Karaoke 8 Days a Week

12 Apr

“Where do the Scots go?”. This is what I asked Mark, a Scotsman who was sitting to my right at the 45 person long table on the second floor of the Corinthian Club. We were all there attending a dinner provided by Exel Wines, a distributor of Apaltagua, among many other wineries. Imagine 45 wine-o’s, from all over the world, each with seven pieces of silverware and three glasses formally placed in front of them, just tipping away at the wine and Scottish-baked salmon. What appeared to be a formal dinner was really a supper including a joke about Jennifer Lopez, some spilt bottles of wine, and a 10 person toast to my ancestors from Scotland, the Lyles and Tates.

Just my style.

“Ahhhhh, the Horseshoe Bar!” replied Mark. “The Horseshoe Bar is lovely. Yes, why yes! You must go there.”

Mark was convinced. There seemed to be no other option: my one night in Glasgow would absolutely be spent at the Horseshoe Bar.

After the creme brûlée, we winded through the streets of Glasgow’s “merchant city” and found ourselves at the infamous Horseshoe Bar on Drury Street. With no expectations, but with much anticipation to enter, we climbed the long hall of stairs, the music becoming more loud with each step.

“Karaoke 8 days a week” is what I saw written on the wall as I first peered through the swinging door into the bar. Alas, a mid-aged Scottish man proudly singing Elton John in tight blue jeans and a black leather jacket. As a fanatic for 80’s music, this was my paradise.

The bar was packed and there was no choice but to share a table with the other Scottish–hands raised in the air swinging back and forth to Elton’s beats.

“We have Highland Park scotch for three-pounds-something, a double”, yelled the bartender, hastily looking around to make sure all the customers were pleased. The three-something-pound scotch was our obvious choice, along with two pints of Glasgow’s locally brewed lager called Tennents, and a bag of McCoys cheddar and onion chips. Totaling 9 pounds, I was sure we were at a local spot.

Looking around, I saw that Horseshoe bar was a fish and chips (only three pounds!) restaurant by day, and a strobe light karaoke bar by night. The DJ successfully kept the crowd on their feet by interchanging the karaoke songs with dance music. The people were casual and inviting, along with the atmosphere with its dispersed chairs around big tables meant to share.

Best part of the night? The last song: Grease’s We Go Together. The second floor shook with everyone’s heels moving side to side, hands out waving just like in the movie.

“We go together, rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong
Shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom
Chang chang changitty chang shoobop
Dip dadip dadip doowop da doobee…”.

Horseshoe bar: highly recommendable.
A bar with fair prices and happy people. However, don’t forget it is Scotland and the bars do close at 12.

Cheers to Scottish Mark for the recommendation. Cheers to Scotland because you are just absolutely charming.


Life is to traveling as traveling is to life

15 Jun

Someone told me this and it stuck in my head: “when you travel, it wakes up your instincts…and from that, you learn.”

I thought, “then wouldn’t LIFE itself be just like traveling? Traveling through the minutes with new situations hitting you constantly and waking up our instincts? And every time, no matter what, we just have to keep on going?? Wait……………….keep on going EVEN if the situation sucks?”

Totally hott dude with dog companion on beach

Can’t my travel through life be a trip to the Bahamas with an all-inclusive hotel where I meet this totally hott dude running with his dog companion on the beach?

I can tell you that my life/trip in Chile has done way more than give me a cocktail on the beach. It has enraged me at times. My security and patience instincts will never be the same. Getting robbed and waiting for two hours for dinner when you’re starving will do that to you.

But, at the end of the day, I learned.

We are blind when we first start life. We don’t know what the hell is going on. But as we go, our instincts are awoken and we say, “Oh, guess I shouldn’t do that next time. Oooops.”

You learn streets best when you learn them lost. You learn customs best by throwing yourself into the country. Here is a better one: I learned the dirty word for “penis” in Chile when I screamed it at a party trying to offer everyone “pisco”, but accidentally said, pico. Oooops…again.

My fave pico...I mean pisco.

As we all know and have heard from religions, artists, and our dearest parents, “one learns through experience.”

But, we really learn depending on our reaction.

