Missing our Karma…

29 05 2011

Karma-Sita. We miss you.


The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

-Billy Collins


Poetry 101

3 02 2011

“Never let a moment go by that doesn’t remind you that your heart beats 100,000 times a day/ that there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean”- Anis Mojgani

This week at work I started my poetry unit.  This is the time each year that reminds me why I teach.  Poetry is so powerful, but unfortunately most of my students have grown to hate it.  They think poetry is old, boring, dead.  And that is what I attempt to do: kill it.  I explicitly tell my students my goal is to destroy poetry, so then we can rebuild it, from the ground up, together.

This is probably one of the most difficult things that I do.  This is the time of the year that the students decide they like me or hate me, as I push their limits of understanding, push them to broaden their horizons, so they can look back at their former selves and wave goodbye or better yet, not look back at all.  If nothing else my students get to see something new: me- exposed, excitable, passionate.  Anyway, this is the time of year that I push my students to become learners, not just students.

I don’t talk about teaching much, I don’t talk about work (other than to complain, which I am working on… kinda…), I guess I’m not that guy.  Teaching is my job, and I love it, but it’s not who I am.  However, if you want to get to know me a little better, sit through these three poems by my favorite poet, Anis Mojgani.  I can’t play all of these for my students (there are some bad words), but if I could, I would. Be a 7th grader again: sit, listen, enjoy, learn.

“Welcome to Mr. Gonzalez’s 7th Grade Literature class, you have probably never heard poems like these.  Be careful, they might blow your mind”:

“Shake The Dust”

This one is where Vanessa’s tattoo came from: “Milos”

One last one.  If you have hung with me this far, thank you and now you have seen a part of me that most have not. “For those who can still ride in an airplane for the first time”




30 01 2011

Miguel and I have been talking lately about what direction we want the blog to go.  This discussion inevitably became a discussion on what caused us to start the blog in the first place.  One major reason we started the blog was to share our experiences and interesting adventures with friends and family, and another reason was to keep a photo journal of our time abroad.  While we have many interesting adventures to come, it seems as though we are at a plateau of interesting excursions to write about. BUT- We haven’t really been looking at this blog as a journal.  And, I don’t mean journal in the sense of dark secret thoughts, but a real account of our day to day lives.  We need to approach it as a way for us to document our everyday lives so that when we revisit it in 3-5-10 years to come, we will have a full picture of our experience.

As gross as it sounds, a big part of our everyday lives are bugs.  We see so many creepy and interesting bugs out and about.  The school itself is full of the craziest moths, butterflies, beetles, and spiders I have ever seen.  When we go to the beach we see all kinds of creepy crawlies.  But, for our first bug post of many, I have found one of the creepiest and weirdest bugs crawling around our own home.

At first sight it’s pretty uneventful and disappointingly boring looking.

Looks are deceiving. This is a creepy bug.


But, this bug is a weird kind of moth.  It carries it’s cocoon around with it when it’s a larvae.  When I first saw it, I thought it was a weird looking piece of lint and I picked it off the wall and threw it away.  A few days later, I saw another one laying on the floor and when I looked at it closer, I noticed that something was coming out of it… Creepier yet, the thing coming out of it was eating a stray strand of hair off of the bathroom carpet.  These guys creep the hell out of me.  Miguel didn’t even know they were wormy things until he saw the pictures I took.  Now, he’s just as creeped out as I am.

The worm-thing can crawl from both ends of the cocoon.

It crawls pretty fast and moves its little wormy head around all crazy-like.

The worst part is, they are everywhere.  I will go through just about every other day and wipe them off of baseboards, crevasses in the wall, and any general surface that they might be inching along.

Looks pretty harmless

When I asked our Spanish teacher about them (Imelda has now become our authority on everything strange in Costa Rica) she simply said, “Ellos come su ropa.”  That’s apparently all we needed to know… They eat your clothes.  Creepy!

By the way, sorry Grandma for posting bug pictures.  I’m sure this isn’t your favorite post, but there will be more and I will label them all “Bugs!” so you know in advance.  Love you all!


Hodgepodge Post containing a 5 picture glimpse of our town

18 12 2010

As it always seems to happen around this time of year things have been busy for us and that is my only excuse for the absence in posts.

