Tying up Loose Ends

Tomorrow is my last day in New Mexico. If you had told me five years ago when I moved here that I would have a bittersweet goodbye, I’d tell you that you’re crazy. A lot can change in five years though. I think about the young woman I was when I moved – upset, confused, worried. She was still looking for something that brought her joy and fulfillment. She wished away her youth.

I don’t reject the person I was five years ago. Every part of my life has brought me to this moment today, which is one that I am very grateful for. Now that it’s time to go, I have been focusing on tying up loose ends in New Mexico. Saying goodbye to old friends, packing, cleaning, collecting checks, moving money, scanning documents, thinking about the future¬†a lot.

Thirteen-year-old me would be thrilled at the idea of leaving and going somewhere such as Montreal, but I’ve grown fond of this little valley and all of its quirks. When I wave goodbye tomorrow, I will remember all of the fond times I had with friends and family. I will remember late nights with my friends, collecting lab samples at the lake, and staying up to watch Game of Thrones.

Thank you Moreno Valley, it’s been fun. I’ve grown out of you, but I haven’t grown beyond you. I’ll be back soon.

Eloragh

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Academic Finance Lessons

As I’ve been focusing on transitioning from teenage life to adult life, I’ve come to see that school has failed to teach me many things. A good understanding of how to balance my finances happens to be in that pile. Here’s why I think schools are bad at teaching students what to do with their money: they’re run by the government.

When I was a Montessori kid, some of my first lessons were about trading. I would count dried beans and trade them with the other students. I learned quickly that larger beans were worth two or three little beans unless they weren’t heavy. We all had our ways of deciding how many beans we were willing to part with. When I left Montessori and entered public school, I was appalled at the lack of beans. It would be twelve years until I had another finance class.

My senior year, our life and health teacher made an attempt to teach us how to budget. She used outdated worksheets from an outreach attempt made by some obscure bank. Many of them were vague and confusing, leaving much of the class with a failing grade and still no understanding of how to manage our paychecks. It was beyond frustrating. We had to move on due to the governments need to make everything seem as though it is progressing at a standard rate, and thus we all left feeling nervous about our fiscal future.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of government. I’ve dealt with two different kinds and seen them both fail miserably to meet the needs of their citizens. The reality is, government schools are bad at teaching finance because the government is terrible with its finances. I can’t remember a year when I haven’t heard news about the “debt ceiling” or “trade deficit” that we always seem to be dealing with. Although the repetitive stories I’m referring to may all be an attempt at outrage media, I still remember feeling annoyed by the numerous administration’s continued inability to budget themselves.

I’m moving to a completely different country where the currency is lower in value than USD. I am nervous about investing, transferring money, traveling, paying my bills, getting a job, and being monitored by two different tax collecting agencies. School never taught me how to handle these worries, so now it’s up to me to figure it out. I would hope that after 12+ years in education I would know how to balance a checkbook, but I guess that’s just not on the government’s list of educational priorities. No wonder we’re all dazed and broke.

Eloragh

 

Long Days in the Airport

Long days are inevitable, long days at the airport are just cruel. I actually enjoy airports a little bit. I think I like the busy energy that they exude. However, when I’m in a rush, catching an early flight, or doing anything that involves exhausted effort on my part, it can make my day hell.

I had a long ass day today and I was a bitch the entire time. I feel bad for my father who traveled with me, although I’m sure he’s used to this type of behavior. He leaves me be and lets me sulk until I feel like I can participate in some kind of human interaction again. Until that time comes, I’m awful to be around.

Sometimes, you have to give yourself permission to just throw a tantrum. Not often, frequent tantrums are reserved for infants, unfortunately. I think a tantrum in whatever form it may express itself can be healthy. Humans get fed up with stuff, especially our own inability to explain just how fed up we are.

Eloragh

Camp

I’m not a happy camper. Honestly, I have lived the life of a modern-day princess since I was a kid, and I don’t deny it. I don’t think it makes me any less of a hard worker, in fact, I think it makes me strive for more. I have come to understand that my lifestyle is one that I enjoy and wish to maintain.

My dad, on the other hand, loves camp. We have a cabin in Northern Ontario where we go every summer. This one was no exception. I am here until Monday and I’m going to make the best of it, but mosquitos, creaky beds, and barely functional wifi are going to make it less than ideal. Coming up to camp makes my dad happy and he has supported me since I could form memories. I love him, he deserves to spend some time with family in a place he loves.

Today was a hard day. We had 13 hours of travel and Ontario looks mostly the same wherever you are, so it was pretty boring. Tomorrow will be much more exciting.

Eloragh

Miscommunication

Mistakes happen, it’s nothing to be upset or irritated about. Life is full of errors. Something I always tell my parents is that I really want the freedom to make mistakes. I think one of my most significant flaws is that I know I can fall back on them. I do believe I will need to sweep them out from underneath me soon, so I see the reality of my mistakes. I can’t have that safety net, or I’ll never whip myself into shape.

With that being said, most mistakes are caused by some form of miscommunication. Today, I was supposed to have a phone call, but I had failed to give the other party my number, and they had failed to do so as well. We sent emails back and forth for an hour, and I sat on a Zoom call for 30 minutes before I had to ask them to reschedule due to another commitment. This was neither their fault nor mine. We both are busy people, and busy people make little errors every day.

