Ramblings of a Mexican Nature

Just when you think you have an area, a neighborhood, a country defined, it seems to me the perfect place to live is a place that constantly keeps you surprised and interested. Currently, I am intrigued with the people and beautiful situations I find myself within at Mexico City.

Taking in a variety of baseball games this Friday was a luxury in itself. Looking back over a week of struggling, working, and putting in hours to achieve what seemed to be mini goals (it felt like wading through quicksand all week!) – Friday’s simple pleasure of napping, interviewing a few artists for Repentino., (more to interview than I had time!) – napping – then simply escaping to a comfortably private nearby restaurant and viewing the baseball games coming into the World Series, this was Friday I longed for – well for ages. Yet – these simple pleasures were only the beginning.

Wanting to try out an invitingly new establishment known at La Docena in Roma Norte, I finally had my chance. After comfortably falling into relax mode, I wandered out at 10:15 PM to the nearby Oyster Grill/Bar. Immediately, I was welcomed by the manager, and we began talking about my reaction to this newly opened restaurant. Before I knew it, aside from being amazed by dish after dish of DELICIOUS and Delaware-reminding meals, without warning, I became engaged in a conversation with one of the most fascinating women I ever met. Here’s why.

I have found so many people NEEDING to be with someone everywhere they go, be it the need for a person to accompany them to the theatre, to a museum, to a restaurant, for a walk, everywhere. We talked about this anomaly (love that word) and yet discovering things on your own? Discovering people on your own unexpectedly? I admired the independence of this woman and she commented on how to her, it seemed I strode in wanting to take in everything – whether friends were with me or not. Yes we both agreed to something way more attractive than being with someone or searching out someone to be with all the time, was the fact of individuals who remain individuals, instead of trying to visibly shake off that indviduality.

I realized how exciting Mexico is and how fortunate I have been able to meet such a diverse group of friends, while being able to maintain my freedom to go anywhere I want, anytime I want, and meet extraordinary individuals who recognize the doing things on your own? – a privilege and not a stigmatism as is so applied to someone –anyone – doing something alone. What cracked me up was the perception of women, and men, who are by themselves, as she brought up, as being negative. We laughed at all the incidents where people try to cover for their embarrassment of being alone in places when in fact, they should be quite happy! True, she made my night but it is refreshing to see someone of the opposite sex dive headfirst into a conversation topic and be so passionate about it, and then go on to engage someone in how they feel and not try to agree on everything, but remain their own person – what a night.

Looking at this experience, and taking in all in the backdrop, the run for the World Series, Mexico and United States soccer tonight, and having this window of freedom, freedom to take in so incredibly much – on your own time – it is exhilarating. Every day, despite the stress many feel day to day during the work week, (still working on that one!) is a new day, new people and individuals that can lighten your load and make you feel better about each new day. Of course there is the down side that involves people you feel you are obligated to please, which feels like you are churning butter to have a inspirational conversation with, (like it’s work!) – and well, just as in life, you do much better by yourself to remove yourself from complainers, whiners, take for granted-ers, selfish seekers, and on and on and when you surround yourself with individuals that allow you to feel as if you can take on any adventure, any experience, life becomes 100 times better all over.

Relationships are funny, and tricky, and stressful, and exhilarating, and depressing, motivating, uplifting, and so much more, if I could really sit long enough, the experiences and near to death experiences I felt my heart has felt (along with others I am sure) – these scenarios still amaze me that I have come through with some amazing positive aspects at all, and some days/weeks, I certainly don’t – which makes me quite far from being close to being attractive when those days /weeks appear. Yet – the moments you truly soak in that things are going to be okay, when the conversation /ideas flow unconsciously with someone you may know or may not know at all, such experiences only add to the magic of celebrating the great things life has to offer.

It is warming to have some dynamic memories of the eastern shore waves lapping at your back as you submerge in the incoming tide, the smell of salt and the taste of boardwalk fries on your lips – the scent of pine as you corner the cross country course and feel your heartbeat and nothing else, the feel of smiling inside and outside when surrounded by students you make you so optimistic about the future, the intense feeling of happiness with just amazing people, new and familiar by your side, and just having the confidence to choose any given moment to share with others or not anyone at all – life can be absolutely amazing, and it becomes the single, individual, defining moments that linger with us and carry us through those difficult, depressing, and often hard times and weeks.

