I’m really bad at questioning. I have always felt that in a science-y way, it was best to accept the mysteries of the universe. That feeling comes from a Disney channel original movie that I saw long ago about a girl maybe being a mermaid. Unclear, but probably best for me to move forward.

This feeling to move on was most recently inspired by some street art that I zoomed past on the bus.  If you’re in Chicago and on Chicago avenue, in that confusing little triangular area where the blue line is and Big Shoulders coffee (which looks like a nice spot) you will see this…


Would it be better if it weren’t a gold toothed lizard spreading that message? For me, yes. But it really made me think. I still don’t know quite what that thought is, or what I will do with that message inside of me moving forward, but I do find it illuminating.

In other life news, I am taking a mini pause from my double life of being teacher and a beer maid so that I can attempt to be social. As an introvert in a profession where I act extroverted most of the time, I need my weekends to cool off and be away from people, yet I feel pressure to take advantage of that time to have fun, live my best life, etc.

This school year I give myself top marks for effort. I have gone out during the week at least three times, attended PD’s during the week that went late, took a weekend trip to New York and somehow taught the whole next week through, likely wearing the same pair of black pants everyday. Not to mention, working every Saturday (minus two). I’m sorry, but single people have to brag like this because the only other people that care are parents and it’s like yeah that’s nice but also my mom loves home made poorly written poems and misshapen mugs that you can’t grasp, and hold one drop of liquid. #doinggreat


Last year It was easy to convince myself that I had become a much better teacher. I’d made it to year three, growing each year with experience and reflecting upon my observers critiques and feedback. It was super easy to get a big head when I taught honors kids. You say read, and they start reading? Wildly different things are happening in regulars, and it is teaching me how to be a better teacher and how to make them better learners.  It is essential to me that they actually learn things and not just rest upon their laurels; in the process of being discovered.

Another fabulous Angela Ritchie ACE camp -- I did an ACE camp in Sweden with Camilla Engman in 2011 and it was life-changing.  Martha Rich | Be Your Own Authentic Artist | New Orleans, Louisiana | September 4-8, 2014 — ace camps

I hoarded all of their work from Quarter 1 for three reasons. One, so that they couldn’t throw it away. Two, so that they couldn’t compare their grade to the person next to them. I guess the culminating reason that I didn’t think of initially was so that they could create “portfolios” which by definition is a whole other thing that requires much more work than what I’m doing. Basically they picked two things that they were proud of or perhaps disappointed by, and then tucked them into their little barf green folder until Q2.

I asked them, what does this show you about yourself as a learner. Why did you pick the things that you did? Who were you Q1?

a lazy person

I don’t know if that will change who they are moving forward, but they were quite honest.  As an adult I have gone through a lot of life experiences and milestones, but ultimately haven’t changed, so I really don’t have any answers.

aliceI posted this on my Facebook 5 years ago today to represent that I wasn’t sure where I was going with my life or what I was doing. Now I still have a lot of questions about what happens next. I certainly didn’t see myself where I am now. That god damn cat could just give me some clues.


What I want to know about this photo is, if I’m not looking at the happy couple kissing, where am I looking and why? Blissfully unaware….

Also this entire post would lead you to believe that I exclusively wear flower crowns to special events, or even on a daily basis. If only.

it happens everyday.

Deep thoughts,




Summer of…

I am sick of hearing my name. My last name anyways. I’m even sick of hearing the way that kids are starting to spice it up-Ms. Camby, Camby-bell- K-bell, or just Ms. Ms. Ms……..uhhhhh. Somehow I remember 130+ names and you can’t keep track of 7 teachers. #Getmeoutofhere


And while this time of year is the time when we are all the most drained, and the kids are also the most drained, there is more of an ease with the management because you really know each other. And then it ends.  And you have to figure it out all over again in the fall over the course of several months.

end of school

You guys keep working, I’ll just be over here “grading”


I guess that’s what keeps me coming back though.  Those kids that I roll my eyes the most about; I couldn’t do it without them. I could probably do a way better job, but it wouldn’t be as hilarious in retrospect.

