When You Get Injured

Those who have followed my blog since the beginning will remember that about this time last year I managed to get myself a case of tendinitis. Since then, I got a little better then plateaued, saw another physiotherapist who told me the problem was in my shoulders (would have been nice to know that eight months earlier!), saw a massage therapist, thought I was finally better, got worse again, saw ANOTHER massage therapist who gave me more exercises for my shoulders, and at this point my shoulders are feeling pretty darn good but my hands are feeling about the same as they were in January. That is to say, sore and easily tired.

Clearly, I am no expert in preventing injury, and all of this is based on my own experience.  My best advice would be to talk to your teacher as soon as you enter university (or preferably, before then) to make sure your technique is ergonomically correct and your posture is good. Posture is key, as my too-rounded shoulders have shown me.  And when you get into university, don’t go from playing a half hour every day (just admit it, you didn’t practice all that much) to four hours every day. Your body can’t keep up! And then it will break down. And breaking down is not a fun road.

If you start to hurt, pay attention to it. When my arms first started aching, I brushed it off as muscles forming. Two weeks later when my hands were throbbing even when I was away from the harp, I wished I had paid attention.

So, let’s say you do get injured. It happens to an overwhelming amount of people, so take heart in this: you are not alone. You are not the only one suffering this. And secondly: do not panic. Your career in music is not over, you will manage this. Plenty of people who have gotten injured and then gotten better and returned to playing.  Read a book on musicians’ injuries such as Playing (Less) Hurt by Janet Horvath: it’s a great resource and place to start, and it can be found in the Music Library.

Following not panicking, tell your teacher.  It’s important to get them on your side; not only will they have valuable input on how to get better, they’re usually very understanding and won’t pile tons of crazy repertory on you that’s going to wreck your body even more.

In fact, the first thing you should do is take some time off. Some people say you should totally stop playing until your injury is better, but most often the problem is muscles tat weren’t strong enough to handle the load, so if you just let your muscles get weaker and weaker, you’re going to have the same problem when you start playing again. What I did was take two weeks off playing entirely, and then begin playing in very small quantities: five minutes the first couple days, then two sessions of five minutes for a few days, then three sessions… Then I’d start at one session of ten minutes, and build up those sessions. By March I was able to play for an hour at a time, even though I was only doing one hour per day, maybe two now and then.

However, I did not get to that point by myself: I went to see a therapist.  I saw a physiotherapist, and he gave me exercises to do for my hands, as well as massage the sore muscles, and give them other therapies like using warm wax and electricity stuff. (I don’t really know what it was.) It definitely helped, but starting around March, going in for physio didn’t seem to help anymore. When I felt no improvement by June, I went to see my second physiotherapist – who told me the problem was in my shoulders, and upon seeing him I felt immediate improvement in my hands. So, get help, but make sure you get two opinions. Sometimes things can be overlooked, or some therapists may have more experience with musicians than others.

My final word of advice: Be patient.  I’ve been injured for nearly a year now, and although I’m starting to plateau in progress again, I am confident I will fully recover. I’ve certainly come a long way from where I was last year.  And keep in mind, many injuries take a long time to heal – my harp teacher was out for two years with tendinitis, but is now playing in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as usual. I find that doctors and therapists tend to say things like, “You’re young, you’ll be fine in no time,” but the truth is that most of these injuries aren’t a simple quick fix (unless you can catch it way before it gets bad).

Just stay optimistic. Take it one day at a time. You aren’t the only one that has to go through this, and you will get better.


Note: I just want to reinforce again that I am not an expert in this field, and this post is solely based on my experience. If you are injured, go see a professional.

Overstuffed with thanks and pumpkin pie

October is here again, and despite the return of my mystery October illness and the stressful onslaught of midterms, I am finding so many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my friends and family all across the country and the many places that I call home. I am thankful for free trips to Toronto courtesy of UBC Student Recruitment that will let me meet prospective students and see my best-friend-slash-sister very soon. I am thankful for Totem Park, my wonderful Kwak residents (especially those who attended the Kwak/Shu Thanksgiving yesterday!), and my inspiring and perpetually smiling coworkers, who confirm my belief that I have the best job in the world.

I am thankful for interesting courses and better-than-expected organic chemistry marks, for discovering my passions and pursuing my academic goals. I am thankful for the Student Leadership Conference, the Centre for Student Involvement, and the quickly-approaching promise of snow at Whistler.  I am thankful for the ocean, the mountains, and the tectonic plates that make them both possible (EOSC 114 must be rubbing off on me).

