California, Ideas, Life, Murcia, Random Thoughts, Sausalito, Teaching, Travel, United States

The Last Bag of Goldfish Crackers

When I was in first grade, my school’s Peruvian Spanish teacher Señora Buckley would sometimes reward us with Goldfish crackers whenever we did something correctly.

Did you count to six? Here are six Goldfish. Were you able to say “dog” in Spanish? Here’s one Goldfish…

Being only six years old, Spanish wasn’t necessarily a subject that I enjoyed. Power Rangers, GI Joes, and Ninja Turtles already took priority in my life so anything else would need to be crayoned into my seemingly occupied elementary school schedule.

I’m not sure if treat training was the best way of helping us learn, but it was a great way to introduce a delicious and baked snack into my diet.

Blinking my eyes, all of a sudden I’m not a six year old anymore. The memories of clamors of young learners trying to sputter Spanish have been replaced with the rhythm of some nearly forgotten 90’s pop song being softly circulated through aisle six of a Safeway grocery store.

Blinking again, I’m almost thirty-one years old and for some reason the plastic handle of a shopping basket is firmly gripped within the web of my right hand’s fingers.

The last blink induced a deep inhale, as I needed to recollect myself and bring my mind back to the present.

Standing in aisle six, I reach my free hand outward and grab a bag of Parmesan cheese flavored Goldfish crackers. Señora Buckley flashes in my consciousness as I hold a bag of savory vices and toss it in the basket. I want to take more, but one bag is all I can muster without feeling like a complete lush.

Part of the reason why I’m buying this bag is to feed my tastebuds. Another reason why I’m here is to say goodbye. I’ve come to Safeway to pay respects and bid farewell to some foods that I love, such as, well, Goldfish crackers, Siracha hot sauce, Tortilla Factory brand tortillas, and a handful of other items.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be leaving California and returning to Murcia, Spain to work as an English teacher for seven months. This will be my third school year in this part of the world, and it’s hard to believe that it’s happening yet again. I’m excited to be coming back to the place that feels like a second home, but the foods listed above won’t be available in Murcia. This is totally ok, as Spain has some great culinary staples that aren’t available in California either. It’s a fair trade, but saying bye to Goldfish is perhaps the toughest pill to swallow.

With my last bag of Goldfish safely guarded by the shopping basket, I feel grateful to be given another opportunity to work in Murcia. There are a lot of wonderful people who I can’t wait to see upon arrival into Spain, but there are a lot folks in California/Missoula/Bend who made this summer back home truly memorable. Between weddings, catching up with family, reconnecting with friends, and sharing some awesome memories, (and passing subtest one of the CSET), this summer was maybe the best I’ve ever had. There are a lot of people who I would like to thank for making this summer great and also for making this return to Spain possible, but making you read the full list would make you late for something more important.

I don’t know what will happen once I get back to Murcia, nor do I know if this is the best thing that I should be doing with my life. The only thing I know is that being in Murcia, like the bag of Goldfish that I’m about to barbarically tear open, is something that makes me feel happy.  This doesn’t mean that California or living in the US is something that makes me unhappy, I feel fortunate to say that I’m really happy there too. My heart likes being in different places, and right now it’s beating with a sound that says I need to be back in Spain. Maybe I should see a doctor about that…

Either way, I’m excited to see what happens.

I’ve been standing in front of the crackers for way too long now, and that combined with the fact that I haven’t brushed my teeth yet today is putting some protective Marin moms, shopping carts a safe distance away, on red alert.

It’s time to not say goodbye. It’s time to say “see you next summer.”

Friends and family in California and the United States, I love you a lot. Stay safe, wash your face before bed, and see you soon 🙂

Life, Poems, Random Thoughts

English Teacher Crosswalkings

I’m on a quest for a phrasal verb.

Give me an idiom and I’ll give you a high-five.

Give me a few in thirty seconds and I’ll charge you ten euros.

I’m walking down the street, looking like I don’t have any damns to give.

We make eye contact on a corner and somewhere I find one more stashed in my back pocket.

It was hiding next to the multi colored dice and plastic pencil sharpener.

I’m thinking of a person, place, or thing.

Before you can ask the first question, the crosswalk light turns green.

A mechanical voice is presenting us a choice to continue walking.

The mood is now becoming imperative.

I blink twice and you’re gone.

Give me one lie and I’ll tell you two truths.

The first is that you’re beautiful.

The second is farewell.

Life, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Next Five Minutes

The next five minutes might be the only time in our lives when you and I ever share a single thing in common.

