 

I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller awhile ago on how God has designed humans to work, to create, as an imitation of Himself as Creator. Jobs and work have to do with creation, making, forming, separation no matter the occupation; a teacher brining students' potential out, a medical professional bringing order to a body that is falling apart, an artist making a painting, a hairstylist creating a beautiful look out of chaos... We are sub-creators (as J.R.R. Tolkein names it), and Keller goes as far to say that we need that as a part of satisfaction in life. 

This mesage had been on my mind continually since then, seeing as how the everlooming real world is approaching as well as the questions of "What will you do after you graduate?" I want to do something I am passionate about, and I'll admit, a job that is socially accepted as meaningful. If I were to become a landscaper or a sheep castrator many people would question why in the world I spent all that money on a USC education for such a simple or dirty job. But in God's eyes (and in the anthropologists' minds theoretically), any task can be a fulfillment of God's intention for work, and thus the societal worth given to a job is void because all jobs are essentially equally satisfying the intention. Of course some jobs require more education to fulfill sucessfully, some pay more, some put more lives at stake, obviously not all jobs are equal. However, who are we to say that the man who puts the buttons on a cell phone in an assembly line is working a less important job that the man who invented those buttons? It doesn't seem logical, but then again it is matter of questioning cultural upbrining. What if instead of praising and glorifying actors in Hollywood we had the same fervor for great plumbers? Afterall, a plumbers work is much more practical and personally affective than the man who says lines behind a camera for our entertainment. Look in different cultures and you will find who jobs they value say a lot about their society, and sometimes it doesn't seem to make sense from an outsider's perspective. But does it make sense that we worship people whose job is pretending to be someone else? 

Fast forward to today, when I listened to a different sermon by the pastor of a church I attend in Arizona, Justin of Praxis. He added to my "ah-ha" with words on the often dissappointing nature of passion. Following your passion often results in unfinished projects, hoping from one pursuit to another, because passion itself is does not always endure through the hardship required to acheive a passion. I can see this in my own life with the simple example of my crafty ventures: beginning one necklace with fervor, then getting bored and starting a painting inspired by the of-the-moment angst, then when the painting isn't really turning out how I wanted I jump to re-sewing a dress to fit the change of season, but when I can't get my mom's antiquated sewing machine to work smoothly, I drop the idea and forget about it. Story of my life. Then apply this to my dream of being an anthropologist that works to better the lives of the poor. I learned from the Philippines it is not an easy thing to work for people. Oh sure I'm passionate about solving world hunger and getting every person alive the basic needs of life. But I lost a lot of passion last summer when I worked with Food for the Hungry, because it really, really wasn't fun sometimes. I didn't come home running around excited about living without running water, only eating fried food, or squeezing into public transportation every day. My passion was put to the test when I realized the poor will actually always exist, and to some extent, there isn't that much I personally can do about that. But then came my study abroad in Chile and boy was I passionate about becoming a Chilena! I wanted to only have Chilean friends, eat, talk, sleep, live just like a Chilean, and I was passionate about assimilating perfectly. But then it turns out, assimilating isn't really all that fun all the time, living far away from home and familiarity brings out the worst in you, and Chileans speak really, really fast. So my passion again faded. 

You need a lot more than passion to live a satisfied life. I can honestly say I don't really have passion for serving the poor anymore. I am not passionate about leaving all things North American behind and adopting a Chilean citizenship. It's different with becoming Chilean because that honestly is just rather naive of me, but with serving the poor, I am not just going to accept that I don't love, love, love it and forget about it. I just have a different attitude towards it. 

To sum up all this divergent information, take a look at this TED talk video of Mke Rowe himself doing a much better job at describing what I am trying to say:

My new attitude towards my future occupation: I will work wherever God calls me and do it to its fullest, even when the passion fades or is absent, because that is actually just the most satisfying way to live. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Waka Waka/Viva Chile/Getting Tear Gased/La Copa Mundial

I have never been in one place at one time with so many people rooting for the same goal (no pun intended...) But the past 4 Chilean games in the world cup have really solidified my Chilean pride. I diversified my viewing experiences, and watched the first game at home with my papá, the second in downtown on the lawn of La Moneda (the equivilent of the White House), the third with some homemade tacos and Chilean amigas at an apartment, and today's at a gringo bar with my gringo friends. All 4 had the same thing in common; the spirit of the Chilean people contagiously humming on the streets, through the television, from the heart, and into the air (cursi cursi). Crazy energy! Everyone in red, Chilean flags waving, cheering, yelling, jumping, paper pieces flying, celebrating!

