Sunday, 20 April 2014

One Month Later…

I’ve been meaning to send an update on my last few weeks in Mexico since…well…the last time I wrote. Hey ho, that’s life. So instead I’ll compile it all here for you. It has been an incredible whirlwind of highs, mediums, and (luckily!) very few lows.

The day after my birthday, my friends Ammal, Renée and I flew to Playa del Carmen for four days of sun and fun. We rented a condo right near the beach and the main street, and spent a lot of time wandering about to different stores, bars, restaurants, and some clubs at night. I found all the clubs to be just a bit too ‘American Spring-Break’ like, and didn’t really enjoy them. There were tourists everywhere, both from other parts of Mexico and from the USA and Europe. It was strange to have people speak to me in English first, not Spanish. I found it discombobulating and I tried to maintain answering them in Spanish as much as possible, throwing them off sometimes when I was able to perfectly express myself in Spanish!

Playa del Carmen
We also rented a car and drove to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. This is one of the most famous ruins in the world, and a UNESCO world heritage site. The site is beautifully well presented and the buildings are well maintained, and the ‘pyramid’ is perfect! Every year at the spring equinox, the sun shines on one side of it just right, creating the form of a snake, slithering down the side. This is called the Kukulcan, and people come from all over at this time of year to see the phenomenon. We planned our day to arrive to see this, and it was really cool! It didn’t appear until late afternoon, so we had a detour at a cenote (cee-no-tay) on our way there. These are sunken holes of fresh water that are found all over the Yucatan peninsula. They are connected to each other under the ground through a vast collection of underground caves, and you can actually SCUBA dive through from one to the other. They are really beautiful, with pure, clean water, fish, turtles, and bats calling the water and caves home. There are white sand floors, rocky outcroppings surrounding the water holes, and stalagtites and stalagmites rising out of the caves like wrinkled fingers. We swam around the Grand Cenote for a while, venturing a wee ways into one of the caves (we didn’t have SCUBA equipment or snorkel equipment, just my swimming goggles), and soaking it all in before heading to Chichen Itza.

Both were definitely worth the total drive time of 6 hours. That night we took it easy, being tired from the trip and sun.

The next day, we switched gears and lay on the beach all day at one of the beach clubs. A dedicated waiter brought us drinks and snacks all day, and we lounged in the sun, getting a bit of colour and relaxing. Later we ate tacos (surprise!) and went out for drinks. The next morning, Renée left to meet her family at another beach, and Ammal and I lay at another beach club for a few hours before heading to the airport. It went by too fast, and I wish we had stayed longer, but it was a really fun trip! 
Grand Cenote
pre-cenote swim

Chichen Itza! 
Ammal, Renée, Me
Pelican and the Playa
Upon returning to D.F., it hit me just how little time I had left. I had so much to do and felt like I had so little time. Seeing friends, visiting clinics, getting last-minute useful information from my informants, soaking up as much of Mexico City as I could, while not getting too overwhelmed or completely giving up sleep. Turns out, the one thing that lost out was my writing. I took raw notes, yes, but I didn’t ever get around to writing many of them up in full-length. But I was able to spend some good quality time with my friends, enjoying getting to know a few newer friends, and eating as much good Mexican food as I could. The notes will wait, they’ll be there once I start back to work this coming week!

I was able to also spend a lot more time with two of the Doctors I had met, we really enjoyed hanging out together and they loved taking me to new places that I hadn’t seen in the City, like the Desierto de los Leones, a national park in the south of the city where monks had built a beautiful monastery in the 17th century. I also made sure and spent some quality time with all my other major informants/doctors, and to get some good pictures of them working for my thesis. Hopefully once I start analysis and writing, I’ll be able to see some good patterns in the notes I have taken and build a good argument about natural medicine in Mexico.

For my last weekend, I actually moved to a hotel in order to really enjoy my last few days in Mexico. I stayed in a beautiful old hotel in the Zona Rosa, and had all my friends come over on Friday for a night out to say goodbye. It was a lot of fun, getting some drinks and ending up at a taco place at 2 am, as most nights out in Mexico do. The next day, I wandered around, doing some shopping and then meeting Ammal and Alé for dinner. It was a relaxed evening, perfect for a pre-flight good-bye. The next morning I got a taxi to the airport, feeling like I really wasn’t ready to leave. I got so much out of my time in Mexico, met such amazing people and learned so much about myself. It was hard to leave that behind. I can honestly say that I am really looking forward to going back to visit, and I really would not mind getting a job there in the future to spend more time getting to know the country.

Before Renée left for Japan :-(
Library/Bar at my hotel
out with the group

Me, Alé, Marce and Steve
Ammal, Alé and I on my last night
When I got back to California, I found myself speaking Spanish to the waitress at dinner by habit. So at least I know that my Spanish really did sink in! As the week went on this impulse grew fainter, but it still crops up every time I order a Mexican beer, and I’m still structuring my sentences like I’m speaking Spanish. So I have faith that at least I shouldn’t forget it all before my next trip back!

After a few days of visiting friends and family and re-packing all of my clothes, I headed back to LAX for the long flight back to Edinburgh. It actually went by quickly, although I wasn’t able to sleep at all on the long 10.5 hour leg to London. Upon arrival to Edinburgh I was met by the smiling faces of Lucy, Siobhan and Lucy’s son Yasin. It was so good to see them, and seeing them straight away really made me happy to be back. I have been staying at my old flat with Kate and her boyfriend, who were nice enough to take me in. I have also been busy catching up with all of my friends, finding a new flat, having my first shift at Wedgwood, and overall enjoying the sunny Edinburgh weather. It’s nice to be back, but I am feeling a bit nervous about starting my thesis. I plan to go back to work on Tuesday. Wish me luck in the next phase of my life!

