Thursday, December 24, 2009

Super Sonic Soul Sister Sue and her girlfriends....

Sassy Sue, Crazy Sue, Vivacious Sue, my Aunt Sue, the older sister I never had Sue, the one I can tell my dirtiest secrets to and hide from my mother Sue.  The Sue I love, the Sue I adore, here is to Sue.

Two days ago I had lunch with my "Crazy Aunt Sue".  When I was younger, she was the lady who would scream when she saw me, come running up to me, hug not hug.... more like SQUEEZE my guts out hug me, and kiss me all over my cheeks.  As an adult, nothing has changed!!  She's a woman who tells you how she feels right then and there, no hiding, no messing around, no bull shit, lay it all on the table kind of woman.  She is loud, but we love her loud.  Her laugh is contagious, and everything is funny. . . everything is funny when you are talking to Sue. She also has the biggest heart.  THE BIGGEST HEART!  She loves loves and loves some more.  The great thing about her love is she tells you.  Every time you see her, "I love you sooo much!!" and she goes into that hugging til my insides squeeze out and you feel it.  You feel her love every second you are with her. . .
She has been through the hardest of times... and when I say hard, I really mean "hell".  But here is the thing about Sue, when something bad happens, or she "messes up", Sue pulls through.  She kicks the "hell" off her back and gets out of it.  She doesn't "feel sorry for herself", or think she has had "bad luck".  She just keeps on moving forward.  Currently, she is happy, married to an amazing man, and is LIVING.  Let me say that one more time, Sue IS LIVING... every second, every minute, of every day.  She loves life.  She loves her friends, her work, her community, and we love her just as much back.  Whenever I am having a hard time, second guessing myself,  or just need someone to say "cole, f*ck 'em, you are amazing and can conquer the world, live freely, do what you want, and just have fun!"... who do I call (or email).. SUE!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE her...
Here are two pictures of us at lunch:

Growing up, there were five woman in my life that meant a lot to me.  They would get together every so often throughout the year, a lunch here, a birthday celebration here, game nights, lady nights, etc.  Katy Hook, Maura Odell, Mary Greg, Carol Duckworth (my mother) and Sue.  The beautiful thing about these ladies as that they all went to Ketchikan High School.  Actually Mary, Katie and my mom went to Houghtaling together and Sue and Maura came along in Junior High.  All five ladies have been great friends ever since.  They have been through marriages, babies being born, divorces, diseases, sadness, happiness and stuck together through it all!  Here is a picture:

Maura, Sue, Mary, Katy and Carol

I love all these woman.  Each one is unique and amazing!  I love that Maura is so earthy and loves plants!!  Maybe one of these days she will teach me her ways.  She also emailed me her recipe file and I fell in love with food all over again.  Mary says what she wants and I always thought she was the "cool" one growing up.  Plus her favorite color is purple just like me and all her clothes were what I wanted to be wearing.  Katy is adorable.  I will always remember her laugh.  She is so sweet and always had something to feed me when I would come over to her house.  I will always remember she had a duck growing up and it would run after me and nip my butt.  And of course my Mom... she's my best friend.  I tell her everything. She probably gets sick of me telling her everything, but she's my Mom and deals with me :).

xoxox Merry Christmas ladies!!  Lets get together for lunch before I leave on the 3rd!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Artful words by Janeen Koconis

i am i.  i try to be just me.
i am part of some totality.
i am 1st person singular.
i rhyme with sky, why,
hi and multi-ply.
i am a living being.
i was born.
i learned to walk and talk
& to ride a two-wheeler.
i went to school.
i learned stuff.  i made 
friends.  once i made a tent.
i hung out. i wanted to be
in a band.  i sang to the radio.
i danced in the mirror.
i read hemingway.
i made love.  i lost love.
i wrote poetry once.
i played a blue guitar.
i opened my eyes.  i looked
inside.  i saw.  i see.  i give.
i take.  i feel.  i find meaning.
(hence another poem)
i vote.  i hope.  i work.
i dream.  (i like black & white 
movies).  i laugh.  i listen.
i remember.  i forget.  i try
to forgive.  i try to stand tall.
i wonder.  i say.  i believe.
i am part of a larger
i know i am part of the world.
i am i.  i am you.
i am we.

(i am me)

from Janeen Koconis 2010 Calendar
She brings together art and words and makes masterpieces.  I have four prints.  Three in Skagway and one here in Seattle.  Love her work!
Here is a link to a website that has a video of making a KOCO gallery in Paris, France.  I looked all over but couldn't find a website just specifically for her.

I will share a bit of Janeen monthly (from the Calendar!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Writing a life story.

After always saying "I want to write my Dad's story", I decided today, that in 2010, I will finally start the first steps of this project.  I went to the book store and bought three books on writing: The Little Red Writing Book: 20 Powerful Principles of Structure, Style, & ReadabilityThe Everything Guide to Writing Nonfiction,  Painless Grammar.  I just used the book Painless Grammar  to remind myself that books are not surrounded by quotation marks, but rather underlined or Italicized.  Oh, how I wish I had focused more in English class! 
I will talk to Grandpa Bonds, Dad, Grandma Sandy and all the others I can talk to about this. Maybe I will even go to the state pen where my "uncle" John Chandler is and interview him... scary!!  I am very nervous to write a book.  I am sure it will take a few years at least, and many many revisions.  I am not even sure what style I want to write it in, but I will figure all this out this year!
Just for those who don't know the story... here is a short version that I wrote in 2006. (I added a few revisions in italicized letters!)