I am thankful for my newfound self-confidence and signature curly hair, for Blenz hot chocolate, sweater weather, and West coast sunsets. I am thankful for October sunshine, Blue Chip cookies, fall foliage, and most of all, I am thankful for the person that I am becoming.

Happy Thanksgiving, UBC. Thank you for all the happiness you’ve brought me.

Midterm Prep: The Campbell Method

Last night I had the dreaded CHEM 233 midterm. If you’re in science at UBC, you have probably hears the rumours about this evil course. So what did I do to prepare? Here’s a rundown of my week leading up to the midterm:

5 days before: Did some textbook problems at Blenz in between Longboat races. Blenz Belgian milk hot chocolate helps soothe the pain.

4 days before: Initiated hardcore study mode. Killed a small forest with the amount of paper I used for practice problems. Completed online acid/base assignment. Aced it.

3 days before: Switched my Monday workout to the morning so I could use my midday break for work. Studied in the Harry Potter room while the presidents of UBC looked down on me in approval. Had a zombie apocalypse social with the rest of the Totem RAs in the evening.

48 hours before: Took a study break to watch talented Totem residents rock the Totem Coffee House. Highlights included QLXN’s Liam playing the hits of the 90s on the bassoon.

36 hours before: Visited my chem prof’s office hours. Spent so much time in the Law Library that people are beginning to wonder if I live there. Bernouilli’s Bagels and coffee are my only forms of sustenance.

24 hours before: Study session in Swing with fellow science student and generally awesome dude, Aaron. Spent most of the time jamming to Kanye and speaking to each other in German accents.

12 hours before: Crammed for a forgotten biology unit test while shoveling eggs into my mouth at breakfast.

8 hours before: Did some practice midterms. Reassured myself that I do, in fact, kind of know what I’m doing.

5 hours before: Chemistry class time. Tried to ignore the looks of intense panic on my classmates’ faces.

3 hours before: Realized that I am incapable of cramming any more knowledge into my brain. Went running up and down the Wreck Beach stairs instead.

90 minutes before: Headed to the Totem caf with fellow RAs and CHEM 233 students. Ate a grilled cheese sandwich and sweet potato soup (comfort food is a must). Made science puns to lighten the mood.

30 minutes before: Began the trek to the Chemistry building. Listened to pre-exam pump up music (“Til I Collapse” by Eminem always gets me in the zone).

10 minutes before: Descended into the toasty warm dungeon of CHEM B150. Found a spot in the middle of the room right next to Melinda for moral support.

5 minutes before: Started to bubble in my information on the Scantron. Watched the clock creep closer to 7 PM. Tried not to be freaked out by how thick the midterm felt.

1 minute before: Deep breath. Let’s do this.

After: Breathed a sigh of relief. Shook off the feelings that it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Headed to a friend’s place in Dunbar for celebratory margaritas.

Could I have done more to prepare? Definitely. But while I may not have gotten a perfect score, I still had a pretty good week. I managed to exercise, fulfill my extracurricular responsibilities, spend time with friends, and paddle around Jericho Beach while still studying my butt off. Balance is the key to making the most out of university (although we’ll see if I am singing a different tune once I get my score back). Happy studying!

Cooking: The Second-Year’s Nemesis

Chances are, if you were living in residence for your residence, you are now living in some sort of accommodation that includes a kitchen and now you are staring at the cupboards and appliances which stare back at you unhelpfully and you realize: you have to cook for yourself. Yikes.

Maybe you’re one of those people who always cooked a lot for themselves at home anyway, so it isn’t really a big deal, but I am not one of those people; my parents always made the meals in our house. That’s just the way it was. So when I was left alone in my kitchen to try to feed myself, I was anxious. What should I make? Will I screw it up? Will I make a mess, will I break something? Will I over spend on food?

I’ve been cooking for myself for approximately the past two and half weeks (although it feels much longer than that), and I’m feeling much less nervous now. Once you get the hang of things, it isn’t so hard to manage. So although I am no expert, here is my method of feeding myself and relatively healthily and cheaply.