Airport send-off <3 td="">
Lauretta, Grandma, Grandpa, and I 
Picnic in the Meadows with Siobhan and Jenny
Happy in the sunshine
A swan in the ocean at Portobello beach, Edinburgh
Yasin and I. He loves a selfie!  
oh, hey there Edinburgh! 


Kim x

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Reflections on 30

Well, I did it! I made it to 30! And when I say I made it, I mean I made it to thirty years of life, and thirty days of writing! Not gonna lie, it was a hard month for writing. I have been so super busy with work, it wasn’t great timing to take on another project, but it was fun and I’m glad I did it. It went very fast, and I hope you enjoyed reading some of my daily ponderings.

Now, reflections on 30 years. It feels weird to say I’m 30. I was comfortable in the 20’s, really settling into that decade. Now I feel like I’m the newbie at the party that all the 30-somethings are going to. I don’t feel 30 (besides being tired, but these days I’m always tired), nor do I think there can be a real ‘feeling’ or ‘mindset’ that is equated with entering into the fourth decade of life. I look back and I have had a very full life up to this point. So much travelling, trials, tribulations, fun, friendship, love, insanity, hardship and lucky breaks. Many missed opportunities, but also opportunities taken, Risks averted, risks taken. Words left unsaid and others stated loudly. That’s all life is, right? Little things, both good and bad, that pile up behind us, helping mould us into who we are as we grow.

It’s weird to think how if I had done just one thing differently my whole life could have been different. Sometimes I think to myself ‘Urgh! Why did I ever start this effing degree?! I am so tired of academia and I feel like an idiot and I’m never going to pass!’ But then, in a flash, I see all the wonderful things I never would have experienced and wonderful people I never would have met if I hadn’t taken this on. I have met two of my closest friends in the past two years, one in my programme in Edinburgh and one in Mexico, and I am so GLAD to have them in my life, and I would have never met them if I had done something else with this part of my life. I probably would not be living in Mexico, learning Spanish and doing research and experiencing such amazing things. I might have not been able to return to the UK and spend more time there. There are so many ‘what ifs’ and ‘why did I do this’ thoughts we have in life, and many times these cloud our thoughts, focusing on what could have been instead of appreciating what IS and what HAS been.

So now, here I am, trying to put into words how I feel and I really can’t. I feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with love when I see all the lovely birthday greetings and think about all the amazing support I have from friends and family. Overwhelmed at the thought that I only have two weeks left to feel like I have a good enough amount of research to leave Mexico, and overwhelmed at what this year will bring next. A return to Edinburgh, writing a 60,000 word thesis, new friends, new experiences, new hardships and joys. It leaves me breathless with fear over the unknown future and thankfulness for all that I have.

So there you have it. The last 30 days have been one wee journey in my 30 years. Thank you for being a part of it. And thank you for being a part of my life.


Love, Kim

p.s. here are a few pics from my birthday celebration last night with friends. I'm going to miss them all so much!
Ammal and I

Me, Gonzalo, Ammal and Alé

Alé, Ammal, Renée, Me, and Charmaine

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Where you would like to be in 10 Years

Based on things I have already written in the past month, I doubt any of the following will come as a big shock, but here we go:

In 10 years, when I’m about to turn 40 (*gasp* 40! Weird!) I would like to be settled into a career, hopefully one with the World Health Organisation, Pan American Health Organisation, or something akin. I hope to be living in a random country, in a nice home, with space for a wee garden and a massive, high-tech kitchen for cooking all sorts of delicious food. It would be nice to be married, he’ll need to be as ‘international’ as I am, and to have a couple of cats running around the house. Haha!

I hope that I’ll have a job that allows me time for projects like growing some herbs and vegetables, making some homemade items (my Pinterest boards will finally be in use!), reading all the books I never seem to get around to, practicing yoga, and of course for working on a book. By then, I hope to already be published, and working on another book or maybe moving on to learn something else new and interesting.

It would be nice to live close to the beach, in a temperate climate, but I might have to settle for a beach house somewhere. Plus, I would love to still have ties to Europe, in Scotland preferably. Mr. International better have a good job! ;-) I still plan to travel, and hopefully I’ll have friends and family all over the world that necessitate travel to new and interesting places!

It’s going to take a lot of work to get there, and I just hope I can make smart decisions and find some good opportunities to help me on my way!

Sorry the last few days have been so short but work is intense right now.

Until tomorrow, for day 30!


Kim x

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What is your biggest dream in life?

To dance an Irish reel in front of an Irish bar in Mexico City on St. Patrick’s Day. Oh wait, I’ve already done that! There was a Scottish bagpipe band playing in front of the bar my friends and I went to last night as we were leaving. Obviously, I couldn’t help but pull out my Irish dance moves that I learned in High School for the crowd. Yes, crowd. Including what I think was a cameraman for the local news. I don’t have any photographic evidence, but someone somewhere does, or the local news does, and as soon as I find it I’ll promptly destroy it. Unless I look amazing. Which I doubt, as I was wearing heels and standing on the steps leading down to the street. Haha! The random things we do in life…I’m sure my High School dance teacher would be proud! 

But seriously, my biggest dream in life right now is to publish a novel. I really, really want to be able to apply myself to developing and writing a full-length story, based on original characters and situations from my own imagination.  I would love to be able to devote a huge part of my time to this, but right now it just isn’t possible. I know the secret to good writing is to just WRITE, even a little bit, every day. But as I get closer to beginning my thesis, writing for pleasure or to create a new story seems to be slipping farther into the future. So while I REALLY want to just say ‘screw the thesis’, write a novel, and become a published author, I know that the time isn’t now. So I’ll have to let it sit on the back burner and just jot down ideas and possible useful scenarios. Who knows, maybe the idea that will become the first step in writing my book will come out of my notes and experiences on fieldwork?