I finally ditched my coffee stained lunch box that was 45% ombre brown for about 6 months of the year. With just a week left, I took the plunge and got this new little lunch box. Honestly, if you’re having a bad day, you have to at least have something good for lunch. And at the very very least, a cute lunch box. This year I pretty much isolated myself during lunch because it took me all the extra minutes of getting rubber bands in and out and brushing up afterwards that it just didn’t make it worth it to go downstairs. I also still never got those nerve endings back in my lower lip/chin area so I often find little dribbles there and I am constantly wiping that area out of habit.

lunch box

The good news is that I got my braces off, and that makes things a good 90% easier. Non- braces people know that you can still get food in your teeth, but getting it out is much simpler.

braces day1-end

teacher emma

I also get to be an aunt to this little nugget of joy below featured in his baby-aviators…baby-ators. As far as he knows, I’ve had a dazzling smile for his entire life, and not just half of it. While I have tons of pictures of him and am so proud and giddy, I don’t think we have a photo together. I’m not against it, but when I see a photo of a person as old as me with a baby, I figure that it’s their baby. To clarify, it really depends on the pose and the location. I wasn’t about to grab him for a photo-op in the hospital because I randomly looked worse than the person that had just given birth and all of the nurses on hour 37 of their shift.


In conclusion, just trying to get a feel for if being an aunt is a pick up line or not, because despite what I was imagining, there was not a line of suitors outside of my door the day after I got my braces off. I think I came home and did the same things that I always do, in no particular order….eat something with a lot of olive oil on it, 2-3 episodes of something on Netflix, complain to myself about dumb things, try to go to bed by 10 pm.

That photo of the article “Single in Chicago” was something that my dad handed to me approximately four years ago. I might have been back from Spain and just starting my little Chicago life.  A lot has changed since then, and in the fewest words possible, I’m ready for the summer of Emma.


Newborn Spanish

The other day I was pleasantly reminded that my Spanish used to be around the level of “newborn” which for those of you taking language exams lands somewhere before A1…

I’m  your typical ‘I took years of Spanish in high school but then got to college and was like wait, QUE?’

It’s not uncommon. I’ve heard the same story  at least a hundred times because it is the immediate response to me telling someone that I’m a Spanish teacher. I usually get a sprinkling of phrases for  me to, I guess critique and respond with something like”oh wow, you’re so good at saying “como estas” you should pursue Spanish again… your highly authentic  one sided conversation really made me want to keep talking about high school Spanish.

I don’t feel offended by those conversations, although I surely could be, and probably should be. I don’t because I was that person, and I won’t because it doesn’t apply to where I teach at all. In Spanish 1 we reviewed the alphabet  for all of 5 minutes, and in one class I hate to say, we just didn’t “get to it.”

I have gone from newborn to full blown adopted Mexican. My dream of becoming a Mexican teenager that I never knew I had is pretty much coming true. To clarify, my Spanish is way  better after working with a predominantly Latino population in the US than it ever really got in Spain. In Logrono, I was teaching English all morning….and most afternoons…and then hanging out with English speaking friends. I was speaking plenty of Spanish as well with my roommates, and in other daily interactions, but it wasn’t growing and developing like it has been here where I am focused on teaching it.

With that said, my third year of teaching is not only easier because my Spanish is a little more flow-y, but I also am finding my stride  with being me. For three (or more) years prior, I was being someone else, or doing things that people said would help, and so they came out about as gracefully as  me trying to look like Beyonce when I dance  (think un-sexy noodle). Not to say that that doesn’t happen anymore, but I am more aware of it. I’m not stern, I don’t like to yell because I become a tomato, and I’d rather get punched in my healing jaw than tell someone that their plagiarism is so obvious that #icanteven….

Just the other day a kid took what he thought was a low key swig of Gatorade, so I thought I shot him “the look” but he took another sip, so out loud I said I’M LOOKING AT YOU AND IT’S NOT GOOD-got it?. Reading that made me crack up, but the message was received. I will never be that strict teacher- the one that you work really hard for because they are so tough. It sounds awesome, but ultimately I just have to be the teacher that I am. The one that gives you a sticker when you tell a funny story, or takes a few minutes for anecdotes (plus that’s a vocabulary word) about the day or the weekend. I think you can all see the pros and cons to that way of life- don’t worry though, so can I.