I am here in Payson, AZ, where I met up with my Grandpa John Voss Bonds, my dad's biological father.  He is my newly found Grandpa as of six years ago.   (It's been nine years now!)  My Dad was adopted as a baby and finally found him after a few years of searching.  While visiting in Payson, I finally got the correct story of how my father came into this life, and what happened to my Grandpa after his birth.
John Voss Bonds was young and "going" with a girl named Sandra (Sandy)Webb.  Soon after John left to Korea for the war, Sandy found out she was pregnant.  She sent him a telegram telling him that she was pregnant and asking for guidance.  Grandpa mailed a letter back to her.  The letter told her to go to his mothers house, have the baby, and when he came back from war, they would marry.  Sandy never got this letter.  She then went to Alaska, where my Dad was adopted by Thomas and Morag (Mogie) Chandler, and named John Thomas Chandler.
Grandpa Bonds came back to America and was told by many of Sandy's friends that she had a little girl.  Sandy was no where to be found.  So all of Grandpa Bonds life, he searched for a little red headed girl.
Grandpa Bonds first wife was Patty Clarke.  They had a son and named him John.  (My Grandpa wants his family name of John to live on.  His father was John and his father's father was named John etc.)  Shortly after their son was born, they divorced, and Patty remarried a man with the last name Chandler.  That man decided to adopt John and had his last name changed to Chandler.  (Is this getting weird or what?)  So Grandpa Bonds now has two sons named John Chandler, one who he doesn't know exists, and the other he let another man adopt.  Well this second boy, John Chandler, got into a lot of drugs.  At the age of 18, he was so messed up with drugs and crazy that he murdered his own mother, Patty!!!!!  He threatened to kill his entire family, and is now in maximum security prison in California.  Craziness!
Grandpa remarried to Mildred (Micky) and they had a son.  Guess what they named him?  John Bonds Jr.  He is alive, well, and hasn't killed anyone.  He worked for Warner Brothers in LA, and won an Emmy for the sounds in ET.   He currently lives in Cottage Grove, OR and has three kids, my new cousins!. 
Marriage with Micky didn't work out with Grandpa Bonds, so they divorced and he remarried to Jan.  Jan was a lovely woman, and unfortunately passed away two years ago.  During their marriage  my Dad found Grandpa Bonds.  He called him up one day and the conversation went something like this:
Grandpa picks up the phone, "Hello."
Dad says "Hi, is this John Bonds?"
"Did you know a Sandy Webb?"
"aah yeah, we used to go together, who is this?"
"well, this is your son, John Chandler!"
Grandpa immediately thought it was his son in prison and shouted "how the hell did you get out?" and hung up the phone.
Grandpa of course called the prison to find him still there with no phone access.  My Dad later called back and luckily got it all straightened out.  Not even a few days later, my Grandpa was up in Boise, and in our family for life.
So, lets recap.  I now have a Grandpa John Bonds, a dad named John Chandler, an insane Uncle named John Chandler, and another normal Uncle John Bonds.
Grandpa Bonds has remarried again to a lovely woman named Bertha.  They built a wonderful home in the mountains near Boise and I love going to visit them!

Here is some recent photos my Dad just emailed me.

From left to right, my Cousins Bradly and John Jr., Uncle John, Grandpa John,
my dad John and my two brothers, Parker and Preston.

My step sister Kayla, my dad's wife Jodie, Grandma Bertha,
my Aunt Debbie and cousin Alysa.

What a project this will be in 2010.
I also made some other goals.
  • Study Spanish bidaily (every other day).
  • Make a plan to get out of Skagway, either by selling the business, having a new manager run it or by some other means.
  • Fitness as a priority again in my life.
  • TEFL certification so I have the option of getting a job teaching English internationally.
The end!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I wrote this a while ago, but after seeing this article online I thought I would upload it on my blog just for fun:

I'm addicted.  I hide stashes around the house.  In every drawer, under couch cushions, and in pillow cases.  I have a tube in every pocket of every jacket, and one or two always in my car.  I can't sleep with out tasting the tingle I get when it hits my lips… needing that last minute comfort.  I’ll search the house for hours looking for a fix so that I can sleep.  It started when I was young, and they say the younger you start the harder it is too quit.  I buy it in bulk and store it everywhere.  Burts, Wyeth, Carmex, Blistex, bonnie bell, balms, ointments, hell even Vaseline, cherry, plain, winter, tingly, whatever... just give me my CHAPSTICK!
Not that I'm going into any 12 step program, as I'm not ready to give it up yet, but I found these websites funny! ;)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekend in Madrid

After an amazing weekend in Madrid, I am finally back home to the states. I am exhausted, emotional and miss Spain already. What is it with me and Europe that makes me always want to stay when I am there. I think because I move so much I can make some place my home easily... of course, I get homesick, but Sweden, Spain, Costa Rica, where ever, I always feel like I leave part of my heart when I spend a month or more in places. When I got off the plane in New York and I heard english speaking people, I thought I was going to be excited, but instead I was unusually annoyed and missed Spanish. It's like I needed more time hearing Spanish, wanted to hear it longer, craved it, needed it, and got irritated because I left too soon.

The rest of the week at school was great. Probably the best Spanish school I have attended based on my teachers. They teach fast, but well, and it makes you have to study to keep up. I will be on a strict schedule here in the states, every other day for at least an hour (if not two). Also watching Spanish speaking movies to hear it a lot, or radio, etc. Then in Feb, I will study again in Mexico. Please, though, do not come up to me and start speaking spanish fluently and fast, or i will feel like a complete idiot because I still probably won't understand you! :)

So what did I do on my last weekend in Madrid? A LOT!

Friday I decided to go try and get tickets for RealMadrid Soccer match for Saturday night. No such luck. I get down there, stand in line, to have them tell me they only accept cash. Tickets were about 60 euro, but I only had about 40 euro in my pocket. They gave me a phone number to call and use my credit card, in which it was a recording all in spanish and extremely complicated, so complicated that when Marcos came to Madrid and tried calling on Saturday, we couldn't get an operator to try and get two seats together. (Yeah, Marcos is here for the weekend!!!!)  Sooo... Saturday Marcos and I went down the stadium, stood in line for an hour and then was rejected one more time... no more seats :o( Have I mentioned I hate RealMadrid? Go Barcelona! haha.. j/k . . it worked out anyway.  Marcos and the city was entertainment enough for me.

