Sunday, July 30, 2006

On the making and spending of my "plata"...

If it seems like my posts are further and further apart and i have less and less to say, well then, you'd be right! another week of working like crazy, fitting in time for eating, sleep, and spanish lessons. and another weekend where all my roommates and friends are out of the city or otherwise occupied, leaving me to dvds, cooking, and shopping! But i am finally raking in the dough. Yes yes, please take a moment to fall on the floor laughing at the fact that i consider $600 raking it in. But then take another moment to remember that I only have to spend about 200 of it on rent, taxis, food, etc, for the month. and the rest is enough to pay for traveling for several weeks. so there! as long as i don't spend it on expensive electronics (ahem, i may or may not have just purchased an mp3 player.) i make a nice wage by local standards.

My life hasn't been completely without interest... on tuesday we had a "game night" which consisted of rachel, john and his friend coming over to join us 3 housemates in 2 rounds of BS. There was definitely more food consumed and politics discussed than games played, but good times were definitely had by all. Also on Friday night we had yet another despedida, this time for Rachel! She had enough of her internship here and is heading back to the states. We definitely had an excellent night of culinary adventure in quito... we started out with sushi at the swanky swisotel (1/2 price mon-fri however). of course we got there a bit after 6 and the restaurant didn't open until 7, so we crashed the lounge full of business types closing deals, and were extra rowdy and didn't even order one waaaay overpriced cocktail. We followed the sushi with 2x1 canelazos (traditional hot fruity drink made with aguardiente) and then chocolate fondue! I think we sent Rachel off good and proper.

That's all the news thats fit to blog, or is coming to mind at the moment anyway. I'm off to buy some gorcieries and an expensive sweater i've had my eye on! yay malls!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back to the Central Time Zone (again)

Over two weeks since my last post... time to put the "KT" back in "Rebecita and KT blog from afar." I just got back from yet another jaunt to the Eastern Seabord, this time to attend my very first conference: the annual NARAL Affiliate Summit. Being a novice at this sort of adventure, I spent the week leading up to the Summit agonizing about such things as whether or not my outfits could pass as Business Casual, how many business cards I should take with me, and whether or not I could sneak out half an hour early on Sunday to make an earlier train into Baltimore, where Sandy had invited me to spend the night with her. (In case you're wondering: I was better dressed than half the attendees, I didn't use a single business card, and I actually ducked out three hours early, making me the second-to-last of the five Texans there to leave. Note to self: Next time, agonize about different things.) Each of the 30 or so affiliates sent 1-5 representatives; added to the 25-30 people from our national office who were present at any one time, we made a nicely-sized - not too overwhelmingly large, not too pathetically small - bunch. It was really great and affirming to meet so many different people from such completely different places who are all working together for the same important thing(s). And since I'm so thoroughly clueless about all the abstract parts of my job (fortunately, they need me mostly for the office-monkey parts, but I can't help but feel that I'd be a more valuable asset to our fast-paced, highly political nonprofit organization if I knew, um, anything else...), the workshops and lecture sessions were (almost; let's be honest now) all really interesting and helpful.

I'd also like to report that I managed to duck out of going out drinking with co-workers and new acquaintances on not one but TWO consecutive nights: Friday night involved bed, pajamas, and "Something's Gotta Give" on cable tv (silly, totally enjoyable, and only reinforced my undying love for Diane Keaton), and, as if anything could trump that, Saturday night was bed, pajamas, and "The Miracle Worker" (that's right, everyone's favorite black & white Helen Keller story starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke).

