Category Archives: Life

finals week.

i’m in a random room of prairie lakes bible church, sitting at a table with my friends joel and ryan and pretending to study. prairie lakes opens up its facilities for finals week, staying open until midnight each night, providing lots of study room and tons of free food for the students. it is awesome.

this is why finals week is always great. everybody seems more stressed, but there are cool things like a big church offering help to the college kids. and my take on finals is pretty unstressful; my work all semester is where i’m stressed rather than finals. when finals roll around it’s like i’ve done what i’ve done, usually my finals are not make or break my grade type important. pulling all nighters is so pointless to me because it’s like cramming isn’t going to help my final grade at all. so while i still study and get the last few bits of information into my head, i don’t let finals get me down.

plus, i’m three days away from being absolutely done with this semester and three weeks long of working at family video (closing christmas eve, opening christmas morning, among others), playing guitar, reading the hobbit/lord of the rings, and beating grand theft auto iv and lego indiana jones with joel. and hoo boy am i excited. it’s a bummer that i don’t get this excited about what i’m doing with my education because it would be phenomenally easier to wake up and go to class if i was excited about it. instead, i get excited at the end of my school day when i can go home and read things about music artists or discover remix albums or watch movie trailers or blog or anything of that nature. i feel like an hour playing video games with joel is more productive than an hour long class because i am deepening a friendship (no matter how pointless one might think video games are, they can serve as a catalyst for real fellowship) instead of learning about lipids. who gives a crap about lipids? honestly.

why can’t there be some major in school which involves blogging. listening to tons of music and telling people about it. playing guitar with other musicians. it sucks. instead i’m learning about the molecular cofactors involved in the electron transport chain and which parts of the brain affect motor function. interesting stuff yes, but to me? not particularly. can’t help thinking i’ve chosen the wrong things to focus on in school.

whatever. i’ve got another semester-ish to finish and then i can get a job and learn how the real world works. go to work during the day and then come home and have my evenings to myself and my wife. sounds great. in the meantime though, lego indiana jones is pretty fun.

-jon

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last.

here i am. the last blog from spain. to quote almost the most cliche saying ever, “what a crazy ride it’s been.” it really has though. i have such a weird feeling right now. it’s a little bit of sadness but almost a little bit of nervousness? i’m not really sure what it is. it’s 4 am and my bus leaves at 6. i have to pack my carry on yet; it’ll mainly be throwing things in my backpack. i also need to shower since i spent the night out with all the other americans. i’m not insanely sad. i didn’t start to cry when i had to say goodbye to luna and paula, much less all to the other americans. i sort of want to though. i think it would feel good to get it out of my system. i remember the last days before january 5th, when my flight brought me here. they were pretty bad. there’s always so much tension before a big life moment, like leaving for a new country for so many months. colleen and i tried so hard to just enjoy what little time we had left together but it’s so hard when such a huge thing is looming right in front of you. and right now it should be the opposite right? i should be just ecstatic about returning. and without a doubt, i am beyond excited. but there’s an extra layer which i wasn’t expecting.

i feel this whole trip has been spent with my eyes constantly checking my watch. i’ve been wanting this day, this hour to come for so long. i’ve wanted to return to normalcy, to dollars and cents, to fountain pop and my girlfriend and my job and my guitars and everything that’s home to me. i never ever expected that my brain or my heart would make this place their home. and they kind of have. i walked my route from campus to my apartment today for the last time and it was so weird thinking i’d never make that walk again. this country, this city, has embedded itself more deeply in my consciousness than i was expecting, and it’s just crazy to think of leaving it. while i spent so much time looking ahead, looking forward to these last few hours of packing and getting ready, my heart was convincing itself that it had to get used to this sort of living cause it was all i was gonna know for so long. and it worked. i managed to get used to this place, these streets, these shops and the food and all of it. so much so that leaving it feels foreign. five months ends up being enough time for you to forget just enough of your home that returning to it seems foreign. that’s a hard thing to reconcile yourself to.

i’ve kind of been stuck on this decently depressing thought that i’ve been to places and seen things that i know i will never be at or see again in my lifetime. tonight i’ve kind of been stuck on a counterpart to that thought. i’ve met people here that i will never see again. such a weird and sad thing to know that people exist who fit you so well, that you get along with and everything just clicks. you enjoy their company and enjoy learning new things from them and sharing your passions with. yet to know that there are so many people like that who you might never meet, or people you’ve discovered, and for such a short time enjoyed their presence, their friendship, and realize you are about to lose it. it makes me sad. it’s not like i met my best friends here or anything but i met people who i enjoyed, people i found funny, people who taught me things. five months is plenty of time to forge new relationships and it happened. that just added to the new kind of normalcy i found here in spain. my heart made these streets my home, these classrooms and this bed and all of it, my new home. and even so much more so because i found new friends. new people to grow close to and care for. and it added to my new sense of home here.

and now i’m leaving. it’s now 4:29 in the morning and my bus leaves in just over an hour and a half. the plane will be such a relief from all this. this is just the hard part again before leaving; it’s just harder cause i was naive enough to think it wouldn’t hit me like this. i’ll be sleeping soon enough, which will be a blessing. i feel a solid seven hours of sleep on a plane will do this heartache some good.

thanks spain. you’ve been good to me. i hope we see each other again soon.

