22 February, 2007

back to the US??

I finally got ahold of the HR lady in DC regarding the potential Exec. Assis. position that I had applied for. We had a good conversation and she said "you sound perfect for the job, although I think it may not be challenging enough for you", because the administrative work may get boring. I then asked her if there was anything else that I could perhaps do if the work is caught up and I have some free time....like assist someone else, or something. She said that the VP was thinking about someone to help him with research so maybe that is something I could do...

The organization is the Global Health Council and they have offices in Vermont and in Washington DC. the Vermont office does the administrative work, newsletters, magazines, website, etc...the DC office is in charge of Public Policy...they focus on health issues around the world, for instance when Bushwack submited his 2.9 trillion dollar budget request for 2008 and allocated 5.4 billion for HIV/AIDS it sounds good but what the people aren't aware of is that he is planning to cut funding for family planning and child and maternal health, plus out of the 5.4 billion, 4.1 is designated for just 15 countries. The Global HEalth Council supports the presidents initiatives and money, however they want the money to be distributed more evenly and to be more of a conprehensive approach to the global health needs. People should have access to basic health services such as vaccines for poor children and obstetric care for pregnant women. The GHC is a voice for what should be done and that money should be allocated to many causes not just the ones that make the headlines. The DC office helps to figure out where the money should to and how it should be spend and managed. They are the voice for Non-Governmental Health organizations.

Okay, well the interview with the HR manager ended with her making me an appointment to speak directly with the VP later that day! I wrote down all my good qualities (A VERY log list, ha ha) and my strengths and one weakness, really, I could only think of one... When I called Mr. VP at 9 PM my time, he picked up right away and I shoved the cold rushing feeling of nervousness away and relaxed. We had a long conversation about my past work history and life. I didn't express my desire to quit my masters very well, I think. I kind of stumbled around because I hadn't thought about how to express my feelings that although the masters is important to me as well as my thesis, I am prepared to go into a job with the right organization if I feel it is right for me. (of course now it is easy to express!)

The interview lasted about an hour and I was feeling really confident until he said "well, we have a couple more phone interviews and then we will need to meet you in person and have the candidates meet the others in the office." At that point, I was a little deflated. I guess I had not thought about that part...of course they can't just hire me over the phone. THey will let me know if I am one of the finalists next week and then I will have to decide if I am willing to fly to DC from spain for an interview knowing that I may not get the position. The position would start ASAP, but the HR lady said that they could possibly wait until the end of April if necessary...which would of course be better for me, since I would have alot of stuff to do before then...

I feel really good about the work that this organization does and VP mentioned that it is definitely a place where you wil get out of it as much as you want. You can just come in and do your '9 to 5' or you can be more active and move around in the organization, which is exactly what I would like to do.

now i wait...

19 February, 2007

coincidence? I think not...

now that I am much more aware of how the subconscious mind works, it is getting extremely "freaky" how things are clicking and moving and combining and just well, weird...in a good way. examples...

I went out with my friend M and we were walking randomly through the streets of Castellon and we saw a couple of oldish men talking. M told me that the (70 + or - yearold) ecentric one (he had little braids in his beard, flowers in his long hair and non-typical clothing) was a famous spanish painter from Castellon. It was just a random mention as we walked by. The next day when I taught English to a teenage girl and her father, we were just having conversation so they could better their speech and pronounciation so she asked me if I knew about the famous painter from Castellon. I just looked at her and said "yes, I have seen him"...

I went to the beach last weekend and I was telling R how much I missed my dog, Mattie. I was talking about how much fun she would have running on the beach and in the water. I then decided to take a walk alone to "ponder life" and while I was walking I began to really think about how much I would like to see her and pet her soft fur. All of a sudden I looked up and this lady was walking towards the water with a "mini-mattie-look-alike" puppy bouncing at her feet. I just stopped and stared at this puppy running towards me. I reached down to pet it and the dog just sat down and looked at me. As I walked off, I felt refreshed and not sad anymore...

R told me that he was going to send his friend (who was to meet us later that day) a message and tell the friend to send him a "missed call" when he gets to the cafe. A "missed call"?? (someone calling someone else letting it ring once and then hanging up) Maybe this goes on everywhere, but it was new to me...in Spain it happens quite often and we proceeded to have this indept conversation about missed calls and the NEXT DAY I was going out with a new spanish friend and he said "Melinda, I'll give you a missed call when I get to your flat." I just smiled and said "okay".

more and more often this happens...just when I find out something new, a situation occurs where I need or can use that information...

12 February, 2007

AUGGGHH

I am pissed! the day started out normal...I was studying my Spanish (for a change) in the living room, and the door bell rang. I answered it and there was a little Spanish man and he told me that there was water running from our balcony...I thought shit! why? He pointed towards the kitchen. we went in and I opened the laundry room door and saw that it was flooded. The laundry room is off the kitchen and is kind of like a screened in porch (for lack of a better way to describe it).

