Man, looking for work IS hard work

The time has come for me to decide what direction I want to go in for the rest of my life…or at the very least, my immediate future life. ‘Cause as much as I don’t want to admit it to myself, I really can’t decide. I don’t really know quite what to do. I don’t know what my next step is.

Throughout most of college I operated under the idea that someday I would work in book publishing. It’s a fantasy that had formed shortly after I first saw Bridget Jones’s Diary sometime during junior year of high school. And when I declared my English major, I figured books were my number one love (tied with piano/music, I suppose) and why not pick an industry that involved them? As it is, I currently do have a fair amount of writing and editing experience, I would say, not only in book publishing but also in journalism.

But alas, book publishing jobs are not really to be found much here in Chicago. My future dream is to find a fab one somewhere in New York City or London. But the thing is…I don’t want to move away right now. Ironic, right? Me, the girl who’s been itching to get the heck out of America, is trying her best right now to stay at home. It saves money and gives me the chance to help out my family. In a few years I can see myself moving out to the aforementioned cities…but right now I just don’t want to.

So therein lies the problem. What do I do now? I need money. I need something to do. I need to start saving up for when I travel around the world and for when I eventually move out of the Midwest. I could do journalism here. I guess.

Yet…I still have other dreams. Other fantasies. Such as…

  • Working for ESPN. As an NBA sideline reporter, to be specific. I am so obsessed with basketball, I know I’d have the right enthusiasm. Although there’s a good chance I might start declaring my love for some of the athletes in public were I to actually meet them in person. Besides, don’t networks want pretty girls on their channels to attract more male viewers? Just sayin’.
  • Being a librarian at a big city library. I can’t imagine ever wanting to spend the rest of my life as a librarian at my local library (which pales pitifully in comparison to the public library in my college town), but I’ve often fantasized about working at a giant public library (the main branch, obviously) in Chicago or New York City.
  • Working either for the United Nations or somewhere abroad (or, ideally, both). I attended a workshop last semester on finding jobs with the United States’ State Department (meaning embassy jobs abroad). Getting paid to live somewhere abroad? Freaking hellz yeah.

And then…there’s the last option. Pursuing a legal career. Going to law school. It’s a very very tempting idea. People have been telling me to become a lawyer ever since I was about 5 years old (“Because you wouldn’t shut up and stop arguing as a kid,” my older cousin claims). My grandfather on my mom’s side was a prominent lawyer in his day, and like I previously said, my grandfather on my dad’s side originally was planning on becoming one. If ever there was something in the stars for me, it’s becoming a lawyer. I even took law classes in high school and was enrolled in a law course during undergrad for a time (I had to drop the class in order to take another one that was required for my minor). But again…what would I be doing exactly in law? Only thing I can think of wanting to practice is something international-y. I don’t really know that part yet.

I don’t know anything yet. Except that I’m broke and need some form of employment ASAP.

The art of letting go

Hurrah, hurrah! I’ve finished my monstrous 15-page research paper for EPS 310! Time to start doing other work, yay! /end sarcasm

It’s come to my attention that I am now almost a full month away from college graduation. I know what you’re thinking. How do I feel? Am I ready for the real world? Am I ready to let go? These are just examples of the flurry of questions I’ve been getting lately.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the past year, it’s that whether or not you’re ready to let go, you’re gonna have to let go. Last school year I had to learn to let go of a few people, a few comforts. That was normal, since it was the end of my third year of college. Then summer came, and I had to learn to let go of my “home” life. Instead of returning to the suburbs, working at the movie theater, and hanging out with “home” friends, I did something different and stayed in Champaign. I worked a ‘real’ job, hung out with people I never normally would have hung out with during the school year (aside from my roommate), and created an actual real life for myself pretty much.

Then in August I had to let that go. It was probably one of the hardest things I’d ever done. Even though I knew I had this wonderful adventure abroad waiting for me, the interruption to my blissful summer was — literally — heartbreaking. And it had to happen, because prior to summer I had made the decision to study abroad during the first semester of my senior year. As for that decision? Definitely do not regret it at all and I am so so thankful I was able to go. Costa Rica was truly one of the best times of my life. Honestly, in the four months I spent there, I felt more at home than I’d ever felt in the three previous years at Champaign. I had friends and family there. I had a host mother who mothered me in ways I never experienced before. She was the emotional and loving support I was lacking from my own real mother.

And of course, letting go of all that was hard. Unlike my good-byes to summer, these good-byes were extra difficult because I didn’t (and still don’t) know when I’d see Costa Rica again. I didn’t just say farewell to the wonderful people of Central America, but the American friends I’d made as well. At the beginning of my study abroad experience, I couldn’t imagine staying for more than a semester, and thought the first month was hard enough. But by the end, I did not want to leave Costa Rica at all. I never wanted to leave.

But like before, I just had to let go.

I think that entire year of upheaval and changes has definitely affected the way I’ve approached this semester. I’ve been operating with the mindset that nothing is ever permanent. A year from now, I know I won’t be hanging out with the same people anymore. It’s the story of my life. I’ve never had a friendship last for a significant amount of time. I’ve never been in a relationship and it appears that me and the male species just don’t…well, we mesh very well (if you know what I mean…) but obviously it doesn’t seem I qualify as girlfriend-material. I have nothing tying me down. Even the great city of Chicago, the place I once called my hometown, my anchor…doesn’t quite stir the same feelings within me anymore.

Point is, I have no idea where my life is going to lead me in the coming months. I have some vague plans, but at the moment I have no idea where I’ll be living, who I’ll be surrounding myself with (family- and friends-wise), what I’ll be doing to make a living. And you know what? I am perfectly fine with that. It is much easier to let go than to hang on.

