Update from Spain

I’m one week into my trip in Europe (currently in Málaga, Spain). It has been great/amazing/overwhelming/beautiful so far! Here are a few things I’ve learned.

1) washing dirty clothes out in the sink doesn’t improve the smell if you don’t have laundry soap

2) I am a more adventurous eater when traveling (eating anchovies, for example, would never have happened if I was at home)

3) “everyone is different colors, but the color of everyone’s heart is the same” – wise words from an overly friendly man on the beach

image

A view of Gibraltar from a few days ago

The best way to keep up with me is to follow me on instagram at @enousen.

Weekly Weaknesses: Granola-Eater Pride

I’ve noticed a trend in my weekly weaknesses: food. Am I embarrassed that I reward myself and celebrate with tasty items? No. Not at all.

Today I introduce you to my recent weakness, which despite having no chocolate or heavy cream, has captured my heart. No joke, I ran three miles to get it from Dragonfly Coffee House after it first caught my eye.

granola

Beautiful blissful granola. It has a hint of cinnamon while still looking like it has enough oats/nuts/hearty items to be healthy. Eaten with a few raspberries sprinkled in? Mmm.

You know how people “reclaim” insulting words and then the words lose their meaning? Well, when I almost had to move to San Diego in high school, I imagined that “granola-eater” would be slung at me by all the posh Californians, and I would be a total outcast based solely on my status as an Oregonian (you know the whole granola-eating tree-hugging Birkenstock-wearing idea). Now I feel like I have been able to reclaim “granola-eater” because damn right, I am eating it, and I could eat it forever. Take that, hypothetical high school bullies.

Honestly, knowing that I will be having this for breakfast helps me leap out of bed in the morning, full of unbridled energy for the day ahead. That may be an exaggeration; take it with a grain of salt (the grain being that I love sleep and my bed is very comfortable). Even if my emergence from my bed is actually more zombie-like, at least I’m up and at ‘em, right?

Hope you all had a great week! And if you don’t have any granola to put some pep in yo’ step, here’s a happy song.

So Much Change in One Month – Who Am I?

I’ve been cruising on the high of completing my big goal for March (writing 50,000 words), but despite my best efforts to spend my time solely drinking chai and relaxing in bed, things just keep happening.

I got a new job.

Next week I will be in Europe.

WHAT!?

Both of these are blowing my mind.

First of all, I wasn’t even looking for a new job, but it was offered to me out of the blue. So crazy!

To prevent me from going off on a long-winded description, here is what I’ll be doing in 30 words: assistant data manager for lab doing ADHD research; will be cleaning up/checking the quality of data sets and preparing them for analysis and presentation. Also, testing kids and babies.

I’m pretty excited to take this on. It’s going to be a lot of computer work, as well as a steep learning curve, but I imagine that it will be right up my alley in terms of its analytical and organizational nature. Hopefully that proves to be true in reality. It was hard to tell my old boss that I was taking the job; it felt like a break up. Is that normal? Navigating the adult world of jobs/money can be weird sometimes. I’ll be sad to leave my job here, but I also feel like it’s a good time and I’m READY.

Minor break to admire these pretty flowers – who knew daffodils came in this color?

daffodils

Secondly, I’m going to Europe for a month. I know this isn’t exactly trailblazing, since I am the only one of my friends not to study or travel abroad during college, but let me have my moment, okay? After graduation, when 90% of my girl friends moved far away (New York, France, Spain, Uganda, Australia), I started to feel a little bit antsy and restless in Portland. To top it off, my cousin and my parents both had long trips to Europe. I swear, I saw pictures of the Eiffel Tower from five separate parties in one day.

So, I planned a tour of all the people I know who are stationed over there, and all of a sudden the trip is almost here! I will be hopping from Portugal to Spain to France (and Italy?) to Berlin to Amsterdam and seeing family and a bunch of friends who were much braver and proactive than I was in finding exciting post-college opportunities. I will be taking advantage of their independence and using them as tour guides. Any suggestions on must-dos are welcome!

I’m afraid of flying, bleh. But my cousin has promised me some melatonin to make me snooze the whole long flight over. Hallelujah.

Beautiful Number 50,092

I just finished my NaNoWriMo attempt!

As a reminder, this goal was to write 50,000 words (which is equivalent to The Great Gatsby and Slaughterhouse-Five) in one month. Whoa.

I have done a lot of writing today, so I don’t have many words to spare.

I’ll let the beautiful beautiful screenshot below speak for itself.

50,000 words

Props to Portland

I wrote that title and cringed. Who am I, my mom? Sure, I may plan on spending my Friday night making a fancy meal for one and writing (I blame NaNoWriMo – only two more days left!)…but hey, back off! I am a young youthful vibrant spirit who just enjoys a nice lasagna and is trying to finish strong in my novel writing attempt. I’m not apologizing for that.