  • Start with what you know. Make a list of all the things you know how to make and what you’ve made before. Gather recipes that your mom made at home so that the familiar tastes will remind you of home and not feel like such a shock. Speaking of mom, get her to walk you through some basics of cooking and a few of your favourite recipes before you leave.
  • Plan ahead. Figure out what you want to eat for most of the week and do a shopping trip at the beginning of the week so you don’t have to go to the store every other day. That way if you also need to take something out of the freezer to make later that night, you’ll remember and not have to deal with frozen pasta sauce that won’t come out of its tupperware.
  • Freeze things. Cooking for one can be challenging, especially since most food is sold in fairly large packages.There’s nothing more disappointing than having your food go off before you can eat it, and things like pasta sauce and cheese can go bad pretty fast. So once I open a jar of pasta sauce, I freeze in serving-size tupperware what I don’t need right away, and when I buy a package of cheese I grate about two thirds of it and freeze it and leave the rest in the fridge. If you’re sharing a fridge/freezer with a lot of people and don’t have room, you’ll have to get creative. Maybe try coordinating shared meals with your roommates? I only have to share with one other person, so I have it easy…
  • Cook ahead. Cooking during the week when you have no time can suck, so making a larger meal on the weekend and then eating leftovers all week can save you the trouble. This week is taco week for me!
  • One thing I like to do to stay healthy is to make sure I have at least one thing from each food group in every meal. Well, the big meals anyway. Breakfast I tend to skip out on the meat group.  I find the hardest thing to get enough of is fruits and vegetables, but what I’ve found that fresh fruit and vegetables like grapes or carrots can easily be added to a meal to fill it out. And frozen vegetables like peas and corn are SUPER easy and fast to make in the microwave.
  • My words on eating cheap: stalk the flyers, take advantage of deals, and don’t buy what you don’t need. Good deals are a no brainer, but sometimes people forget that they don’t really need chips or granola bars, or the most expensive brand of cereal.  In addition, meat such as chicken is usually much cheaper than its equivalent in beef, so maybe hold back on the cow.  Budget yourself, and see what you need to improve on in your spending habits.

I think my favourite go-to food is the quesadilla: fast, easy, and melty-cheese-good. Probably not coincidental that it’s also one of my favourite comfort foods. 😛

A Story of Loving Rain

As many of you probably know, the Student Recreation Centre here at UBC does this wonderful thing at the beginning of every term called Shopping Week.  You can go try out any class for free to see if it’s something you want to sign up for.

Originally, I had looked at the schedule and said, “Aw man, none of the yoga classes are at good times for me!” And I thought I’d try going to a place off campus. And on Sunday, that is, yesterday, I was going to go check it out, but I discovered that because of awkward bus changes it would take me nearly an hour to get there, and back. This is despite the fact that it would take a car less than ten minutes to get there.

So I took another look at the Shopping Week Calendar. Sunday Night Vinyasa. Sounds good, what time does it start? 7:30 PM. Time on the clock: 6:45. I quickly signed up for the class (they want you to do that now; you didn’t have to last year) and then dashed out the door in the pouring rain toting my yoga mat and bag filled with water bottle, wallet, cell phone, etc.

In fact, I had to dash to catch the bus coming up the road behind me, but made it sort of dry to REC Centre. I walk inside, and what’s this? Oh, the lights are off inside the studio. I take a closer look at a poster for Shopping Week. It starts on Monday. That is, today. My class won’t be starting until next Sunday.

Initially, I felt disappointed. It hadn’t been a great day, and now this. But then, I just sort of didn’t care; I found myself feeling positive. Oh well, I thought to myself. Now I have a whole hour that I didn’t think I’d have before! The only logical thing to do now is to go home, drop off my stuff, and take a walk in the rain to Menchie’s and buy some delicious, delicious, fro-yo.

I walked to Wesbrook Village with my hood down, the rain soaking my hair. Now, I am not normally a person who likes rain. I rather dislike it, in fact. In Winnipeg, when it rains, it rains hard, each drop cold and stinging, painful even. But as I walked to Menchie’s, I just thought of the delight that was ahead of me, and noticed how the rain was soft on my head. I liked it, and welcomed being soaked. The clouds were dark, and I appreciated that. None of this nonsense where it’s raining hard but still bright out, with white clouds. That, to me, is just silliness.

The cheerful bight pink and green of the frozen yogurt shop welcomed me inside, and I picked my flavours – they always have new ones and the choices are so exciting! – pineapple and green apple tart, and then put maraschino cherries on top. Oh, happiness in my mouth. I had a peaceful walk back as the rain dripped down my face and clung to my glasses. When I got home, it occurred to me that without even realizing it, all the stress I’d been feeling earlier that day had just melted away.