My little errors annoy me. I think about how easily this problem could have been avoided, and that makes me frustrated. I wish I had remembered to send them my number or clarify that I would prefer using Zoom. Either way, I solicited the call, so that failure was on me. I still feel that safety net beneath me and I wonder how I would be feeling about this experience if it were not there.

Communication is what I want to do. I like communicating with people, I think it’s challenging and rewarding. There are a lot of ways to make a conversation, email, or message go wrong, but if you can say what you want to say well, it’s more impressive than most people realize. Making a good first correspondence is essential. It sets the stage for any relationship – romantic, business, etc. That’s why I’m so intrigued by it. I’m fascinated by how much our interactions influence our ability to work together in any given setting.

These last few days have been strange. I am saying goodbye to Montreal and this apartment that has brought me so much comfort and stability. I have a fantastic view of the river, a health foods store with pre-made (delicious) salads right below me, and I am only a kilometer from the entertainment district. Packing is painful, more arduous that it has ever been before. Perhaps, I miscommunicated how much of an impact this city has had on my behavior. Maybe I haven’t realized the full extent of how happy I am here.

Either way, I can’t come back until the end of August. Three weeks doesn’t sound too long, but it’s only a week less than I spent here and look at how that changed me.

Eloragh

Bilingual

I spent four years, 9th through 12th grade, trying to learn Russian.  I would sit in a classroom 4 days a week and stare at an online language learning software for 70 minutes. Usually, I ended my sessions more confused than I had started, wondering where all of the information I was supposed to have learned over the years had gone.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been in a French-speaking country. By just making an effort to speak the language as much as possible, I have learned more about linguistic concepts in 20 days than I did in 4 years of classroom education. Albeit French is much closer to English than Russian, I believe there are many other narratives similar to mine that would support this idea. It frustrates me to think that I spent 70 minutes a day, four days a week, 9 months a year, for 4 years trying to learn a language in a totally unnatural way. That’s 43,000+ minutes or roughly 720 hours of wasted time.

I can’t say anything sophisticated in French, but I can cash out at the grocery store and make baristas smile when I mispronounce something. I have made a lot more connections with people while trying to learn a language naturally than I ever imagined I could. Making an effort to speak in French has been a straightforward and considerate way to make good impressions and even gather a few friends. People generally want foreigners to try to fit in (assimilate, if you will, but that sounds a little too Manifest Destiny for this piece) and doing your best to speak their native language is a fantastic starting place. I want to encourage every linguistics student to think about their time spent in the classroom and then think about how much of that could have been used speaking languages, making real-world connections, and gathering a network of diverse, intelligent people.

Linguistics is a passion of mine so I wouldn’t put down anyone who wants to go to school for it, but I tend to think that a degree in it might be a little silly. What’s more impressive to an employer, a degree in linguistics or fluency in four languages? Which of those accomplishments is going to add more value to their business? I have always been drawn to languages, but I am only beginning to understand how difficult it is to comprehend them without being submerged in the culture they developed from.

I don’t regret my time spent learning Russian. It taught me patience, devotion, and the Cyrillic alphabet, which I probably could not have learned without a classroom. However, it also showed me that my time is something I should give out very cautiously. Those days clicking away on Rosetta Stone were not the most efficient way to learn. Language and the history of communication are so fascinating; I want to absorb as much of them as possible, which means I should be using the most effective tools possible. Language connects people and gives them a common ground. Teaching something like that in an academic setting with very little back and forth communication turns the entire class into an oxymoron.

Eloragh

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smooth Jazz

This week is the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal or the Montreal International Festival of Jazz. This seven-day extravaganza has made my beautiful city infested with tourists, but I get to listen to some sweet jazz for free, so I really can’t complain. This week was tough, Montreal experienced a record-breaking heatwave, but it didn’t stop the Quebecois from getting black-out drunk on wine and cheese while listening to obscure jazz bands.

The festival has brought back some fond memories. The smell of Canadian cigarettes, expensive weed, and Queues de Castor remind me of Carnival in Quebec City and summer nights in Ontario. My cousin used to come up to our cabin stoned, and I remember thinking of how much I hated the stench of pot. Now, however, it makes me miss him and his fearless attitude. He has not had it easy in life, but he has thrown himself into everything he has done with apprehension or worry. I admire that about him.

My grandmother and I used to sit out on her dock, watching the sun sink into the river after a long day of fishing and swimming and trespassing on islands. It was almost as though the star was just as exhausted as we are, falling slowly into the water where it would wait for us to be ready for another day. I would listen to the crickets and watch the dragonflies chase each other. It was peaceful, it became a moment frozen in time.

The Winter Carnival in Quebec City practically trapped me. I fell in love with the province when I was eleven, promising myself that I would live there when I was older. It was true magic to see a carnival made out of ice and snow. Vendors would heat up maple syrup, make little divots in the snow, and pour the molten sugar into them, making little maple lollipops right in front of the kids. Those bitter, cold days in QC hold some of my fondest memories.

Sitting here, in a chain coffee shop at 9pm, with a shitty iced latte and a protein bar, I wonder how I made it all happen. How I truly let my memories of what made me happy shape my future. There is a musician outside, singing on a massive stage, with a crowd of thousands of people watching her. I wonder if she’s thinking the same thing.

Eloragh