There are holes that allow water (if flooded) to pour out of the room and onto the street below. Well we are on the 4th floor, so the water was streaming out of the holes directly onto a store front below us. The water was coming from the washing machine which was leaking. I do not know how it transpired but somehow the old man was contacted because he is the brother of our landlady and he lives in the same building as me.

Our landlady then came over and she is so sweet and nice. The problem with me began when I realized the the kitchen looked like a pig pen. I have stayed out of that room today (except for a brief dash in to fill my coffee cup), because I knew if I went in there I would not be able to stand the disgusting mess and then I would clean it (I was hoping one of my roommates would take the innitiative). So when Carmen and I walked thought the kitchen to get to the laundry room I cringed. Then when she looked at the washer she opened this little compartment at the bottom of the washer and asked me to unscrew this knob. When I did so, out came the lint trap! I had not known that it was there!! It was totally corroded with...um...lint...so as Carmen was cleaning it she was muttering to herself. My Spanish is not that great, but I do know "muy sucio" means "very dirty". The other words probably meant "these tenants are the dirtiest people I have ever met in my life, pigs pigs pigs.".

I told her I was sorry and then replaced the trap. She then said she would have someone come fix the hose which was the problem (it had a cut in it). As she passed by RM#3's bedroom she commented as to why his mattress was on the floor and not on the bedframe. Of all days, to forget to close the door leading to that little pig's pen! I told her that he had broken a thingy that held the mattress up. She asked to see it, which made me cringe again since the bar thingy was in our storage closet which is completely full of shit! I managed to open the door to the closet and step inside and close the door before turning on the light. Once in there (it's a BIG closet) I moved shit around until I found the bar and brought it out (turning off the light before I stepped out). She looked at it and after another deep sigh (which doesn't need translation in any language) said she would have someone fix it and took it with her and left.

I am so humiliated, which I shouldn't be, but since I pride myself on cleanliness and just taking care of things, it really hurt my pride to have someone see the place in the state it was in. The one good thing is that RM#3 had cleaned the small bathroom so when Carmen went in there to look at the tile (that mysteriously fell off the wall when RM#1 was in there a couple weeks ago) at least that room was clean.

okay, that off my chest, now back to Spanish....I have to learn how to apologize profusely over and over.

11 February, 2007

gnocchi anyone?

Yesterday I was hungry and decided to make some potato gnocchi. I've made other kinds of gnocchi before and it always turns out yummy. I envisioned the the finished product (gnocchi with blue cheese sauce!) and started on this venture.

I was too lazy to go to the small fruit and vegetable market (my first mistake...) since the super mercadona (super market) was close to my house, so I was not able to but just 500g of potatoes, instead I had to buy a 2 kilo bag of them. I did the math (my second mistake...) and just figured that I would make a double batch of the gnocchi since I never eat potatoes and didn't want the leftover potatoes rotting in my cabinet.

I got home and because the potatoes were certainly not organic I had to peel them (as peelings contain the bulk of pesticides). After this I had to cut and then boil the potatoes. Whenthe potatoes were cooked I measured the 2.5 cups of flour to mix with the potatoes to make the "dough". I realized that there were ALOT of potatoes, but figured "oh well, I will just have gnocchi for the week". I started mixing the flour into the potatoes with my hand since we don't have a mixer. I mixed and mixed until the flour was gone and the "dough" was still completely sticky...I thought well, I'll just add a little more...

This went on and on until I figured something was really wrong! I had already added about 1.5 cups more flour than the recipe called for and it was still a long way from being "un-sticky". I looked at the recipe again and then it hit me...um...500g does not equal 1 kilo. One kilo is 1,000 g! I had made a guadruple batch! I then added about 1.5 cups more flour and it finally was ready, but by then I was sick and tired of the stupid process and I seriously considered dumping the whole HUGE batch in the trash. Of course I can't bring myself to be that wasteful, so I spent the next hour and a half rolling the dough into long ropes, cutting them into small pieces and rolling each piece with a fork to make the little indentions that when prepared will provide a place for the sauce to stick to...

I had to freeze them since there was way to much to eat at once. The good thing is that I now have gnocchi for about a year...the bad thing is that I have yet to eat any of it because I am still sulking from the process of making them. I will probably have a big dinner and use them all at once so I don't have to think about it anymore...

08 February, 2007

exercise...wha???

I have started my exercise routine again...it's not like I'm in bad shape or anything, I just could get a little more toned. Cardiowise, I get plenty since on an average day I probably walk 3 or more accumulative miles (to and from the train station, work and errands), but direct muscle workout is something I have not done for about 4 months.