I feel very fortunate to have been allowed to delve into learning more about myself by being in Mexico City, which I felt I finally was given the gift of being able to have time to do so. To stumble across that random individual who helps bring those feelings and moments out even more – just as the slogan say, that is priceless. Moments as when I found myself in the middle of Saint Louis in 2006 when the Cardinals grabbed the World Series and I wore that very hat tonight – the feeling of being in the middle of a city that treasured such a moment – a gift.  Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 2.32.15 AM

Finding myself in the middle of Chicago when the Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup, I just was amazed taking it all in. Sure, some of the most dynamic moments have been with sports, I always remember being whisked away in a limo as a VERY young age, seeing the Steelers surrounding the casket and mourning the Rooney family when I was in Pittsburgh and even at that young age I knew and was aware of an amazing event. This always stuck with me as what I wanted my city to reprersent, this commitment to family, the community, the people that matter in your life, this attitude of respect.  Couple these memories with the years of friends that gave me something that still remains with me, a joke, a laugh a friendship tested my hard times, and so much more, Mexico City is just the icing on a cake – of a lifetime filled with more treasure than a dragon’s lair in Lord of the Rings, (laughing).

It is amazing what can be revealed from just a relaxed, down to earth, honest conversation over an amazing meal. When I named my section of the blog, Restaurants as a Second Home, I didn’t realize the depth of how iconic every restaurant can be – how symbolic each place can be of something about Mexico or about each of us. Life is a funny thing, but everyday, worth celebrating even in the midst of so many difficult aspects that make life, rewarding.

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The Martian, Far Out but not a Disappointment In Depth!

When I saw The Martian previewed, then ordered it, and ripped through Andy Weir’s novel, I was like YEAH!  I mean YEAH!  I know it might not have been everyone’s “cup of tea” but I was hooked  – not instantly, but a slow momentum that built up into a starburst of light speed.  Many others thought so too as it won all kinds of literary awards in 2014.  The film production, by Ridley Scott, enough said –  he went leagues above what would be considered a great film.

Then, seeing a post from my buddy in New York and saying “Go See IT!” I knew what was in the space log for Sunday!!!  The thing was I was anxious when I went in knowing or wondering, what will this dreadful scene be like, I know it will happen but I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT, gripping the chair and yet wanting to see it all the time.

Was it ironic that the preview started out stating there is this instict to help others, and then later tonight, seeing the production of Everyman where we see people that are truly only self-serving, I certainly felt the Ying and Yang in one day.  I realize these kind of experiences are amazing for my soul, for exploring and reflecting on my life and wow.  Through this whole film, you are truly on the seat, in the middle, the edge, and all over.  it worked and then some, to infinity and BEYOND!

Matt Damon plays it perfectly and I felt less cocky then I felt in the novel, it was amazing to see him strong and when things went awry, it was perfect.  Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig (HYSTERICAL AND IN A SERIOUS ROLE!) , Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, —– I WATCHED HIM IN THE PRODUCTION OF Everyman TONIGHT and had NO IDEA HE WOULD BE IN THIS PRODUCTION, I am SUPER FREAKED OUT!!!!!-    I walked out of the production Everyman tonight KNOWING I had seen Chiwetel Ejifor somewhere and thought SURE, 12 Years as a Slave was IT, and I had JUST SEEN HIM ON THE SCREEN – and he looked not like what I saw an hour ago – whoa it has been THAT kind of day…and Donald Glover (let me tell you Donald Glover is minimal ib the film but AMAZING just the same, and yes a good singer!) as well!  HECK Yeah, they only add to an already magnetized scenario.  I am also realizing the soundtrack to this film – WHOA –

A M A Z I N G.

The irony of seeing and feeling things never escapes me as logn as I reflect on them here.  Today was a rollercoaster of barely making thngs, last minute suprises and yet, welcome to the lead’s role in The Martian’s experience.  You feel it.  Is it ironic we are deep into mindfulness and learning to deal with one thing at a time, calmly, and sole one thing at a time, as Matt Damon as Mark Watney says at the end of this remarkable film?  I would say everythng is relative and in The Martian, you truly FEEL it.

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Everyman is Not Everyman! With Good Reason! A Night at the Lunario…

Rufus Norris is able to tap so many deep, personal, convicting resources with the production of everyman, as deep as the fear Chiwetel Ejiofor feel when he realized his life is about to change towards an ending here on earth.  If that name sounds familiar it should.  As the lead character in 12 Years a Slave Ejiofor was amazing and heartfelt, he sent chills through your soul.  He does the same on stage here but for different reasons.

It is vital to revisit the core reason we live this life, we are present in this life, and the meaning of this life.  Some find meaning in possession, worldly good, riches, money, drugs, alcohol, and spending their life full of gluttony and giving little to nothing back to those around them.  They call it living.  Yet, they often forget that living for others is a hundred times worse, a hundred degrees more difficult, and volumes deeper to struggle for existence.  Rufus Norris and takes his talents from Behind the Beautiful Forevers, is able to take Carol Duffy’s deep message and script, and reminds us from that very production as well as through this one, that life is what we make of it.  Too many times people try to make amends for gluttony and selfishness when it is too late, and Everyman, as he is called, does a superb job of showing what belongs in the world can’t be taken with us.

