Stringing my Life Together: Purishpa takini, takishpa purini.

Los Angelespi Ña Tikramurkani…
2010/08/13, 09:52
Filed under: Ecuador, Fieldwork, food, Kichwa, Los Angeles, Moving, Otavalo, Research, Thoughts, Travel

My apologies friends and family for not updating this (practically at all) while in Ecuador. Not having a laptop, the long hours of classes, and making it home in time for the meals and before the buses stopped running really made it difficult to sit down and write a quality entry. The night of my last post I went to a party in the community…ate too much, drank a bit, and learned how well the indígenas can party and dance. Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with an allergic reaction to bug bites, most likely from the pitikunka that were at the part of the village where the party was (pitikunka look like a cross between an ant and a flea).The next day I watched Spain’s glorious win in the World Cup finals, and won 3 litres of soda from a bet made with Segundo, Patricio’s brother, who was rooting for Holland.

Despite my failure to update while abroad, I do, however, plan to post pictures soon, and with those, short snippets to go along and catch you all up!

In the end, the program was a success and the host family was more than I could have ever hoped for. I left Ecuador being able to spend the majority of the last few days speaking Kichwa with Patricio (my teacher…though it would be about simple topics, such as about my family, buying fruit, etc. Technical conversations get to be pretty tough, especially since so much of the vocabulary has to be interpreted on your own to express ideas or things that historically weren’t a part of the culture). My reading and writing, and to some extent my listening, improved a great deal due to Patricio and I spending hours analyzing grammar, morphemes, and occasionally…well, frequently… wanting to rip our hair out.

Leaving was definitely the hardest part. The last day was spent at the Equatorial line with the family, balancing eggs on nails and other crazy experiments. Four of us were able to balance the egg!!

Certified Music Teacher and Egg Balancer!

When I got back, we had some hearty kinwa (quinua) soup followed by the cinnamon bundt cake I made the night before. Later, the sisters tried to teach me how to put the anaku on, though I was a absolutely terrible at it! (My homework while in the states is to figure out putting the anaku on, and also keep practicing the flute pieces and sanjuanes/sanjuanitos they taught me). We then spent the evening drinking to toast the trip, our friendship, and my despedida (licor de azaray, I think, though I can’t remember the name of the fruit very well).  This was followed by a long night of playing Screw Your Neighbor (see this website, though my family has a few house rules we play by, such as the King as a blocker, and playing on your honor…my grandma Polly will be so proud!), listening to the songs I recorded with Lauro (brother-in-law of Patricio) and some of Lauro’s sister’s family. When most of the family had to go home or go to sleep, there were hugs made that left tears left on each others’ shoulders. At 2:15am, I left Otavalo by taxi with Patricio’s parents and Segundo. We had some coffee at the airport before saying goodbye. It was the first time I cried at an airport.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of what I came back with, but basically I couldn’t help myself and purchased a few instruments and did most of my Christmas shopping in Ecuador. The trip back had an added charango in my backpack and a giant box with the gifts, most of my clothes, and a drum 🙂 Incredibly nerve-wrecking, but thankfully American Airlines did not let me down.

I’m realizing that my travels and studies are making life really complicated, but in a good way, since I now have family (or friends close enough to call family) all over the place. Though, no matter where I go, I am missing someone and someplace; the jokes, the hugs, the soccer, the smells, the food, the music. What really gets to me is realizing how hard it is for other people to travel and be able to visit me here in the states, whether in Los Angeles or in New York. Ever read the non-immigrant tourist visa requirements? Damn. I wish it were easier to have my friends and family make it here to visit from Mexico or Ecuador for example, and to be able to share my life with them as they have so generously shared theirs with me.

Back in Los Angeles, the apartment hunt is on. It appears I found the almost perfect apartment (perfect except for being INCREDIBLY small!!!) It is going to be totally worth it though. Time is being spent reminiscing about Ecuador, unpacking, mariachi rehearsals, and catching up with the handful of friends who are still in town for the summer. I will hopefully squeeze in a trip to NY, and then head back for year three of graduate study…officially a PhD student now 🙂

Ashta kashkaman!


