adiós los estados unidos

Recently I wrote about making big life changes, and now I’m ready to tell you mine!

In less than a month, you might find me at La Playa De Vila Olimpica:

La Playa de Vila Olimpica

picture via

Or getting lost in narrow, winding streets:

Fernando Stankuns

photo by Fernando Stankuns on flickr

This will be my commute:


photo by JasonParis on flickr

I will eat tortilla de patatas and drink cafe con leche:


Photo by minusbay on flickr

I’ll be surrounded by architecture by Gaudi:

Casa.Battló by frankartculinary

photo by frankartculinary on flickr

And this will be my skyline:


photo by CrashSunRay on flickr

That’s right, I’m moving to Barcelona. ¡Olé!

I enrolled in a program to get a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification, and I’ll try to find a short-term teaching position after the program wraps.

There’s no guarantee I’ll get a position (luckily, the TEFL certification is internationally recognized so I can use it anywhere, if I choose), so the shortest amount of time I’ll be gone is 3 months. If I do get a position, I’ll be able to get a work visa and stay longer (six? twelve? months, whatever I want).

Sweet, right?

And thrilling and scary and unbelievable, too.

Since I studied abroad in Seville nine years ago (woah, nine years), I’ve always said I wanted to return to Spain. I talk about wanting to live abroad, be a nomad, travel even more than I do. Become fluent in another language.

Yet … I’ve often held back. Stayed put for a job, a man, a lifestyle. And, no doubt, my lifestyle in Portland is pretty wonderful. But it’ll be here for me when I come back.

This summer, in a strangely mystical series of events, the universe revealed to me that it’s time to fucking woman-up. To quit my job, because it was no longer a fit for me. To pursue this plan, even if it’s not traditional. To take a leap, even if I don’t know what’s on the other side.

So here’s how it breaks down by the numbers:

  • In 1 day, I’m done with my job – and my apartment. (Oh, and most of my possessions. I sold a ton of stuff.)
  • In 7 days, I fly to Peru to hike Machu Picchu with my mom. (Why not throw in another epic adventure right before Spain?! My mom and I have actually been planning this trip for almost a year.)
  • In 27 days, I fly to Barcelona to start the next chapter.

And, then?

Who knows?

I’ll figure it out as I go.

And the uncertainty, surprisingly, feels really invigorating right now.

Know anyone in Barcelona? Or Spain? Do you have recommendations for places to go, things to see? Dígame, por favor. 


less is more and more is more

here’s what I’m digging these days …

less rules

less walls

less expectations

less traffic

less lectures

more freedom

more passion

more running

more confidence

more enthusiasm

more kissing

more tacos

less anger

less stuff

less noise

less control

more fun

more patience

more parties

less jerks

more questions

less rain

less doubts

more music

more magic

more love

what about you?

Fremont Bridge, Portland

Fremont Bridge, Portland. A scene I love.

How to turn your world upside down in 12 steps and 6 months (without spending a thing!!)

Well, actually, you do have to spend things. Time, money, energy. But it’s worth it. (And, yes, I totally chose that title to try and increase my as-of-yet-nonexistent SEO rankings. So what?!)

bag tag

This bag tag fittingly accompanies tip #8 below.

My very short but worthwhile guide to turning your world upside down (in a good way) in 6 months:

  1. Get dumped by your boyfriend of five years. (Bonus points if it’s for the second – or, gasp, third – time. It should sink in this time. Extra bonus points if you find out he was chasing other skirts. It should really sink in this time.)
  2. Write down five specific goals you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. Think big. Don’t worry about the logistics. Don’t censor yourself. Then, get detailed and write what it would really look like to achieve those goals. All of the tiny actions that would lead to them. How you’d feel. What you’d see around you. Go soul deep, even if it brings up doubts. Then, start checking in on those goals every month. Write about them. Figure out where you’re slacking. Make changes. (Be a good student!)
  3. Say yes and sign up. For happy hour. For weekend trips. For classes. For a sports team. You’ll feel like a lonely turd when people go, “Oh, are you here because you’re new to the city?” And you’re like, “No, been here for a while. Just trying to shake things up.” But, then, pretty soon, you will have shaken things up. And those new people around you will be wise and fun and wonderful (and gentle with your fragile emotions).
  4. Quit your job. I’m not going to say this one’s required, but I will say it’s necessary if you realize you’re no longer growing or being challenged – and don’t have an opportunity to, even when you lay it all out. People will raise their eyebrows at you. There will be questions about security and being smart and how will you ever afford insurance. Smile politely and ignore them. You’re taking charge of your destiny here, and you will figure it out.
  5. Devise a plan. That’s right. Don’t quit your job without something else motivating and challenging lined up. Quitting without a plan is reckless (especially in this economy, blah blah blah). Quitting with a solid plan is empowering as hell. (And it doesn’t need to be a new job. Just a new direction. Something concrete that’ll feed your passions.)
  6. Go running. Or biking. Or climbing. Or yoga’ing. Just get moving. Your head will be a mess of ideas and worries and wonderings while you’re figuring out your plan, and sweating it out really helps.
  7. Don’t re-sign your lease. (This could also be titled Sell your car or Cash in your bond.) You need a bit of solvency. I mean CASH MONEY, PEOPLE! What you’re about to do likely costs money. You’re probably scared about this part. Maybe you’ve always been financially responsible and dumping a bunch of money in a new direction feels rash. Or maybe you’ve never had much of a savings to speak of, and it feels like a bad move to put that savings on hold any longer. Stop. Realize there are ways to get a hold of a little bundle of cash. When you’re no longer paying monthly rent? Well, now you’re paying yourself. When you sell some belongings? Hey, that’s money. When you take on freelance projects on the side? Money, money, money. If you paid attention to tip #2, you’ll be okay once you get here.
  8. Buy a plane ticket. This is another non-required step, but one I wouldn’t underestimate. (I’m a big fan of seeing new vistas, especially when your life is in transition.) Maybe the plane ticket is part of your New Plan, maybe it’s just a short side trip on the way. Whatever the case, get out of your comfort zone. Have a new experience, grow a little more.
  9. Start talking about it. Yep, it’s time to make this shit real. Up until now, you’ve probably not shared your plans broadly. Either because you haven’t been certain you’re moving forward with them, or because talking about them could jeopardize them in one way or another (e.g. if you want to quit your job at a particular time, you usually have to wait to make that public). Now, test the waters. Tell a few people. See how they react. More importantly, notice how you react. It might bring up a lot of giddiness, as well as some fresh doubts. Sit with those, walk ’em out.
  10. Learn to not give a fuck. Really, truly, it’s time. You might have a gift of dancing to your own beat already, but most of us think we do, then secretly care an awful heck of a lot about pleasing people. We get wrapped up in what other people think, if they approve, and it colors what we do and say and feel. Well, it’s time to let go. I don’t mean to suggest you’re going to turn into a cranky, smelly cave-dweller who throws tantrums and tells everybody to mind their own business, but you are going to disengage from other people’s opinions. Be honest. Tell them what you really think. (It might feel prickly at first, but they’ll appreciate you for not brown nosing.) Be confident in your decisions. Trust yourself, damnit. You’ve. got. this.
  11. Get excited. As your new plans and new goals start to come together, stay present. It’s awfully tempting to play the What if? game and mentally jump ahead to where you’ll be next week or next month, wondering how your life will change, who you’ll become. Hold up, sista. Relish the now. It’s a pretty trippy time, isn’t it? Savor how it feels to be right on the edge of something new. Realize how lucky you are to be taking the reins. Get all warm and fuzzy and stinkin’ proud of your  accomplishments.
  12. Take the leap. BOOM. Do it. Follow through. Wave goodbye. Wave hello. This is your life, you goofy, brilliant, crazy fucker. :)

I realize I still haven’t told you what MY LEAP is, but I’ll be writing about it very soon. Stay tuned.