I’m trying to describe to you how peaceful I felt in that moment, but it’s hard. I guess what I want you to take away from this is that you’ve just gotta roll with the punches sometimes. Sometimes, it’s just gonna be a hard day, but when something else goes wrong, just laugh and say, Of course! Just go with it. God knows the sunshine isn’t going to last forever and sometimes, you’ve just got to learn to love the rain.

Bad Days. (The Survival Guide)

They happen. Maybe you got lost on your way to class, can’t seem to make friends, spill your perogies all over the dining hall floor, failed a test, just miss your mom, or maybe you’re like me and royally screwed up your orchestra audition meaning you won’t get to play the absolutely beautiful piece you really wanted or go on tour to San Francisco with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Yeah. That happened.  I don’t really enjoy crying in public places, though you might be able to tell by the amount that I actually do it.

So take heart; you aren’t the only one who just can’t seem to anything right now and then.  It’ll pass, and until then here is my guide to making yourself feel at least a little bit better.

1. If you need to cry, just do it. I am a self-proclaimed cry-baby, and I always find that if I just let it out, that lump in my chest loosens up a little. My pillow and I are good friends.

2. Call your mom.  It’s kind of what she’s there for, you know? I mean, it’s totally true: Mom knows best. My mom can always make me feel a little better; she’s one of the few people who when she says, “It’s going to be okay,” I actually believe her.

3. Watch a movie/TV show that makes you feel good. Something funny and feel-good will take your mind off things and relax you a bit. My personal favourites for movie-therapy are Miss Congeniality and How to Train Your Dragon.

4. Comfort food. Perhaps not the healthiest habit, but so long as you don’t go overboard, comfort food can just fill your mouth with happiness. And hopefully the happiness spreads to your brain a little bit. For me, this includes cookies, hot chocolate, quesadillas, chicken soup, perogies, and ice cream. (Not necessarily all at once.) When your day is filled with poo, it helps to fill it a little more with awesome things.

5. Comfy clothes. Nothing feels better when you feel down than chilling in your favourite comfy clothes. In summer, I don my short shorts and spaghetti strap tank top (what I am wearing at this moment) and in the winter, sweat pants and fuzzy socks! And blankets. Can’t forget blankets. (Side note: fuzzy socks make my life. Instant happiness when my feet get all up in that soft and fluffy goodness.)

6. Time with friends. Just hanging out like nothing wrong can take the edge off, and maybe actually convince you that nothing is wrong. Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine!

week 5: thoughts and recollections from Guatemala

The second week on the coffee co-op, we were knee-deep in course readings and papers.  Schoolwork took up the biggest chunk of time devoted to any one activity, even though my blogposts have so far not reflected that.  Nor will they (I’ll have you know that this August is my first break from 13 consecutive months of full-time classes).

At some point, we were given a tour of the coffee co-op’s processing plant.  The machines themselves were nearly a hundred years old, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had recently retrofitted them to make them more eco-friendly. Who would have thought that while UBC was building CIRS, the most sustainable building in North America, a Guatemalan coffee co-operative was significantly reducing their water usage?

I saw with my own eyes that every iced mocha frappuccino has its own extensive global history from planting to harvesting to processing to transporting to roasting to selling to buying (indeed, more).  And that this global chain is not merely financial but intensely political.  All of the first-grade coffee beans get shipped out to North America and Europe, and while I cannot remember the ratio, the profits reaped at the Guatemalan level compared to the price of a Starbucks coffee are so low it is jaw-dropping.  This is in large part because much of the value of coffee beans is created at the roasting stage, and most Guatemalans cannot afford roasting machines.

We were offered some opportunities to help around the coffee co-op including: cleaning out the bamboo shop, cooking in the kitchen, crafting bamboo shelves, clear-cutting forest paths with machetes, and handpicking macadamia nuts.

Now, despite what a certain unnamed relative of mine says (I quote, “she volunteered to build houses in Nicaragua”) the program’s primary focus was not on volunteering, but schoolwork.  Volunteering was non-obligatory to this program.  For whatever reason, I like to make this distinction when people ask me about it.

On the weekend, we took a van to Takalik Abaj, an archeological site featuring ancient Olmec and Mayan ruins dating back to the 9th century BCE.  Only a fraction of the ruins were not privately owned and thereby viewable to the public.  Many of the stone carvings were so faded that some in our group jokingly expressed doubt the that tour guide wasn’t just making everything up on the spot.  While we did endure much squinting and head tilting, walking up these stairs (with a little imagination) gave me a sense of the grandeur of these civilizations:

That, and the section on ancient astronomy.  This December 2012, the site will be celebrating the end of an era.  Can you imagine the party?  I’m still waiting for my invite.

