Autumn 2016

The end of Summer came rather abruptly. At one point, I was working two jobs, working on my Prelims Reading List and then suddenly, I was back in school.

Do you remember that Summer List I made? I am incredibly happy to say that I did all of those things and I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to accomplish them.

Life, in general, has been good, but tough to manage and balance.  I’m in the middle of the process of finishing coursework, taking the preliminary doctoral examinations, teaching two brand new courses, presenting a paper at a German and Dutch Studies  conference (0.0 I know) and trying to keep up with life’s demands. Nonetheless, I always find joy in spending time with friends: laughing, reading, long walks.

Here are some pictures of the beautiful moments I have shared with friends and loved ones over the past few months:

img_3243

img_3287

img_3170

I love my life. However, this chapter of my life can be challenging sometimes even though it’s good and fun. Sometimes I don’t even want it to end, but all things do come to an end.

All I want is to savor the moment. Breathe. Enjoy.

Advertisements

Fun Summer Plans

With the end of the semester slowly approaching, I have been thinking a lot about my summer plans. After sadly getting rejected for a coveted German scholarship, I realized that I would have to spend the Summer in Madison. Lucky for me, Summers in Madison are magical.

  1. Travel to DC:

My friend Stephanie is getting married this May and she asked me to be her bridesmaid! Last Summer, I had the opportunity to be the bridesmaid for another great friend in NJ so I extended my stay and traveled to NYC by myself and it was a w e s o m e. This year I hope to meet up with friends in DC, go sightseeing (Holocaust Museum!),  have a blast at this wedding, and return briefly to good old Madison.

2. Roadtrip:

I will accompany the  boyfriend to his college reunion right after the wedding (crazy, right?). I’m jumping from a plane to a long car ride to Indiana with the SO and our friend. The boys will probably be hogging the radio, but I can just sit back, read a novel, and relax! I’m looking forward to listening to two-hour long riddles, napping, and long philosophical conversations. After that, it will be great to meet the SO’s friends and spend some time in Indiana (never been!).

3. Languages, languages, languages:

As many of you may already know, I am obsessed with languages. A year ago I decided to take Latin to fulfill my Ancient Language requirement…such a mistake. I really wish I would have learned Ancient Greek instead. Nevertheless, there is always an opportunity to rectify mistakes. I will teach myself AG, continue to practice German (German Conversations with friends! ), and teach the boyfriend some Spanish. It will be interesting to see where things go during the Summer. I’m excited though!

4. Work:

While I am still in the process of finding a good Summer job, I believe it will be an enriching experience regardless of what ends up happening. Finding Summer funding as a graduate student is a difficult task, but not impossible. Watch out world, I’ll be sending resumés and cover letters your way.

5. Reading List:

Ah, my favorite time of the year is here. Every Summer I compile different reading lists with classics, contemporary novels, lit theory books, etc. I cannot wait to read more Murakami for fun, Poetry Reading Groups (translating Old English poem Spanish translations…I know) or to delve into some complex Heideggerian book.

6. I sports, you sports, he/she/it sports:

Oh, the art of sporting. Somehow I was convinced to join yet another Summer Sports League. It will be kickball this Summer. I always get slightly anxious about it because I really do not sports at all, but it always builds good community and is great for meeting new people. So…we’ll see.

7. Hang out with Friends:

F i n a l l y…I will have the chance to see my friends more often, talk, and socialize! It will be nice to keep up with my friends (married, new, about to get married, etc). I cannot wait to happily balance alone time and friend time.

8. Prepare for the preliminary doctoral examination:

This one gives me so much anxiety. If it all goes well, I will prelim Summer 2017, which means I have a year to prepare with my advisor. I will start making my reading lists this Summer and hopefully it will all happen (scary!!!).

9. Weddings Galore:

After my 21st birthday, every Summer has consisted of friends and loved ones getting married. Luckily, weddings are always a fun opportunity to get dressed up, dance, and have fun!

10. Relax:

These are all great, fun plans, but I want this Summer to be relaxing. I do not want to be stressed about any aspects of my life, but rather enjoy time off from school.

I’ll let you know how it went!

Perfect New York City Trip

Last year, I went to a wedding on the East Coast and decided to make a fun trip out of it: wedding, Atlantic City, and the Big Apple.

