10 March 2013

Pale Blue Eyes

Reading: A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

I am blessed with the burden of being an average looking female in a family of gorgeous women. Then to add salt to the wound, I have managed to surround myself by a set of beautiful friends, both physically and intangibly. For the final cherry, I chose to attend a college where the female student body looks like they walked out of a J. Crew advertisement and a regularly ranked on of the best looking college campuses. (What misogynistic ass decided that such a ranking was necessary?) The combination has always left me with a long list of self-criticisms in regards to my body image.

Luckily, the gorgeous women of my world have been coupled variety of wholesome and supportive men. (For all fairness, they are equally attractive, just as the women in my life are as wholesome and supportive as the men.) They have shown me time and time again that beauty is goes beyond your looks and that as a woman, I will always be their equal. It has left me with a sense that am I capable and entitled to my own accomplishments, counteracting my bouts of insecurity.

Joining Peace Corps and moving to Ecuador has thrown that reality into complete chaos. Suddenly, my worth as an individual human being and more so, as a woman, had little to nothing to do with my wit, intelligence, and values. Instead, I became an object of my physical attributes—my Scandinavian blue eyes, my golden brown hair, and my light complexion—and how those are valued in Ecuador’s machismo-driven culture. Here I am faced with the consciousness that I was attractive and desirable based solely on my appearance while being marginalized and objectified by this desirability. The incidents that these circumstances have bore a very visceral backlash—never have I have so vehemently hated my own skin and reactions in incites in others.

19 December 2012

Feliz Navidad

Reading: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Posing for the Holidays
Discúlpame, dear readers, as it has been over a month since I last posted. With Christmas right around the corner, I have been rather busy with work, visiting amigas, despididas, street dances, getting ready for my mom, aunt, and uncle to visit, and planning a trip to the Galápagos with my dad and step-mom.

A few quick things:
  • I finally hiked El Altar, which has been on my ecua-bucket list for a while. Despite all the horrible stories I have heard about bad weather and knee deep mud, we had absolutely gorgeous weather for our entire hike. Besides getting to enjoy a bit of snow in December, we were graced with morning sundogs—one of my favorite natural phenomena and something I only thought existed on the Great Plains, Scandinavia, and Siberia.
  • At a very gringo-y Thanksgiving, I attempted to make lefse, in honor of the great state of South Dakota. It hardly turned out the way that I had intended it to, that is, like how my family makes it. But people swore it tasted good... probably because they have never had legitimate lefse. Their loss, my gain. 

08 November 2012

The Layman’s Anecdotal Guide to Running in Ecuador

Reading: 1493 by Charles Mann

Two years ago if you were to have asked me if I enjoyed running, I would have scoffed at and called you crazy. After years of competitive horseback riding and spending eight-hour days in the saddle, running was my trainer’s ultimate punishment for a horrible ride. So, it would be all too cliché to say that I came to love running while finding myself serving in a developing country.

Embrace running the trails
Instead, it happened during the three months prior to coming to Ecuador. I was seeing a guy who was training for a marathon, working a part time job as a sales clerk and had nothing better to do with my time than drink beer while worrying how I was going to survive the next two years of my life without IPAs. (My horse was injured and it was hellishly cold—bars are a great substitute for the barn.) Plus, one of my equestrian friends from college, who was serving in Senegal, had warned me that riding would not be an option while in Peace Corps. She advocated expanding my yoga practices, the boy suggested running. For some reason, the boy won.

By the time I made it to training in Tumbaco, my need to be obsessively involved in something had prevailed and I was hooked. As in, I have stopped pouring of Eventing Nation riding forms and now subscribe to Runner’s World emails. However, all of you who do run know that running in Ecuador is completely different than running in the States. Thus, I present you with the Layman’s Anecdotal Guide to Running in Ecuador. 

06 November 2012

Remember, Remember the 6th of November

Reading: 1493 by Charles Mann

After working the last two major election cycles (2008 and 2010), today has been excruciatingly long. Without have no doors to knock, lists to call, or walk packets to organize, I have spent most of the day wallowing in my inability to do "my part" in this election. After 2010, I may have sworn off working for another campaign, but this antithetical situation is driving me crazy. So in my best efforts to retain my sanity as I impatiently wait for the polls to close across the United States, I will leave you with a few things:
POTUS at the historic moment of the upholding of the Affordable Care Act.
The 21st century echo of "Dewey Defeats Truman."
This American Life's election week episode: Red State Blue State. It surveys and interviews "hundreds of people around the country, from every part of the of political spectrum, about the ways in which politics are interfering with their friendships and families." Practical advice for cross-political spectrum relationship included. No te preocupes familia, I took notes. 

Finally, I leave you with a little something beyond politics, a taste of the album that has a been playing in my life these last few weeks. They hail from the great country of Canada, which could be my potential destination post-Peace Corps, depending how America looks at the end of this evening.