Pro is that kids make you things like “frog”  (picture below), con is…how did you find so much free time to make that frog during my class? Oh and bless you airborne-I have switched over to the fizzy drink kind though because chewing those giant tablets is not cool.


The other weekend we had the pleasure of attending a super fun wedding so I figured that I should get my makeup done- an area that I have always been helpless in despite the fact that it fascinates me and I love all things beauty and wellness. It was convenient because I also broke out like  the teenager that I am deep down inside, so I needed extra help.


I never knew all of the potential hidden in my brows. They are there, but nobody knows because they get all blond in random areas- enter brow pencil. I don’t think I need to look like that at school, but it’s nice to know that I could.

That concludes my week 10, made it through the wire update. I still can’t feel my lower lip, which is really inconvenient for eating and talking when for the most part I feel totally normal. Luckily it doesn’t affect my love life because I don’t have one, so I can’t really comment on how that will play out in the future…ideally the feeling will come back by the time I’m ready to like someone.



Leon and Carnaval

Some of my resolutions just re surfaced in my brain and I’m realizing I haven’t done too many of them.

Running hasn’t happened recently because I was sick for a whole week. My academy students coughing directly into my mouth and licking things that I later touch finally caught up with me. It also has been as cold as Chicago and snowy! Lovely snow. The kind that doesn’t stay on the ground and create black and gray mush.

Cooking. pfff. If you are my facebook friend you know the other day I had the idea to make a “poor crepe” Here is the recipe.

A flour tortilla

Some chocolate

Put the tortilla on a plate. Put the chocolate in the middle of the tortilla. Microwave it.

Serves 1 poor lazy person.

I haven’t actually made it yet, so don’t blame me if you try it and it’s terrible.

Also, the other day I guess I was in such a rush and or exhausted that I just dumped my cereal into my coffee. It was like hyper oatmeal.


Besides all of these terrible truths about myself, I’ve been doing well here in Spain teaching like a maniac. Keeping busy generally helps me avoid more pressing issues like my resume, my next year plan, my singledom. So does watching Top Chef, Girls, and Modern Family. The difference between this pathetic reality and the one I have back in the U.S is that I can take cool weekend trips to places like Leon.

It was Valentine’s day. Was I really going to stick around Logrono and eat myself to sleep when I could do that in another city?

I still had to take a bus at 4am but at least my hair was curled.

I still had to take a bus at 4am but at least my hair was curled.

Crazy sculptures

Crazy sculptures






IMG_2829 IMG_2830

Vermouth. 1 euro. Giant spicy olive. Felicidad.

Vermouth. 1 euro. Giant spicy olive. Felicidad.

An apple chestnut soup from a Restaurante Vegeteriano. (In Spain!?) www.vegetarianoleon.com

An apple chestnut soup from a Restaurante Vegeteriano. (In Spain!?)

Teenagers. I can't escape them!

Teenagers. I can’t escape them!

A thoughtful gift from our new teen friends.

A thoughtful gift from our new teen friends.


Camino goes through here as well. A peregrino.

Camino goes through here as well. A peregrino.

Parador of Leon

Parador of Leon



MUSAC. I don't understand modern art anywhere.

MUSAC. I don’t understand modern art anywhere.


My friend Leslie was a great hostess and I loved Leon. I would totally go back if time could just create more of itself.


Before this random weekend adventure was Carnaval. Last year I was a hippie, and I decided to make use of that same blue fur coat I got on Rebajas to be the Twitter bird. A LOOSE interpretation of a bird at best. I did buy yellow toxic facepaint from a Chinese shop (Chino) to draw a beak on my face but It’s nowhere to be found.

So hip

So hip

Only in Spain could I guarantee finding yellow skinny jeans. In February.

Only in Spain could I guarantee finding yellow skinny jeans. In February.

Hello little hat

Hello little hat

Twitter, fortune teller, goth

Twitter, fortune teller, goth

Hey Dj

Hey Dj

Twitter, tree, matador, goth

Twitter, tree, matador, goth

tweet tweet!

tweet tweet!

It was a pretty tranquilo night since by the time it was appropriate to discoteca….we just wanted pizza and sleep. Plus the disco was jam packed so tight I couldn’t handle it. PLUS I saw some of my students. Wasted. Talk about a buzz kill. Who is the one that’s supposed to be partying? I think it’s me, but maybe i’m wrong.