After the wedding, my cousin Kim and I decided to drive down from Edison to Atlantic City in New Jersey. We spent quality cousin time together, we gambled, had nice dinners, and explored the AC Boardwalk. However, the New York City trip was amazing because I just traveled solo and planned out the perfect 36 hours in the city.

Day 1 (Evening)

7:00 pm: Kim drove me to the city and I got settled in the tiniest hotel room ever on the Upper West Side.

7:30 pm: We went for a quick stroll to Central Park with iced tea and coffee in our hands. The weather was gorgeous!  We took pictures in front of the Museum of Natural History and recapped our weekend in Atlantic City (people can get a little crazy down there).

Cousin Trip

8:00 pm: We decided to be adventurous and have delicious vegan food at Peacefood Café on 460 Amsterdam Ave. I had the vegan chili and the fluffy quinoa salad.

IMG_8093

8:45 pm: We kept walking up Amsterdam and stopped at Treat House for dessert. It was awesome and they had a lot of different types of marshmallow treats.

9:00 pm: My cousin drove back to her home outside the city and I spent the night doing some work for the Summer job I had at the time and anxiously waiting for my perfect NYC day.

Day 2:

8:00 am: I walked down to Zabar’s (amazing Kosher food!)  on Broadway and 80th to pick up a quick bagel and fresh coffee togo. Then, I moved over two blocks west to Riverside Park for some light reading, dog watching, and looking out at the Hudson River. I read some Madame Bovary in French and was ready to seize the day.

coffee and bagels NYC

8:30 am: I headed over to Central Park West from Broadway to 72nd and saw the Dakota Building, where John Lennon used to live, but unfortunately it was under construction. Then, I listened in on a German tour group at Strawberry Fields.

strawberry fields nyc

Afterwards, I walked over to the Friends fountain, but as many of you know they didn’t actually film the opening credits there, but rather on a set in LA. Still, it was awesome.

9:00 am: MET Time! Little known fact for non locals, the Metropolitan Art Museum is donation-based meaning…that it is basically F R E E. However, I still made a small donation because I felt bad. They had Anna Wintour’s China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition, which was fantastic!

Anna Wintour exhibition

 

10:45 am: After over a good hour and a half at the museum, I headed outside and sat on the steps of the MET with some iced tea in my hand. It was fantastic. Then I wandered off to the streets of the Upper East Side to take the subway on 86th and Lexington. Fun fact: I accidentally took the subway uptown instead of downtown, which was annoying but a good experience in itself.

11:30 am: I made a quick stop at Grand Central Station to meet Kim because we were meeting my other cousin, Chris, for lunch. Grand Central is such a beautiful place (and free to just wander around there) right in the middle of the City so if you’re around Times Square make sure to make a pit stop there as well as the New York Public Library.  After that, we took the subway down to Chelsea for lunch.

Grand Central Station

12:15 pm: My cousin Chris took us out to lunch at this amazing restaurant right off the Meatpacking Industry near where he works. We went to The Standard Grill on 843 Washington St and had an amazing lunch with homemade sorbet for dessert. Afterwards, we headed up to the High Line Park. This amazing new park has amazing views, great designs, and cool little funky shops. Since it was built recently,  it wasn’t packed with tourists at all.

image

2:00 pm: Kim and I took the subway back Midtown and hung around Times Square, got some macaroons at Ladurée and hung around the 30 Rock area. We also stopped at the New York Public Library and had coffee in Bryant Park. It was amazing!

4:00 pm: I took the subway back to my temporary home and got ready for dinner with my college roommate who works as a fashion designer in the city.

5:30 pm: We decided to head over a couple of blocks up to the Columbia campus area. We found this nice, underrated rooftop bar/restaurant called The Heights. We had some of their amazing burritos and enjoyed the view of uptown NYC.

7:00 pm: We moved the party to Refinery Rooftop Midtown. The space was amazing with a good wine selection. After a long night, we called it a day and Ubered home.

12038170_10156059279945261_7522223787642765251_n

Day 3:

8:00 am: Before checking out of my beautiful, tiny hotel room, I headed over to Café Lalo for some croissants, éclairs au chocolat, and coffee. Their coffee was amazing and gave me the energy for another great NYC day.