Sunday night I took the train to Baltimore and met up with Sandy for an afternoon of crepes and the American Visionary Art Museum, which is possibly the most incredible museum I've every been to. Definitely top three. Oh my god. Carly, do you love this place??? It was unbelievable. Basically, the idea (for those of you too lazy to follow my link!) is that it's a museum devoted to art by people who've never been formally trained. So it's crammed full of all these amazing pieces - matchstick sculptures, intricate pointilist paintings on used paper plates, historical portraiture on bedsheets, costumes, collages, miniatures, carvings, junk art, clockwork tableaux - made by old sick men in nursing homes, roadside prophets from the deep south, the mentally retarded, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, regular folks with boring day jobs who just come home at night and do their thing, whatever that might be. I couldn't walk three feet without stopping and gaping. In conclusion, you should go. Yes, you.

Nothing too exciting happening these days chez K&R... I'm officially enrolled in my "intensive" (and I use those quotes with only the most good-natured of elitist sarcasm) 10-month Associates Degree program in Early Childhood Education at Austin Community College. As Dan never neglects to mention every time I bring it up, at this rate I'm well on my way to receiving a high school diploma. But it's free through the preschool where I work, and I plan to do SOMETHING education-y with my life, and I figure this is a low-commitment way to figure out if I'm ready for another degree, or if I just want to keep avoiding degrees and the jobs that require them for the rest of my life. The jury's still out on that one. I'll keep you posted.

Bill & Quincy donated Bill's old gas grill to us, so we invited them over for an inaugural grilling last week. R now has the opportunity to impress me by doing such things as 1.) lighting the grill and 2.) cooking raw meat whenever he wants. All he needs is an undershirt and a beer in his pocket and our Texas life will be complete. I'm hoping to re-start yoga classes this week after a 6 month vacation, during which I've done as much sitting still in chairs as I could, as if to ensure that my re-entry into the yogic realm would be as painful as humanly possible. Bah. I finally bought another Decemberists album so I can finally stop compulsively listening to "Picaresque"; in other musical news, I sucked it up and indulged in a ticket to the Joan Baez show in October. I haven't seen her since the RS/D&T tour in April '02 (Jenna says: Wait, people went to that show to see someone OTHER than RS or D&T??? At least you can sympathize with the number of awkward encounters I WON'T be setting myself up for by going to her show alone in Austin rather than Noho, eh?).

My summer goals: Redevelop my guitar calluses, start packing myself lunches every day, write more letters on paper, and get myself a Texas driver's license. Everything else can wait.

Miss you all!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

4 months and counting!

So our household is down one rebecca, as becky sadly has left us until the end of august!! I don't spite her the time at home, as this is her first trip back in the 11 months she's been here! But those of us who are left behind are sad! Well mostly me, because i'll be leaving quito soon after she comes back and our reign of rebeccas will be ended! cesar is selling our apartment, so becky and rebecca are moving just a bit up the street to an identical (but with a balcony and snazzy view of the city!) apartment in the same complex. Both of those crazy gals have signed on to jobs that will keep them in quito until next spring/summer! Rebecca has a big project to keep her busy at Faro, and Becky got a sweet job as a classroom teacher at Einstein (the jewish high school)! Congratulations by the way! Actually 4 months from today I will be getting on the same flight as becky back to chicago for good!!! which is exciting in some ways, but i hate the idea of leaving these girls and our new kitty, and wish that it was at all pratical in some way to come back and visit. Of course everyone says "just stay", which i'm increasingly tempted to do. Don't worry, i won't actually pull a katie, but i am tempted. And as it turns out, Natalia, who I had given up for dead (but was actually studying for the bar on a beach in mexico) is coming to viist after all!!! which is exciting but sadly means i'll be leaving my job and everything sooner than i thought. well i won't speak too soon, god knows what i'm even doing with my life! hmm, well at this exact moment i'm going to teach a class because my student walked in. maybe he will have some answers for me.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

BABY!!!

This bicentennial blog entry (that's right, #200 already) is dedicated to new parents Matt and Rosie!! I just got your announcement and I couldn't be more happy for you guys!! I can't wait to come visit little Marian in person.

I can't help but feel that any news I have just can't top creating a human being, but here goes.

