I swear, I have been so good about getting to bed at a reasonable hour lately. I was in bed at 11:30 tonight, but for some reason I could not fall asleep (which is rare) and now I have the hiccups that won't go away. Will eating popcorn before going to bed do that to you? Hmm, maybe it was the special low-fat, fake butter kind. I knew I should've been more careful about those preservatives! There is also a baby that can't fall asleep. Crying. really really hard.
Well, I might as well take advantage of this night owl time and post some pictures from Costa Rica (nope, 1 am is not a good time to do homework, no matter how wide awake I feel). I have to warn you, i didn't take many pictures, and I didn't take amazing ones because I'm not a big picture taking fan, unless it is of other people. So alone I just wished I could blink and take pictures with my eyes instead. Alas, that technology has not yet been invented (smart friends, get on that one).
the insides of an amazing tree. A quetzal bird, through a lense... my camera just wasn't powerful enough to actually get a picture. In real life, these birds are amazing.
I'm pealing a little bit on my nose and my chest; I have little pink splotches and flaking skin, but other than that, I survive the Costa Rican sunshine just fine, probably thanks to the bottle of 45 sunblock i carried around with me and sprayed religiously every 2 hours. After the horrible, probably cancer causing sunburn from Bear lake last summer, there was no way I was taking any chances this year. The slight burn can be attributed to a 45 minute laying out after swimming and toweling off without reapplication.
Oh, you want to hear about Costa Rica, and not just my suncare regiment? Well, it was lovely. Costa Rica is an amazing country of mountains and forests and beaches. I went with a tentative plan, and it changed nearly every day. I started off in the beach town of Quepos and went to the Manual Antonio national park, where I saw monkeys! and sloths! and black sand beaches! sunsets! amazing fruit juices! After a few days of that, I decided to head down south to Dominical, a surfer town on the pacific coast. However, since I'm not a surfer and I'd already spent a few days in the hot sun, I woke up the next morning and hopped on the first bus through town, which happened to be heading into the mountains. So off I went, and on the way, with the help of my lonely planet, decided to get off the bus in the middle of Cerro de la Muerte (or ominously called Death Mountain) and stay in a cabin there to see the quetzales (these amazing blue birds). I was tired of people, and this was the perfect place to go, with the mountains and cloud forests and my own cabin. While i love beaches, the mountains are where I can breathe easier and feel more comfortable. All those years of living in Utah have rubbed off on me. I spent days hiking through these amazing tropical cloud forests, vibrant jungles where a mist would come envelope the entire mountain in the afternoon. Totally breathtaking, and perfect for getting lost (not literally, don't worry). I loved it so much, that I decided to stay an extra day in the mountains (despite the freezing temperatures at night. I know, in costa rica? I wasn't expecting it either), and ended up meeting a guy with a lodge/farm tucked away in the mountains and staying there. Better yet, the plan was to make this place totally self-sustainable, and so it ran on hydro-electricity and I learned all about alternative, eco-friendly ways to fun a lodge int he middle of the Costa Rican jungle. Oh, and I got to hang out with cows and chickens and eat cheese that I made myself! Definitely the highlight of the trip. But alas, even there, my skin didn't fit quite right and I made my way back to civilization, to San Jose (not a fan, although I did hang out in the park and see an honest to goodness hip hop dance competition!) and Alajuala, a really cute town near the airport. I stayed at a hostel that was run by a sculptor named Eduardo sporting a moustache with neatly curled tips, and stayed up half the night discussing the woes of society and problems of the heart. And then back home. A week is not nearly enough time to see everything. But at the same time, it was almost too much time.
To be totally honest, I was running away. I needed a trip so badly, needed an escape so badly from the cold and school and especially my broken heart. I thought that going on a foreign adventure alone would be exactly the ticket, as it has been in the past. I've run away and been distracted by adventure and travel romances, coming home with heart bandaged and healing and a sunburnt nose. This trip was about running away, constantly moving from one place to another, thinking that I would find the place where I could feel comfortable in my own skin and not so damn lonely. However, as Tilly and the Wall say in 'Lost Girls', no one can ever save you if no one can ever find you. It was in the mountains that I started singing this song almost non-stop in my head, realizing that I was trying to run away from the intense loneliness that I felt, and it was only making it worse, because the only company I had were my own thoughts and feelings. Maybe at the age of 28, after 10 years of traveling, I've grown into a new phase. No more traveling alone, no more sleeping in hostel dorm beds, no more vacation flings. As fun as all of those were, they just don't fit the way I travel anymore, or maybe they don't fit the way that i deal with a broken heart anymore. Maybe the thing I learned from this trip was that sometimes, maybe the solution is not to just keep running but to rather stop, turn and go back home. Come home from vacation, buckle down in work, enjoy the company of friends, and just patiently wait for time to heal the heart.