Reactions are difficult when you are robbed. Or lied to. Or cheated on. My reaction to the thirteen year old boy who robbed me was not a reaction I would have given if someone had given me something free. I won’t go into further detail as I am sure it is obvious of my choice of words.

An experience can be an adventure, an affair, an encounter, an ordeal, or a test.

It may be a music festival that lifts your heart and soul through mere words and streaming sounds. Perhaps it was a woman you met who could only speak when her husband allowed her to. Or, it could have been the only person you loved most in this world, tell you that they don’t love you anymore.

Life presents us with things that are marvelous or humbling. Brilliant or depressing. Lovely or scary. Enlightening or embarrassing. We experience humility, confusion, selflessness, anger, loneliness, and pure happiness.

Lets face it. Life can sometimes suck or be stand-on-your-toes-jump-in-the-air-do-a-dance brilliant!

Whatever the experience, I think it is one of the most beautiful concepts in this world. Why?

Because it forces us to go beyond what we think our worth is.

Having said that, next time a big shocker of an experience comes your way on your life trip, remember it happened because life did it. Good or bad, be smart about your reaction and take it as a lesson.

Hopefully by the time I’m 80 I will have learned enough to not accidentally yell “penis” at parties in foreign languages.

Please rise for the real world: your next 8 jobs

15 May

“All graduating seniors, please rise.”

The sound of the clapping rose as our professors stared at us. We, not knowing what to do with our hands in this moment, stood wondering what just happened to the long, four years in college.

Ceremony ends and the common questions begin.

“So, what are you going to do now?”

Hands sweat and my brain goes directly to my frequently rehearsed answer.

“I am moving to Chile to teach English.”

The common reaction proceeds from my Communication professors: their wide, circled eyes push their eyebrows high, head tilts back a bit, and I hear, “Oh, wow! Why?”

I am not going to Chile to work for a communication agency, but to teach English. I do not plan to do this forever. I plan to explore my options–explore what I am best at.

“Between the ages of 20 and 30, most people have more than eight jobs,” said Penelope Trunk.

My mother has always worked in the hospital. My father has mainly worked with finances. Their parents also told them they needed a concrete plan once they were given their diploma.

My dad recently told me he regrets following these words of advice.

The truth is, this generation does not “do” concrete plans. We go to graduate school for dentistry and more graduate school to study law. Some move to Colorado to hide in mountains. People, like me, run to another country to challenge themselves.

As Trunk said, we try seven jobs until we find the eighth good one.

This is okay.

Success comes from a buoyant employee–not one who has found themselves in a cubicle regurgitating information without desire to do so.

So, for all of the graduates who are escaping from normality to discover your eventual eighth job…do it without hesitation. You have seven tries to get there and I believe the Colorado mountains, Washington, D.C.’s political ambiance, China’s amusing culture, or another graduate school couldn’t be a more perfect start.

Seven tries equal a lot of years. A lot of years to explore and discover where you are supposed to be…no rush.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” -John Maxwell

Three Days in the Atlanta International Airport

5 Mar

I am setting myself up for three full days there. Why?

Simple: I am a poor college student doing everything I can to get myself to Chile for spring break on a standby ticket.

Standby ticket means that I have to wait for an open seat on a Delta flight. Delta only flies to Santiago, Chile once a day. If I can’t go Friday night, I’ll try Saturday night. If I can’t go Saturday night, I’ll try Sunday night.

The horrid moments in “America’s busiest airport” await my arrival. I can imagine it. My third possible day in the airport. I will sit in the non-sleepable chairs, stuffed with food court cuisine, hot from cabin fever, and beginning to loathe the airport hobby of “people watching.”

Watch out for negative Nancy.

Then I will wonder, and suppose it is something you have wondered, “Why don’t they have movie theaters in airports?”

Why don’t they have spas? Nail salons? Bowling alleys? Designated nap areas? Short comedy shows?

No wonder everyone is so mean in the Atlanta airport. There is nothing but expensive flights with more expensive stores. You are negative $10 just from stepping in because the baggage claimer guy has convinced you that he can take your bags…you couldn’t possibly do that yourself.

