Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Certain Comfort In Routines

I just settled in to my "Tuesday Night" spot, and I had to laugh at myself, because not only I tell a friend to find me at "the usual place" but I also noticeably relaxed once I was settled in.

Since when am I a creature of habit? (Staff at the Kookaburra, don't answer that!)

What was it, three days ago and I was whining about the status of my adventure, and now I am enjoying my routine? We humans are nothing if not contradictions, apparently.

Still, there are cafes and corners all over the world that I think of as mine. A visit back to any one of my old haunts brings the same sense of relaxation, even after years. I'm nostalgic for the tapas bar on the square in Alcala, 36th & Hennepin's Dunn Brother's Coffee, the outside balcony at Shanghai's Porterman Hotel, the dive-y Indian place on the first floor of Tennoji Station, Vietnamese Frog in Shinsaibashi, Tin's Hall. I randomly crave Burma SuperStar in San Francisco and Lincoln's Lamar's Donuts. It's inexplicable, but all these scattered threads are pieces of me or happy memories in one form or another.

Readers, how about you? What are your places?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Adventure, Humpf.

It's 2 am and I have a splitting headache. I spent the earlier part of my evening being quite ill from something I ate, and now I'm sitting up thinking about Tim Mills and China.

For those of you new to my backstory, I spent two years in Asia just after I graduated from college. Ask me about it now and I'll tell you I loved it, China significantly more than Japan. In my biggest "that's it, I've had it" moments, the next step is usually running off back to Shanghai. It was an adventure that truly reshaped my internal landscape, and one I'm never going to forget.

Tim Mills comes into the story as a tangent. My Tim Mills connection is Spain, where he and I studied abroad way back in the dark ages before the Euro. We kept in touch - still do - since he is one of the most grounded and level-headed people I know.

One January I called him up and was just venting. I'd come back from Christmas to discover that my boss had fought with the school where I taught, so now I had no job. My Polish boyfriend had announced he was moving back to Poland. There was snow, crappy job interviews, and other various life annoyances. A perfect situation for a pity party, until Tim Mills cut me off.

"You moved to China to have an adventure, right?"

"Well, yeah."

"Who said it had to be fun?"

That made me laugh and snapped me out of it the worst of the woe-is-me mindset I'd slipped into. Good, bad, ugly and incomprehensible, I was definitely having an adventure in China.

What, then, does this have to do with Cuenca? As you may have guessed, I've been creeping into the woe-is-me mindset again. I went took a wonderful, highly enjoyable vacation back to the States at the end of August, and since I've come back to Cuenca its been a bit of one thing after another. Friends have announced they are leaving, work has been overwhelming, and as the locals will testify, for the past couple of week the weather has been lousy. Woe, woe, mope, woe.

I've got to snap out of it.

I'm in the middle of an adventure, and one that's going to close out the year full of new experiences. Here's what's on tap:
  • Classes: I'm teaching a business writing course, and for a semester final my students are going to be building Facebook pages in English for local businesses. How fun will that be? I'm excited for it, even if I'm a bit suspicious about the quality of my students after one of them asked me today if we could get rid of Friday classes since they are "inconvenient" to attend.

  • Writing: At the end of October I'm going to the AWAI Bootcamp, a major copywriting conference and job fair event. I've wanted to go for two years now, so I am super psyched up about attending. I'm also terrified - more than 300 of my peers will be there and the speakers are some of my copywriting inspirations. In the flesh. Eek!

  • Christmas & New Years: In a major change from the norm, I won't be home for Christmas (boo!) because my boyfriend's parents are coming to Cuenca and then taking us to the beach. This is a yay. I think. Maybe? It will definitely be an adventure!
So, even though in the day-to-day I'm moping around a bit, there really is a lot that will happen between now and the end of the year. Somewhere in there I'm hoping that my buoyant spirit of adventure returns. Until then, I'm off to find some aspirin for my headache and cross my fingers that I can keep it down long enough to get some sleep!