Toss or keep?

You are surely wiser than me! Lend me your smarts & play this lil’ game, Toss or Keep? (It’s quick, promise.)


Update: I know you just can’t wait to see the results of Toss or Keep?, so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer! ;) Here’s what survey-takers suggested, and in parentheses, what I decided to do …

  • Crock pot: Toss (Keep … I realized I sort of love my crock pot)
  • Blender: Toss (Toss)
  • TV: Keep (To be determined … if I can fit it into my car without hassle)
  • Extra bath products: Toss (Toss)
  • Kind of cheap tools: Keep (Keep)
  • Ordinary art supplies: Toss (Toss/keep compromise … I’m getting rid of most and keeping a small Ziploc of some essentials)
  • Extra towels & linens: Toss (Toss)
  • Shoes that I don’t wear often: Toss (Toss/keep compromise … I’m keeping two pairs that are versatile, tossing the rest)
  • Framed art prints: Toss (Toss/keep compromise … I’ll try to pick my favorite and just keep that one)
  • Games: Toss (Keep)
  • Workout extras: Toss (Keep)

You are all a bunch of tossers! Way to help me de-clutter. You’ll notice I’m hanging onto a few more things than the majority suggested, but who knows? Maybe I’ll have a change of heart in the next five days and make another Goodwill run.

Thanks for playing! :)

more books to add to the list

Earlier this week (or was it last week?), I added a books page to my blog, and I asked you for your recommendations, too. A couple of you commented on the post, others emailed me (because WordPress seriously makes people jump through stupid hoops to comment, if they have a WP username or gravatar, but can’t recall their password), a couple others shared on Facebook.

Being a good blogger & adding an image to my post.

Being a good blogger & adding an image to my post, even if it’s only loosely related.

I thought it’d be nice to share the love and compile the list here. (It also gave me one more day where I didn’t have to come up with a blog post idea – score!)

(I’m biased, but the best part of this post is where you get to see the books that my dad reads … scroll to see …)

books you recommend

other books on my radar

Your recommendations reminded me of a few others I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t gotten around to yet …

what my dad is reading

I don’t think this list is complete without some gems from my dad. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m really fascinated by the books that my dad chooses to read. It’s a great glimpse into his personality. (It’s a dark, but delicious list.) I’m not going to link them up because their titles are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
  • Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire
  • Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con
  • Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind
  • We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
  • We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance
  • Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden – from 9/11 to Abbottabad
  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
  • God, No!
  • Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
  • The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

on sentimentality & living in the present (somewhat simultaneously)

It seems a contradiction to be feeling so sentimental (which conjures, for me, lolling about in memories) while at the same time living mindfully in the present, but that’s where I find myself these days. Straddling two worlds. Feeling separate – and swift – emotions about where I’ve been and where I am right now. (Does that make any sense? Or sound like a big ass serving of hocus pocus?)

I haven’t been running much, as I’ve mentioned more than a few times, but I also haven’t been too worried about it. To be quite frank, I won’t be upset if I don’t run the Portland Marathon. I still have aspirations to run a marathon, but I’m not going to beat myself up if it isn’t this fall.

I have bigger fish to fry, so to speak.

I’ll be sharing more details about that soon, but for the time being, it means I’m focusing on the following:

  • Being active, whatever form that takes. Some days it means running just three miles. Others it means blasting music while on the elliptical, then following it up with strength training. And others it means walking around the block with a friend and stopping in a bar for a beer.
  • Journaling, documenting and processing (even though I hate that word). Big changes are afoot, my friends! (Hehe, I’ve always wanted to say that.) And I don’t want to close my eyes or miss a moment. I’m writing a lot. I’m taking pictures. I’m letting myself feel what I feel (which is sort of different from the normal routine, where I try to push away the bad feelings). I’m finding the right things at the right time, like Patti Digh’s Project 137.
  • Saying yes. At the risk of sounding super sappy, shit feels real right now. And I’m embracing that. I’m saying yes to all sorts of plans and adventures and shenanigans that would typically swallow up my poor introverted soul. But, guess what? It feels good. (And I’m remembering it’s okay to say no when I need to, and retreat to my bed for good books and blogging, like I’m doing now.)
  • Getting enough sleep. This one’s more important than ever. With so much shifting and approaching, life feels really fast – and my head and heart are one big whirlwind of wwwoooooaaaaahhhhh. Sleep helps me face it with adequate (never enough!) energy.
  • Being grateful. Whatever way I land (and I hope it’s up), I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have these new, exciting opportunities in front of me. I have good friends who are lending their ears and voices, and I’m totally equipped to handle whatever comes my way. I’ve got an enormous sense of confidence that I always sort of suspected was inside me, but that I never really owned before (sorry, this post is getting rife with clichés, ick), and it’s making me feel all head-buzzy and happy-dopey. If you see me walking around with a grin the size of a watermelon on my face, you’ll know it’s because I feel so damn grateful for my people and my circumstances and the risks I’m taking.

This post is sort of One Big Tease (the nerve of me, I know!), but I promise to talk more specifically about what I’m referring to soon. And, until then, I hope some of what I’m choosing to focus on these days also resonates with you in one way or another.

Share in the comments, if you like, or just write it on a little slip of paper and tuck it in your pocket. Sometimes it’s better that way.

The snacks I eat (and lie about)

I usually eat fairly healthy. I like to tell people I eat vegetarian 75% of the time, and I’m also a fan of whole foods: fruits, veggies, whole grains, options that are unprocessed.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have a sweet tooth. And I’m not above satisfying my indulgences. So, mixed in with the healthy eating, you’ll also find me enjoying my fair share of cookies and quesadillas and burgers and pizza, though I do try to make informed choices when I eat those, too.

Food is fuel, and I think I treat my body well most of the time.


I also have a terrible secret.

I’m moderately obsessed with trying (maybe only once! sometimes more …) the grossest snack items sold at convenience stores.

Hand me a circus peanut. I want a bite.

Let me see the Cheese Whiz. I want to try it on top of a Cheez-It cracker.

Does that apple pie (with its plastic-y frosting coating) taste better than the pink Sno Ball (covered in rubbery coconut flakes)?

This is a Sno Ball. Disgusting. But tempting.

This is a Sno Ball. Disgusting. But tempting, somehow.

I don’t know what my problem is.

Actually, I do. My mom banned junk food when I was growing up, and, so, naturally, I’ve always had a fascination with it. I don’t want to stuff my face with it – that’s a surefire way for me to feel real sick real fast – but I just want a little taste. Something to satisfy my sweet tooth/salt tooth/curiosity.

I think I sort of hit a new low today, though. You know it’s bad when the Plaid Pantry clerk derides your snack choices.

He said, all serious-like with a look of disgust on his face, “You really like cheese … and salt, huh?”

I’m embarrassed to admit I bought Jalapeno Cheddar Combos (I can hear you groaning), as just one snack of three. (The other two were no better choices: Cheddar & Sour Cream Kettle chips and spicy-salsa-flavored almonds.)

Jalapeno Cheddar Combos. So, so wrong.

Jalapeno Cheddar Combos. So, so wrong.

In my defense, I’ve never had Combos before. I was really curious.

Also, I hate to say this, but I kind of liked them.  (I refuse to look at the ingredients. I am sure they are filled with trans fats and horrible chemicals that I can’t pronounce and enough sodium to last me a week.)

At least I got it out of my system, right? Maybe?

I feel thoroughly shamed by the Plaid Pantry dude that I’ll likely only buy bottled water and unsalted almonds in there from now on.

And now I’m going to hit the gym and see what kind of fuel Combos provides (hint: I’m sure it’s not good).