Our cat is being normal!!! She ate and drank and pooped and everything. And instead of just hiding, she's been nesting in both mine and becky's closet. And letting us pet her! She's really quite a sweetie. I put up a couple of pictures of little blanquita snuggling with my clothes.

The big choral festival went off really well!!! I can give an extended play by play to those of you fellow choir nerds who will actually appreciate it, but here are the highlights...
- Singing in the casa de la musica and the casa de la cultura ecuatoriana, probably the 2 fanciest and most important musical venues in quito. (Not so much the teatro universitario, which is nice for the audience but the backstage, well, doesn't even exist. It's literally plaster and stone... you could film the phantom of the opera down there.)
- Having 10, count em, 10 friends and colleagues come to my concerts! 7 of them on the last night! I think that's more at once than the total number of friends and family who have EVER come to my concerts in my 13 year singing career! My quito friends officially rock!
- The choir from Manabi (on the coast), who were dressed up in super traditional costumes and did big dance numbers with comic interludes and everything! They really put the U. Central choir to shame, who went on next and couldn't have been more boring and traditional, not to mention out of tune.
- The choir from Esmeraldas, which despite ostensibly being a college choir was mysteriously old! All the singers were middle-aged at least, and the director was 80 if he was a day! He hobbled onstage with his little old-man cap and everything. It was like someone took a normal college choir and aged them 30 years.

I added a couple pictures to the "coro" folder, one that becky took from the festival on fri night.

In other ecuadorian news, Tungurahua, the volcano outside Banos, has started seriously erupting. So far they've only had to evacuate a few people, but obviously the ash and everything is causing big problems for the city, and who knows if it will get more serious. Hopefully it won't destroy the city before I get to visit it...

I'm off to give some much needed domestic attention to the house, and make some walnut pesto. This week my schedule is jammm packed with classes, which is good for my wallet but not as much for my blogging time. I'll do my best. Hopefully by the time I resurface there will be more baby pictures!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm in El Comercio

So, after including so many links to boring articles in El Comercio, I finally get to include one about me!!! Well, they don't so much actually mention me specifically in the article, just about the choir and the festival. But if you were lucky enough to be in ecuador and see the print copy, you could see that i am in the picture! yay me! hmm, it is a step up from the middletown press and even the hartford courant, but maybe someday i will make it in the newspaper for a non-singing related activity?

Monday, July 10, 2006

el proximo año en jerusalem...

Happy birthday!! No pictures of watson this year, you'll have to rely on dan for that. But it sounds like your birthday outing really had one on Katie's Berlin Turnpike Night o'Fun. I'm jealous of all your super American summer advertures (though not so much of the actual heat involved)! This is the time for bbbqs and mini golf and whatnot. Instead, here i am in quito where it still gets dark at 6 every day.

But i am suuuper busy. Try to keep up:
Actually we had a bbbq on saturday on our friend's terrace. except the guy with the grill didn't so much actually show, so it was really an un-bbbq. but it was the best un-bbbq ever!! salchichas, veggie salchicas, my marinated veggies, and lots of fresh fruit etc. Also on saturday we got a cat! She's a white cat, uncreatively named blanca. Her previous owners (friends of rebecca's who are having a baby) dropped her off with all of her various toys and accessories. She's really pretty and probably very sweet in general. BUT, she is completely and utterly terrified of us. She spent the first 12 hours hiding IN HER LITTERBOX (it has a big dome top), and since then has been hiding for similar stretches in various other locales. (behind the garbage can, in the top of becky's closet...) And if we come near her she gets super freaked and sometime hisses or scratches at us. We think she'll get over it eventually, but we're worried becuase she hasn't even eaten or drunk any water at all in 3 days. see this is why some people don't like cats... they can be suuuper high maintanance. i am a cat lady, but i can't help but think a dog might be more fun...