So in order to reach my dream, my biggest goal in life right now is to just. Finish. My. Degree. And move on with my life. Gotta stay focused and full steam ahead. Wish me luck!


Kim x

Monday, 17 March 2014

What was your biggest dream in life when you were a kid?

First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Whether you’re Irish, of Irish descent, or just love all things Irish, green beer, and corned beef n’ cabbage, I hope you enjoy the day! Sláinte!

Moving on, when I was a kid my biggest dream was to be an actress. As some of you may know, I was a bit dramatic as a child. *cough, cough* Or maybe a lot dramatic. I loved acting things out, talking in different accents, and loved being the centre of attention. Eventually, this turned into the idea that I should be an actress, and the thought of being famous and winning an Academy Award propelled me forward. I was in the drama club in my church and in my Junior High and took an acting class in my high school, also participating in dance shows and things, but never really got to that tipping point of the acting becoming my one big, true THING. I often got typecast as a ditz (blonde maybe?), and did many Valley-Girl type roles. I loved the comedy skits and enjoyed learning lines and acting on stage in front of people, but by the time I got into high school and had the performing arts right at my fingertips, I lost the heart for acting.

I think something like this needs to be an obsession to make it come true. It takes hard work and endurance, a thick skin and a lot of practice to develop your form. You have to know who you are and what you can do, and I don’t think I did at that point. I knew I was relatively smart, and I pick things up quickly, but I was daunted by the idea of really joining the world of acting with other people who loved this more than anything else. And to be honest, I didn’t have the necessary character traits. I didn’t love acting more than everything else, I was a bit lazy and somewhat shy, and I did not deal with criticism well, which makes for a bad combination and pretty much kills any hope of becoming successful in show business.

Now, I am still dramatic, I still love being the centre of attention and making people laugh, but I really cannot see myself ever becoming an actress. I’ll keep my stage as the dinner table or in a group at the bar. And for me, that’s just fine! J


Kim x

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Band or Musical Artist Who Impacted Your Life

Ok how can anyone pick just one musician or band that has impacted their life? I know I have friends who would say right of the bat ‘The Beatles’, but I can’t choose so easily. Do I have a favourite band? No. Or a favourite Singer? No. What I love most about music is the variation, the ability to always engender different emotions or feelings based on variations in style, tune, lyrics, and point in history. There is literally a song for every mood you might be feeling, a song to help pick you up when you’re sad or tired, or to help you work through a hard time, or to empathise with you when you feel like no one understands what you’re going through. That is the magic of music, and there is no one entity that impacted my life: there are many.

I have longer-lived favourites though, that I come back to when I need a familiar friend through music, or when I am feeling sad, or feeling happy and want to dance. Here are a few examples:

Death Cab for Cutie: Led by Ben Gibbard, who is a musical and lyrical genius in my opinion, I never cease to be amazed at the way Ben uses wordplay in his songs. Many songs are quite ‘emo’ (this is a Seattle band, after all! Haha! Kidding!) But some are also upbeat. All are a bit quirky. And I think Death Cab is the closest thing I have to a favourite band. Check out: Death Cab-Crooked Teeth

Beyonce: Who doesn’t love Queen Bey? Her songs are fun, empowering, emotional, dance-able, sweet, and above all personal. You really feel like she believes what she’s saying, because it is true to her and who she is. When I need a pick-up, I blast the Beyonce playlist! I'll always love this one: Beyonce-Single Ladies Not sure what I love more-the dance moves or the song! 

The Foo Fighters: also an amazing band. Long-lived for good reason. Great true rock, energising, fun, and also really, really smart. Dave Grohl is fantastic! And I really feel like the Foo can be appreciated by both the younger generation (younger than me) and by people my parent’s age who just like good, old-fashioned Rock n’ Roll. Oh, I freaked out when I heard this song live: The Foo Fighters-Everlong

Kate Rusby: An English folk-singer. Her songs are amazingly emotive, comfortable, and cute. She has a perfect voice for Irish, Scottish and English folk music and a charm that transcends the British Isles. She is not overly well-known, but I love to listen to her on a day where I need to relax, or when I fly. She is gooood plane music! This is one of my faves: Kate Rusby-Underneath the Stars

Ok I could go on and on. I, too love the Beatles and Mozart and so many other amazing artists from the past and present. But these are a few that come to my mind immediately because I do have history with them, and I come back to their music again and again over the years. Sometime this week, go back to an old favourite song or album and listen to it. Remember all the amazing memories and feelings that you have with it. That is the power of music, and it is really a magical thing.


Kim x

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Lucha Libre!

So last night my friend and I went to see the Lucha Libre for the first time. She, although being Mexican and living in Mexico her whole life, had never been, and was therefore up for the adventure when I mentioned it. Lucha Libre literally means ‘free fight’, and it is defined as: ‘a form of professional wrestling that has developed within Mexico and other Latin American countries. Although the term nowadays refers exclusively to professional wrestling, it was originally used in the same style as the English term "freestyle wrestling", referring to an amateur wrestling style without the restrictions of Greco-Roman wrestling. Mexican wrestling is characterized by colourful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, as well as "high-flying" maneuvers, some of which have been adopted in the United States. The wearing of masks has developed special significance, and matches are sometimes contested in which the loser must permanently remove his mask, which is a wager with a high degree of weight attached. Tag team wrestling is especially prevalent in lucha libre, particularly matches with three-member teams, called trios. Lucha libre wrestlers are known as luchadores (singular luchador) ("wrestler(s)"). They usually come from extended wrestling families who form their own stables.’ (Wikipedia)