Saturday after our rejecting at the stadium, where we also met a Chinese man who spoke no spanish and very little english, (so very entertaining, like playing Charades, but you never really know if he got it), we played tourist for the rest of the day. The best was Retiro Park. It's massive, one of the world's largest parks!! It has this big lake in the middle with little boats and ducks. Along one side of the lake it this massive structure with mermaids, lions and other statues, and steps to sit on and enjoy the view. Marcos and I rented a boat and ate our packed lunch. Yum!! It was nice. Marcos is nice. He's like a breath of fresh air. He makes me laugh, super silly all the time, and just very easy to be around. It's like we have known each other for years, it's just that comfortable. I was so glad he was there with me this weekend. We also visited the Crystal Palace in the park. This massive size building in the park made all of glass. So cool!! Took some pictures being monkeys in the trees and then headed out of the park to the center. Here they are pictures...

I love Mermaids!

Marcos being attacked by a Lion!! RRAAARR

The Crystal Palacen - Built in the 1880's

The only statue of the devil in the world, created in 1877 by Ricardo Bellver

I told you Marcos was a monkey!

I tried to be one too!

Plaza Mayor (they filmed Vantage Point there) was packed!! It has a carasoul, and many artists/actors trying to make a pretty penny for a day. It was so packed in the streets, in some areas you couldn't move. It was holiday in Spain until Wednesday so everyone was out and about. Illegal selling of CD's and perfumes in the street, avoiding the police, people dressed as Christmas deers to sit and entertain people, salsa dancers, face sketchers, and more. We visited San Miguel Mercado next door, where we sipped red wine and watched the pig butchers carve ham off pig legs, so interesting for me to see... it's almost like an art.

Plaza Mayor during the day.. notice how it's not that busy!

At night!! INSANE!

Mercado de San Miguel - A very cool market indeed.

This is a street just close to Plaza Mayor... every street was this busy...
 usually cars drive here but because it was so insane, it was all walking traffic!!!

Since I officially hadn't had proper tapas yet in Spain, only little tapas, we decided to find a good tapa bar, which we failed miserably. We ended up at a nice little restaraunt/bar where we shared a dish... it consisted of french fries, eggs and blood sausage. Yes, I said blood sausage. Marcos wouldn't tell me what it was until after I tried actually looked like brownies, and tasted like cinnamon, but it was blood sausage. Interesting enough, I liked it and kept pretending it was brownies so that I would eat more. but BLOOD SAUSAGE???? now that I think about it.. sick.. i ate that.. eww. Tricky Marcos. But he did it in a way that allowed me to try something new, as I would have NEVER eaten it if I had known what it was before I put it too my lips.

The black stuff is the blood sausage... yuck (but good) haha

Sunday we enjoyed another day out in the city of Madrid. We packed a lunch again and ventured out to the flea market they have every Sunday. Again, it was so packed you couldn't even really look at much. If you were a pit pocketer, this is a playground for you. So many people, and so so sooooo many vendors selling things. Streets and streets of antiques, clothes, arts, etc.... it was overwhelming. Here is a picture...

The street goes on and on... and plaza/squares were full of things to buy!

Next stop was a museum, but because it was Sunday, it closed early. So instead we ate our lunch (Marcos's first time eating egg salad sandwhiches), and had Dunkin Donuts. . um.....they were so yummy... i had no idea! I feel they taste better in Spain then they do in the States. . . I swear, it's true. Please, for the love my hips, keep me away from this place in the states.. DO NOT tell me where one is located or I could be in big big trouble.

On our way back to the center, we found a theater that had New Moon in english... umm... yeah i almost peeed my pants with excitment. So nice that Marcos would go with me.... he liked it, but agreed with me that the acting is just bad. I'm sorry, but Bella and Jacob our horrible actors. It's true. So forced.... but I still loved it!! My favorite was Dakota Fanning in all of her 5 minutes in the movie... she is just amazing. Such a fierce little girl. Sunday night dinner was at a bar close to my house ... more potatos (french fries) with chicken and different sauces. I love their green olives here too... hate them in the states, love them here. Everything just tastes better here!

So that was my trip.. and what a trip it was! It honestly went by so fast and I met the most amazing people ever... from my long lost relative from Norway in Malaga, to Thomas and Jana from Germany in Cadiz, to Patrick and my Italian friends in Seville, and my Swedish room mates in Madrid, but especially my sweet cheeky monkey Marcos. Did I mention he is triplet, and one of those is identical to him? The triplets made his family consist of 7 children. Yep, 7... his mother is so so brave!! I just want to give him a shout out of thanks. He really made my trip such an amazing time! Sometimes in life you come across people you just really connect with, where hanging out with them is just really easy, as if you have known them for years, that is Marcos. Even silence with him was easy... and talking about things was as though we had known each other for ten years. He is silly, smart, witty, and he whistles (like Terry and Matt) and I like it. Such a happy spirit, but also real and honest with human qualities that I admire. I laughed til I cried with him and it's been a long time. Like he said, he finally woke up and maybe I did too a little. After my very hard year of feeling sad (almost two years ago in May) and this last year still coming back, I finally feel like I'm 100% back. My eyes are open and ready, my thoughts seem more clear (of course I will always be indecisive and a bit lost, that is a natural Libra haha), but I feel so much better. I was unsure of this trip from the beginning, not sure why I had decided to go to Spain by myself for a month... and the first week feeling like I needed to be somewhere else.... but I am so glad I came here. Sometimes you have to do things, even if you are unsure, to get out of your shell, your comfort zone, to challenge yourself, embrace vulnerability, only to find you experience some of the best experiences. I separted myself from all of my closest friends and family. Rosie, my mom, my siblings, Hans-Eric (beside email and an occasional chat session) and learned, again, how to enjoy myself alone, to push myself, and to be a social butterfly, if and when I wanted to be. I felt free, a little crazy, but most importantly alive. Thank you Spain, thank you new friends, my host families (Encarni and Terry love you!), thank you Marcos, and thank you friends and family for reading my silly stories along the way. I will continue this blog even when I am not traveling and of course when I am traveling (next stop Alaska for holidays, and then Mexico in Feb).


ps. here are just a few extra pictures, I liked.
pss.  As I was about to hit Publish Post, i heard a baby cry.  Tova, my neighbor had her baby while I was gone!! YEAH!!!