Anyway, let’s end this over-analytic self-conscious rant. On to the point.

Today I got off work early (woo) and went on a run down along the river. Portland gets a lot of blame for being so rainy and depressing all the time (I’m looking at you, my Arizona pal), but I think it deserves credit for being absolutely gorgeous on all the days that the complainers are out of town.

Today, for example: the cherry trees are in bloom, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining, which made the Willamette look like a water haven perfect for frolicking in. There were so many people out, showing off their shoulder tattoos and pasty white legs of winter. Ah, it’s beautiful. In appropriate Portlandia fashion, I saw bikes (fixies, mountain, and the kind with the troughs to put unruly children in), wheelchairs, roller blades, scooters, and bike pedal-propelled go-carts. People were playing violins and guitars. It was an unofficial parade.

Here is what it looked like (note that this is not my photo – I am all about aerodynamics when I run = no phone/camera):

(via)

I have to say, we have some eccentricities here, and it may rain sometimes, but I am pretty sure that everyone out there this afternoon was unanimously thrilled to be in Portland.

Yeah, you go, Portland.

No No Yes Yes

I’ve been volunteering with the Children’s Book Bank every week or so, and it is absolutely awesome. My duties are sorting, cleaning, and distributing used kids’ books into packets to give to underprivileged preschoolers. Want to know a fact that will blow your mind and/or highlight why this is so important?

In upper middle income homes, there are 13 books per child. 

In lower income homes, there is 1 book per 300 children.

book stats

Literacy has huge implications for success in life; reading provides a foundation to efficient comprehension and expression of ideas. Crucial. I’m sorry, I meant to keep this rundown brief, but this is something I feel very strongly about. I had a great childhood with books, and I don’t think that socioeconomic status should be a limiting factor. Plus, there are so many books that kids are outgrowing and donating, so all that has to be done is connecting the book with the next kid. Ain’t no thang.

And, I’ll be honest. There’s a selfish aspect: it is so fun to look through kids’ books. Some of them (Miss Rumphius, Babar, Blueberries for Sal) satisfy my nostalgia craving. Some of them may be unfamiliar to me. But I keep being surprised at how many of them make me laugh out loud. I’ll share some of these pages with you as I come across them. Mostly, this is self-indulgent so that I can look back through them and laugh again. This one is from No No Yes Yes by Leslie Patricelli. Maybe I was tired, maybe I have a simple sense of humor, but I laughed at each illustration.

ahh! sorry about the glare!

This is absolutely an important lesson for every child, right? Personally, I like how happy the baby is in both the No and Yes situations. That baby really doesn’t care if it’s eating the banana or the dog food; the dog is the one who has the bad attitude.

I Want Books Now + Classical Vibes

NaNoWriMo: I’m on Day 26. I can’t believe that means that there are five days (thank goodness we didn’t do this in February) left to reach 50,000 words. I’m currently at 40,060 words — ahh! That’s an ahh simultaneously expressing excitement that I have written so much as well as apprehension about the final 10,000 words still to write in the next five days.

A few quick revelations for you from this stage of my journey:

1) I miss reading. I’m sure many NaNoWriMo champs out there are able to do both, but I have been very disciplined about using my reading time for writing time. I have only read FIVE pages of a novel this month, and it’s weird, and I don’t like it. This has led to some overzealous drooling at book reviews on Goodreads and the Powell’s website, as well as a shopping splurge when I found a Barnes and Noble gift card from my birthday. On April 1st, I will probably be starting eight books at once to compensate for this dry spell.

2) My best writing trick is to type while looking out the window. Somehow this tricks my brain into thinking that my body is doing all of the work, and the words just come flowin’ out. Cool. Plus I get to see the scenery.

3) All the classical music I’ve been listening to makes me want to go to the symphony. I used to play a lot of classical music on the piano, and this genre has been revived for me in the last few weeks. Now I want more. I’m going to check out the symphony’s upcoming shows and then while I listen, I will close my eyes blissfully. And, better yet, I won’t be writing frantically. If you want to get yourself on a classical kick, check out this playlist. Then, dance around like you are a six-year-old doing ballet. It is awesome. I may be going a little stir crazy.

Weekly Weaknesses: With Lashes Twirled

I’ve missed out on a lot of beauty tips that are pretty common knowledge for the general population. My parents were very much against any sort of “conformation” to the public ideal of beauty (aka I had to beg for instruction on how to shave my legs and how to wear mascara). They always said I was just fine exactly how I was and that I didn’t need to change, which is sweet, but horribly wrong because I really needed to shave my legs.

The first time I even thought about my eyebrows was when we had makeovers at a salon for a friend’s birthday when I was 14. The makeup artist called me out on my untamed brows, and then I realized that perhaps my hands-off approach was maybe not working for me.