Lucha libre is one of the most culturally significant events in Mexico. Everyone knows what it is, almost everyone goes, and the fighters themselves are famous for the characters they bring to life in the ring. I was surprised that not all of them wear masks, and I’m not sure if it is because of past failures (see above) or if this is a different type of fighter. When we arrived at the arena, there were already adults milling around wearing the mask of their favourite fighter, and little boys were running all over the place, also masked, unable to contain their excitement. I tried not to get too wrapped up in the cultural conditioning of promoting fighting in little kids, or the fact that the Lucha Libre is a prime example of Mexican ‘machismo’. Time for the anthropologist part of my brain to rest.
ready for the fights!
Me and the ring
We bought some snacks, headed to our seats, got some beers, and settled in to wait. In typical Mexican fashion, most people didn’t arrive until after the first match ended. The seats filled and the crowd got louder. Each fight starts with a bevy of bikini-clad ladies dancing along the aisle as the luchadores are announced. They come out one by one and enter the ring, waving to fans and trying to look menacing at each other. Almost all the fights we saw were teams-three or four men on each side. The fights are hilarious-some parts so staged it’s comical to watch, but the effect of the crowds and beer is intoxicating, and eventually we found ourselves yelling along with everyone else, cringing for particularly strong looking hits, and cheering for one person or another. There was even a fight of all female luchadoras! These girls looked straight out of a roller derby rink, and they weren’t messing around. There were 8 different fights in all, and the costumes were different for each one. Some wore speedos, some wore pants, some wore leotards. There were masks of every colour, and even some mascots in the form of two little people, one dressed as an eagle and another dressed as Yoda. Yes, Yoda.
Dancing 'cheerleaders'? 
The teams prepare to fight
Sweet move there man! 
Screen for close-up action footage
Down for the count
Luchador getting checked for weapons while Yoda and the other little person watch on
Throughout the evening, people walk through the aisles selling drinks, food, and souvenirs. It was definitely an event, and after three and a half hours, we left it giggling, tipsy, and glad we had come to experience this piece of Mexican culture. Then we went for tacos, which is the proper thing to do at the end of an evening in Mexico City. Night complete. I definitely enjoyed it, and can understand why it is such an attraction, although I doubt I’ll become a die hard fan. But if I was to have any more visitors here, I would definitely suggest we go to experience a real slice of Mexican life.

A bit sad I didn't buy a stuffed luchador for my bed! 

Kim x

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cookies hey!

Wow! I literally almost forgot to write today! I was out all day working then met a friend for drinks and it completely slipped my mind that I hadn't blogged yet! Instead, I was lounging in bed eating cereal out of the box and watching Scandal on my computer. Living la vida loca here, folks. I'm sure you're green with envy!

So I've not really got anything prepared, nor do I feel like being away from my multigrain cheerios for too long sooo....

have you ever wondered why some Girl Scout Cookies have different names in different places? Apparently there are two major bakeries that handle the production of all Girl Scout Cookies. they have their own recipes (so the cookies aren't even the exact same cookie) and different looks. How random is that? Why not have uniform production in different factories? Why can't Samoas be called Samoas everywhere, why change it to Caramel Delites? And why can't they spell 'delight' correctly?


These are the things I contemplate after a long day of work. Here's the wiki link for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_Scout_Cookies. Just in case you like random useless knowledege like me! 

Kim x

p.s. Shout out to my Auntie Marilyn who gave me my own box of Samoas for my birthday when I was like 7. She asked what I wanted and that was my request! 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

10 people I would invite for dinner and what I would serve

When I started this blog, I was torn between inviting all my dead grandparents and great-grandparents or inviting people not related to me (and not necessarily dead) that I would like to meet. So maybe I’ll just do two lists and menus, and have two imaginary dinner parties!

Family Dinner Party

Grandpa Sigmund
Grandma Sigmund
Great-Grandparents Sigmund
Great-Grandparents Wolthorn
Great-Grandparents Doyle
Great-Grandparents Barnes

I would love to meet all the Great-Grandparents I never got to know, and spend time asking them questions about their lives. I also would love one more chance to better get to know the grandparents/Great Grandma that I did know, but who were taken too soon for my liking!

Menu

Appetiser: Bruschetta with a variety of toppings
Starter: Butternut squash soup with freshly baked bread (maybe a German rye bread and an Irish soda bread to honour both sides of the family?)
Main: Beef Wellington with roasted vegetables and roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary
Dessert: Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting, vanilla bean ice cream on the side

All homemade sans the puff pastry for the Wellington and the ice cream. I aim to impress. I hope they like it. Haha!

Strangers Dinner Party

William Shakespeare
J.K. Rowling
Marie Antoinette
President Obama
Benedict Cumberbatch
Nelson Mandela
John Lennon
Paul McCartney
William Wallace
Cleopatra

Some of my favourite authors/historical figures/current people of interest. Who wouldn’t love to see John and Paul back in a room together? I’ll bet they would make up and re-start the band. And my amazing party would be to thank for it!

Menu

Appetiser: Baked Camembert
Starter: Salad with blue cheese, grilled apple and pear slices, and candied pecans
Main: Filet Mignon with roasted asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes, and a red wine gravy
Dessert: Cowchip cookies ice cream sandwiches. (A cowchip cookie is massive, and has chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut, and crushed frosted flakes inside. So yum!)

Again all homemade sans puff pasty. Nobody has time for that type of homemade shenanigans!

Ok both of these sound like super amazing evenings with delicious food. Someone best get on task and create a time machine so that I can actually experience these two distinct, special, and fabulous parties!

Ok now I’m hungry…dinner time!


Kim x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A book you can read over and over again and not get sick of

There are two kinds of people: the one-timers, who watch movies and read books once and then never feel the need to see or read them again, and the re-visitors, who will return to old favourites over and over, re-watching or re-reading when they miss a certain character, or scene, or emotion. I am definitely a re-visitor. I get attached to characters, I can quote movies and books and TV shows. I find comfort in returning to old favourites, like getting a hug from a family member or good friend. You might think that it is because I am so often away from my family and close friends that I do this, but I have had this habit since I was a child.
I remember as a kid re-reading my favourites from The Babysitters Club series, Sweet Valley Twins, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder collected works. I came back over and over, and I loved the books just as much the third or fourth time as the first.