After fawning over caged-in monkeys, wildcats, and cocoa trees, we took a pit stop at the city of Retalhuleu.  And what a blissful fifty minutes it was.  Students madly dashed through grocery aisles to grab chocolate bars and stock up on other comfort foods.  Before, nachos were coveted luxuries and frozen yogurt an unspoken of delicacy–then, we were well-armed with study snacks for exam week.

One of the toughest experiences of the trip for almost all of us was dropping  like flies with illnesses, sometimes multiple times.  We were all forewarned of the probability of getting sick when applying to the program, which is fine, but there was arguably some systematic food poisoning going on (or so I firmly believe!) at the coffee co-op, and that was just not cool.

I remember writing a reflection paper one evening while doubling over with digestive pains for hours on end—I really don’t know how I managed to write it.  A few days later, I took a bumpy bus ride down to Retalhuleu to get it checked out at a private clinic.  My professor kindly took upon herself the awkward task of translating (as did both professors, many many times for the other students).  It turned out I had an intestinal amoeba and/or parasite from the food or water, and so I was to take a fortnight of heavy antibiotics + pills to help regenerate my sure-to-be blasted out intestines.  I am proud of how I dealt with my illness from beginning to end;  one of the take-away points of the trip was learning how to take care of myself in tough situations (hint: it includes both being independent, and dependent, at the right times!)  Besides, we were lucky to have access to effective medicines, and are luckier still, never to have to deal with all of these illnesses that don’t even exist in most of Canada (except in neglected areas such as some Aboriginal reserves).

Another plus: we hopped onto a  a “Tuk-Tuk” like the above photographed to get to the doctor’s office.  We also met an elderly lady (a “pharmacist”) who seemed to think it hellish that in Canada, all sorts of religious beliefs are accepted.  Speaking of citizens on the street, a popular question posed of me now that I’m back is “what are Guatemalans like?”  Reader, I cannot tell you what a whole country’s people are like as I don’t believe in grand sweeping statements about whole groups of people. But I can share a most peculiar impression I felt:  beneath obvious conservative influences such as the Church, there seemed to me a certain liberal attitude I cannot fully explain.  I am not just saying that I felt  a political split between very conservative and very liberal factions (although I have read there to be in its history); but that I felt a sort of quiet tolerance and an openness of human spirit…A silly example, but I couldn’t help but feel that the people on the street pointing out at the Chinese-Canadians in our group and so very helpfully reminding them that they were Chinese did not mean any harm—if anything, they had a knack for falling in  love with them.

Somewhere in the midst of pill-popping and paper shuffling, a gecko or two appeared on our bedroom wall.  So it wasn’t a bird we heard every night over our bunk beds making unpleasant noises.  Rachyl and Niles, table climbing, and five minutes later, a still-pulsating gecko tail was squirming on my nightstand table.  Grossness.  Let’s just say that we did not need constant access to the Internet to find ourselves plenty distracted.

Not to forget the fact that we were virtually imprisoned in a farmhouse-like motel, everyone to a room of at least three (a far cry from UBC’s vast and isolated spaces).  While this sounds like a recipe for social disaster, on the whole, I think we did a pretty good job in making sure that no lasting frictions divided our group—I’d give us an A-.  Still, considering I have worn an invisible anti-drama magnet strapped to my body my entire life, even a little drama taking away from that A+ was very distracting for me and my studies.  I learned a lot, socially, though.   Really, I think I learned more about the human heart by spending time with my group than I did from the actual humanities courses we were taking.

Next week we say goodbye to the coffee co-op in 80′s music style, and visit our picturesque final destination.

Weblink to UBC Go Global Group Study Programs 

Dining Hall Nutrition 101: How to avoid rocking the first year muffin-top

The Vanier dining hall: a place so magical, it causes your clothes to shrink.

In case I haven’t made it quite clear by now, I’m crazy excited to go back to school. I’m excited to see my Vancouver friends again, to shop for school supplies and textbooks, to start my super interesting classes, and meet all my Kwak residents! One thing I’m not excited about, though, is going back to eating in the dining hall. It’s not that the food in residence is bad (although by the end of the year in Vanier, you’ll pray to never see a rice pilaf ever again). It’s really good, actually – maybe a little too good.