Without any older siblings to imitate, I’ve kind of been on my own in forging my way. So, I am a bit of a late bloomer. Case in point: this week, I discovered what an eyelash curler does.

I mean, I knew the idea behind it for awhile. But this week, I actually tried one and was amazed to see that it did something. My eyeballs were more visible; I just looked more awake. So I decided to get one.

It may be that thinking that I looked any different was a placebo effect, but hey, it’s fine with me if $3.99 can make me go from feeling like this squinty baby doll:

squinty

to something like this:

big ol eyes

I’m afraid that this won’t be the first time I demonstrate how utterly behind I am in the world of beautification. Feel free to take pity on me and throw some tidbits of knowledge my way.

Also, here’s me with my lashes twirled (Grease reference, anyone?) so that you don’t confuse me with either of those pictures above.

hello eyeballs

Love for Go Mighty

It’s high time to share a brilliant and wonderful community called Go Mighty with all of you goal-minded people out there.

GoMighty

(via)

For those of you who haven’t already discovered it, Go Mighty is a place to list your goals, connect with and support others, and share your progress. Also, some goals get FUNDED which is even more awesome.

As you have maayyyybe picked up on, I like both lists and goals. I have been amazed at how much support and how many tips and suggestions I have received for the goals I’ve listed over there. It’s also awesome to cheer on/commiserate/brainstorm with people who have similar goals and obstacles. So I highly encourage checking it out and being active in this community!

Currently, there’s a project sponsored by Go Mighty called Thank A Writer that encourages you to write appreciative notes to the authors who have deeply impacted you. I am fully on board, and I’ll be writing a thank you each week for the next five weeks.

With my attempt at novel writing fully underway (you can read about my NaNoWriMo journey here and here), I have gained a new appreciation for the work and genius involved in writing a captivating engaging sweep-you-off-your-feet-effortlessly novel. So, yeah, these people deserve appreciation. I’m sure they don’t need to hear from me that their work is good, but I hope that it will be rewarding to hear how their work has impacted someone.

My recipients and the books in question:

1) Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day

2) Yann Martel – Beatrice and Virgil

3) Jeffrey Eugenides – Middlesex

4) Lois Lowry – The Giver

5) Oliver Sachs – The Island of the Colorblind

Join me in this project! Who would you thank?

25 x 25

It’s been a bit of an uphill battle these last few days – nothing too dramatic, but enough to feel like I’m playing the role of the klutzy neighbor on a sitcom. For example, I spilled tea down the front of my white shirt on the day of an interview, and at the starting line for the 8K that I did on Sunday, I was kicked in the face with a beach ball. Not like, oops, it bobbled up and bounced off my forehead, but a direct beam that smacked me full on the face. That happened in front of the crowd, who all tried to stifle laughs while acting sympathetic. Yup, I was feeling good.

So, I’m trying to look at the big picture. I figured it was a great time to distract myself from the here and now by sharing some of my long-term goals.

I think that having your goals spelled out is important, and having a deadline for them is equally so. Age 25 is a good solid number for a deadline, right? Here is my bucket list with a timeline – 25 goals to reach by age 25.

  1. Write a novel (in progress due to NaNoWriMo)
  2. Live in another city besides Portland
  3. Sing karaoke…in public…by myself
  4. Go to Europe by myself (happening in April 2013, holla)
  5. Write a plan to start a Children’s Book Bank in another city
  6. Climb a mountain
  7. Improve my lettering skills
  8. Live in the same city as my hottie boyfriend (hey babe!)
  9. Perform at a Mortified event
  10. Own a dog or cat
  11. Go on an out-of-state road trip (completed: October 2010)
  12. Learn a language and use it (in progress – if I’m being optimistic about where my Portuguese class is going to take me)
  13. Go naked in the ocean
  14. Make a nostalgic power hour video mix
  15. Read a book/drink tea on a fire escape
  16. Hike in the Grand Canyon
  17. Make a successful creme brulee
  18. Memorize a sonata on the piano
  19. Own a statement necklace (check) and wear it with confidence (working on it)
  20. Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
  21. Be in a wedding (July 2014!)
  22. Pay off at least 1 student loan
  23. Take a massage therapy course
  24. Traverse the entire Wildwood Trail in Forest Park
  25. Be able to put my heels down in downward dog

I just realized that I am already 23.25 years old, so I better get my butt (and non-flexible hamstrings) into gear on these goals. If there’s any experts on these topics out there, please help guide me.

Also, can I just say how happy I am to see flowers again? The Oregon spring weather is, as usual, incredibly unpredictable, but I can handle alternating between being stuck inside and soaking up the sun if there are jars of these beautiful things everywhere.

flowers in jars

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