Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Me vs. The Man (or something)

I shall tell you a harrowing tale of betrayal and lies, of savages and airheads. So, fasten your seatbelts.

I moved into my new pension on sunday where I was promised my own bathroom and a nice room for the expensive price of 130,000 pesos per month. That's very high but it's in a nice neighborhood so I accepted. Besides, I was tired of looking and bartering. However, there were several surprises waiting for me.

The first surprise came when I actually moved in on sunday and discovered that half of the room was filled with stuff. Half the closet, one of the dressers, the cabinet, two shelves, and a random duffle bag on the floor. When I asked them about it, the son came in and took a stack of movies from the corner and left. The movies were the least of my worries. The second and major surprise was that the son sleeps right next door and smokes like a the house. Also, the bus I take every morning was supposed to pass right outside my house - false. I had to run/walk for 12 minutes to take the bus. Other grievances: no hot water that morning, no heat, no hot breakfast. Not exactly the best start. I changed places the next day.

Now, let's talk about the company bus for a brief moment. Not only did my coworkers tell me the wrong street to wait for it at, but they also gave me the wrong directions to get to that wrong street. And, since two wrongs do NOT make a right, I got very lost. Even though I had woken up extra early, I still had to run like mad to get to the correct corner. Finally, legs trembling and lungs failing, I was standing at the right corner. Victory! Now all I had to do was signal the bus driver to stop as my (misguided) co-workers had told me.

I saw the bus coming two blocks away and prepared to signal him. I stuck out my hand in traditional fashion but he showed no signs of stopping. I started waving my arms - no reaction. Perhaps I wasn't making the right sign. I quickly reviewed all the secret hand-shakes I had learned as well as everything I knew about the gadianton robbers. Still no reaction from the bus driver. I was not going down that easy; I gritted my teeth and began chasing him at top speed in my dress shoes. Two and a half blocks later he stopped briefly because of traffic, but he was on the opposite side of three lanes of one-way traffic. I jumped up and down but he was blind to my existence. Luckily, he wasn't deaf to my existenence. After weighing the options carefully, I ran across all three lanes and knocked on the door of the bus...with a very angry look on my face.

I made it to work that day on time despite them all. I rose victorious over such notable foes as the smoker next door, the misguided co-workers, and the savage bus driver. To all my compatriots who silently fight similar battles I declare that it can be done! I wish you luck.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The World Spinds Madly On

I wanted to share some thoughts and pictures. Pictures first:

Here are the plants I work with. I have been drying these leaves and extracting DNA from them.

This is my desk in the lab. It is not much, but it is mine. Also, that is my lab coat. Yup, my very own. I am grinding up leaf samples to extract the DNA. I am using liquid nitrogen which makes it look infinitely cooler.

As to the title of the blog it is the title to a song by the weepies. Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Everything that I said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on

I wish that I had woken up sooner in my life to the possibilities that surrounded me all along. I don't want to let any more pass me by. I don't want to forget the promises I have made. I was listening to this song tonight and thinking "don't ever 'fall asleep'." I realized again, as I have in the past, the importance of taking the time to smile, to say I love you, to give a hug, and to put away your work when somebody needs you.

The other night my professor was at the office until 10:30 PM. He came home to eat and went back again. While he was gone his wife went to do the dishes and the kids didn't let her get anything done, so I started playing with them so she could finish. I was having great fun with them, but then I stopped and realized that their Dad should have been the one there with them.

I don't want to fall asleep while the world spins madly on. You inevitably wake up and realize that you have let the best stuff slip by. A guy that I knew had a list of 7 mottos to live by. When he passed away they were published as his obituary and one of the first ones was "people are always most important". I believe that.

So, to those I love and care about: I love you and I care about you and don't you ever forget it. Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a hug for me. I'll see you all soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Me and Julie Andrews

In honor of having spent a few solid days in Chile so far I felt it appropriate to make a list...Julie Andrews style!

A Few of my Favorite Things:

1) Food - I love Chilean food. The end.

2) People - People are very straight forward and less tightly wound here. It is nice.

3) Talking to Converts - I got to call some of my favorite people on earth last night and talk to them for the first time in almost three years. It was so nice to sit there and talk to them as I remember all the wonderful moments I had with them. Soon I will see them and it is going to be phenomenal.

4) The beautiful sky - There are fewer pollutants in the air and a lot more visible stars. I am in the coutryside where there aren't a ton of lights so I can go outside at night and look up at the stars and just think cool thoughts.