Cool Door Knocker

Society of Authors - place that gathers royalites for authors

Cathedral in Madrid
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This is just funny to me...

I sent Marcos some pictures of the concert and he went to the offical site to make a comment about the show... etc.  Apparently I was noticed.  Here is what Marcos said:

¨You won't believe it Nicholle....I posted something in the official fansite forum and everybody seems to remember you there! haha it's hilarious. As you said in your blog you looked so random there that everybody seems to be using you in the forum as a reference to find out where they were placed in the concert...isn't funny? It's like " i was standing next to the blond foreigner with glasses" and other girl said "yes i remember her, i was two lines behind her" and so on...
 I told you already that you were like a sort of beacon....and that applied for everybody in the concert!¨

Cracks me up!  I did feel a little awkward there.. haha!


Welcome to Madrid!

Oh where to begin... I don't even know.

Leaving Seville wasn't too hard for me. It was a great school (the best one yet until Madrid), but nothing special really attracted me to Seville (not like Cadiz!) Saturday I arrived to this massive size city, the capitol of Spain, Madrid... (holy BIG!)... I had to find the metro, then get off on Calle Gran Via, find the hostal that had my flat keys, then get back on the metro... and then find my flat. I took a detour for sure trying to find my way around, but I found it!! First, I was totally disgusted. I have been staying with families and I immediately wished i had stayed with one in Madrid. I had no sheets or blankets, the kitchen was gross, the bathrooms were sick... I didn't even know which room was mine (there are like 7 rooms in this flat)... but then as I was standing in the hallway wondering if I should just move into any room, a maid showed up. I love her. She cleaned the house for me and gave me clean linens for the bed and made it feel somewhat liveable. (I cleaned out the fridge though today, the smell was too bad for me to even think of putting my food in there.. ewwww rotting food!)

After I moved in, I was off to find Marcos and Paco. My two favorite set of twins in Spain (the only set of twins I know!). They had arrived here by bus from Cadiz early in the morning and had been standing in line to get into a concert since 8 am!! Ok, so yeah, we do this in America, but it was FREEZING COLD.. and the concert wasn't until like 8pm.. thats um 12 hours of Tom Freezin' weather.. COME ON! (R.I.P Tom (only Terry, Fredo and Barbie will understand this joke, ask them if you need to know).

Marcos and I ventured out into the city and explored some of the area where we were. This city is huge. I am all cathedraled and museumed out though. I just am slightly bored of them.... so after finding ways to entertain ourselves... we made our way back to the line, got me a ticket and in the doors. Two bands opened, the first I can't remember their name and the second was a band from Holland called Delain. I thought I was going to really like Delain after her first song. She reminded me of Twilight, a song that might be in the movie, but then after her 3rd song, it was like a broken record. Sonata Arctica was the main band. The lead singer is nuts, but I like him. He is just so random, and poor guy was just overcoming the swine flu. In fact, most of the band was sick and they cancelled two shows after the Madrid one. All of these bands are head banging bands but at the same time not like craziness.. (like Snapcase where they sound like weird monsters yelling into microphones and you can't understand anything and you leave the concert with that horrible rining in your ear, no they weren't like that). They were the type of hard rock though that you could still understand their lyrics, and it was nice as they incorporated "pretty" music that made it all "oohh life is good, lets get lost in thoughts now". It was really random to be there, and then to actually like it was even more cool. Here I was in Madrid, Spain, at a band I never knew existed, surrounded by people wearing mostly all black, black hair, black face make up, spikes around their necks, and I was like this glowing night light in the middle of the crowd with my ridiculously blonde hair and pale face. Funny, huh? Here are some pictures:

Leader singer in green... amazing guitar/keyboard
player to the far right, was trained professionally
 in classical music, his solo was quite amazing!!

Rocking out at the concert... (That's Marcos, not to be consued with Paco!)

Sunday I met Marcos at Plaza Espana, (Paco went home in early in the morning), and we played tourist for the day. We wandered all over.... from Starbucks where we started with warm chais, to pretty gardens and museums that we just looked at the entrance and said "nah, we don't want to pay". Madrid is way expensive. This I don't like. I'm running out of money, and I honestly don't know where it's going... Oh well, such is life... that's what money is for right? To be spent! (or saved for a rainy day!)  It was also raining for most of the are some pictures:

Famous painter called Velázquez in Spain.
(I look like a blue berry with that hat on, don't I?)

I crack myself up!  This was in the green house at the gardens...
 i couldn't resist playing with it somehow.

Don Quijote .... (and me)

Rosie you know how you make that funny face that I like, and how I make my funny face with my teeth. Terry we do it together too, where you dry your teeth and tuck your lips up... so stupid. Marcos and Paco do that to each other two, except both do what I do... isn't that funny. I was cracking up the first time I saw them do it to each other (they were like ten feet away waving with that face expression on), I totally thought of us!! Here is a picture:

We look like freaks! school is so far great. I feel like I am learning the most in this school, and I've only been to class one day. I just understood my teachers better... maybe I'm finally catching on!? I don't know.... oh wait, I know, it's because I was in the south of Spain where they talk like Aliens from another planet and that is why I couldn't understand anyone!! And finally I learned how to start talking "past tense". For the love of all that is holy, it's about time!! Now when someone asks me what I did yesterday, instead of me saying "i go to market, and i buy food. i go to bar with friends and i drink a beer." I can say "I WENT to the market and BOUGHT food. I WENT to the bar and I DRANK a beer." or whatever I did that day.

At as I finish off this blog I will leave you with the top ten reasons Spain is totally different than the USA:

10. They eat nothing but toast and tea/coffee in the morning, which leaves me starving within an hour... where is my EGGS AND BACON!