It is easy to take pleasure in the aspects of life that are shallow and on the surface pleasurable.  Yet, often, it is soul-searching that brings aspects of individuals to realize what is skin deep, even soul deep, is what matters more when you are alone and think about your life and it’s role among others – and as a result, how your life comes to be defined.  It is all around us, many who love the luxuries that never scratch the meaning of heart, soul, and mind, and yet these are the most precious and only realized by those that want to find and treasure those riches, opposed to the riches that can be consumed, bought, sold, and coveted.  Sound like a sermon?  So it goes in everyman and yet, the truth of how rich or how superficial one’s life can be is behind every line and scene.

Yet, I find myself leaving this production thankful for having so many things placed in front of my eyes, and ultimately, in front of my heart, and the conviction of what I want my life to be, at the end or when the end comes for me, and am grateful for this.  Some reach this understanding of their life through again, drugs, alcohol, possessions, the temporary things of life, and yet, I am lucky to have close friends that have always looked for more, the things that go skin and soul deep.  This helps me to be a better person and God (literally) knows, I have a LONG way to go to make changes.  Everyman is 100% on cue in letting you realize this through brilliant lines, modern approaches to who death is, and an even more surprising look at who God is.  Brilliant.

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Openings Meeting You Halfway – a Mini Novel Celebrating Your Hearts and Spirits.

Dear Repentino. Staffer,

6:50 AM.  On a Saturday.  Truly, your commitment to be present at a concession, on a SATURDAY, that EARLY, and even to the others who came in early today, in the middle of the day, and stayed to make sure we had a successful day and made the most of the day, making it a success – there is alot to say about the how and why, but I will try to keep it simple (a few paragraphs instead of a few pages).

I am not sure many of you just coming into the Repentino. magazine will notice since, well, you are new, but a few of the veteran staff we still have will recongize this as a fact once they hear it and then feel it.  Repentino. continully reinvents itself every year, takes on new approaches, attempts new challenges, and presents a road open to anyone willing to pave it their own way.  I feel that is what is so exciting about what the idea of Repentino. has become.

True to it’s defintion, every time Repentino. moves closer to creating new forms of assistance and programs to help others more than just publishing our magazine., but reaching out, we grow.   I hope you enjoy these moments.  An example.  As we have begun to earn money for the Bear Boosters, redefine our approaches to producing our print version, and help create scholarships that will enable students to enroll here, experiencing events that they would not normally be able to I see each of you growing.  The long hours, the extra projects, the early mornings, the late nights, all squeezed in between the challenges of letting a world know there is a publication/blog, and an Open Mic that is open to the possbilities of creativity – both here in Mexico and across the world -ALL of this means an experience that is more than simply being part of a club.

Today I saw a group of young women putting in the time, leading others to do the best job possible, and having this be one step more towards doing something amazing for others, often in moments where most people do not know we are doing these things until it occurs later in the year.  Even though you might not hear me say it immediately, the reponsibility, hard work, and hours you put in? – you make me proud every time I am lucky enough to be with you when we do these events.  The reason we have a magazine that continues to grow OUT, (covering sports, athletes that usually do not get coverage until that one crucial meet or game, exploring charities that we can help move forward, and trying to reach out to the far corners to represent authors and artists no on knows quite yet) – is because you find it within yourself to do more than the average, whether it be on a Saturday, a weekday, in isolation and not receiving praise because many do not knwo what you do, but you continue to amaze me.  You work so hard and in the process I see you appreciate so much in the work you do.

I am excited to see how you use the opportunities that come to us to reach out and benefit so many others.  Finding out that Repentino. can be a source or means to reach out to help charities, improve others’ outlook on life in gernal, as well as simply rising about what others maybe only think about doing, and doing something to change from being the normal, all of this will continue to shape your life in the future.

I was sitting on a bench today, with my three dogs, exhausted after today’s long day, and you know how it is.  People are friendly and full of energy with the weekend and usually when you, on the receivng end, are exhuasted, you find yourself full of less enthusiasm then those around you.  Still.  A couple came up and were admiring my dogs, all bubbly and positive me simply feeling, “I want to go to bed!”  Yet, they found out I had been here 5 years and I wanted to live here permanently, that I received my permanent residency the other day, and they were acting as if I hit the lottery.  Literally, you would have thought I hit the lottery they way THEY were so happy for ME.  It made me feel really, awesome – despite thinking how tired I was (I felt selfish after they were so nice).