This place has the potential to be so much cooler.

So, here is my genius idea: TO ALL cinema and nail spa owners, comedians, and masseuses…target those layover customers. We all know layovers have their own category of boredom and insanity.

Imagine how much money people would make if they entertained the “layoverers” and negative Nancys.

Five dollars a person, easily seeing 300 people a day=$1,500. Cha-ching.

Having said this, it would be nice if a comedian or two would read this, understand my genius idea, and run on over to the Atlanta airport. Preferably tomorrow through Sunday.

My Madre Was Right About the Earthquake

3 Mar

It is Saturday morning at 8:30. I am awoken by a text message that says an earthquake, that was 500 times stronger than the catastrophe in Haiti, hit the country where my dearest friends live.

500 times stronger.

I immediately open Skype. My mind is racing with the most depressing thoughts in 1,000 directions.

Where is Daniela? Camila lives in Rancagua, how was the damage there? It was a Friday night. I know that everyone was out when the earthquake hit.

I cry.

I call my friends to their cell phones and receive no response. Landlines aren’t working. Cell phones aren’t working. Internet isn’t working.

It is 8:45, seven hours after the earthquake, and my immediate communication with them is now a black hole.

I have never felt such a strong sense of helplessness in my entire life. The helpless feeling becomes unfathomable.

As I lie in my silent, safe, and standing home, my head is panicking. I cry even harder.

What are my best friends doing right now? Where are they? Were they on vacation where the earthquake struck? Are any of them alone and needing medical help at this exact moment?

An hour has passed and the only thing I can do is think blank, unanswered thoughts.

I have a flashback–last winter. It was the night my madre had the most serious face. I could always see her expressions.

“Hannah, there is going to be an earthquake in Chile soon and it will be really bad,” she said. She began to run her hands through her hair quickly, as she always did when she was talking about politics, crime, etc. I stood confused and terrified, still listening to her explanation. How did she know this?

I never thought about that night, again. I blocked it out. That could never happen to the country that I love.

I have another flashback. The day that I left through the gate of my madre’s yard to leave four months of my life in Chile behind me. I was not thinking it would be an earthquake that could devastate my second home.

Devastate my best friends’ lives. Devastate their families’ lives. Devastate the places that we adored. The places were we formed our strongest relationships with each other, always looking past the differences of the two cultures.

Devastate a country whose people have a hospitality about them that is non comprehensible.

Two hours have passed. The pain from my helplessness has become numb. I cannot do anything for them at this moment.

I stare at my computer, waiting for a ring from Skype. Watching and hating CNN for everything that they are telling me, and everything that they are not telling me.

Finally, there is a ring.

A call from a best friend who tells me that he is fine. That his house is fine. That Alvaro is fine. That my madre is fine.

The ground is not okay, but they are all right. Their life is okay.

Even today, I am still waiting to make sure that my friends’ family members have been found and are well. I waited two days until I received a message from Camila. The sense of helplessness is still heavy for those that are still searching.

However, I am utmost grateful for the peace of mind that we have all received in these past days from knowing who is safe.

Those that we love are unhurt, and that is the most important thing to remember during this time of catastrophe.

Read This if Your Name Is ‘Hannah’

16 Feb

Dear LifeLock Identity Theft Protection Company,

Hannah Montana stole my identity. So much, that I think you should use her in your next jingle.

Love, Hannah.

I haven’t lost my financial identity to Hannah Montana. Billionaires don’t want current balances of $44. However, I still can complain that I have lost my name identity to Hannah Montana.

Because of her, I have a new “Hannah-Montana-script” in my life right now. It happens 60 percent of the time when I first meet someone.

Hannah-Montana-script example:

“Hi, how are you? My name is Sam. What’s yours?”

“My name is Hannah.”

“Oh, like Hannah Montana? Hahahaha…haha….”

(Not much response from me. I am only thinking, “Nope…another joke bites the dust…flourishes, shatters, and burns. To the crisp.”)

(Not laughing) “Hah, yeah…but, no.”

Hannah Montana is everywhere in my life and I’m over it.