I don’t have anything or anyone to live for but myself right now.

You will NOT be my American boy

Last night, 21-year-old Raissa made her debut in the hip, cool urban American bar scene. It was, in all seriousness, the thing I’d been waiting for in the two weeks since I’ve been home. Me, loose in the streets of Chicago, armed with a small bottle of booze and ready to get crazy. Because it’s hard to detox and be a merry old maid when you’ve just spent, quite literally, a whole year underage partying and then going nuts in Central American countries.

At the last bar we were at, The Leg Room, Single Me danced and talked with several men. 😀 One male, whose face I don’t think I ever actually saw since my back was to him the whole time we were dancing, happened to be Mexican and we exchanged a few quips in Spanish. Then when he asked for my number and I hesitated, he said in dismay, “Never mind, that means no,” and abruptly left my side.

Another man said he was in the Navy and had actually been talking to one of my guy friends before approaching me. I hate to sound superficial, but even my ‘liquor’ goggles (since I hadn’t drunk any beer last night, LOLz) were not quite working when I talked to him, because the whole time I kept thinking about how uninterested I was. And I’m not entirely sure, but I think he was the one who essentially asked me what I did “for work.”

Seriously, what is it with Americans and their incessant need to know people’s jobs and salaries? And why do adult, non-college American guys do that? In Costa Rica I had met two guys from California and another from Ohio who brought up jobs immediately in the conversation. Why?? I’M NOT VERY IMPRESSED.

Lastly, there was the Hispanic-looking Indian boy. He was decently cute but not my favorite dance partner. Too hands-y, and he wasn’t cute enough to warrant it (again, I hate to sound superficial). But of course, the Drunk and Single Me decided to give him the digits. The real ones, too. We’d been texting back and forth today, which I was totally fine, until he said, “We should hang out if that is cool with you. Me and you dance well together lol.”

Um, excuse me? You do not dance well at all!! There’s not even a remote possibility of us dancing well together because you sucked at it!

American boys — I’ll never understand them.

Someday I’ll be coming home

I’m learning that homesickness exists in various forms. It was a concept I never really understood until sophomore year of college, and even then I was only feeling homesick for Chicago area things, such as Jewel Osco and the ABC7 news. My family I missed on occasion, for sure, but I knew I would be seeing them at least once every month or so.

My first week here in Costa Rica was filled with an emotionally powerful kind of homesickness that I had trouble washing away. At the time, I was not ready to say good-bye whatsoever to several people. Those first couple of weeks were extremely difficult to get through (as evidenced by some of my earlier posts) but eventually I settled. And now I think I’m finding myself faced with another version of this thing called homesickness.

The last time I was in the Chi, *sniff sniff*

It’s the little things I miss, little things that eventually become so profound in my head I have to bury them somewhere so that I don’t start bursting into crying fits again. When my parents left for Las Vegas and California almost two weeks ago for a short vacay, I paused on the routine calling and e-mail texting because I figured they would be busy. But eventually my mother started sending me frantic Facebook messages, all of which essentially begged me to give them a call to let them know I was still alive (they weren’t too happy when I told them I had gone to Nicaragua for the weekend). Annoyed by her persistence, I held off on the demanded phone call until yesterday afternoon.

That was when I realized that perhaps it would be better for me to not speak to my parents so much after all. Hearing my real dad’s voice as it recalled their Hollywood-filled trip out west was a little jarring and unexpectedly painful. Particularly because I could still hear my host parents elsewhere in the house, chatting away in Spanish. As much as I admire and appreciate my host parents for being the wonderful people they are, I am definitely starting to miss my own.

I miss hearing words exchanged in Tagalog, not Spanish. I miss eating rice and adobo for every meal, not rice and beans. Hell, I even miss hearing the sounds of TFC and “Wowowee” coming from the television instead of “Bailando por un Sueño” or something of the sort.

And if it wasn’t for the fact that more people communicate to me now through Facebook Chat instead of AIM, I would probably have tried to deactivate my profile at some point in this trip to avoid seeing the statuses and updates of friends back home. Facebook has become so crucial for me and my American friends here in Costa Rica, and yet at the same time it kills me whenever I see pictures of groups of friends that don’t include me in them.

My first Taste

“I’m still waiting for that brother who makes me that damn weak.”

I think I might have a huge crush on Keri Hilson right now. The woman is gorgeous. At the Taste concert yesterday, she just totally rocked the show. She wore these black and blue pants that I’m pretty sure I could never pull off in real life, and her in-between comments weren’t cheesy or rude, but friendly and charming. And her dancing is siiiick.

For the concert, we managed to get standing room right near up to the fence that separated the reserved seating from the open lawns for Keri’s set, so that was a blast. But while waiting for Ne-Yo to come on, though, my friends and I tried to see if they were still letting people in the seating area. We couldn’t find a way in, so we ended up losing our spots on the lawn. I had to settle for standing way in the back by some lamp post to listen to Ne-Yo. I couldn’t even see him on stage like I was able to see Keri, I had to watch him on the big screen. But he was pretty good too. His set lasted a lot longer, and he went off and sang all his slow, depressing songs in one long medley at one point, when all we wanted was to hear “Miss Independent.” But I enjoyed it overall.

As for the Taste itself, it was exactly how I thought it would be. I had fried cheese ravioli, which tasted warm and delicious considering the weather was cold and rainy. I’m going again Friday, and the forecast says it should be sunny and warm, so that should be much more exciting.

I seriously friggin’ love the city. Every time I go there, it just makes me more jealous that I’m stuck out in the suburbs. While on the L, we managed to get into the front car and I found out you can actually see through the window and watch as the train zips through the tunnels. It was pretty badass.