A final example – a man sat down on the bench not 10 minutes later and was really depressesed, barely able to say hello – it was obvious this was a bad day.  Literally, in the next 35 minutes we had a conversation mostly in Spanish, ( I was like WHOA!  I can do this in SPANISH!)  – and found out, he is the head chef at a restaurant, for three- four years, and he was just upset today that he makes less than the chef before him, when he comes here from Pachuca to work every day, over 10-15 hours a day.  We talked about the philsophy that many places take the attitude well, if he/she wants to leave we will just get another person, and not appreciate the job that the worker does, or not caring enough.  He must have hit a low today and had decided to drink over this problem and realized, he actually realized, that was not the solution either. He obviously had to leave work since he was not in the right form, physically or mentally, and was so depressed about his situation of never looking as to get decent wages, and yet working in a place he loved for other reasons, for 3-4 others.  After many many moments of talking this over with him, advising him to clear his head and be up front with his boss and just tell him how he feels (he was tied to his job because he truly loved it, the people he works with, and just knowing others count on him).   He stated a few times it mattered to him how good a worker he was and yet he never jeard the words, “Good Job!” or felt he was appreicated.   He kept telling me how much it meant for me to just talk and listen to him, a complete stranager and yet, through origianlly thinking I didn’t want to talk, see, or listen to anyoe  and just go to bed, the opportunity of listening and sympathzing with someone who was hurting made my night again.

The reason I give you these examples is this – for this being my fith year, and from the beginning, the start of this idea we call Repentino, Camila de la Parra, had this vision of Repentino. becoming hard to define, yet always being something more than others can imagine and growing.

I am so so lucky to be surrounded by each of you every day, because the reason we like you on Repentino., and the reason Repentino. survives? – you believe.  No one continues to say every year, “We did it like this or that and we have to do it again like that.” Yes we do a GREAT job of looking back and seeing /using what works but for all these years, each one of you suggest and create doing something you feel is beneficial to being new, refreshing, creative and it works the majority of the time.  Because you believe.  Yes, there are those around us that simply do the minimal possible to get by, and yet you see them serve as “invisible staff”,  they linger but never really feel the power of implementing and following through the creative and hard working efforts you follow through, and have the absence of heart.

You make me feel as good as that surprising moment when you meet a stranger and hear their story, and just let it flow through you and then you respond, making you feel worthy of helping another.  This year, there will be so many opportunities to further the popularity and recognition of Repentino. through helping others and giving of yourself.  That is a good way to be represented, awards are great yes but the heart we create along the way also are priceless.  I believe that is the magic that lies in the success of Repentino. that started as six people with a dream, and now, at 46, all seeing something they see possible.  Your minds are the paths to where Repentino. can go, and that direction is exciting.

Although alot of those breakthroughs occur behind closed door, away from view, I see it just the same and see the ability you have, whether it is taking a concession and using it to further the possibilties for others to continue here at ASF, to spread to others what Repentino. is in Mexico and countries abroad, followjg the sports beat, interviewing the latest author/artist, and so much more, a part of yourself comes out in Repentino.. For those that want to strive above just being in a group by name and not action, you have created a home for many.

These initiatives you follow through and make happen will benefit you in the future when you are in that competitive world where everyone strives, climbs, and clamors for a number one spot.  You will have a major advantage above them because I am seeing first hand where your ambitions, energies, and heart goes, and can only imagaine where it will go if you strive towards directions or futures you want for yourself.

I am proud of you, and see so many examples in the students of my past,  I was lucky enought to jump on projects with that went on to be smash successes in the Naval Academy, in the classroom, in their community, on the Cross Country Course, in Key Club meetings, in the classroom, on the yearbook staff, and so many more places – their heart was in all they did and everyone arond them saw and felt it.  Each one of you are the same and that does my heart proud.  I continue to push you because I believe in the great things you will do after here, so thank you for willingly stay with me as we try to reinvent ourselves through so many directions; with you as a part of all these Repentino. moments, we will all contiunue to create a memory of challenges that will remain with us and so many others for a very long time.  I am indeed richer because of each of you  :)

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Annawadi, India – One Person’s Trash is Another’s Treasure – “Epic. Heartbreaking. Honest.”

I have said it once before, and of course, if you say it again, it is something memorable.  On September 21st, I went to a production of Behind the Beautiful Forevers – and had no idea what that meant or what this would entail.  The trailer, watching it now, brings back the amazing production this turned out to be.  I DID know it was a production from the National Theatre in London and past performances had never let me down yet.  That was incentive enough, and the fact that is was at the Lunario, and attending with those that love the theatre, production, etc, how could you go wrong?

When entering the first thing I noticed was that the audience – half full compared to when I had been there for Warhorse, but I thought, that was Warhorse.  As the production began, and studying the program and seeing that this was based on the Pulitzer Winning book by Katherine Boo, I was drawn to the scurrying and action in the shadows as the production began.  I also noticed the Indian music, seemingly straight out of SlumDog Millionaire, and I was caught already. 