9. They touch you a lot when they talk to you. (Um, stop feeling me up already!! geez!)

8. They eat dinner super super late in the evening... like 10pm or even later for some.  Which means when I'm going to bed, people are clanking pots and pans next door and keeping me up.  (love ear plugs)

7. When they party, they stay out til 6 am. My head hurts.

6. Everyone smokes... really?!? Really people? Cuando una fuma, fumamos todos. This means When one smokes, we all smoke. I saw this sign by the train station and thought to myself "Your anti-tobacco ads are NOT WORKING!!!" And you can smoke anywhere!! 

5. Everything closes down from about 2pm to 5pm. They call this siesta. Boutiques, flower shops, shoe stores, whatever, some cafe's (most cafe's stay open), turn off their lights, lock their doors and go home to sleep. It's like nap time for adults. I like this concept. We all should take naps!

4. In the USA when you are at a cafe or restaurant, you pay either before at the counter (like a coffee shop) or the waitress will come and say "anything else? no? okay, heres the check (now get out)" that they can make more money on the next batch of people wanting to sit down. Here, nope, you have to ask to pay... I haven't been given the check voluntarly yet. "No rush, no rush little lady, drink and be merry!"

3. Everyone is always late by at least 5 minutes (including my teachers and class times, etc). Puncutality is just not common here. Which makes me look like such a brown nosing, suck up, as I am always ten minutes early!

2. When you buy vegatables or fruit, there is a secret to it and I don't know the secret yet. I think I'm supposed to weigh the fruit and maybe print out a price, but I have searched high and low for some kind of machine/directions, SOMETHING so that I can buy something HEALHTY, but nope, can't find it. Everytime I go the grocery store and try to buy a kiwi or an apple, they say something really fast to me, and i never catch it, and then the kind of get this scowl on their face and put the fruit aside, and won't sell it to me. :( Jerks, they probably eat McDonalds and just want to piss me off by not allowing me to have good food....which speaking of, I had McDonalds for the first time in ages, how do people eat that stuff?)

and the number 1 reason "i'm not in Kansas anymore"....

1. They speak this entirely other random super hard language called Spanish.... dangit.. no wonder I'm clueless here!! hmmm.....
I have three more days of class, then a weekend in Madrid... (i have no idea what I will do.. maybe go to another city for the night or day or?!?) and then I come home on Monday.
I will update you if anything amazingly awesome happens!!
ps.  Things I'm looking forward to when I get home. 
New Moon, my bed, a dryer, my food, my house (but those carpet beetle bastards better be gone!), and being able to pick up the phone to call my family and friends!

Friday, November 27, 2009


How was everyone's Thanksgiving? I went out to this really nice restaraunt, that used to be an old mansion. Inside the house, each room was made into a dining room. We sat in the "blue room". Patrick had read about this restaraunt in his guide book and what a place. The servers were so funny and just very professional. It was actually quite brilliant (I'm speaking Oxford english now because of my German friends and how they speak english!)
Anyway.. I had salmon and veggies... salad and flan for dessert. yummy!!
I missed home though.. thanks for all the nice texts. Here is a picture of us at the table.

I'm not sure how to spell her name, but it sounds like "Guy-a"  It is Latin, but she is Italian.. Then beside me is Patrick from Germany and Masimo from Italy.  Gauya and Masimo have been together since they were 14. Another Susie and Luke fairy tale.... so so sososo cute!!!  Love them!

During the day we went to the Gardents and Alcazabar. Basically this place is a series of rooms from different ages and styles that were used for praying, meetings, or living in. Few Spanish Kings have received such contradictory press over the centuries as Pedro I. Most of the Alcazar is from Pedro's rebuilding program, mostly so that him and girl, Maria, could have a nice cozy place to stay. But this king was also nicknamed the "The Cruel" and "the Just", as he killed his own brother in order to consolidate his position and flaunted his cohabitation with his girl, Maria de Phadilla. Craziness!
The gardens here were just gorgeous. So massive and every court you had four different exits so you would really just get lost going in and out of them. Fountains, pooles, lemon and orange groves, palms and hedgerows are in every direction! Here are some pictures of the day.

peacocks just romaing around the garden :)

I am off to Madrid tomorrow. It's going to be very cold there and I am not looking forward to that. I should have done my trip the other way around, cold first than warm :) oh well!  I will meet up with Marcos and his twin brother Paco .... we will rock out to Marcos's favorite band.  Should be a good time.  I am hoping for good weather :)  I am really looking forward though to coming home.  I miss home!

Today I also bought the print from Maria Ortega Estepa. She is so nice and beautiful. It was so exciting meeting her and she is so happy that her artwork will be up in the USA!

Here is the piece:

Miss you!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am in Seville, Spain unsure if where I might find a table of americans, giving grace (or fighting like any normal family), roasted turkey, yams (my style please!), mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries and pumkpin pie... anyone?! Yeah, didn't think so.

So since I am missing out on Thanksgiving and all the wonderful traditions that come with it, I decided I could at least partake in one tradition. Before dinner, I always like it when everyone says something we are thankful for... for example, the one time at Rosie's sisters house, a guy down the table said he was thankful for my yams! That was nice. :)

I am going to write a few things I am thankful for... and I hope you enjoy reading. This is in no particular order... they are just coming out of my head as I go.

I am thankful for my Mom. I am thankful that when I was younger she said No to going to places she might have thought were dangerous, or where I would have pressured to do bad things. I am thankful she was tough and diligent, and made me the way I am... so very thankful she is one of my best friends today. Thank you Mom!

I am thankful for my Dad... for his creativity and his knowledge. My dad is amazing. He can create the most gorgeous things out of wood, and a lot of tools :) I am thankful for his love. I am thankful for each day that I get to see him and sad when I have to leave.