IMG_8190

9:15 am: I made a pit stop at The Strand Bookstore to pick up some nice limited edition Shakespeare comedies. This is a great store and I would definitely recommend it to anyone near this touristy area.

10:45 am: I met my college roommate again at her place in Brooklyn Heights. We headed over to the Brooklyn Promenade for a nice stroll under the sun.

11222251_10155980286880261_2390347079001943657_n12:00 pm: Then, we had amazing lobster rolls in DUMBO until it was time to head over to the airport.

IMG_8208

My NYC Trip was an amazing opportunity to catch up with friends and family. I would definitely redo it again and would recommend all of the places I visited to anyone. I will also be posting more Midwest spots to visit from trips I made last year and I will keep writing about the places I will visit this year.

Next Trip: DC! Can’t wait!

PS. This was written under a procrastination caffeine haze!

 

 

A Challenging Journey

As I’ve mentioned before, my biggest, and only resolution for 2015 was to challenge myself on a daily basis. Yes. It is so hard to keep my resolution at times, but I merely wish to do things I have always wanted to do, but have never had “the time” or “the push” to do them. The main reason of this challenge was to try new things as often as I could even if I didn’t really enjoy them at all.

So far, I have done the following:11228899_10156059277120261_8139175438790882153_n

  1. SnowboardingWhat a challenge! It was one of the most difficult things I have done in my life, but thankfully I had a fantastic time. If it wasn’t for my close friend, Stephanie and her fiancé, I would not have learned how to do it. I still have a long way to go before I master it, but I am on my way!
  2. Square Dancing: I love Jane Austen and the tradition of square/country dancing, so it was one of the first things I wanted to try out during the year. 10984469_10153225197070730_2908800593409056206_nNeedless to say, it was full of older people (as in as old as my grandmother), but it was really fun! I would love to go again!
  3. Be Active! I have always wanted to be consistently active in my daily life, but I’ve never really pursued it. During Winter, I started going to hot yoga as well as running, consistently. Heck, I even joined a Summer Sports League where we played soccer, ultimate frisbee, and flag football every week!
  4. Cooking Challenge: During the summer, I started making more homemade meals. It started out as if you pin it on pinterest, you’re making it, and I did! I made delicious recipes such as coconut curry butternut squash soup, polenta, homemade pizza, brownies, and traditional Puerto Rican dishes such as mofongo, mantecaditos, arroz con habichuelas, and pastelón.
  5. Travel…by myself: Last June, I was a bridesmaid for one of my closest girlfriends and her wedding was in New Jersey…where I didn’t know anyone but my friend and her husband. Nonetheless, I made up the excuse to go to Atlantic City with family, and explore New York City all by myself. It was INCREDIBLE.12038170_10156059279945261_7522223787642765251_n.jpg
  6. The Dating Game: Okay, so I have never dated… ever. Sure, I have had a series of relationships, but I had never purposely gone out on dates. Last year, I accepted to go on dates with a few gentlemen. Some dates were nice, others were horror stories, but they were all a great learning process. After a while, I learned to relax, chill out, and have a nice time. Not every man you meet will be a winner, but you’ll (eventually) learn how to have a normal conversation without putting your foot on your mouth.
  7. Wisconsin Culture: Even though I have lived in Wisconsin for over two years, I had never really done a lot of Wisconsin-y things–specially if they were sports-related. Before moving here, every single time I told someone that I was going to live everyone kept asking me: Why? I simply knew that there had to be a reason for being here and, as it turns out, Madison is the perfect livable city. There are so many fun things to do! From college football to sports leagues, I gave “sports” a try. It definitely was not my cup of tea, but it was worth it! It was very interesting to try and understand the culture behind it.1977160_10156164345215261_2603305936314359808_n
  8. Musical Challenge: I had been playing the ukelele for over a year, but I had never successfully mastered it. I made it my mission to learn more songs and more chords. It is such an accessible instrument that it would have been a complete waste to not explore it. On another note, I wanted to muster up the courage to sing solo a little bit more so I sang the Psalm by myself during mass or started to confidently pursue solos. Again, not my cup of tea, but it definitely did wonders for my confidence.
  9. Graduated: I have a Master’s Degree!! Sometimes I think it’s crazy, but I have worked so hard for it. I still have a PhD to acquire as my goal, but in the meantime I will still enjoy the fact that I graduated (and will possibly remain in school for a whiiiile).
  10. Read More…for FUN: After earning a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature, I was exhausted from “assigned reading”. Therefore, I compiled a fun Summer Reading List that allowed me to explore things outside of my own research. It was fantastic!
  11. Pursue Deeper, Meaningful Friendships: At the beginning of the year, I spent a fun weekend in Chicago with a few close friends and it was wonderful! My goal was to keep nourishing those friendships as much and as often as I could. So far it has been an amazing pursuit and I hope to keep flourishing at this.
  12. Make New Grad Student Friends: After this past Summer, I realized that I didn’t really have a lot of graduate student friends so I made it my goal to meet new people and befriend them. I met wonderful people, befriended people I should have befriended in the first place, and decided to just put myself out there. It has been a blast to have friends with common postgrad struggles.
  13. Apply myself: I decided to just try to apply for more things in graduate school whether it’s language programs, trying out a different language, or being more outspoken. I have tried to make learning, not grad school, one of the most important things in my life.
  14. Languages: My program requires me to know an Ancient language so I decided to try Latin as well as to keep studying the languages I do know like Portuguese and German.
  15. Tea/Coffee Connoisseur:I love tea and coffee! Thus, I acquired a tea pot and an espresso maker. In regards to coffee, I have learned a lot more about coffee roasters around the area and the types of coffee beans and roasts that I prefer. When it came down to tea, I just learned to differentiate the different types, steeps, and benefits. I seriously do not regret doing this. It has been so much fun!
  16. Blogging: I have had blogs since I was thirteen years old. Needless to say, they ranged from inconsistent erratic posts about liking Harry Potter to complaining about silly, petty things. I never really kept up any of the blogs, not even the ones I had in college. I wanted to write about life in the Midwest, travel, funny thoughts, and dating. Lost in the Midwest has been an incredible outlet for expunging my thoughts in a healthy demeanor. I have used it to laugh at myself, personal situations, and explore wordpress as a whole.