Seeing my students back at school after a weekend like that wasn’t weird though. I don’t have any sort of traditional teacher role/relationship since as I’ve maybe mentioned I don’t give them grades, speak to their parents, or see them everyday. I’m grateful that the drinking age at home is 21. Sorry if you’re young and want to go to bars, but you can’t because your teachers need to get away from you on occasion.


I have a few more weeks of soaking up Logrono and getting some real life business done before two exciting trips.

1. St. Patrick’s day weekend: Lisbon (ya ya ya ya!)

2. Semana Santa (March 30-April 7): Budapest, Prague, Vienna

Yes, the girl who eats hyper oatmeal and creates fake websites in her head like poorfood.com, whatshouldido.com, teachyourself.com/imtired, etc… is actually super awesome. In terms of travel at least.

un beso




After Valladolid, we made our way to Salamanca.

“…Salamanca, que enhechiza la voluntad de volver a ella a todos los que de la apacibilidad de su vivienda han gustado.” Miguel de Cervantes

…. translates to “Salamanca makes all those who have enjoyed the pleasant experience of living in her long to return”

Here in Logrono we see signs that say how many kilometers you are from France. In Salamanca it tells you how far to Portugal. It put in perspective how far we had traveled, yet by train It didn’t hurt a bit.

Salamanca is famous for it’s University and study abroad programs among other things like giant cathedrals, a roman bridge, gothic and moorish architecture, a plaza mayor to swoon for….The University aspect made me miss my University days although Iowa City and Salamanca, pues no hay nada que ver…..

Plaza Mayor


House of shells, Conchas. Like the symbol of the camino.

Casa de Lis, Art Noveau and Art Deco museum. Beautiful both day and night.

Desayuno on plaza Mayor. It’s okay when you know you’re going to walk all day.

Plaza de Toros


Can you imagine this being your pre game spot? Students in Salamanca can.

A restoration added that goblin eating ice cream……said a woman begging for money.


Outside the University Museum. If you find the skull with a frog on it, it’s good luck. If you buy a frog key chain you’re a sucker. 

Just walking to the library

And then I was on the set of Beauty and the Beast, the library scene.

After seeing all those books and knowledge in one place, I was extra inspired when I saw an antique book shop, La Galatea: Libreria Anticuaria. We had time, so we took a peek inside and I melted. They should consider installing a fire place and charging money to curl up by it for one hour and read. They had cool old records, tin signs, all that kind of stuff that makes the antiques road show go ’round. I knew immediately I wanted to buy something, if only for the memory of having entered. As luck would have it I found a children’s version (though still quite difficult mind you….) of Lazarillo de Tormes. It is the first unofficial novel since it’s anonymous and Don Quijote is the first official novel. I read it in college and I was really touched and interested in a lot of the themes and messages in the book. Then of course the book store lady confirmed those things for me and reminded me that in the story, Lazarillo was from Salamanca and born in the river Tormes. Hence his surname. AH! Though the river is more….dry the Roman bridge obviously still stands. Those Romans.

Just being Lazarillo de Tormes

Welcome to Salamanca!

Book store lady couldn’t believe we had not yet seen the Roman bridge and we only had a few hours left in Salamanca. So we spent them in the mist seeing the bridge, crossing it, and then crossing back to go eat one final pintxo of course. The prices were low in both Salamanca and Valladolid especially for what and where we ate. Logrono is sort of “pricey” for a small town, although I still think a lot of things are really cheap.

So to escape some of the txirimirri (something like that in basque for that raining but not exactly feeling mist), we made our final visit inside the Cathedral. Lots of steps to work all the tortilla and solomillo off our butts.

Feeling small

The face of being rained on.




When i say best solomillo of my life….i mean BEST SOLOMILLO OF MY LIFE. Bambu off Plaza Mayor.


I don’t know if I belong in Salamanca, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice sized city with more churches than you’ll even want to see or know about, and the food is mmm mmm mm MMM.

Now i’ll have to start some new dreams about cities to visit. Perhaps more along the Don Quijote theme. I obviously can’t leave this Earth without seeing those windmills. For this weekend, a cozy birthday of food and wine in Logrono. You’re old when you say cozy in the same sentence as birthday.


un beso