You’ve stumbled on this blog and I decided to take time to write a little bit of nonsense into it.

The next five minutes will go by quickly, and you will hardly know that they ever passed by. This happens to me a regular basis. Thinking that this will only take five minutes can happen twelve times in an hour and depending on your sleep schedule nearly three hundred times in a single day.

Where do all of those five minutes ago?

Sometimes we use them to have a quick meal, to go for a jog, to hide from our boss, to read the news, to listen to a song, or in many cases to think about what happened five minutes ago.

Looking back on thirty years of life, I know that I have wasted many five minutes. Perhaps I was too concerned about something that didn’t really matter or maybe I was too busy staring at birds on trees.

Five minutes really aren’t anything, but in some cases they can be everything that truly matters.

In the past five minutes, somewhere in the world, a person just kissed for the first time. Someone has gotten a promotion, been accepted to a university, dumped by their girlfriend, and finally told the guy next to her how much they care about them.

Five minutes ago a baby just saw light for the first time and in a hospital a terminally ill patient doesn’t know if he’ll experience a minute in this world ever again.

When I get old it might only take five minutes to reflect on what the hell this life was all about.

I don’t want to spend any of my five minutes regretting moments where I didn’t do what made me happy, or didn’t have the courage to do something I thought was right.

Five minutes are precious, and even though the past five minutes will never come back to us, I am thankful that they happened, and more importantly grateful that there are another five minutes of enjoying waiting around the corner.

I’m happy we got to share these past five minutes together, whatever you decide to do after this is purely up to you.

Go fly a kite, write a letter, or say something that rhymes just for the better. Whatever it is, live it the way you want to live it.

Enjoy the next five minutes, after sitting through this blog post you definitely have earned them. 😉

Thank you for reading, maybe the next post is coming in five minutes!

Life, Montana, Random Thoughts, Travel

Views from the 406

Note: Started on Monday in Missoula, finished this morning somewhere else


Today is Monday and currently I am pairing a cup of English Breakfast tea with relaxing at a Missoula, Montana based coffee shop called The Break. Somewhere a stereo is serenading the the faded brick room of casual coffee drinkers with piano and saxophone laced jazz music. During the height of my college career you could find me cramming for a test or thinking about what classes I’d be taking the following semester. A few years older, I’m now cramming through a local newspaper and thinking about what I’ll be doing with the rest of my life. 

This might be my last Monday in Montana for quite a long time. Tomorrow at 11am I’ll be boarding a flight destined for Seattle, where a handful of really good friends (Alvin, Holly, Vanessa) have recently migrated. Inside I want to say that I’ll be back in Missoula again within a couple months, but the reality is that who really knows. After six nights at my families’ cabin in Trout Creek, Montana followed by a week here in Missoula I feel nothing short of great.

This trip to the North was very necessary, not only for my mind but also for my soul. On September 28th, my Mom and I arrived at the cabin that my grandfather George built over 50 years ago. We flew into Spokane, Washington then drove a rental car through Sandpoint, Idaho (a great small town) towards Trout Creek, Montana. It was six days of just us. This was probably the first time since I was a child that we had stayed in the same place together for that length of time. Hiking to the Kootenai Falls, burgers at The Wayside, dinner with our neighbors the Dunns, and merciless games of checkers consumed our stay in Trout Creek. Luckily after six days of sharing a cabin together we still decided to be friends, so that is something to be happy about.

On October 4th, my Mom drove me to Missoula and after eating lunch at Tamarack Brewery she dropped me off at The Shady Spruce hostel. She would then head back to Trout Creek and I would be staying here for the next seven nights. This is the best and only hostel in Missoula, quite possibly in all of Western Montana. Located a block from the downtown strip, this sixteen bed resting place has been a quiet yet joyful home base.  After a couple nights of staying here it started to feel like a “ghost” hostel because each night my dorm room would be full with mostly non-social travelers and by the time I woke up in the morning they would have already checked out, making it hard to believe that they were even there. This ended up being a good thing because I was able to spend more time revisiting town.

Besides getting pleasantly caffeinated in various coffee making establishments such as The Break, Bernices’ Bakery, Le Petit, Butterfly Herbs, Zoo Town Brew, and Black Coffee, the majority of time spent in Missoula was focused towards reconnecting with close friends. In no particular order it was truly special to be able to catch up with Ryan, Hannah, Chris, Brian, Shane, Jessica, Tracy, Z, Megan, Lauren, the Doubletree crew, Toni, David, Emma, Brigdet, Sarah, while also making some new friends in Dylan and Liz. These are all really great, and also quite cool, people.  Simply listing these names reminds me of how lucky I am to know them. 