I am thankful for my siblings and their unconditional love. Thank you Terry for the best brotherly love a girl can ask for, you were my first best friend and always will be!! Thank you Matty for always hugging me, listening to me, caring for me when I need it. Thank you Michelle for you are my sister forever and always, and have taught me the beauty of uniqueness and true beauty. Preston and Parker, thank you for being little boys, playful, cute, and I am thankful for the days I get to see you.  Miss Kayla.. I'm thankful that you are in my life, a sassy teenager (who could ease up on your mom!) and so glad you are there to take care of P&P!  Love you girl!

I am forever greatful and thankful for Miss Rosie Ward. Without her, I don't know if I would be alive today. She is my true gem, soul sister, angel, and I adore her immensly.  Thank you Rosie.. mmmwaaa!  Yes, thats me kissing her on the cheek!

I am thankful for my job. Working for myself has allowed me to do things, go places, experience a life I never knew existed. Here I am in Spain, THANK YOU!, and it's all because I have this great job where I can travel so much in the winter time. I am also thankful for my crew.  Sarah, Willie, Jared, Katie, (Dylan, ahem), Teslyn, Brittany and Megs.... I love you... major kudos to you all!

I am thankful to the Coates family, for taking me under their wing and teaching me the ways of business. For being a second family, and all your hugs and encouragement. Thanks Dave and Lori!

I am thankful to be alive and free, to have food on my table and a roof over my head. For opportunities, whether it be to meet new people, take a new class, or hear a new band, I'm thankful. I am so greatful to be able to move, to be healthy, dance, breathe clean air, drink fresh water, hike tall mountians, see pretty gardens, smell pretty flowers and for my heart that makes me feel love... I'm thankful.

Thank you friends for being in my life and sharing my adventures with me!!
I love, love, love you!

Tinto y Tapas

Hello my very missed and loved friends,

Seville is great. I absolutely love the school. I am learning a lot in this one... more than I did in Cadiz for sure... and Malaga! I have two teachers. The first is a nice lady (don't ask me names, I forget), and she is very pleasant... just easy to listen to and talk to. The second is this man who has massive attitude and is a no bull shit kind of guy, harsh, demanding, rolls his eyes a lot. 2nd day of class he was grading my paper, and I just flat out said "you better be nice to me, or I'll leave". Ever since that comment, he checks in with me "cole, you okay, you understand?" Yes, Mr, thank you! I think I am the teachers pet. :) and I'll say it loud and proud.

I haven't been playing tourist as much as I did in the other cities, because honestly, I am tired of walking... and I live so far away. Yesterday I was super indecisive.. I would walk five minutes in one direction and then change my mind. I then realized, I was just ancy and needed a run. There is kind of this large loop around the city.. maybe 5 miles, so I decided to conquer it... but I got lost. How can one get lost when there is just the one road? I don't know, I'm blonde, and in a foreign country and I just got LOST... leave me alone! ;)
I was way off course, and Thank GOD, yes I even prayed for help, I pay attention in class, cause I simply asked directions to the big train station by my house and was directed to the place... even though it was super super far and they thought i was nuts for running there. Phew... finally home safe.

Last night I went out with two Italians, (names I can't spell), Patrick from Germany and Matild from Holland. We had wine and tapas at this little cafe by the massive size Cathedral. Here are some pictures.

Look at those bottles of wine.. and to the right, pig legs just dangling there for us to eat up.

Here is a pigs leg being cut up!

Here are Chocolate Churros... it was so much better than US churros.. SO good.. So delicious... dipped in a hot chocolate (thats almost like a pudding, but not as creamy...) I was in heaven.

Matilde, me, Patrick at the Cafe last night.

Italian friends!!

So... that is where I leave you friends... Today, Patrick and I are going to go take pictures of lovely gardents and then I might venture into the Castle type place (Real Alcazabar).  I plan on resting though tonight to finally (fingers crossed) get rid of this cold.

I miss you and tomorrow, I will post a blog for Thanksgiving... a time for being thankful!!  Make my yams Rosie!!! :)


Monday, November 23, 2009

Seville (and leaving Cadiz)

Sorry it's been so long!!! I am now in Seville. It's nice here. It's a big city like Malaga, but it has a lot more character than Malaga. Cadiz is still my favorite place.
Lets go back to last Friday night where I left off.
Friday night, Thomas, Jana, Marcos and I all went out to have drinks and go dancing. Marcos is the boy in the middle of the picture in my last blog ("new friends") from the bar where we practice spanish. He lives in Cadiz.  Thomas and Jana are from Germany who were studying at the same school as me (in Cadiz). We met in the new part of Cadiz (the part that is outside the walls of the old historical Cadiz). We started at about 11pm. Maybe three or four people were in the bar. By the time 1 am came around, it still wasn't packed, but Marcos said it would be and sure enough by the time we left it was. Note: Do not order a Mijito in Spain, it just has sugar dumped in it and tastes like sugarry liquor.. bleck!

After our drinks we headed out dancing. No one was really there yet at the early morning of 2 am. In the states thats when they close, but here, thats like 9pm for them. We stayed there til almost 6am dancing and having a good time. By the time we left, it was pretty much packed, but so smoky!! In Spain, you can smoke anywhere and it was burning my throat so bad... I had to get out of there. I also had to pee and there was no form of toilet paper anywhere in that building.. i even looked for napkins.. crazy! I would see girls coming and going and I was baffled, and slightly grossed out.