What would unfold was a tale that showed, the littlest look into neighborhoods often looked down on, or painstakenly trying to be ignored, actually hold some of the most valuable treasures.  Of course the countless lessons of being grateful for the very things we take for granted everyday, tossing complaints about money to the wind when there are individuals grateful for the crumbs they find in the refuse, as well as simply realizing, humanity is not contained to a country, continent, or part of the world.

Add to all this the first time an Asian cast has performed on the London Theatre Stage, combined with hysterical quips that go straight to the heart of the matter of trul, what means individuals HAVE to go to to get to what really matters.  I am desperate to read the book after seeing the depth the characters, whether main or supporting, brought to this production.

Realizing this was based on the true experiences of author Boo in Annawadi, and seeing the inspirational talents of English playwright David Hare bringing this to life on stage, coupled with Rufus Norris, now director of the National Theatre, pushes empathy across the stage at a rapid pace – and lets it sink it to your psyche afterwards – this was a truly brilliant experience.

I also enjoyed the leads of women that showed how they controlled their own destinies and fate in a world that was full of men seeping up the results.  The matriarch roles were flawless, and often referred to the world around them and how they managed to survive through the toughest of circumstances.

Shane Zaza, as Abdul Husain, truly remains the pivotal character that not only recycles as a way of life, but recycles his soul through a complicated and Ulysses-like modern day journey.  Yet he still is able to maintain his heart and soul, which you will find comes ot the edge of the breaking point, MANY times.

When you leave with something more than you came with that is a true gift.  Even moreso, is the fact that you enter a situation not knowing anything about what is to unfold, a clean slate if you will, and being able to judge how you live your life and how it can be better, for those around you in this world where you find yourself.  That might be the priceless result of such an experience, and Behind the Beautiful Forevers does a great job in taking you there.  I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book!

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A Friday is a Friday – Not All the Time!

As I neared Paseo Reform on Ecobici through the Insurgentes Metro Plaza, a man in a Jehovah Witness-like shirt and tie ran past at full speed, with a few feet behind a woman in tow, screaming – “Por Favor – Parar parar!” With an extreme look of panic on her face. As I turned around and stopped, I did see he almost made it to the exit of the metro plaza but someone took the chance and stopped him, he fell to the ground, he tried to get up, and he was easily knocked back down to the ground.

I would like to think he was guilty of snatching something from the lady and it certainly did seem those around in the plaza weren’t afraid to make sure he was stopped and anything she might have of value, would be stopped right where he was on the ground.

Certainly this was enough to jolt you out of the events of anyone’s day and make you think, what if that were me? If I thought I had a bad day, did I really or not as bad if I would have been that person who had something snatched? Luckily, whether he was guilty or not (I am assuming he was) – those around came to the rescue.

Shocking is the possibility in Mexico City, but yet, so is it in all areas of all cities, as many stores are kept under wraps and not made public. I say this as I sit in the new Gino’s East in Reforma, anticipating what the taste of the Jumbo Wings will be like before I dive into an original deep dish pizza to see how this comparison fares based on the experience I had at the Gino’s East in Chicago.

The dark, and wood-based interior along with the brick walls definitely serves to set its own personality, although I prefer the open window and high stools I had in Chicago, but more on the experience and taste later.

I realized today I still have a very very long way to go to set aside my anxious side of reacting to events as they happen and happen without the way I anticipate them, just when I think I am mastering that feeling, well, today for example happens.

Setting my ipad to an IOS update should have triggered that the update would over ride my alarm usually set on the ipad, especially as I came in from a 10:00 night from a Back to School night. Yet, the tiredness finally set in and I had not even a second thought that the alarm would NOT go off, until morning that is.     6:10 comes fast, and I jumped up and realized I was already behind, but it was Friday, right? I multitasked, feeding the dogs, then right beside the shower jumping in while they digested their meal, running to grab my ASF shirt and jeans nearby, out the door with the three, walking and noticing the rain from the previous night. We did our normal circular route, made it back in and looking at my watch I knew Id be a bit late, as it just turned 7:10AM! AGH!

I ran, literally, out the door, all the way to Insurgentes Metro, while anxiously squeezing between EVERY SINGLE person in the metro, I finally arrived at Observatorio, literally, ran every single stair up to the top then jogged a bit to the school hitting at 7:25 AM, to find, finally, my Advocacy waiting and just after 7:45, and knew, my partner in crime had called off today ( I knew he was feeling bad last night at Back to School Night but didn’t realize he would be that sick, and I realized how short-handed the library would have been without us there and our third colleague opening up everything and feeling the space of no one there. Within 10 minutes we had all caught up to speed, while my heart was still racing from the “Moctezuma stairs” I bounded up.