As a teenager, I read a lot of new books, developing new tastes and reading a lot for school. Nothing stands out in my mind as something I re-read multiple times from that period, but I did fall in love with The Hobbit, which I have subsequently re-read, as well as many of Shakespeare’s works.

Then, in my Senior Year of High School I discovered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was actually on the reading list for my English class (we had a large list we could choose from, read, and take tests on for points, needing to accumulate a certain number of points per quarter). I instantly fell in love with the premise, the story, and the characters. I quickly devoured the first four books, and then eagerly awaited the fifth, sixth, and seventh as the years went on. I have re-read these books more times than I care to remember, and they have helped me get through some lonely, sad, and frustrated times. I’ve often said that while some people turn to alcohol or drugs when they are down, I turn to Harry Potter. I still love these books, and recently re-read the seventh and final book of the series, getting just as emotionally wrapped up in the story and characters as ever before. J.K. Rowling is a fantastic writer, and I think people of every age can enjoy these books. Just thinking about it now makes me want to go back and re-read them all from the beginning, from Harry’s first trip to Hogwarts to his last.

Off to work, wishing I had time to read Harry Potter…


Kim x

Monday, 10 March 2014

My zodiac sign and personality

I was born on the last day of Pisces, meaning I’m on the cusp with Aries. I find that I seem to hold qualities from both signs. Now, whether that means anything I don’t know, nor do I have the time/energy/inclination to either try to live my life seeing if horoscopes ever come true, or how many of the other 10 signs have traits that I myself possess. I’m sure they all do, to some extent. But I quite like being a Pisces/Aries. It suits me to have the excuse of being a ‘cusper’ to cherry-pick which traits I see in myself and fleetingly consider how the movement of the cosmos might affect my life and personality. I do believe that everything in the universe is connected: the stars, planets, people, animals, plants. We all share the same basic make-up and are part of something much bigger than we can comprehend. And somehow knowing that we are all made of stardust makes the incomprehensible somewhat more palatable, I think. So here are some astrological definitions for my two signs. I’ve highlighted traits that I think I have. This is mostly just for fun, but sometimes, that’s what you need on a Monday evening. J

Pisces 
Your element: Water
Your ruling planets: Neptune
Symbol: The Fish
Life Pursuit: To avoid feeling alone and instead feel connected to others and the world at large
Vibration: Erratic Energy levels
Pisces Secret Desire: To live their dreams and turn fantasies into realities.

Mysterious and alluring individuals, most Pisces are extremely talented, but even though they are gifted in many ways, they still manage to spend most of their lives battling "confusing" conditions. Pisces is the sign symbolised by the image of two fish. Their symbol depicts one fish heading upward, the other pulling downward. This mirrors how Pisceans are frequently torn between two pathways in life, or actually do live two very different existences at the same time.

The number 2, is a very powerful number for them. This zodiac sign is acknowledged as being the Saint and the Sinner rolled into one; the trendsetter of fashion or art, the lost soul, the philosopher and the psychotic and the visionary. As a credit to them, considering their many vulnerable characteristics; Pisceans are incredibly adaptable and resilient. They are to be found leading the field in many diverse areas of life and many Pisces can be found represented amongst top business millionaires. On the other side of the coin, prisons, reform schools and all kinds of institutions statistically hold a high number of Pisceans too.

The Piscean's inner quest to explore their "ivory tower" syndrome can lead them into some most unusual and unlikely living conditions. Of all the signs of the zodiac, Pisces are the ones who end up in the most muddles over the years of their lives. They fantasize about situations, people and particularly romance - and because they spend so much time in their own form of 'fantasy land' this can catch them short in other more worldly areas. Because of this inner world of fantasy, Pisces people seldom perceive whatever is going on around them in its true light. They see life instead as they want to see it, coloring their view of the world in hues and tones far removed from its true reflection. No wonder this is the sign of both miracles and disillusionment. If you are a Pisces, be warned your emotions are a weak spot.

One thing that plays havoc with your life is romance. When things romantically are going well for you, you are on cloud nine. When romance turns sour you land in a heap. Pisces often need to take lots of holidays (or time off) to recover from life's many diverse pressures. You are the zodiac's most sensitive sign, so you need to take extra special care of yourself. Nobody can beat you up, as much as you can beat yourself up within your own mind. In your purest form you are psychic, visionary and a guiding light to all who know you. But, in your "out of tune" state, you become depressed, obsessive and confused.

Aries 
Your element: Fire
Your ruling planets: Mars
Symbol: The Ram
Life Pursuit: The thrill of the moment
Vibration: Enthusiastic
Aries Secret Desire: To lead the way for others.

Aries are fire signs and those born under this element are regarded in astrology as adventurous, active and outgoing. It won't matter where you go or how remote or unusual it is - from the Outback to the Antarctic - you can be sure that an Aries has been there before you (or at the very least you will meet one along the way!) Aries is a uniquely naive sign. Although they are independent, outgoing and assertive they are also surprisingly trusting, often innocently walking into the lion's den at times. No matter what upheaval, challenge or triumph they confront - an Aries has a wonderful ability to bounce back. Their faith in life and the future remains untouched by hardship. Their gift is that they are always children at heart and the world is always a magical place for them. Many famous sports people are born under this sign. Aries is regarded as the most physical sign and because of its Mar's rulership; it is also one of the most highly charged masculine energy signs in astrology. No wonder women born under Aries are forceful, dynamic and aggressive, and as a result these Aries women frequently find themselves with dilemmas surrounding their romantic relationships. For them, a man has to be a 'real man' to deal with an Aries woman, otherwise she intimidates him. And conversely for the Aries male, a woman has to be a real woman to deal with him, because he is looking for many balancing component traits (his true feminine side) in his partner. She has to run the gamut in his support system, from the Aries man's best friend, true companion, through to his muse, and yet she must never ever answer him back!