Marcos walked/took us home. It was nice. It was morning, it was getting bright again, and dear Marcos who lived on the other side of the city came all the way to our side to tuck us in ;) He's my new best friend in Cadiz. Next week in Madrid, we are going to a concert together with his equally adorable twin brother, (or maybe I'm going as I was just informed it's sold out! boooo!) Here is a picture of the two of them (Marcos on right, twin on left), as well as pictures of the night:

So after sleeping all of three hours or less, I said goodbye to Cadiz (a 20 minute walk to the train station), and arrived in Seville about two hours later. First thing to piss me off was the cab driver trying to charge me 8 euro for a 3 minute or less cab drive. If I would have known my homestay was this close I would have walked. The meter had said 3.80 and all of the sudden he made it 8!?!? I don't think so butt hole. I gave him 5. Despite that, Seville has been awesome. My homestay mother is awesome. I just love her. Her name is Theresa, but she wants me to call her Terry.. how can I not love he with a name like that! (Miss you Terry!) She is another Encarni (Malaga mom). She wants to take care of me, and I like that. She cooks me nice meals at night too and my bedroom is nice and clean. I even have my own bathroom and no smoking in the house!! YEAH.. i can breathe! She lives alone, has two daughters who have grown and moved out, and has a little bird that I talk to all the time. :) It sits beside me while I eat and I have full on conversations with it (unless of course Terry eats with me!)
Jana and Thomas came to Cadiz the same day I got here and we hung out for a couple of hours touring the city... I took a lot of pictures both Saturday and Sunday... Again, I took so many I couldn't decide what to put up, so here they are in an album. I put information under each picture of where you were at, etc...

I went to the largest church in the world (christian church). It was pretty gigantor! (is that a word?!) The ceilings are said to have their own climate zone as they are so tall. Christopher Columbus's tomb is in the church and you are allowed to go up the bell tower to look at the view. They have the largest alter in the word, and man is it "busy". Over 1,000 biblical figures and 45 scenes. It was pretty amazing for sure. As you all know, I love Ken Follette books.. if you want a good looooong story about the times when cathedrals were built (and a good romantic, adventurous, drama too) then read Pillars of the Earth, or World Without End. I might want to add though to the ladies, there are some details scenes in the books that made me want to vomit (what a certain man would do to a woman)... so just skip those parts!

As for school, I have 7 other students in my class. This is the biggest spanish class i have ever had to date. Today was pretty easy. I just wish I would be more diligent about studying my vocab. It cracks me up because the teacher will ask us if we understand a word, and about 95% of the time, I totally knew that word already, its everything else they say that I don't understand. Or another example is they will be talking about something and they will saying .. "this building is very very important because..." and then I get lost in their explanation of why it's important... Oh man!!! I'm missing the most important part of the sentence. I also am going to say they still talk weird here. They just do. I will hear a word and I have no idea what it is, and then they write it and I'm like.. but thats not what you said!!! hahah.. someday Cole, Someday YOU WILL CONQUER THE SPANISH LANGUAGE... MUAHHHAHAHAHHA!

As of right now, I'm sitting here on the street, more stuffed up than a Thanksgiving Turkey (which ps... mom will you freeze me a pie so we can have one at xmas time! pretty please!!).  After school today I came home and slept for three hours, and my cold is getting somewhat better... my head was just too heavy to look at massive size buildings and all of Seville's awesomeness...

Tomorrow I hope to go to Real Alcazar. It's a complex that has a series of palatial rooms and spaces in various styles and from various ages... where important or just rich people lived. I will write more about it later.

I miss you so all so much!! Rosie, how was grad school shopping? Mom, who is coming over for Thanksgiving!!? It's good to hear that Matt and Rachel are safe and sound and having an amazing time in Thailand.

xoxo family and friends,

ps.. I am sure there are typos here, but I'm sitting on the sidewalk and my bum hurts, and I'm too lazy to go back and fix things... I'm stealing someone's wifi.. I'm such an international outlaw!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

"waaaaa.... waaaaaa"

Ok.... predicament!!! Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are filming their new movie here, RIGHT OUTSIDE MY HOUSE!! Not kidding. They start filming on Monday though and I leave tomorrow. I could stay and watch an amazing bull running scene where Tom and Cameron are racing away on a motor cycle probably to go off and make fake love... or I could suck it up and go to Seville tomorrow.   The movie is called Witchita, or Night and Day.  I talked to some Hollywood dude and he said they might change the name.
grrr... such is life. I will get on the train tomorow and go to Seville.  "waaaaa..... waaaaa"
They are setting up for filming right now. It's neat to see how they do things. They have a zip line all the way down the street... and that is where the camera will be from up above (I'm sure there will be more). They have put up Spanish red flags on all the houses to show Spain Spirit...
Did I mention BULLS?!?! Man, what bad luck. Oh well, I'm excited for Seville anyway.
Here is the street the bulls will run through into San Antonio Plaza (my plaza!)

Here is some decoration they put on the buildings (up and down the entire street!)

This morning I woke up with a horrible.. HORRIBLE sore throat. "waaaaaa.... waaaaaa".  I am just glad it's not the swine flu. Today I went to the beach and tried to soak up the sun but I just felt too miserable so I came home and took a three hour nap. The people I live with smoke in the house. The dad is sick with a sore throat as well... so I'm actually glad to be leaving this atmosphere, not healthy!!!
Speaking of smoking... Everyone in Spain smokes. I swear by it. It's like drinking water here. The other day I actually saw a jogger, stop from his run, sit and smoke a cigarette.  If I had my camera I would have taken a photo of him, but I was jogging myself. My homestay family all smoke, and there is even a baby living here.. it makes my heart sad :o(. I'm not surprised I haven't seen a 10 year old light up yet.
And now speaking of small children... peeing in the streets... yep. First I saw a man peeing in the street.... kind of in back street... not that shocking, but then I saw a Mother, pulling her kids pants down and making him pee in public. You could tell he was shy about it because she was super persistent and he kept trying to pull his pants up. Um, is that odd? I think so.

Last day of class was okay.  They gave me a certificate saying I did 20 lessons (only did 15), and they gave me a B?  On what basis?!  I have no idea.  I never took a test, or anything.  I'm a bit bitter about it  Why not an A?!?!  Say it with me friends... "waaaaaa... waaaaaaa".

Tonight I'm going out, cold and all.  I hope it's worth it.  People in Spain start so late.  You can walk into a bar at 2 am and it will have maybe 10 people, and then at 2:30-3am it's packed.  Thats when they start!!  Just insane.  I am going to go home no later than 2 am... I don't care if Tom and Cameron themselves show up to the bar, that's just too late for me!