Wikipedia says that she has been “active” since 2003. However, Miley Cyrus changed my life when her show, Hannah Montana, began in 2006.

BOOM. The year 2006 happens and my life changes in an instant.

2006: The script begins. I am happy at first. We secretly like to have something in common with billionaires.

2007: The script continues. Who is this girl, really? I mean, she is still okay.

2008: The script continues even more and I begin to work on keeping my fake responsive laugh (ending part of the script) civil and respectful.

2009: I go to Chile. HOORAY! The script will end! No English, no Hannah Montana!

(Double) BOOM, again. I realized the script wouldn’t ever end when I was weaving my way through the El Baquedano metro in Chile, only to find the doors slamming shut on me as I was late for class.

The doors were decorated in an unnecessarily large, glamorous picture of…

her. Hannah Montana.

2009 got worse. The script became a crutch. When introducing myself, I found myself saying,

“Soy Hawn-NAH.”

“¿Ohhh…que? ¿Tu nombre es que?”

“AW-NUH…como Ana.”


“Okay….como Haw-nah Mon-tawn-ah. Hannah Montana.”

“¡Ohhhh…como Hannah Montana! Ohhh….”

Oh, the life of having the same name as a billionaire teenager. Being constantly reminded at least 3 times a week is quite the experience. That will be about 132 more times in 2010.

I can’t wait for 2010 and all its Hannah Montana glory…

I am fully ready for the script and have PERFECTED the fake laugh ending to a tee.

I Think Aristotle Was Chilean

6 Feb

Aristotle time is like Chilean time.

I know you don’t want to read Aristotle, but stick with me. Aristotle made it clear that the connection between time and friendship are a virtuous activity:

Even if one lived in a city populated entirely by perfectly virtuous citizens, the number with whom one could carry on a friendship of the perfect type would be at most a handful. For he thinks that this kind of friendship can exist only when one spends a great deal of time with the other person…, participating in joint activities and engaging in mutually beneficial behavior….Happiness is virtue, but that it is virtuous activity….We ourselves share much of the responsibility for acquiring and exercising the virtues. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Here is my point: we should take the responsibility of exercising time to acquire happiness through prosperous friendships.

I am talking about that kind of bona fide friendship.

The United States views “time” differently. We are just expected to be on time. 

It is our appointment at 10 a.m. on the dot, the dinner party at 7 p.m., and that we “have” to leave our friend’s house at 9:30 p.m. in order to wake up at exactly 7 a.m. the next morning.

Time is the numerical hour, rather than the noun—“a virtuous activity”.

In Chile, when the work is done for the day, a person always exercises the time to “pasar tiempo” with those that they love.

The Spanish phrase “pasar tiempo con los amigos” means “to pass time with friends.” With my Chilean friends and family, I wasn’t paying attention to the second, minute, or hour. I was passing every minute with them.

In the beginning of my adventure in Chile, time was the hour that my Chilean brother, Ramiro, and I would leave after dinner with my madre, Fresia.

As I impatiently stared at the clock, Ramiro would tell me that we would leave the dinner table “ahora,” literally meaning “now.”  After waiting 45 minutes, I quickly learned the significance of “ahora.” It isn’t United States time.  It meant that we would leave the dinner table when Ramiro, Fresia, and I felt that we had all spent well-founded time with each other.

Of course, we cannot follow this concept of going with our “feelings” in every instance.

I will not hop through life following my feelings because I will find myself on the streets in a foreign country without a cent to my name.

However, I will never forget the two-hour dinners with my dear, Chilean family. At our round, four-person table, I exercised my time. I laughed and cried. We made jokes about my terrible Spanish. I miserably lost every Chilean card game. I learned about Fresia’s dangerous political past. There were dinners with ten people squished around our four-person table. Ramiro became the older, nosy brother I never had. I almost fell out of my chair once.

I loved them as my own family and cried on their shoulders the day that I left them.

Through these experiences, I learned that when I am spending time with those that I love, I will pay less attention to United States time and more attention to Chilean time.

Chilean time: a virtuous activity in which a person passes time with friends to form a prosperous relationship.

Our dinner table full of food from my last cookout at my house for about 25 people.