Therefore Aries can be a confusing sign because there is a complex combination of very strong masculine and feminine expressions all combined together. Because of the male energy surrounding it, when a woman is born under Aries, it creates some of the most interesting women in the world, women who are adventurous, independent and have competitive natures. It also tends to make them very forthright.

But whether male or female, Aries people are 'doers' rather than 'talkers'. They are the impulsive, act first, ask questions or have doubts later, sign of the zodiac. That's why their lives are often filled with many dramas and sometimes even accidents! Their ability to live life close to the edge provides them with a wealth of 'real experience' to call upon. When an Aries person talks about something or somewhere they've usually done it or been there, rather than simply read about it in a book. Being active people Aries can't adapt to any kind of restriction, particularly possessive relationships. They often travel to escape any feelings of being stuck or possessed. Aries people love challenges. In fact, if everything is running smoothly, they are quite capable of going out and doing something (sometimes quite foolish) to rock the boat. Aries love to race in where angels fear to tread.

So there you have it. I’m sure many of you are non-Pisces/Aries and have some of these traits too. Or maybe you feel like your sign defines you perfectly. Either way, it’s sometimes fun to consider how we become who we become, what traits we might want to consider developing in ourselves. and where our personalities might help us to go in the future. 


Kim x

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Pachuca

Today I went on a road trip to the city of Pachuca, in the state of Hidalgo. I was invited by some of the Doctors that I work with. It was a very long, but fun and interesting day. They showed me some of the tourist stuff like the Prismas Basalticos, a formation of rocks and waterfalls that are lovely and really interesting shapes:
Me, Tania and Odett

Prismas Basalticos


Prismas and a waterfall
'Prismas' refers to the shape of the rocks, made of Basalt, or 'Basalticos'

oh hai! 


I also got to meet their daughter, Odett, and the parents of Tania, one of the Doctors. It’s nice to get out of Mexico City and see other parts of the country, and to get to know some of the people I work with outside of the clinic context. But I almost didn’t get back in time to write my daily blog! Now 5 minutes under the wire! So forgive me for the short post, but I’ll write more another day!

Kim x

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A wee rant, thank you for listening

I’m not having a good day. I’m having a ‘I hate fieldwork, why am I doing this, I’m too stressed out and want to freak out/roll up in a ball and cry’ day. They don’t happen often, but when they do they really are the worst thing ever. Fieldwork can be a really lonely, crappy thing. You’re dropped into a foreign (usually) culture, not speaking the language, alone, and expected to discover some unknown, never-studied fascinating thing, then create an amazing, paradigm-shifting piece of anthropological work while also not losing your sanity and ‘enjoying yourself’. Right.

I’ve been run around, left waiting, and waiting some more, then cancelled on by numerous people over the past few months. It’s normal, it’s Mexico, blah blah blah. But right now I can’t deal with it. I am tired of wasting the precious little time I have left. So no, I am NOT happy to wait another hour and a half for you and your patient to arrive. I’m going home. Kindly jog off and leave me alone.

When these days happen, you literally want to talk to no one, do nothing, and cry to yourself, plotting your escape form the hellhole you call a field site. Usually all while eating cake. I’m not eating sugar now though, so for me it’s going to be Syrah. I don’t want to think about the good parts of Mexico right now. I just want to be at the beach. In two weeks I’ll be there, but right now it doesn’t feel soon enough. So I’m off to make lunch and open my Syrah, and dream about Playa del Carmen and forget about the idiots who have ruined my afternoon.

Soon, Playa del Carmen...soon! 













Happy weekend!

Kim x

Friday, 7 March 2014

Top 5 Pet Peeves

Ok this is a funny prompt. Pet peeves: we all have them, some of us are more vocal about them than others. I’m quite vocal, in general, but here you go:

Talking animals in the media
People who don’t flush the toilet, or don’t flush well enough
People who Walk slowly in the middle of the sidewalk, unaware of their surroundings
 People talking during movies
 Putting the fork on the right side of the plate

Talking Animals. I really, really dislike movies, shows, commercials, etc in which real animals are taped and then dubbed with human voices talking for them. I never realized this bothered me until I saw this commercial asking for money to help save the donkeys in the UK:

It really bothered me, both because I felt bad for the donkey and because the voice over was really annoying. Then I realised that I just really dislike this form of ‘entertainment’ in general. An animated animal that can talk? Yes! I’m all about the Lion King and stuff like that, but when some idiot feeds an animal to make it chew, then another ‘actor’ talks for said animal? No thanks. Let’s get our kicks somewhere else please and leave the animals in peace.

People who Don’t Flush. This is something I have come to realise really annoys me from living in Mexico. The flusher works, so why not use it? And why not look to make sure that it HAS flushed? Nine times out of ten it is not the toilet that is malfunctioning, it is the user. What’s up with this Mexico?

People Who Walk Slowly. Oh. Em. Gee. The amount of times I have wanted to push a person into the street for dawdling/sauntering/ strolling RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAJOR PEDESTRIAN AREA. I can’t even count. In Edinburgh, it’s usually tourists, gawking at the buildings and quaintness as they walk along, forgetting that they are walking ON THE WRONG SIDE in the UK and then stopping abruptly to take a photo, causing the flow of traffic to stop or seriously bottleneck. In Mexico, some people just like to walk slowly, in groups of three, taking up the entire bloody sidewalk. Especially when I am out jogging and they aren’t paying attention to the fact that this is a running path, not a mall to stroll through. RAWR! I WILL knock you down one day people!