Hopefully tomorrow won't feel so "waaaa.. waaaaa"! haha (I'm saying this like Rosie and I say it... )
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

It seems every other day is a good day in class. Tuesday I wanted to die, then Wednesday I felt like a Spanish Goddess on top of a high mountain reigning over my people... but then Thursday, (today), I felt like crawling into a hole. After class I had to talk to the director about my hours in class. I was only getting 15 lessons, but I am paying for 20, etc.... after ten minutes of her speaking super fast in Spanish, I finally got a word in saying.. "I don't understand much of what you are saying"... and then I broke down. She must have thought I was crazy. My brain is just so exhausted concentrating on every word that every person is saying, and I just start to feel so dumb not understanding. She apologized and thought I was in the advanced class.. and asked if I needed anything, water, a beer? haha. I love her. I do think my Spanish is getting better though as I am able to tell people more things, and feeling more comfortable. I am just going to blame me not understanding on Cadiz.. (rumor has it, they talk funny!)
So what have I been up to?! Not a lot... Yesterday I studied in the sun, on a bench in the Plaza, by my house and then went out to have dinner in the city. This entire trip I have been really good and not bought anything except post cards and food. I have been tempted for sure, but I am thinking "Cole, the exchange rate is no good, everything sounds cheap but really it's not, don't do it, don't do it."  For example: 140 Euro is really $210 dollars.  Yikes!
Well, before dinner I usually walk the streets just for fun, window shop, look around... and any girl will eventually cave in, right... RIGHT?!?! Well I did. I went from boutique to boutique and bought my life savings away. (j/k) Once I bought one thing, which I debated in my head for almost an hour, buying more things was so much easier. I bought a jacket, a really cute sweater dress LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!, some gloves, some Spanish chocolates and Terry a small stocking stuffer. :) Lucky kid.
ps.. Sue, do you want a globe that says Spain on it, or just a city? I was thinking with "Espana" (Spain) on it. I have looked at a few, but most say the city name.

After my shopping spree... I met up with some students of the school and we went to a bar for English/Spanish speaking. The first hour everyone speaks English, so that the Spanish people can practice their English, then the second hour we speak Spanish, for us non Spanish speaking folk.  Basically the first hour, I was talking talking talking... then the second hour, I was a mute! hahah! I tried, but it was so loud in there, it was very hard for me to understand what anyone was saying!! Fun though, and good practice!!
Here is a picture of friends I met.  Marcos is in the middle who I am hanging out with on Friday night with other friends.

New friends!

Today was pretty relaxed.  In class I was thinking, "what should I do after class... hmm.. I think I will go to the beach!!" But right when class ended, we heard this huge rumble... thunder and mass amounts of rain came crashing down. It was awesome!! I love 'tropical' storms. :) They only last for a short amount of time, but are so huge!!  So I didn't go to the beach... instead I went to the center (by the cathedral) to study and have some lunch. I got some tapas and a vegetable salad. The salad was drenched in oil... so instead of me eating my "unhealthy" salad, I asked a man who was walking by (looked homeless and scarfing down some chips), if he was hungry. He said, Si, si.. tengo muy hambre.... I told him to sit and eat. There I was in Cadiz, sitting in a nice plaza with a smelly and rather hairy man drinking wine while he ate my salad. I felt good, and I was eating with someone, not alone! What a great way to get company! :) We talked. He seemed like a very nice man. . . with some bad luck.
My next adventure after lunch was off to the beach, rocking out to Muse on my iTouch, since the sun finally came out. I was walking on the boardwalk next to a bar when two men started to talk to me. I took out my earphones to try and understand them. One of them stood up, grabbed my hand, led me to a chair, pushed me (nicely) into it and said "sit, stay". (Like I'm his bitch or something!) He then went inside the bar while his friend was trying to speak English with me.... kind of a Spanglish conversation going on. I told them I was going to the beach, what do you need from me?  He asked what was my name, where was I from? I'm thinking "OK, opportunity to practice Spanish, guys must think I'm cute or something.... I'll play along."  Then his friend came out with a beer. hmmm.. do I drink it? Is it safe?  After the shitty morning in class, I thought, why not? It's a free beer! I drank it. It was fine. I'm still alive. Phew.  The boy, Juan, was a bit excessive. He kept saying I was the prettiest girl ever. He gave me his home address (literally showed me the door as it was just 15 feet away) and repeatedly kept kissing my cheek, which was crazy shocking every single time. "YOUR IN MY BUBBLE, GET OUT!"   His friend told me he was crazy. I agreed. After 15 minutes of conversation (Spanglish), about Alaska and polar bears, this and that...and Juan trying to kiss me every 3 minutes, I finally lied and said I had a boyfriend. I finished my beer, thanked them, and was on my way. 1 minute later, I hear someone running behind me... Juan grabs me, hugs me super tight and tells me I am his "angel from Alaska". um, OK?  Really, I'm flattered.
Moving on...
Tomorrow is my last day of school here in Cadiz.  I am glad that I am seeing different cities in Spain, but at the same time, it's a bit hard that way.  I finally feel like I know my way around the city and getting to know people, and then I leave.  This is how I felt in Malaga as well.  Tomorrow night I'm going out with some locals (see above picture) and some friends from school!! Should be fun!
Thanks for reading!!  (Am I boring you with petty stuff?)


Here are some pictures of the market... This stuff just sits out in the open... all kinds of meats and fish.  It REAKS in that market.

This may seem random, but this is very typical to see.
Old spanish couples holding hands
walking in the street together. 
It's so cute.  It makes me want to grow old with someone!

This is my teacher.  He is so great.  He loves Regnia Spektor like me.  He busts out in song randomly throughout the day.  For example, today he said "ayer" which is yesterday in spanish.. and instead of continuing his sentence he says "ayer....all my troubles seemed so far away... " (Beatles) haha.. it was funny! He does this all the time!

Last picture for today:  Gates to the city!!  So cool!