Vanessa and I have officially finished the first semester of teaching here in Costa Rica.  The time has passed in a blink, not only with work but with everything.  I can’t believe that I have taken a semester of Spanish classes, or learned as many idiosyncrasies of Escazu as I have, or been fortunate enough to have the many of the experiences I have all packed into such a short period of time.  I also can’t believe that I have only gone surfing 4 times, I had big plans to become a professional surfer while down here.

Anyway, I am anxiously awaiting Wednesday, because my Mom and Dad arrive to spend Christmas with us!  I am sure there will be a full blog report on that trip so I will leave those details for another time.

Other things going on in our lives right now… I am competing in a climbing competition today.  If you have followed the blog for a while, you know that climbing is a big part of my life and every now and again I will be talked into competing.

Vanessa and I also had been trying to figure out what we were going to do after my parents visit because we still have over 2 weeks after they depart until we return to work.  After talking ourselves in circles and as usual waiting until the last minute we bought plane tickets to Panama City for January 4th.  We have a loose plan of what our 10 day trip down there will be like but we do know that we will be staying at this unique hostel:  http://www.lunascastlehostel.com/.

We have been so busy lately that we have not been taking as many pictures as we should so I am going to post a couple that I took from around Escazu.  Here is  a little taste of our town…

cross at the graveyard


outside a house

not a word was spoken between them


these guys have a tough life

side streets

San Miguel Church-center of town

My apologies for such a hodgepodge post but now that we can relax again after our second quarter cycle there will be more quality posts to follow…to be followed by poor posts…and again by better ones…


12 08 2010

Miguel has nightmares, always has.  But last night, he took his nightmares to another level.  When I woke up, Miguel was sitting over me and he had a crazy look in his eyes.

For the unaware reader, let me explain a little.  This is all common procedure in our routine of Miguel’s nightmares.  He wakes up with crazy eyes and is ready to run.  I tell him to calm down, tell him he’s just dreaming, and hope he is coherent enough to listen.  Sometimes he will argue and say something like, “No, it’s there!  It’s real!”  or “LET GO OF ME!!”.  Once I turn on the lights and prove to him that he’s dreaming, he will fall back asleep.

Last night, Miguel was convinced there was a spider on my head.  His way of ridding said spider was to hit me with his pillow repeatedly. And as he’s sitting over me with crazy eyes, pillow clutched in hand, I said in my best negotiator-type voice, “You’re just dreaming.  There isn’t a spider on my head.  Look…”  and then, “WHAM, WHAM”, he hit me right in the face with the pillow!  TWICE!  He then said,”No! It’s there!”   My immediate reaction probably didn’t have the most calming effect, but I think I said something like, “WHAT THE HELL!  Stop it!  You’re having a bad dream, you freak!”  Miguel then said, “No!  It’s a HUGE spider on your head.  Don’t move!”   I quickly checked to make sure there wasn’t, and after I turned on the lights and he realized he was hallucinating, we laughed and laughed at how silly the whole thing was, and went back to bed.  I’m really lucky he chose to use only a pillow!  Silly husband.  

Into the caverns of tomorrow with just our flashlights and our love, we must plunge.

3 08 2010

Today we set out on a new adventure.  We move to Costa Rica to live the life of “Pura Vida”.  Today is the day we will wake up to enormous bugs on our porch, eat new and interesting foods, live in rain forests, get lost in broad daylight, test ourselves, test each other, teach children about our culture, learn from those same children about their culture, be confused by language, confuse others with our language, make new friendships, experience new modes of transportation, love our lives for what they have become, love each other more for what we have become, and live.  So many people have guided us, enabling us to reach this destination, one of our many life goals.  For all the love and support, words can not thank you enough.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-M and V

“I raise my glass to symmetry, to the second hand and its accuracy”

21 07 2010

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Another year has come and gone.  I am 26.  Whoa!  25 was the year I felt age catch up.  I felt panic at getting old, I felt stagnant in my job and location, and I felt my wardrobe changing (probably for the better).  25 was hard and I can’t really explain why.  I guess it was hard because of all the things it could have been, and wasn’t.  But this year… 26… this is going to be better.  Friends keep you younger, and Miguel and I have fantastic friends (new and old).  I am changing jobs and locations.  I am challenging myself in new ways.  I’m writing… I can feel the poems bubbling inside of me.  I have very little material possessions: books, computer, and clothes… and I am, now more than ever, alive.

So, here’s to the new year.  I’m ready for anything, including wrinkles!  Thank you everyone for your love and well wishes on my birthday.    -V

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