sunday we finally celebrated passover!! we had probbaly the world's most belated seder. but hey, better late than never right? If you recall, this non-observant jew went to the beach for the actual time of passover, and then rebecca (the actual jew in the household) went home for a month and i lost motivation. BUT, i was determined to not let another year go by without tzimmes and matzo ball soup, and becky is leaving soon, so i got my act together, cooked up a storm, and rounded up some gentiles for a pretty excellent seder. and all of this was after a FULL day - choir practice at 8 am, grocery shopping, and watching the world cup final which went into overtime AND penalty kicks. i wasn't super into it, but i vaguely was rooting for italy (seeing as how i did study there, and actually during the last world cup! too bad brazil didn't win this time and italy the last time. i'm just always on the wrong continent.) which was fun becuase we watched in a pizza place owned by italians, which made for lots of excitement.

also, i finally started using up my 30 free hours of spanish lessons at the experiment! I had my first class on thursday. the teacher is great, and thanksfully is not trying to make me do worksheets with picky grammar shit. instead he makes me talk and gives really excellent corrections. I already learned a few things i had never learned in however many million years of studying spanish. (nerdy spanish interlude: you don't use venir or traer unless you are talking about a place you are actually in. you have to use ir or llevar. if for example you want to say "the kids came to the program", you have to say "los niños fueron al programa.")

as if that weren't enough on top of a full schedule of classes, this is a big week for my choir. The university choral festival that my director organized is finally giong on this week! We're singing on wednesday, thursday, AND friday, in some of the most well -known concert halls. and some friends might finally come to see me! and a photographer came today to take some pictures of us for El Comercio... oy... i'll keep a copy to show y'all if it's not horrible embarassing.

ok, if i can get through this week i will try to get to the wireless on the weekend to update and put up some more pictures!!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hap- happy happy birth- day / hap- happy birthday happy bi-irthday...

For R's birthday yesterday I planned and executed Richard's Birthday Adventure, otherwise known as Every 6-Year-Old's Dream Birthday. The schedule ran something like this:

First stop: The Zoo
Okay, so technically it wasn't a zoo, it was the Nature & Science Center, but it did have a compound of caged animals who'd been injured or kept as pets and couldn't be released back into nature. Lots of neat-o furry four-legged things, birds of prey, and reptiles. We ended up here sort of by default... the day's first suprise activity was unexpectedly closed, and the second one got rained out. We parked down by Town Lake just planning to take a walk along the river, but saw the ANSC sign and went in for a closer inspection. Major props to them for being open at 9:15 on a Saturday morning. We also saw some cute - if under-funded - hands-on exhibits on rocks and bugs. They have some cool nature trails that we might go back and check out in 6 months or so when the temperature dips below 90...

[Interlude: The House. Tickets to the Sufjan Stevens concerts went on sale this morning, and R wanted to go back home and buy us a couple before they sold out.]

Second Stop: The Museum
We went to the Austin Museum of Art and saw this exceedingly cool exhibit. (Some of our favorites were the sharpened-pencil-stub sculptures, and the network of NYC subway lines that an artist had painstakingly trimmed out of a paper map of Manhattan.)

Third Stop: Lunch
We went to Curra's, a Mexican place that came highly recommended but which we haven't yet been to. Pretty tasty, and the fact that our waitress forgot to give us chips and salsa was made up for by the fact that we unexpectedly bumped into our friend Jeff there, who we haven't seen since May. Their red corn tortillas were good.

Fourth Stop: Mini Golf
This was supposed to be our first stop, except they weren't open as early as they told me they would be. It was about 20 degrees hotter than if we'd gone early in the morning, but we braved the elements and golfed both the West Course and the East Course. We love Peter Pan Mini Golf; half the holes are incredibly lame and consist of aiming between halfheartedly-arranged cement blocks, and the other half involve shooting between the legs or into the mouth of giant, crudely-painted dinosaurs, pirates, whales, bunnies, and skulls. There's always tinny pop music blaring from hidden speakers, and the front desk is manned by teenagers who look like they'd rather be doing anything else than handing you golf clubs and serving sno-kones. In short, it's really everything a mini golf course should be. Four stars for Peter Pan.