People Talking During Movies. I have friends who do this, and I hate it just as much when someone is talking to ME as when strangers are talking to each other and I can hear them. This is rude, flat out, and I WILL be that annoying person that tells you to shut up, then goes to get the management if you don’t. Want to chat during a movie? Stay home and watch Netflix. If you are my friend talking to me during the movie, remember that when I tell you to shut up, I am saying it with love.

Putting the Fork on the Wrong Side of the Plate. This grates me, and I don’t know why. The lack of social upbringing? The assumption that everyone is right handed and therefore the forks should go on the right side? The realisation that these people might also serve me wine in a mug and make me eat Top Ramen for dinner out of a paper bowl at a dinner party? Maybe. This is probably more me being snobby than anything, but I think everyone from a western nation that uses forks, knives, and spoons should know how to correctly set a table. It’s basic, it’s easy, it makes you look like a well-bred person. Say it with me folks: FORK-LEFT. KNIFE, SPOON-RIGHT. Thank you. (I tried to find a photo example of this on the Google and I couldn't find anything because it is just. that. wrong.) 

So there you go. My annoying pet peeves, Hey! Happy Friday! 


Kim x

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Book You’ve Read That Changed Your View on Something

I’ve been thinking about this throughout the day, and I have to say that although many books have had a huge impact on me, the one that sticks out the most is ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand. Rand is an author who immigrated to the USA after the Russian revolution. She was staunchly anti-communism and in her writings created a philosophy called objectivism. This philosophy was dabbled into in her earlier works, but fully realised in ‘Atlas Shrugged’. You can read about the philosophy a bit more here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand). The basics idea is: ‘that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness (rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans' metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.’ (Wikipedia)

Atlas Shrugged is like a sonnet towards capitalism and a demonization of all social systems that allow people to lazily mooch off of the talents, hard work, and energy of the movers and shakers in our world. It is 100% anti-any sort of social programmes or any society that breeds leeches on the system through that society’s own neglect of the true reason the world keeps turning: the people who hold it up, the creators and maintainers of industry.

You can then understand why certain political parties quite like the idea. But this book is an amazing example of extremes as well, the extreme of going too far ‘right’ in your point of view; and how a real-life situation (communism in the USSR) can affect the mindset of a person.

The way the story is told, unfolding over 1100 pages of intertwining character stories, past and future, leaves the reader feeling completely in awe of the philosophy Rand created, and really understanding not only where she’s coming from, but why it’s a good idea as well. You feel a deep kinship for the main characters, crying over their pains and revelling in their triumphs. You begin to feel nauseated at the evils done to them in the name of communism or socialism. When you finish this book, you are emotionally drained, and unsure about how the future of our society is going to pan out. At least that is what the book did to me. And I have read this book four times.

Every time I read it, a few days after finishing it I start to realise again that objectivism just isn’t possible, that the world cannot work in the fashion Rand imagines, but MAN, does she know how to create a case for a pure capitalist world where every person must contribute to the society. She weaves an incredible tale, in which any idea you ever had about who is the ‘good guy’ and who is the ‘bad guy’ in our world gets turned onto its head. Overall, I think this book really helps you realise that moderation, politically, socially and economically, is the best way forward. You don’t have to agree with her, but you can’t deny that this book really is a work of art-her own objectivist art, selectively reproduced into physical form.

If you’re ever up for a challenge, I highly suggest reading this book. This is one of those books that by keeping an open mind when you read it, you can see where your own sentiments fall, and learn to understand yourself and what has helped to shape who you are a little bit better.


Kim x

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Your Favourite Quote

This is a hard one, mostly because I love so many quotes. I collect them in files on my computer, although I hardly ever use them…I like finding little inspirational nuggets in small amounts of text, I suppose. I find the following three quotes especially touching.

"...if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts." ~Anna Karenina

This quote reminds me that there is no right way to think, or act, or love. We are all different, unique, but still so similar. When I read Anna Karenina, I literally stopped and wrote this down because I found it profoundly touching, the recognition that we all think and love a little bit differently, and that’s ok.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." ~Nelson Mandela

Nelson was such an amazing man. I constantly force myself to face my fears, knowing that good things will come from it. Even when I’m afraid to put myself in certain positions, I almost always tell myself to get on with it. After the first steps, it’s always easier and you almost always get something good out of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Thanks for that reminder, Nelson!

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Harold Whitman

This goes hand in hand with the courage quote. It can be hard to tune out the noise of the world telling you what you SHOULD do, instead doing what you WANT to do, in terms of job options and opportunities. Don’t be afraid to do what you love, it seems like the people who are infinitely more satisfied with their jobs are those that love what they do. I’m still working on getting there, piecing together the puzzle of what I really love and what makes me come alive, but I know that it’s getting closer.

And at that I’ll leave you. I went to Puebla today for work and I’m exhausted and slightly brain dead. I hope this helps you remember some of your own favourite quotes.


Kim x

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Comfort Foods

I love food. I really do. I love trying new foods and cooking new foods and eating new foods. But there are definitely a few choice meals or food items that I tend to whip up or go out and buy when I need that special comfort that only a familiar, long-loved, or uniquely flavoured dish can provide. Obviously, this is dependent on mood, location, and availability. Sometimes you need to get creative to create a familiar comfort food, and sometimes you just have to go without and try to find a replacement. One of those downsides to living overseas, unfortunately. Certain things are just NOT the same or NOT available outside their country of origin. Peanut butter in Europe is so NOT the same. The mangoes, papaya and coconuts in Mexico are 1,000,000 times better here than in the US or Europe. The Bread in Mexico is so lacking in the French bakery tradition that is available all over Europe. And my beloved Wheat Thins are sadly only available in the USA, but somehow Ritz have made the leap into both Mexico and the UK…I don’t understand. Mmmm now I want some Wheat Thins…But I digress…

So, comforting foods. Many of these are from my childhood/life at home with my family.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Baked in the oven, no creamy cheese sauce or breadcrumb topping here. Just noodles, a few different cheeses, salt and pepper, baked until the top is crispy and the insides are gooey. Usually served with a sizzling baked bit of kielbasa and some mustard on the side. YUM! Just like my Mom makes. This is my favourite way to have macaroni and cheese and I make it a lot during the cold Edinburgh winters.