Today was not just any Friday, I was due in Ms. Patterson’s art room as a model for the students for their art project and realized, this might be a dead end today to be there at 8:15. I also realized, I had to leave at 8:45 AM to get my permanent residency and lie ESP, Ms Patterson came in wondering if I had forgotten the sitting time. In my rapid fire style, I spilled out the eventful moments of the AM, and we agreed we could pick up on Tuesday when things quieted down a bit. Within minutes I also realized we had a class coming in 4th period and I realized how exciting it would be to actually think I’d be back before the end of the day from Immigration.

However, I plodded forward, and we realized the laptops would be a slightly easy gig with every one being reserved for the whole day, but I wondered how the absence of two of us, leaving one colleague would work. However, it was almost perfect when we had a substitute, Bruno, come into the library which just made me at ease knowing, I’d do my best to be the first one out of Immigration, even if remotely possible, but we had backup for a bit. Before I realized it, 8:45 was here and I was grabbing my backpack and heading out full speed to catch the chance to get my status elevated to permanent residency. Three if us went, on our way to Immigration, dicing into the Mexican traffic we know so well for a Friday, towards Polanco, and pulled up to the familiar Immigration building.

Was that a student at the entrance? Sure enough, a fellow study hall student was with her family and waved as were going forward with what I thought was the same experience. As I thought we would start the last few times – into the building, and lines, but no, we initially were met my a smaller female lawyer, and lead around the corner to Office Depot and realized we needed pictures taken for the new visa. However, I also realized if I would have known I could have brought the last pictures I had taken, extras, that fit the description we needed for the visa. However, we moved forward into the process of finishing this errand.

I was told to take off my glasses but, then did not understand what hair hanging down the front of my forehead matters, but I did find out it mattered enough to not be able to take a picture and have it accepted unless we complied. I looked desperately at my partner in crime for the day, Trent, and he gave me his Bobble bottle, and I took the water and put it on my hair and damped down my hair from my forehead as best as possible, and that seemed to do the trick, and yes, my picture pretty much looked like HELL.

Once we finished up at the photograph process, we made out way back to the Immigration Office, and started in the line that would get us to the process of our visa. The funny, thing, actually unusual, about starting the experience at Immigration is how the lawyers just happen to find you. Literally, you stand at the entrance and all of a sudden they find you – and it seems as if it was all planned. Yet we dived into the lines.   However, Trent was told he had to take a new picture due to an earring in his ear? I was flabbergasted, , but not before a Canadian couple in front of us , who Trent began to translate saying that she was being told she could not have a valid photo with the earring in her ear, which was permanent and unable to be taken out.

I’m JUST the translator!” Trent emphasized, and I laughed as he could gauge the level of anxiety she was feeling from finding out HER experience was not going the way she had expected for the day. I realized how dangerous it can be when you are translating and yet, you cant separate the emotions from the reality of the truth that sometimes appears with a foreign language.

Trent went back to get new photos as I sat and waited my turn. Honestly, even though Trent made it back before I had been called, the wait was relatively smooth and fast (blasphemy!) – I went up, inked my fingerprints on the card, and before I knew it I received my passport back – done!

As Trent and Jennifer stayed behind with different issues, they allowed me to go off back ahead of them to the school, so I could arrive before things became too impossible to get caught up with let alone caught up.

I jumped into the first taxi (let me not forget that Trent covered my roadblock of hair thanks to his water, covered my photo costs while I did not have my correct card with any money (not knowing that would be a factor) and let me have his pass with the tax to allow me to go back on time – hero for the day? I would say definitely yes!

I made it back realizing the voucher we had from the school was for Servitaxi and I was definitely not in a taxi from that company. Sucking it up, I ran back into the school upon arrival, taxi waiting, to retrieve the funds to go back out and pay the taxi. Nearly knocking a student over trying to weave between everyone at the bell, I paid the taxi, ran back in, and braced for how behind in missing a homecoming meeting, grabbing my papers for the Health lab Exam I signed up for next week, and not to mention preparing for the incoming class into the library.

Yet now after what seemed to have been the storm, the rest of the Friday played out and I stood wondering, WHAT HAPPENED? How did this Friday become so incredibly CRAZY? Such is the way of live, whether in Mexico, or in any country, you never know what will turn up and even you will not be sure how will get through it, but, yet – you do. J

That class? It went pretty well and while very every minute packed, it worked like we had it mapped out way before the class, and how about that Chicago-style pizza?

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 9.01.53 AM

Sometimes all you need is a picture.  :)

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Integrating the Personal Factor – Effortless Really!

Since the start of the new school year, so much has occurred, and little reflection, so I begin to chip away at that now. Not sure I will make my goal of 30 000 views of the blog this year, but heck, I am sure going to try!