Fifth Stop: Ice Skating
I accidentally stumbled across this ice skating rink at the Northcross mall while looking for a bathing suit last month... it's kind of the best malls I've ever been to: approximately 5 awful shops, a MASSIVE sporting-goods store, the aforementioned ice skating rink, the Zion Cultural Center & Synagogue, a 2-restaurant food court, and literally nothing else. (For details, see user reviews "I love Northcross Mall" and "One of the worst malls on [sic] the us".) We rented our skates and staggered out onto the ice for the first time in about 10 years. Much to my chagrin, Richard's years of power skating lessons quickly came back to him (he WAS a Canadian, after all) and he zipped around the ice like a regular Nancy Kerrigan, kindly pausing in between to do some laps with me hanging onto his hand for dear life. He also donated a lap to the little girl who stumbled over to us and asked, "Can one of y'all help me to skate?" Who could say no to that? So R and Gaby did one slow round while her parents, neither of whom could skate, shuffled along 10 yards behind, hanging onto the wall. (What kind of family goes to the ice skating rink when none of them can skate? It was insanely cute.)

Sixth stop: Ice Cream
On the way home, we rounded off our 6-year-old's day by going to Amy's for ice cream. Richard got Dark Chocolate with whipped cream on top. I got Amaretto with chopped fresh banana mixed in. Mmmmm Amy's.

Seventh stop: Home
Where we watched "Top Gun" with a giant bowl of popcorn, and found a birthday package mailed by R's parents waiting for us. His mom had included two pairs of panty hose for me (the right size this time, Cita, but "Control Top"... of course).

And now we get a day to recover and then back to work tomorrow. Um, isn't it time for another vacation?

Love,

K

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

¡feliz dia de la independencia!

Despite the gorgeous (finally) weather here, it's so surreal that y'all are having a real american summer complete with the 4th of july, block parties, cook outs, pool parties, etc... I'm teaching a regular schedule today which means i go until 8 pm. at least i have no morning class tomorrow, so i may meet up with a few friends for a beer or ice cream or something vaguely celebratory. whatever, it's not like the 4th is a particularly dear holiday to me, or like i haven't been out of the country for it before, or working for the census. (yes, the fed gov does make census takers work on federal holidays!! at least some people whose bbqs i interrupted took pity on me and offered me food!)

In other news, things are pretty quiet here for once. It seems like there's always something... student riots, TLC riots, world cup... now with the disappointment of argentina AND brazil being eliminated, there's only european teams left in the finals! and england is out too, on penalty shots after some questionable calls by an argentinian ref. that and the brazil game, and my choir concert pretty much took up all of saturday. anyway, so i'm back to my usual state of not caring at ALL about international soccer. You may have heard that Ecuador did lose out to England, but they played a damn good game and stupid beckham put in the one picture perfect goal, so what more could we ask. Actually, ecuadorians have been celebrating La Tri's historic mundial success as a victory. You should have seen the city last tuesday when the seleccion was being flown back into town. It was one big party.

My life is also returning to normal after my stint at jezreel. I was so stressed last wed and thurs, and fri morning at 7:30 am found me frantically cleaning out my assigned classroom, since no one cleaned it over night as promised. BUT, then my kids showed up and really pulled it all together with the costumes, scenery, and finally some semblance of focus. And they totally rocked! I knew I had them prepared, and they really pulled through. My boss and the director of the school showed and seemed impressed, and i met some lovely parents and grandparents and such, and got to see the other classes' open houses as well. I actually had fun, and it was a great way to end. And then I escaped to lunch and margaritas with becky. ahhh... And now I'm back to my normal classes, with hopefully a few new ones starting up to suplement my morning student who has started traveling too much for my taste.