I still have no idea what next year’s resolution will be, but I hope that this list will help someone who has no idea what to try next.

Happy Holidays!

Running, Bird Attacks, and Catcalling

For the past month, I have been going on runs.

I know… I know. Patricia and running? Those two things do not go together. However, I started running with a friend near the lake and it’s been exhausting, fun, and insane. It was only two weeks ago that I decided to run by myself…and I nearly died, but I didn’t.

Then, on one of my runs, I started thinking about all the circumstances you’re in while you’re running. In fact, life is very similar to running.

The following lessons from my runs definitely apply to life:

1. Pace yourself

This seems pretty obvious, but it’s true. You rush your run, specially when you’re a first-timer, and you will feel like death itself. That was not a hyperbole. The same applies to life. You need to pace yourself in whatever situation you’re in…whether you want certain things to happen and they don’t, or you can’t find a job, a boyfriend/girlfriend…just calm down, breathe in slowly, pace yourself and push forward. You’ll get there.

2. Keep good company

To be honest, running with a friend is always much more fun than running by myself. My friend, Bridget, keeps me simultaneously entertained and focused on this arduous activity. In life, you need to surround yourself with good people that will do the same for you. Friends should support you and be good influences in your life. It’s not that hard to find a good support system. Seek these people out! They’re worth it!

3. Sometimes you just have to be alone

Yes, running by yourself is such a liberating experience. You will find a way to focus on yourself, enjoy your surroundings, and pursue self-improvement through running. You should expect the same out of life. You can’t always be surrounded by friends. Sometimes you need to cool off, stay home, and treat yourself…just you, no one else.

4. Hydrate

Just….really? Just drink plenty of fluids in life, when you exercise, whenever. Just do it.

5. Stay away from attacks

FUN anecdote: I went on a run to a park nearby. Wings flapping, bawking, and BAM! A bird attacked me. It pecked my head consistently and it was angry at me. Sure, it doesn’t sound like a “real attack”, but it was a little too “Hitchcock” for my taste and it was really scary in the moment.