I have noticed about myself, as I go through life, (crazy as it is) in my head I notice realizations that I wish I would have paid more attention to. (Being in my head is a scary place, truly.) However, it helps that I actually push for time to have to reflect growth, and thin about these aspects rather than push push push so hard to do this do that and lose the reflection time, which seems to be as essential as sleep.

Take the whole stereotype of being a librarian. You know, the little ‘ol lady that just checks books and puts them way, dusty, musty library, hidden away from sight until you approach the desk, yadda yadda yadda. So what does that stereotype say about a man as a librarian? Or women in general about work? Or stereotypes we place about different types of work? (I think this could be an interesting thesis).

I realized at the beginning of school this year at ASF, that having come up through my Masters of Education with Technology and Library Studies, always seeing a fight for justifying the librarianship position, moreso in the United States,dismal reports of the position being reduced to save costs or having the librarian literally be a teacher, yearbook advisor and five other tasks to maximize the position (but in reality reducing the effectiveness of what the librarian COULD be doing) – I realized that actually, spending so much time justifying the position takes away from what librarians could be doing to show that is is required.

I was sitting in the initial MYP session paired up with educators as they planned their MYP unit for a particular focus. As I began to learn the texts, unit purposes, as well as questions that teachers would need to focus us, of course flashbacks of being an English teacher to over 30 in an AP class, then Advanced English, as well as a host of other English classes came back to me. As it should. If I could not use my prior experience as a teacher to help others as teachers now, as a librarian, what the heck?

What I walked away with was being able to show that librarians of 2015 and beyond are literally beyond stereotypes is easily shown, and with taking notes to go back and develop my curriculum based on MYP needs, my thought wandered to other places, IB needs AP needs, Common Core needs, Personal Project needs, MUN needs, and more. All I had to do was be there. Now I mean, you can BE there or be there. It is easy to say, I am at this meeting because it is required and be there physically and totally not mentally as you clack away at the keyboard checking Facebook, emails and so much more.
OR you can choose to let the info flow over you and sift out the info that requires you as a librarian NOT to have to fight for validity but take the sifted info and let it help others do their jobs easier.

I am realize that being a librarian for me was about networking. Learning when and who it is appropriate for to ease their job, as I was grateful for the librarian that did so when I was in the classroom full time as an educator. The limits placed on teachers in the states is immense I know, i felt it for 14 years and still marvel at the stamina, energy, and creativity that effective teachers maintain, and the lack of those areas that noneffective teachers hold.

Outside of the states, I also see this pressure beginning to creep up on teachers, though on a lesser level. Just as it is easy to know how to take so much info and direct it effectively to those that can use it in the classroom to ease their responsibilities (Go librarians!) – o it is the responsibility to be “on”, so to speak, all the time to not miss a beat and use that info to develop what a librarian still is morph into, in this age of faster than the speed of light info and technology.

Being a leader comes in many sizes, packages, and forms As a librarian, I have found being a “leader” is not usually meaning being the one in the front, but willing to be right in the middle to impact all of those around us. When someone said the other day “You have the best job ever!” – I responded with the things on THAT day that really challenged the notion. Yet, I always have to acknowledge, we have those days, and by learning to make the best of them, learning to love what it is that made us take this position we do, and give ourselves time to remember how we can be effective in that position and time to reflect on ll this, yes, you do have the best job in the world if you are able to do all that. If not, I have never had a qualm with leaving a job, sometimes with nothing left to go to, if your heart and soul is not into it for the right reasons (not pay, not recognition, not fame, not a stepping stone to get to a level that does not relate to what you are doing now) – sometimes we HAVE to do that, but that does not mean we love it inside.

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who take in my bad days, good days, smiles, as well as grimaces, and still allow me to move forward to help them and to show how cool of a job I am lucky to have. That pretty much is everything you’d ever want – and goes beyond any stereotypes anyone can create!

*Below are some links I think might prove helpful in that MYP course that I initially thought, what does this have to do with me? :) A question we can use and relate to so many things in life!

KPI’s for librarians:

Notes from MYP that can tie to Librarianship!

Common Core and the Librarian

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Czarina Shartle – Sharpening the Images of Self Through Artistic Expression

When we received what is not the submission on page 21 of the 2014-2105 Repentino. piece titled, Self Portrait, we were drawn to the image.  It is one of those images we can’t take our eyes away from – and Szarina Shartle certainly had a knack for grabbing our attention.  Using the medium of charcoal, as an artists she is able to bring out a variety of reactions, you’ll want to see her piece in out latest release of the 2014-2015 magazine, but in the meantime, we were able to grab a few details that led us into seeing her as a becoming artist as well.  As we see many of our graduating artists trek to Massachusetts, we are happy to have a great representation of this Boston artist in our very own award-winning Repentino..