Pizza. I’m sure you all know that my Dad has to have his homemade (sometimes ordered in) pizza every Friday. I can’t handle it every Friday, but sometimes I really crave a good homemade or restaurant pizza, and I’m sure I can thank Dad for that one. Although I prefer my pizza topped with loads of veggies and no meat, maybe getting crazy with some caramelized onions, butternut squash and blue cheese, which is where Dad and I differ.

Grandma’s Spring Rolls. Something my Grandma Sigmund always made, a recipe I believe she picked up in Asia when she lived overseas. I prefer my spring rolls baked, the way my Mom always made them, as opposed to Grandma’s penchant for frying them, but the filling of spicy sausage, Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts, soy sauce and fish sauce is always the same. This is one of those things that makes me re-think my newly minted vegetarianism…

Homemade potato bread. Also a Grandma and Mom-thing. SO flipping delicious you wouldn’t believe it. Toasted with butter or peanut butter, it’s the best breakfast or snack ever!

Mjaddara. This is courtesy of my lovely friend Yara, a Lebanese comfort food that she made for us once when we lived together in Edinburgh, which I love to make and eat in the winter. Lentils and rice cooked together with sautéed onions, cumin, salt and pepper. Topped with more sautéed or fried onions, served with labneh (Lebanese strained yogurt) and a salad of cabbage and tomatoes dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. It is amazingly delicious, and a great contrast with the salad.

Banana Bread or Carrot Cake. I stopped eating sugar back in September, now only eating it once every blue moon. But if there is ever a crap day where I feel the need for some sugary comfort, I’m usually craving a good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or a warm banana bread with chocolate chips. Also childhood favourites that have stuck with me through the years, and carrot cake is almost always my birthday cake of choice.

So there you go. Many of these foods are family faves. It’s funny how certain things and tastes we have never change over time, while others do. And certain foods can bring you back to a different time and place, usually with happy memories attached. Which is probably part of the reason they are called ‘comfort foods’ (although I think the direct correlation of carbohydrate to comfort must be scientific fact). The funny thing is, I have not been able to make almost all of these items during my time in Mexico. I have no oven in my flat here (I know, it’s ludicrous!) so Mjaddara, made on the stovetop is the only homemade comfort food I have. The sacrifices we make for fieldwork…


All I can say is that I am definitely looking forward to some of these foods when I go back to Cali for my short layover before heading back to Scotland…Hint, hint Mom and Dad. ;-) 

Kim x

Monday, 3 March 2014

Discuss some of the things on your bucket list

I’ve never actually written a bucket list. There are things I know I want to do in my life, but I never physically sat down to write them. So I guess this is my chance!

I want to:
1     1. Live in at least 3 more countries
2     2. Become fluent in Spanish
3     3. Skydive
4     4. Do a road trip across the USA
5     5. Write a book (and be published)
6     6. Visit every continent (sans Antarctica. I’m not bothered with that one)
       7. Go into Space

Those are the major ones I can think of just now. I’m sure you can’t help but notice how dominated my list is by travel and travel-related items. I can’t help it, it is who I am. Haha! So, notes for discussion:

I discussed before my desire to live in a few more countries. I want to really experience a few places, and I feel like you need extended amounts of time in a country to really understand the culture and the lifestyle. So, I might as well live in a few more places and (hopefully) get paid for it instead of doing extended vacations. Unless I win the super-billions-lottery, in which case I’m sure I won’t care about not working.

Spanish fluency is something that I really, really want now. As I get closer to leaving Mexico and my Spanish is good, but stuck in a rut since I don’t have much time for learning new things. I tend to just practice what I know, sloooowly getting better. I know I’ll need a longer period of time in a Spanish speaking country to gain fluency. Another reason for #1 on this list.

Skydiving just looks really cool. Waaay better than bungee jumping!

Road trips are fun. And I haven’t seen SO much of the USA. I love to visit new places, but haven’t had the chance/time/inclination to visit so much of my own country. Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Boston, Washington D.C., Savannah, New Orleans, some bits of Texas (Hi Aunt Kathie!), etc. And so many places I don’t remember/remember well and would love to see again, like the Grand Canyon, St. Louis, and Charleston. I need a car, a playlist and a buddy, and I’ll be good to go!










Well, I do love to write. And I have a few random thoughts and treads of ideas for novels. Hopefully one day, after the dreaded thesis is FAR behind me, I’ll be able to sit down and focus on writing something non-anthropological and fun! I really look forward to stretching my creative muscles some more!

Visit every continent. Like a road trip across the planet. Except probably spread out over many years. I have been to North America, Europe, and Africa, but there is still so much to see and do! Next I have my sights set on Asia, hopefully at the end of 2015 as a graduation present to myself…

Who DOESN’T want to visit space?!?! It is such a fantastically unknown, scary, yet temping place. To see the planet from SPACE, the stars, the unfathomable void, to experience weightlessness, complete silence and the knowledge that outside your bubble of a spaceship there is no physical way you can survive. What a humbling, beautiful, life-changing experience. Thanks to Sir Richard Branson I might get to do this sooner rather than later. Woo-hoo for Virgin Galactic!











So that’s it for now. I’m sure there are more bucket-list type things that I’ll come up with as I go along, like learning to make my own puff pastry or something ridiculous like that. But the aforementioned are the big ones, the ones I think about often enough to have on the tip of my tongue.

Until tomorrow,


Kim x