Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle.

Borders is going out of business.  I often feel disproportionately sad and guilty when faceless, corporate giants go under, for whatever reason.  Well, corporate giants as well as “mom and pop” stores/the underdog.  I’m a man of many contradictions, what can I say?

I didn’t feel guilty enough, however, not to miss out on the crazy sales.  30, 40 and 50% off of everything in the store?  Are you kidding?  I may have gone a little crazy.  To the point where, while riding the “getting everything on sale” high, I saw a puzzle in the checkout line and thought, “how can I not buy a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle?”  (I actually went back later that same day with Mom and bought a second one...It was on SALE, people!)

The puzzle in question is a picture of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

The Kiss, by Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt.

If you’re anything like me, this image would seem easy at first glance.  I looked at the patterns and thought it would be a relaxing, frustration-free project.  Well, five dollars later, I realized that the background is comprised of an amorphous pattern of paint splatterings, and 80% of the primary imagery is a repeated black, grey and gold pattern.   Not ideal for reassembly.

I will say, however, that the few hours I’ve spent on this puzzle so far have been quite interesting.  In a weird way, it’s been both a reassuring and enlightening experience.  I guess there’s a certain amount of subconscious life reflection that occurs while spending hours leaning over the kitchen table, staring at funny-shaped pieces of colorful, reinforced paper.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help from time to time.
It’s broken into 1000 pieces!  Literally!  Let someone help you, dammit!

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You can always move to a different part of the puzzle, then come back to where you’re stuck later.  It will still get done!

Deep down, we’re all still children, hoping to get that nod of approval.
I’d better explain this one.  Every time I manage to fit two puzzle pieces together, I do a little dance in my head and I have to stop myself from saying aloud, “Look, Dad!  Look!  Did you see that?!  I just put two pieces together!  Right there!  I did it!”  This happens every time.  It’s remarkable. 

Don’t give up!
No explanation needed.

Just because you want a piece to fit somewhere, doesn’t mean it will.
In life, whether it be work, love or other, sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s just the way it goes.  Don’t for a second let that get you down!  There’s still 999 more pieces out there to try!  Every piece fits perfectly somewhere.  Finding exactly where is part of the whole, wonderfully frustrating adventure.

And, finally, the most obvious one: Life is easier piece-by-piece.
Having a “big picture” idea is great, but don’t forget that getting there doesn’t happen all at once.  It's better to tackle things one part at time.

The fam and I are still working on the puzzle.  So far the worst thing about it is that, even though we’ve repeatedly measured the border dimensions to make sure we’re not missing anything (which we aren’t), the outside pieces are all so similar that we’re still not sure how the border goes together.  Frustration-free my tuchus.

Friday, July 22, 2011


If you were to ask my college roommate, Brandon, anything about the soundtrack to High School Musicals 1, 2 or 3, he would be able to tell you the name of any of the songs, who sang them, and then proceed to recite the lyrics.

This is no fault of his own (although if you cornered him, he’d probably admit that he came around to the soundtracks after a while).  I fully accept that, during my senior year of college (yes, college), if the soundtrack to HSM3 wasn't playing in my room, you can be 99% certain I was either in class, studying in the library, out at the bar or asleep (usually one of the first three).  This is not something I’m proud of, but there it is nonetheless.

Am I the only one that goes through such extreme phases with things?  Once I heard a song on an episode of Scrubs (“Winter Song” by Ingrid Michaelson and Sarah Bareilles), downloaded it, and proceeded to listen to it on repeat for the next two weeks, taking it with me on my iPod for even the smallest of excursions.  If I had a nickel for every time I listened to that song during that eight day period, I would be able to update this blog daily without having pesky things like work get in the way.  (Not that it does right now, let's be honest, but you know what I mean.)

It's not just music either.  The website mylifeisaverage.com took control of my attention in such a strong way that I checked it every night before I went to bed, and then every morning before I went to school for at least a month.  It was a problem.

As I write this I am currently in the grips being obsessed with the series Bones.

In case you’ve never heard of Bones, it’s a forensic tv “dramedy” series in the same vein as CSI.  It’s gotten to the point where I’ve begun thinking in the same vocabulary as the characters on the show.  Here’s an example: My family and I are putting together a puzzle on the kitchen table right now, and I find myself examining the puzzle pieces with the same scientific austerity as if I were an actual forensic scientist.  I’ll think things like, “Well, the black markings on this piece are consistent with the markers in this pattern.”  Luckily I have yet to slip and say any of these things out loud.  It’s really only a matter of time, however.