R and I started last week with my Ab DVD. It's about 15 minutes per workout so it's great to do when you only have a little time to devote to it. When H and I used to do the workout we would constantly make fun of the instructor "Tamilee". We would call her the most awful names and poke fun of her. I guess that was our way to get back at her because of the pain she induced on us. Usually R and I do the workout in silence without much talking. This morning however, right when the DVD started he said "you know I really hate this lady" I started cracking up! I wonder if Miss "I want that body" Tamilee realizes how many people criticize and dislike her while they are working out, ha ha

Today I got adventurous and decided to do the bun's workout as well as the Ab one. My legs now feel like jelly and when I got up a minute ago to get a drink of water, I about toppled because my legs are so overworked they wanted to give out on me! I am going to be hurting tomorrow, but I am going to see my friend Andi (who is in Spain now) and it's about a 20 minute walk to her flat. That will help stretch them out, but tomorrow I teach at PIO XII school with the little kids and it's very physical since to keep them interested I have to be very animated (like "BIG" and I jump up and down with my arms stretched out and then "SMALL" and I drop to the ground and scrunch up in a ball). I hope I will be able to get back up...maybe we'll just concentrate on small for the day. We definitely won't be working on "stand up" "sit down" because my quad's and buns will not be able to take another workout!

07 February, 2007

restless...

Yes I am restless...once things start to get a relatively normal routinelike I evaluate my existence. What will I do next?? What should I do?? SOOOOOO, I am now applying to jobs everywhere again. I did this last August and had to turn down all jobs I got offered for different reasons. This time I have to be smart about it. I need to pay off the 35,000 in student loans that I will owe starting in Sept. That sucks! I have also realized that this will not be possible by starting out working in disaster relief. Basically I do not see my self making enough money to pay them off while in another country. Of course it's possible, but in reality I need to look back to the US.

The jobs I have applied for are all administrative/Executive Assistant type jobs. It's what I know...the thing is that I am being more selective about the organizations I choose. I gave up a potential job with the NYCLU earlier this year, which I am not sorry about although that would have been great experience and a plus on my CV. The reason that I am not sorry I passed up that opportunity is because it was not the right timing and it just didn't "feel right" for me then. All of the jobs I have applied for are in either DC or NY with the exception of one in India. The organizations I am applying with have offices in other countries so maybe after working for them for a year or so, I can be transferred? Who knows, I may get some great offers and decide to stay here?? My mind changes every day (sometimes multiple times during the day!).

I will know what's right when I see it and in the meantime, I am thinking of moving out of this flat (for multiple reasons that I will post about later). That change alone may be enough to satisfy me for awhile. I did move the furniture around in the living room which helped satisfy my "thirst for change"...but only for about a week...

Umbrella etiquette?

It's been raining frequently in Castellon and since this is thee first city I have lived in without access to vehicle, I am using an umbrella for the first time. This is something I am not really familiar with, I mean, I understand the logistics of opening one and putting it over my head and then walking, but there is actually more to consider. IN the past, I have run from my house with a jacket, towel or notebook over my head into my vehicle, and then repeat the same scenario by rushing into my destination..no umbrella necessary...

Here, an umbrella is a necessity as I walk all over this town and as I was walking the other day with my little "travel umbrella" (that I had found in our flat), I realized that I would have to get serious about this rain issue. When my crappy umbrella flipped up for the 4th time, I roughly grabbed it and bent it back into it's proper shape and then I heard 2 popping sounds as two of the cheap little metal pins broke. I then had to finish the day with an umbrella that was broken on one side and had 2 metal braces poking out from the cloth. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with the whole idea, nor did I appreciate the smirks from people passing by.

When I arrived at work, the receptionist looked at my umbrella and said "Melinda, you need a better one" and then promptly gave me one that someone had left at the academy. I looked at this nice umbrella with awe and couldn't wait to try it. After my class I started out in the rain with my new umbrella in hand. I felt so liberated not having to baby my umbrella. It stayed strong in the gusts of wind and kept my backpack dry as well. The one thing that I had to learn was what to do when I was confronted with people walking towards me on the small sidewalk. They have an umbrella too and something's gotta give. Some people pretend no one is walking towards them with an outstretched umbrella and your umbrella's bump, some tilt theirs one way or another and yet others try to move to the far end of the sidewalk when possible.

I have figured out my personal preference in these situations. As a vast majority of Spanish people are relatively short, especially anyone over the age of 60, I raise my umbrella up thus clearing their umbrella. This procedure works the best for me since I am at least a head taller than most and it seems to cause the least stress for all involved. As I move forward, I start to raise the umbrella and the unsuspecting pedestrian does not have to do anything. done, mission accomplished with relatively little effort on my part.

As I look out the window today at the fine rain, I glance at my Umbrella and smile thinking of the new adventures that await us...