Kay tutamantapi Los Angelesman llukshini…
2010/06/28, 01:31
Filed under: Ecuador, Kichwa, Los Angeles, Moving, Otavalo, Travel

I have been exhausted since I got up this morning. The academic year and the summer camp have completely depleted my energy. I slept like a rock last night but it still wasn’t enough.

I leave for the airport in two hours. ~17 hours later, I will be arriving in Quito, and sometime within 21 hours, I will be arriving at my new temporary home.

Don’t sleep in Jessie!!

The next six weeks of my life, stuffed into a small suitcase, my violin, and a backpack.

2009/06/10, 15:08
Filed under: Los Angeles, Moving, Research, Thoughts

Why would anyone start using a jackhammer at 8am for the last few days, consistently? Ugh, go figure, it’s finals time, I’m pulling 24 hour days, skipping meals, and somewhere on my street a jackhammer has to be used for several hours at a time (beginning at 8am). I’m counting down the days that I will not have to live in this apartment anymore.

My Nikon was delivered, which I will pick up following a shower and breakfast 🙂 Yay!!

Sooooo close to finishing finals….must….make….it….before….I collapse! (or go crazy)

2009/01/07, 07:51
Filed under: Los Angeles, Moving, Thoughts

Classes started today…I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous of my friends still on the semester system, but at least this quarter seems bearable and interesting (not that last quarter wasn’t, but the adjustment was pretty tough).

The trip back west went pretty well yesterday.  Took the obnoxiously early flight from JFK – LAX (I forgot that American Airlines charges for checked bags…even just for one…and in my half-asleep stupor I was pretty annoyed, but other than that things were fine).  I sat next to a woman who was friendly, we talked for a minute, and then we both went to reading books and taking naps.  Talk about a great person to sit with!!  I wish all rides were as smooth and had as considerate people as that one.  Granted, most of the plane slept the entire way.

It was tough to leave family, friends, and especially Gio at the airport.  I have to admit, long distance relationships are tough, but it has been worth every minute of it.  Luckily, Gio was able to catch an earlier flight home as stand-by for  $0.10 (the difference in taxes or something…payable in cash only!! 🙂   )  Unfortunately, his bag was sent to Aruba instead of Austin!

So anyways, when I landed in LAX, it was a weird sensation.  The weather here is BEAUTIFUL… it felt like the day in the spring time in NY…typically around Easter time, when it’s the FIRST day that the weather is just undeniably fantastic.  At a place like Potsdam, it’s the first day you look around and see EVERYONE has an excuse to be outside in the sun.  Playing sports.  Reading.  Walking.  Talking.  Practicing their instruments.  Eating.  Lounging around in the quads.  The first day you feel like life suddenly blossomed.  Or the first time you notice that the buds on the trees actually became leaves!  Then I realized that people who are from places like Los Angeles and have never lived in a 4-seasons region just don’t get that feeling or experience, and I’m really glad I do!  The last two days I’ve had an extra spring in my step 🙂

Okay, and to end this post, I will share my New Year’s Resolutions.

a) Try my best to adhere to a consistent, healthy sleep schedule. In bed between 10:30pm-12am (which gives me 24 minutes!)  I spent all last year teaching going to bed anywhere from 12am – 5am.  None of my other teaching friends did this.  Yes, I know I was crazy.  The miracle is, I never drank coffee or became a coffee drinker…and I made it through every day off sheer adrenaline and whatever else.  Granted, I spent many of my lunch periods napping.  Weeks of mid-terms and finals might require some fudging of this, but hopefully not!

b) Consistently practice Yoga again…perhaps even join a class at UCLA.  This is contingent with resolution a, and my hope is to wake up between 7am and 9am to practice yoga before classes.  This will give me the exercise I’ve always enjoyed, keep my endorphines up, and reduce stress.

c) Complete more of my reading and school work at school/in the library. Less distractions.  More of a relaxing vibe at home.  Enough said.

and finally…

d) Volunteer at the Lange Foundation down the street. I am severely deprived of animals (seeing as how I’ve never NOT had a pet in my life, and I really miss being around animals.  Heck, when I don’t think anyone is looking, I stare at and talk to the squirrels on campus sometimes!)  I also am worried about adopting a pet due to limited funds and uncertainty of where I’ll have an apartment next year.  I would be completely devastated if I had to give up a pet due to something as much of a nuisance as strict landlords.  I hope they’ll understand I’m a graduate student and not mind that it might be only a few hours a week and the availability changes frequently with the quarter system.