Sitting here at The Break, I feel very satisfied from this trip back to Missoula. It had been two years since being here for more than a weekend, and despite feeling excited for the next leg of being fun-employed (Seattle/Portland) a big part of me wants to stay here. Nostalgia from of prior chapters of semi-adulthood keeps bringing me back here to Western Montana, however the desire to make new memories with people who matter is what makes me want to stay. In the past I wanted to relive moments from before, to keep old traditions going. However, being back here after two years, it’s evident that my friends and myself are following different paths and I know that those moments in time have passed. What’s important is that despite changes in life, we still are good friends. Coming together to simply hang out, get a beer, or go for a quick bite are all that matters. 

This morning while walking for coffee it started to snow in Missoula. The last time I saw snow in Montana was back in 2012 and back then I thought that I’d never want spend another winter there. During the groggy stroll with fresh flakes of frozen water landing on my face something inside was ready to welcome winter back into my life. Perhaps a return to Missoula will be happening a lot sooner than later. 

Maybe I was getting teary eyed on that walk or maybe there was just a lot of moisture in the air.

Either way, it was glorious.

California, Life, Random Thoughts, Travel

The Wagon

As I sit in front of my computer the month of August is drawing closer to its half-way point. Rays of sunshine are beaming through arches of standing glass windows. People can be heard enjoying their day, and unknown sounds of daytime frolicking are chiming a jingle of mental distraction. I find myself exiled within the second story of the Sausalito library. Inside my brain is reminding me that only about forty-five minutes have elapsed since first walking inside the building to study, however in my heart it feels like it’s been closer to a couple of years.

A few posts ago I mentioned how I wanted to be a teacher in the state of California and that the goal of passing a series of skills exams was a top priority. The struggle of concentrating on a balanced mental diet of CSET Multi Subject Test prep materials in front of me has never felt more real.

I have fallen off the study wagon.

The prior post about teaching came in early April, back when I felt inspired to study. I was volunteering at two elementary schools in order to a meet an application prerequisite for various state schools, and reviewing test documents a few hours each day.

Things were looking good.

Back then I was only working a couple days a week, so finding time to hit the books was quite easy. Somewhere between late May and early June I hit a wall. The combination of waking up early to volunteer, staying up late at my wine bar job, and finding the study materials increasingly hard to learn, I was burning out. The task of being ready for the next test seemed too steep. Even as I write this I don’t feel smart enough to pass it. I lost focus and lost interest, not being sure if this was the “best” choice for my future anymore.

After being certain that becoming a teacher was what I truly wanted, turbulence in the water was starting to send my voyage towards a destination of nowhere.

Volunteering ended in June, just as a second job as a server in a busy local restaurant took fruition. I decided to hit a pause button on studying and focus more on making money. Instead of cramming while working full-time, it seemed better to simply save up as much as possible and reflect on what I should be doing next. I hoped that by the time summer ended a more clear route for what I should be doing with my life would piece itself together.

Now in mid August, I have been maintaining a schedule of two part time jobs, a social media marketing gig, and balancing free time between friends or family. Up until a week ago the “break” from studying has blossomed into a two and half month long flower of procrastination.

Instead of studying I decided to fill the gaps with thinking about what I wanted with my future. Teaching? Business? Travel again until broke? Reality TV star?

A few weeks ago a friend of a friend said something, not directly to me, but to a group of people, that changed my way of thinking. He said that often times you won’t ever find the “best” thing, you simply have to go with one and see what happens.

This isn’t the most inspiring thing to ever hear, but having someone who has had success in his career say this made me feel differently for some reason.

I still don’t know if teaching really is meant for me, but decided a week ago to give this choice another chance.

Currently I find myself in the sixth day of consecutive studying. There isn’t a timetable for when I’ll register for the test that I’m currently studying for, nor is there a date for when I hope to have all the requirements completed before applying to San Francisco/Sonoma State to get a Mutli-Subject Teaching Credential.

Inside I already know that a lot will happen between now and then, but all that matters in my heart is that I move forward.

Phonemes, Stages of Literacy, John Locke, the Spartans, the California Republic. These terms, along with the slight chatter of librarians and the semi aggressive rustling of turned newspaper pages, will be my friends for an undetermined amount of time.

Day six has been rough.

This is what being back on the wagon feels like.

I want to know what day seven feels like…