On another fun note, every single time I go for a run, there are creepy men available for catcalling. Yes, the infamous disgusting tale of random creeps “complimenting” a young woman from afar instead of minding their own business. As scary as the bird attack was, I am NOT a fan of catcalling. It is really terrifying to feel like no matter what, there will always be a creep yelling “compliments” at you.

My point is that, in life as well as in running, you need to stay away from these kinds of attack. However, sometimes they are completely inevitable. My advice is to keep your cool, calm down, and ignore the attacks from birds, catcallers or anyone, really.

Running, like life, doesn’t always have to be a pain. In short, you may feel like giving up or dying, but you can do it! Keep your focus, pace yourself, and enjoy life!

The Applesauce Theory

applesauce-fake-it-or-make-it-484

A few months ago, a friend and I were discussing the daunting “was that a date?” question. At the time, some of our close girlfriends were struggling with men and their lack of clarity when it came to going out one-on-one. Thus, the applesauce theory was born.

The Applesauce Theory is simple. Back in kindergarten (or pre-school), you would sit down for snack time next to your friends. Then, out of the blue, the cute kid from class would sit next to you and put his applesauce on the table. If he had a crush on you, he would be clear and say: “Hi Patricia, do you want to share this applesauce with me?” I would agree and we would giddily sit next to one another knowing that that was as serious as it could be in kindergarten. On the other hand, some other punk would sit down next to you, put his applesauce right between you and him, and then you wouldn’t know. Does he want to share his applesauce? Is he interested in me? He just wasn’t clear…as if he were expecting you to make the first move.

Apparently, men haven’t really changed a lot since pre-school. It’s all about putting the applesauce on the table while you’re sitting there arms crossed wondering whether or not he wants you to have some. The lack of clarity is disconcerting because it doesn’t really take a lot to be clear. A simple “Hi [insert name], do you want to go out with me?”  is more than enough, but instead we’re all left wondering whether or not “hanging out” is a date.

Needless to say, the Applesauce Theory only expects men to own up to their intentions when they’re wooing a woman. It’s truly not that hard.

Drop the following excuses and get on board! It’s simple!

1. If it ain’t true, it ain’t love…

Okay. Asking a girl out on a date does not mean that you’re committing forever and ever to this one girl. However, it does help a girl figure out your intentions. We live in a society full of “hanging out”, banal text messages, and hookups. If you keep perpetuating the never-ending cycle of the applesauce theory, you won’t finally get the girl. You’ll end up wondering why she kept hanging out with Mr. I-can share-my-applesauce and friend-zoned you.

2. Women just get “too clingy”

Women: Do not  get clingy. As I stated before, going out on one date does not mean that you’re marrying the guy, having his children, and living happily ever after. It just means that he intends to get to know you better. Don’t be like Jess from New Girl.  Calm down, breathe, stop trying on fifteen different outfits, and relax

3. The Friend Zone.

Ah, the dreaded friend zone. I have so many guy friends who have expressed the constant frustration of being put into the friend zone category…or even worse, the “sibling zone”. This zone is easily avoided when you muster up the courage to ask the girl out and have the conversation that you very much need to have. If you’ve been flirting endlessly for years (or months) and you still haven’t made your feelings clear, you’re doing it wrong. Make a move, be daring, and let them know how you feel.

4. The Fear of Rejection

But…we’re such good friends, what if she rejects me? It’ll be so awkward. Fear is stopping you from sharing applesauce. Don’t let this happen. As Peter McWilliams said, “It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does.” I’m not going to lie. Rejection sucks. There’s no way around it, but it’s also a very essential part of life. I would rather know how the other person feels about me than stay in the perpetual state of “hanging out” while the applesauce on the table gets stale, moldy, and gross. I know that it’s hard, but just…do it!

5. The Proof is in the Applesauce

Men: if you’re interested in a woman, make it clear. As Francis Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Why don’t you tell me that ‘if the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you’? No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.” If you don’t make your intentions clear, how are we supposed to know that you’re interested… just guess? No. Let her know. Otherwise, Mr. I-can-share-my-applesauce will come around and sweep her off her feet.

Go ahead! Ask your crush out…it’ll be worth it!