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 1.45.02 AMWhat is your full name?

Czarina Shartle


Where did you go to school?

Massachusetts College of Art and Design


What is your current occupation (student, artist, etc).?



What is your country, city of residence?

USA, Boston, MA.


What is your favorite medium of art and why?

I’ve always liked drawing with pen and ink. I enjoy the precision I can get from a pen, as well as the darkness and permanence of the marks I can make.


What experience allowed you to get into your particular branch of artistic expression?

I grew up in a creative family, so I’ve always been experimenting with different forms of art. As a student, I am still exploring everything from writing to sculpture to performing arts. Drawing, however, seems to be what I always come back to.


What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

Try new things and seek out constructive criticism.


If you have a location where you display your work, can we get that to advertise it to others?

My tumblr page for my work is artbyczarina.tumblr.com. I also post a good amount of my art on my instagram page, welcometoczarbucks.


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Elliott Bird – Saying Much Without Saying Anything



What many don’t realize are that there are amazing pieces submitted to Repentino. every year that often don’t make it into the print publication yet, they are amazing pieces just the same.  Such is the case with Elliott Bird.  One can almost imagine sitting and listening to the lazy rambling of water on his submitted photo, Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 3.52.25 AM“Abridged Secrets.”  We salute Elliott Bird for being a part of the Repentino. process and look forward to his submissions in the future – he is a reason why Repentino. celebrates the artists in all of us!


What is your full name? Elliott Bird.


Where did you go to school? Heritage College, Adelaide


What is your current occupation (student, artist, etc.)? Student


What is your country of residence? Australia


What is your city of residence? Adelaide


What is your favorite medium of art and why? Probably pencil/biro drawing, because you can go from realism to abstract and everywhere in between.


What experience allowed you to get into your particular branch of artistic expression? Every kid loves to draw, and all the good artists are the ones who never stop drawing. With photography, it’s been a lifelong interest, but I only recently bought a camera to see how the magic happens.


What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Don’t stop. Whatever you’re doing, keep at it. You can only get better if you keep going.


Don’t hesitate to follow Elliott on Tumbler at the following address: https://www.tumblr.com/search/elliott+bird

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Dog Parks and New Hires – Discoveries Inside and Outside of Your Being Making the Difference in EveryDay Life

Many, many times I have fallen into finding a park, finding a way to a particular market or museum, only to find that all this time there is another more efficient, or alternative location, or event, or attraction, that has existed and eluded my attention.

Those are good days as no matter the area where you live, you receive a brand new outlook on your life, be it impacting your schedule or attitude towards things for the better.  I know, an example is in order.

Taking a new route in the AM walk with the dogs on a Saturday, I made my way to Alexander Pushkin Parque and literally stumbled across, NO! could it be? – a small, enclosed dog park, (Corner of Morelia and Tabasco)  well maintained, and within a 5 minute walk of my apartment.  Traditionally, I hiked (not an unpleasurable walk at all) to Parque Mexico to a great enclosed dog park there.  Finding this quaint and easily accessible dog park was one of the great finds of the weekend – being able to see how happy Kinah, Wriggley, and Amaya were doing laps within the border of the fencing, they loved the smaller amount of space to run yet enjoy tackling each other, and involving the few dogs inside that also wanted to be part of the “play pack.”

It was easy to transfer this small but cool find to the past week of newly hired teachers arriving at ASF, seeing Mexico in brand new eyes, whether they had originated from outside Mexico or simply transferred within, as members of the Welcoming Committee, we get the privilege of also seeing the familiar around us with new eyes and appreciate the country we find ourselves now calling home.

I also realized how far I have to go to really undermine the characteristics and inclination I have to complain about things that I should not even address.  Being in Mexico has certainly changed my demeanor, attitude towards taking in what life has to offer, and has chipped away at how better to work through obstacles in a much more positive note rather than get bogged down in attitudes of regret and regression.  Yet, the learning process is even that more pleasurable with amazingly positive, enjoyable, and pleasant coworkers, both new and returning, that remind you every day how much we should appreciate the experiences around us.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 12.56.54 PM    Seeing Andres Jannou and Rodrigo Zarate AT ArtSpace for their gallery show last night, enjoying the information provided by Peter and Lidia from Azteca Travel at Spice Everywhere Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 1.00.37 PM certainly also allowed me to reflect on the “wonderfulness” of good and positive people and experiences around us every day, and appreciate the detailed events I experienced while I as in the states.  Life is so full of possibilities and exciting discoveries, from a closer dog park to breaths of fresh air every year through new friends, but if e leave every day with these abilities to appreciate the details we often take for granted around us? – we will literally be “new hires” every year in attitude and what we can offer others as well.

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