Nutrition was definitely not a top priority during my first year (I can recall one particularly bad day during finals where I ate nothing but lemon poppyseed muffins – it’s no wonder I ended up looking like a muffin myself). I went on too many runs to Hubbard’s and too few runs on the treadmill, and packed on a ton of pounds by the time April finals rolled around. Thankfully, I’ve been able to change my habits over the summer by eating healthy and becoming a regular at the gym. But now, I’m worried about going back to the dining hall and undoing all my hard work!

Determined not to let that happen, I’ve been brainstorming ways to avoid the Freshman Fifteen (or the even more horrifying Sophmore Seventeen), and, as always, I’m going to share my ideas with the people of the Internet. So, without further ado, here are some tips to keep you healthy, happy, and muffin-top-free throughout your Totem or Vanier dining experience:

1) Plan ahead. Did you know you’re able to access the Vanier and Totem dining hall menu online three days in advance? Check out what the dining hall is serving and plan out your meals. This will keep you from going to dinner hungry and buying the first thing you see when you walk in – which could very well be a hamburger and fries.

2) Snack healthy. If you’re a stress eater like I am, late nights of studying can wreak havoc on your waistline. Pick up a bunch of fruits, veggies, granola bars, etc. from Safeway or Save On Foods and keep them in your room for when you need a snack. Bring a handful of trail mix when you head off to study at Irving so you don’t buy yourself cookies instead. It’ll also be useful to learn the difference between eating because you’re hungry and eating because you’re bored/stressed/upset/etc. Mind over matter, y’all.

3) Bring your own condiments. Dressings and sauces can add a ton of hidden calories to your meals. Bring along your own fat-free salad dressings, all-natural peanut butter, etc. when you head to the dining hall. You might not be able to control every aspect of your meal, but at least you’ll know that your salad really is as healthy as you think.

4) Pack a lunch. The portions in the Vanier dining hall were absolutely huge. It’s great that they want you to get value for your money, but you really don’t need an entire plateful of macaroni and cheese. I’ve tried asking the dining hall staff to give me less food, but they would usually respond with, “You’re paying for it anyway!” and proceed to pile my plate higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A quick fix: grab an Eco-to-go container before your meal and save half of your food for tomorrow’s lunch. Not only does it keep your dinner portions under control, but it can also save you some money on lunch the next day.

5) Scope out healthy lunch spots. They do exist! For a healthy lunch, head to Sprouts or the Delly in the SUB basement. Free hot meals from Sprouts and half-price Delly on Fridays! (See, eating healthy can even be easy on your wallet, too.) Another favourite lunch stop of mine was The Loop in the CIRS building, where they have really tasty and 100% sustainable salads, soups, and sandwiches. Bonus: it’s only a short walk away from Totem!

6) Everything in moderation. While you might not be able to make nightly Hubbard’s/Magda’s runs, I give you permission to indulge in a post-Physics 101 final Marbelous cookie. Go ahead, you’ve earned it.

Those 11 days between Term 2 and a Go Global summer trip

In the middle of the hustle and bustle of packing my dormitory belongings yesterday, I paused and took a look at my beautiful (but I’m biased) plant, Dionysus.  The red squiggle indicates where the leaves hung at the beginning of this school year.   It grew remarkably during this time with just a cup of water every few days, sunshine as often as Vancouver could afford it, and a pinch of me proudly fawning over it.  I had to wonder:  did I grow half as much?

The reality is that while I may not have smiled throughout, I think I did.  Not that I could draw red squiggly markers indicating how and when and what and who and why—would that I were a poet or a storyteller so that I could weave my tales these last few months together into a story!  But I think I did.  It was not in the manner in which I had wished…but the aches of becoming wise sometimes resemble the pangs of a certain set of teeth breaking through the gums, yes?

Despite this, I’m afraid everything has become a little stale here, a little bitter, and it’s time to get re-energized.  I’ll be spending 6 weeks with 19 other UBC Vancouver & Okanagan students and 2 professors, studying in multiple regions in Guatemala (inshallah!)  Thanks to generous ARCAAP funding applicable to the Arts Term Abroad in Global Citizenship program through UBC Go Global.  What’s a humanities education without travel?  I think travelling makes you humble, and humility makes you wise.  Particularly when you know next to nothing about Central America…I will be largely unplugged from the Internet starting May 5th, but if it’s not too inconvenient, I’ll try to blog on paper and then type it up quickly at an internet cafe.

And now I have 11 days between what was and what will be.  My plans include learning a handful of words in Spanish, reading some good ol’ political theory, being with close family and friends, and breathing (I highly recommend it.)