Flights, flights, and more flights.
2008/10/23, 03:10
Filed under: Moving

It’s midterm season…I’ve been MIA due to a healthy double dose of work and having had Gio visit two weekends ago.

Having Gio here was great, although it wasn’t long enough.  We were able to celebrate our 4 year (well, 3 years and 11 months) anniversary together.  For our dinner, Gio took me out to Bubba Gump on the Santa Monica Pier because he knows I love the movie Forrest Gump (and he has always wanted to go to the Pier because he would watch the Lost Boys all the time…something I’ve never seen and don’t have a clue about).  We got off the bus at the wrong stop, so we had a LOOOONNG romantic walk down the beach in almost complete darkness.  Hah, whoops!

Besides that, I’ve just been doing work, work, work, and trying to find deals for the holidays for flights, which I’m finally finished with.

FYI: For flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas… $769.10.  Ouch, talk about a chunk out of my savings.  Looks like next year I’ll be having a sunny, palm tree filled Christmas  😦

Advice #7(8,9,10? I forget):  When you move out of state, DON’T EXPECT YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS TO BE HONORED.  I had one that should have lasted until February.  I spoke with my doctor about how I was moving, I spoke with a representative at the graduate student orientation here, I spoke with the pharmacist here…NOWHERE along the line was there even a hint that my prescription would not be honored from New York.  Go figure.  I found out only when I was trying to refill it a week before I needed it.

Alright, I’m hitting the books!

Celebrating four years at the Santa Monica Pier

Celebrating four years at the Santa Monica Pier

2008/08/30, 17:40
Filed under: Moving, Thoughts | Tags:

Well, earlier I wrote how I accepted my UCLA offer, and with school approaching I am in transit of the big move.

It’s pretty overwhelming…and expensive! The original plan was to drive in a two car caravan with Tara, my roommate. Little did I know how expensive that would be for me (seeing as I had to rent a car).

Rental ~$660
Taxes, and insurance, ~$100+
Fees for being under 25 ~ $150 ($35 a day if leaving from New York)

…and then gas on top of that…2691.18 miles at 30mpg…which would be about 90 gallons worth of gas…multiplied by about $3.67/gallon…it’s about $329.22 in gas.

And that’s all if nothing happens and everything goes exactly as scheduled, THEN motels/food/etc. ($20 a day in food…extra $100, then 2-3 nights worth of hotel, ~$90)

TOTAL estimate for renting a car and driving: $1519.22

Not to mention the exhaustion from driving at least 10 hours a day.

So I decided to check into costs for flying.

– 2 plane tickets (for my brother and I) to Las Vegas… $490 (and a free flight back for my brother).

– Catching a ride with Gio’s mom and only having to pay for gas, ~$50-$100.

TOTAL for flying/driving: $590!!! SOLD! Plus we got to see the Grand Canyon from the air

Flying was worth it so I packed up two suitcases, a carry-on, a small purse/bag thing, and my violin case. About 150lbs worth of luggage all together. Funny how much you condense possessions in your life when you have to; how little your life can fit into, and how little you actually need. I met a violinist in Spain who was from Cuba. He wanted to move to Europe to be with his brother, and did so when a Cuban orchestra toured Northern Europe. He packed a few days worth of underwear into his violin case, told his colleagues he was running out to catch some breakfast before rehearsal, and never went back. The violinist and his brother were fantastic musicians (his brother taught a children’s choir) and we still keep in touch off and on

So off to spend a day or so in Vegas before the last leg. Tara met up with us here and is on her way to LA with her sister already. We’re bound to leave in about an hour and a half.

I went to the strip with my brother yesterday. No gambling, thank goodness! We walked down from the sign near Mandalay Bay to Treasure Island, and only spent money on a bit of food and the Titanic exhibit. It’s about 107 degrees the past few days…MUCH more comfortable than the 120 degrees I dealt with last year.
Los Angeles, here we come!