5) Lab Coats - Yup, I have a lab coat with my own name embroidered on it and I LOVE IT! I am mentioning this so you guys will be prepared for my come-back the next time you beat me at frisbee or cards or something "Well, I have my own lab coat..."

That is about it for now. Also, I went to church on sunday and I was a little shocked when the priesthood teacher said "wur ahr yu frum?" (where are you from?) in horrible english to me. I just laughed on the inside because I speak dutch better than he speaks english (I don't speak dutch). I made a special point of making lots of comments in his class. I think I surprised them : )

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Come in Houston..."

So, I made it aboard the plane in Salt Lake this time. I even made it aboard the plane in Atlanta. Then, against all odds, I even made it aboard the bus to Temuco. Finally, after more hours than I care to talk about, I have reached my final destination. I have even showered and had a good chance to sleep. In short, I am alive and well.

I have to say that coming back here at this particular time is one of the more interesting things that has ever happened to me. I started my mission in Chile during the American summer which coincides with the Chilean winter. I am coming back under the exact same circumstances. They use wood stoves to heat their homes here which puts a lot of smoke into the air during the winter. So, when I got on the bus and started to drive into the colder south I was overcome with memories, smells, sensations, and experiences that I had almost forgotten. It is really interesting to me how many of those memories are connected to those smells. Something as simple as the humidity and the smoke smell in the air takes me right back to four years ago when I stepped off the bus in Osorno.

This is the type of thing I would sit there and day-dream about during boring lectures in biodiversity. I cannot wait to go to my areas and visit the people I love. I saw the buses that said Pucon in the window and I wanted to just jump on board. Don't worry though, I still know where my home is.

So, will you guys still love me if I come home smelling like a campfire? I would like everyone to think about that for the next little while (three months). If the answer is no, I expect you to rethink until you have reached a better answer. I, in the meantime, will be having the time of my life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another Day, Another Disaster

Okay, to fully understand the tragedy that occurred on this seemingly normal day I am going to have to start at the very beginning.

I spent all day yesterday saying goodbye to all my close friends and packing up all of my belongings as well as preparing/teaching sunday school. I finally went to bed after 1:00 am. I had to get up at 7:30 am to do laundry, take my boxes over to Johan's apartment, obtain a criminal background check, stop by work to make sure my two replacements were still alive, and go get a physical. The physical was an interesting story all by itself, but I will tell that another day. Why would I leave all of these things until the very last minute like that? Well, I found out about the physical and the background check on friday at about 4:30 pm. Still, I felt like I could do it.

I was rushing like mad from the time I got up, but I managed to leave my house by 1:00 in plenty of time to get to Salt Lake City for my 4:35 flight. I was finally calming down as we got into the car and started driving to the airport. I thought "whew, I'm going to make it."

Then it occurred to me that I had forgotten to print off my itinerary. I quickly called my friend and asked her to tell me the confirmation number and flight number. She read me my confirmation number and then said "yup, your flight is through Delta and you are leaving at 2:57 pm." FYI, it was 2:57 pm at that very moment. For those of you who suffer from short-term memory loss, I firmly believed that my flight was leaving at 4:35 pm. If there was ever a time in my life when I felt like swearing the colors of the rainbow, that was it.

The next part of the story involved me talking with BYU travel and Delta airlines for a total of about an hour, and paying $280.00 to reschedule my flight for wednesday. I have never had somebody kick me in the gut repeatedly, but I assume that it must feel something like that.

The best part: I sold my contract today and the new kid has already moved into my spot. So, I will be couch surfing for the next two nights. Fortunately I am now at a point where I can laugh about it, as I hope you do when you read this. They say that laughter makes us healthier, so you are welcome.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The blog.

So, as many of you already know, I will be escaping to Chile for the summer to do plant genetics research. If you have already fallen asleep at my description, I am ashamed of you. If you are still awake, don't fret, that's all the detail I will go into. I will be leaving on May 11 to go back to the country I served my mission in and I won't be coming back until August 18. Excitement Level: 10/10.

People tend to look at me like I am a super genious when I tell them I am going to Chile to do plant genetics research. I laugh because I happen to be pretty normal, I just got lucky this time and convinced them otherwise.

Unfortunately, I can't sneak anybody into Chile via my luggage because it's expensive, lack of oxygen, customs, and airport personnel are not as careful with luggage as we hope. However, this blog has been designed to keep everybody "posted" (I kill myself) on how things are going. Maybe I am exaggerating how many people are interested, but ignorance can be bliss sometimes.

I'll see you guys when I get back.