After the first game at home, I decided to go celebrate super Chileno style and go to Plaza Italia near the center where the victory parties are always held. I went via metro, not expecting too much craziness at 10:30 in the morning, but when I stepped off the metro at my stop, I realized I was wrong (you saw that one coming!). My nose started burning, I realized everyone around with covering their noses and mouths with their jackets and scarves, and the entire station was in disorder. I assumed someone had left some sort of stink bomb in the metro, so I hurried with hundreds of other people to get above ground. But when I got out, the stinging got worse and what I saw was a chaotic amount of people running around, eyes dripping, banners sagging, and looking rather frazzled. The carabineros (the police), were all around with their helmet shields over their eyes and batons in hand, some on horseback, most on foot, attempting to control the crowd. I was all alone in the apocalypse, but I was fascinated. A tank looking vehicle drove about 200 feet from where I was and sprayed a gas something into the air, and that's when I realized: tear gas. I turned to walk the other direction and luckily met up with my friend, and like a good little girl, I went back into the metro and went home. El Fin.

Hm, terrible story. If you are easily made worried, stick with that version.

But here's the real deal: a good little adventurer, I wanted a better look at the source of the excitement. To be honest, even though carabiners were yelling at me to turn around and most people were running away, I wanted a peek at the madness' center. So I crossed the street with my friend to see the comotion first-hand. Luckily/unfortunately, we came too late to see the celebrating or anything substantial, just confetti on the ground and crowds of reporters on the sidewalk. When we walked by them, we saw a man that looked equivalent to a chief of police being interviewed by a civilian reporter. Seemed fairly calm at first, but as we approached more, a group started gathering around the two and the policeman began raising his voice. He got in the reporter's face and kept yelling and yelling as the others around him began yelling back in protest. And they were not nice words from either end. As the policeman stormed away, the people started laying down the real deal insults: "You can't hurt innocent people because we're celebrating!" "We have our freedom now, you can't control us by fear!" "This is no longer Pinochet's government!" Oh yes, they brought the Pinochet accusations, and it got real. From here, my better judgement switch turned on, and my friend and I bolted out of this potential war zone. Our nose and mouths still covered, we headed towards the nearby cafe where we planned on studying away the afternoon. This proved difficult however after we witnessed such madness and our lungs still burned, so we lashed out the situation among ourselves. If everyone was just celebrating, why did the carabineros drop the tear gas? Is it ok to hurt innocent people to control a crowd? Is it ok that the government interfere with a party if no one is getting hurt? Is pre-emptive semi-violent crowd control ok?

What we did conclude and what was confirmed after talking with out Chilean friends and families was that the authoritarian attitude of the Pinochet days in Chile is not dead. The Carabineros are the number 2 employer in all of Chile, that is to say that there are many thousands of policmen payed by national government. Piñera once used their forces to keep curfews and control protest (among other atrocities), President Bachelet used their forces in the south after the earthquake to control the looting and keep control, and now President Piñera used them after the world cup to stop the party. Of course the ties between the three are not necessarily making too deep of a statement as they are all very separate situations, however the carabineros are a widely used resource by the government. And the people accept this as part of life. As my papá said, "If the carabineros didn't do anything, the people would be partying all day, they would never leave! They had to break it up sometime."

Switching back to the mundial, the 2nd and 3rd games I also returned to the infamous Plaza Italia for the celebration, but those times I missed the tear gasing part. So much cheering, so much singing, so much happiness! The big street from downtown's heart all the way to Providencia's center (about 3 miles) was closed for celebration, and it is such an incredible feeling to be surrounded by an entire city cheering for their country. Again, crazy energy!

Today was the last game of the mundial and we lost to Brazil. It was a good fight though, and I mean, Brazil is Brazil, so I am proud we made it this far! You might be saying to yourself, "we?" And I say back yes, we. I am be proud to be an American, but I am also proud to be here when this adopted country of mine has overcome a lot of odds to come as far as they did in the ultimate super bowl.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Most Beautiful Day

After the rain on Wednesday came the most beautifully clear day I've experienced in all my time in Santiago. 

I feel a great kinship with the Andes now, as though they are a mountain range of my brothers. That's what I always say. The sun is my mother, the moon my lover, the sea my best friend, and the Andes my brothers.