But, I must say, a warm vacation to costa rica certainly doesn't hurt ;)
Office of the Press Secretary ________________________________________________________________ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 11, 2009
President Obama Announces White House Council on Women and Girls
President Obama today signed an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. The mission of the Council will be to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families. The Council will be chaired by Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor, and will include as members cabinet-level federal agencies. The Executive Director of the Council will be Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Liaison at the White House.
"The purpose of this Council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy," said President Obama. "My Administration has already made important progress toward that goal. I am proud that the first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. But I want to be clear that issues like equal pay, family leave, child care and others are not just women’s issues, they are family issues and economic issues. Our progress in these areas is an important measure of whether we are truly fulfilling the promise of our democracy for all our people. I am confident that Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen will guide the Council wisely as its members address these important issues."
The White House Council on Women and Girls will ensure that agencies across the federal government, not just a few offices, take into account the particular needs and concerns of women and girls. The Council will begin its work by asking each agency to analyze their current status and ensure that they are focused internally and externally on women.
In particular, the Council will work to enhance, support and coordinate the efforts of existing programs for women and girls. The Council will also work as a resource for each agency and the White House so that there is a comprehensive approach to the federal government's policy on women and girls. The priorities will be carried out by working closely with the President’s Cabinet Secretaries and relevant agency offices that focus on women and families.
During its first year, the Council will also focus on the following areas:
* Improving women’s economic security by ensuring that each of the agencies is working to directly improve the economic status of women. * Working with each agency to ensure that the administration evaluates and develops policies that establish a balance between work and family. * Working hand-in-hand with the Vice President, the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women and other government officials to find new ways to prevent violence against women, at home and abroad. * Finally, the critical work of the Council will be to help build healthy families and improve women’s health care.
The White House Council on Women and Girls will meet regularly, and will serve as a forum for all involved agencies to focus on women.
What? you didn't celebrate? For shame! Somehow, the US just has not picked up very well on this fantastic tradition. in some countries, women receive flowers and parades. (ok, i'm not sure about the parades. but they should). I've spent the last entire week at the UN for the Commission on the Status of Women, talking to amazing women, hearing amazing women (and men) speak about all sorts of world issues and how they affect women, and worked on raising awareness about how women are impacted by climate change. I could launch into a lecture (or elevator speech that I have prepared just in case I run into visiting dignitaries at the UN), but instead, i'm just going to point you in this direction, and ask you to go read more about it, instead of write an essay (I'll save that for the essay I really do have to write for my advocacy class).
So, many of you know that I am a feminist (come on, don't make that face, you know me and I haven't burned any of my bras and I think men are rather decent creatures) and I care a lot about women's issues, most recently gender-based violence and climate change. Well, in case you were wondering where that came from, I happened to attend quite a few meetings with the Finnish delegation-- on violence against women and climate change. It's in my blood. I was completely tickled to dialogue with the Finnish foreign minister about sexual exploitation of women in pornography and how that leads to a culture of violence against women (they are against that, by the way). It was fantastic. Swoon.
On a completely seperate note, I just started reading this book given to me by my good friend Sarah Monson called "Why can't I fall in love? A 12-step program" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (aka, the Love Prophet. you may recognize him from such titles as "The Kosher Sutra" or "Kosher Sex"). Laugh if you must, I did at first as well and tucked it on my shelf with another best seller I found discarded on the sidewalk "Love is Letting Go of Fear" (how could someone let go of that treasure?). But I'm dead serious, this may actually prove to be a useful read, if for nothing but Rabbi Shmuley's distaste for "The Rules." I can think of about 10 people I want to pass this book along to next. I'm just sayin', it might be just what all you lonely people need out there (ahem, everyone reading the blog Why Mormon Girls Stay Single).
I would probably have successfully written a book or two by now. I would definitely have finished my paper for Policy Formation on America's dependence on oil (which is a totally fascinating topic! I'm serious!). Probably would have even succeeded in finding world peace and a cure for cancer. But instead, I think that 90% of my brain power goes towards thinking about boys. 75% of my conversations have something to do with relationships. If I had more time, I would make a pretty pie chart, but as it is, now I have to hurry and get my work done because I was off in la-la land daydreaming. I'm not bitter about being single, it's just that relationship drama just takes up too much time and mental effort. What on earth do married people think about? My sister Vilja, recently married, told me that she thinks about new ways of jumping higher and being a ninja. See? So much more useful. This is what I'm missing out on.