Also, I can't believe it's been a year since Katie and I finished up our World's Best Road Trip and i came back east in time to catch the pvad and hoa singing!!! I missed everyone like crazy this year, but count me in for 2007. ooh, since we can't go forward in time, let's take a trip down memory lane to our posts from july of last year!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Still on sweet sweet vacation

We made it out of California and across the country safe and sound. All of our previous unfounded prejudices against L.A. seem to have been surprisingly founded, but we did manage to have a great time in spite of traffic, smog, mansions, aspiring Hollywood flakes, and all the other stereotypes that northerners like us love. I have to admit, though, there is a certain shameful appeal in tooling through Hollywood at 9:30pm in a black convertible with the top down and music blaring, as Adam showed us on Sunday night. We went to jazz night at The Cat & Fiddle, an extremely cute Hollywood bar/music joint with a lovely courtyard, which is apparently filled with rock and rollers every other night of the week, but gets positively mellow on jazz night. Just our style.

On Monday we went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the special Klimt exhibit, and didn't stay for nearly enough time to see everything else there. Another highly recommended Los Angeles locale. We lunched with Adam at the Farmer's Market, then went back to his house where he got us addicted to "Arrested Development" (stupid hilarious tv shows that just make me want to watch more). We spent the evening playing games with his housemates, and I volunteered to edit the most boring document I've ever laid eyes on: his housemate Brandon's 75-page sports-merger memo that he had to distribute the following day. (I got through 11 pages and then gave up... even grammar nerds have their limits.)

The next day we rented a car and drove down to San Diego. On the way we made the mistake of stopping in Del Mar for something to eat... definitely the worst white-bread rich-people chain-store township I've set foot in since Breckenridge. But we did manage to eat at an unexpectedly Jewish cafe, decked out with posters of Israel, matzoh ball soup, and free copies of Southern California Senior Living magazine... catering to all the rich bubbes and zaydes who want to retire by the sea, I suppose. In San Diego we checked into our hostel, walked around the Gaslamp District, and then went to our Radiohead show at the marine park behind the massive space-age Convention Center. The concert was great... I'm not a Radiohead fan like R, but Thom Yorke is one SERIOUSLY mesmerizing guy, and they even played 4-5 songs that I actually knew, which is always exciting.

(Let me pause here for a public service announcement: If you check into a hostel and they put you in a 10-bed dorm in the corner bunkbed next to two floor-to-ceiling windows with translucent curtains and streetlamps right outside and the windows are open because of the heat and you're right in the heart of drinking-and-clubbing territory, you're probably not going to sleep a wink. Just so you know. If the hostel has free make-em-yourself pancakes in the morning, though, you might be able to sort of forgive them.)

The next day we went to the famed Balboa Park, a great big beautiful complex with 2398746 or so museums, theaters, and cultural centers. We mostly walked around and went to the free places, although we did indulge in tickets to the Natural History Museum - possibly not the wisest choice since half of it was closed for exhibit installation (only a few days later and we could have seen the DEAD SEA SCROLLS, for heaven's sake... worst timing ever? Perhaps).

Back in L.A. we took turns napping at Adam's in preparation for our neverending night... "Superman" in the country's most famous theater (again with the shameful appeal) and then 4:30am departure to return our rental car in time to fly out of LAX. "Superman" was thoroughly enjoyable; whatshisface who played the Man of Steel was great, Kevin Spacey made a close-to-perfect Lex, the directing was great, the understated humor was terrifically old-school, and even the annoying and way-too-young actress who played Lois was okay. (Look at me with my Rebecca-style movie review...)

A day of flying, a night in New York, and a Pioneer Valley All-Day Sing later, here we are at my parents' house doing what we do best: lazing around, reading books, letting my mother pamper us, and schmoozing with our singer friends. On today's docket: Amherst sing, my brother's friend is coming over to cut his hair to an unspecified length (!!!!!!!), and I'll hopefully finish reading Jurassic Park. We're obsessed with the cool nights and 80-something days, and R has never been as fond of New England as he has been this weekend. We should go to Texas more often. (Do we have to go back?)

Oh yeah, and click here for pictures.