I can only have one obsession at a time, so I’ll let you know what it I turn to when I finally finish all the episodes of Bones that I can on Netflix instant watch.  Hopefully it’ll be something that uses my brain more, like a book….

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Vie Continue (La Vida Sigue).

I had lunch with this lovely lady yesterday (this picture wasn't taken yesterday....)

Me and Annie in Spain
I drove up to Towson, MD (about an hour and a half away) just to meet up for a quick lunch together.  "Why would I drive so far?," you may ask.

Well, for one thing, Annie lives almost an hour north of Towson, so it was practically half way, but the other reason is that my dear friend is taking an exciting leap into adulthood and moving to a new locale for a job!  And when I say "new locale," I don't mean she's moving a few hours away.

My brave little toaster is moving from the greater Baltimore area, all the way down to bright, sunny Florida.

I have to admire her for this.  I'm job hunting as well, and I'm determined to move into DC.  I won't even look at a job in Rockville, MD (40 minutes away), because it would be annoying to commute from DC, haha.

It's tempting for me to concentrate on thinking about how much I'm going to miss Annie, and how excited I was to be able to hang out with her in B-more and DC, but really, it's not about me at all.  She's the one making this big leap, she's the one that's heading out into the unknown, and she's the one that needs me to be excited about it for her!  Which I am!  I have no doubts that she's going to set up a great life for herself down there, no matter how long she plans to be there.

I'm very lucky to have a circle of friends who take advantage of life and aren't afraid to step out of their comfort zones.  I have a lot of friends who make decisions like moving to different cities, states or countries for work and school.  While it doesn't make big changes less unnerving, seeing the impact that it has on other people, and how they've matured and grown from it all certainly makes the decision a little easier.

Our experiences make up a large part of who we are, so shouldn't we endeavor to experience as much as we can?  We learn a little more about life and ourselves each time we put ourselves in a new situation.  I look forward to seeing what Annie learns and how she grows during her next step.  All experience is valuable.

I wish you good luck, Annie, as well as everyone that's taking a similar leap.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy (mid) July!

Did you have a happy 4th?

I had the privilege of seeing lots of friends on July 3rd.  I went to a birthday cookout where we experienced weather like this

Kind of scary.  I'll be honest.
 Then I met up with some other friends afterward to just hang out for a bit.

My best friend, Sarah, is back in the States for a bit this summer, so today she came over and we cooked lunch!  A few years ago when were both living at home right after we graduated from college, we developed a tradition of cooking dinner together every Sunday night and then watching tv together.  We kept the tradition up a little bit when we both lived in France together, although it was much more sporadic, to say the least.

But today was the first time we've been able to cook together in years!  We had a blast : )

These are her pictures, so you should go to her blog after you look through here and check it out!

I would like to say I'm trying to remember something I've forgotten, but really I'm just standing here awkwardly.

Bloom!  How I've missed you!

Caramelizing les oignons.

Perrier with lemon while we wait, recipe courtesy of Paula

Finishing touches.


Bon App├ętit!
  It turned out beautifully!

We followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, the author of which always posts the most delicious looking photographs of the food she cooks.  You really should check it out.

Click here to find the recipe we followed.

I feel pretty adjustd back to the US.  Living at home is fine for the time being, but I'm definitely exploring all employment options.  Hopefully I'll find something here soon!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Los Estados Unidos.

Welp, I'm home.

I didn't give up without a fight though!  On my way from Granada to DC, I made stops in Sevilla, Paris, Hamburg, back to Paris, and then even Reykjavik (though that one was a layover and was only an hour).

All and all I have to say I'm not glad to be home.  That being said, I don't have a choice at this moment in time, so I'm not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself.

Since I've been back, I've met up with two new friends I've imported from Spain, a good friend from high school, and a friend I've known since middle school!

I'm working on reestablishing myself in the DC/Southern MD world, slowly but surely.

DC really is a fantastic city: very young and motivated.  It's really nice to be in this kind of environment after having been in Spain for a while.  Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of motivated people in Spain, but the general "no pasa nada" mindset really started to get to me.  So it's a nice change.

Southern Maryland Speciality

Mixing worlds.

Making the best of things.

A little bit of Spain in So MD.
I'm not sure what direction this blog is going to take now that I've stopped traveling for a while.  We'll see I guess!  Nothing like the unknown to make things interesting, eh??