-jon

edited at 10:53 am:
what a bunch of malarkey i just wrote. i’m sitting in the madrid airport; i am PSYCHED. i cannot wait to get on my next plane and sleeeeeep. and after that i’ll be home. real home, not fake/expensive/no girlfriend/no guitars/no mt. dew home. i’m excited. the sadness has passed and now it’s just excitement (for some reason that does not sound like a word to me right now) and tiredness. 8 more hours. holler.

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1 week.

one week left. i have been looking forward to this day for a long time, almost ever since i wrote that first non-refundable check for 100 washingtons that went towards this trip. and obviously now that i’m here i’m a little sad. i wasn’t really expecting it is the weird thing. last night all the kids from the iowa group (and a few non-iowa friends) met together for the last dinner. sean’s leaving today, in fact he’s already on his plane bound for chicago right now. and it was a really bittersweet time. everybody had a blast last night, we started on gascona (a big popular street where people sit outside and drink cider), drinking cider and hanging out and then went to dinner at this restaurant where we met up with luna and paula. we also celebrated luna’s birthday and gave luna and paula picture collages of everyone from the iowa group and signed big cards. i gotta hand some serious cred. to caitlin here, she killed it with the collages and the cards, they all looked professional. top notch work, really. that girl is gonna be a phenom. graphic designer. so we ate dinner, drank, hung out, and then moved on to another club/bar for more dancing and talking. and then sean said goodbye to everybody. sad times.

it’s weird because five months ago, i knew only one of the iowans well at all, and now i feel like we’re a decently tightly-knit group. when you are in a foreign country with a foreign language and foreign customs, you’re bound to attach yourself to whoever’s close. for me that meant this group of kids from uni. kids i would almost certainly have never become friends with had we not come to spain. and obviously once we’re back at school next semester we’ll see each other around campus and hang out but it’s still a little sad. maybe it’s just the fact that once i leave in a week, there is a pretty good chance i will never see this place again in my life. that is a sad thought. last weekend our group went on a small trip to the coast and we explored some sweet caves. they were awesome because we went inside the caves and they went downwards and ended up in this incredibly beautiful cove that led out into the ocean; like ocean water had cut it’s way into this mountainside and we were inside the cove. the tide was actually coming in when we got there so we could only stay there for about half an hour. anyway after exploring the caves we worked our way back up and spent some time on top of the cliffside, looking out on the ocean and the coast. insanely picturesque. it just made me think that there are places, beautiful beyond words, in our world that i have had the chance to see and some that i will never see. it’s such a bittersweet thought that i’m looking down on something beautiful; feeling the wind on the coast and seeing waves crash down on rocks hundreds of feet below me, knowing i’ll never see this place again. that’s what makes me sad about going home. having a newfound confidence from seeing these places, having these memories, and knowing that all i might have to hold onto are the memories from this trip. i might not return. memories could never do the things that i’ve seen justice. the irish coast that sean and i saw will never be as stunning in my mind as it was when we saw it. our world is too big and too beautiful to never see as much of it as you possibly can. i’m so thankful for this semester because i’m so much of a homebody that i might never have found the desire to see more world had i stayed in cedar falls. and that’s something really important to me that i’m taking home, this newfound desire to see and experience our world.

so i’m a bit sad. and also beyond excited to come home. my heart and my head don’t live here in spain, and it will be wonderful to get back into the swing of hard classes and deadlines and fountain soda and singing in my car and all of that. this has been a great experience that i wouldn’t want to lose.

i couldn’t think of any good way to end this blog without sounding cheesy, so i’m doing it like this.

-jon

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one long paragraph.

one month left.

walking home tonight from spending some time with a few friends, i found something i think i might miss. i crossed the main street to get to my house and i hopped up on the sidewalk and kept on walking like normal. as i glanced down at my feet i noticed how the sidewalk is designed. it’s made up of squares of stoney grey, all with diagonal lines cut into them. every now and again there is a little cluster of squares that are a maroonish color, but less ugly than maroon. i don’t know why it struck me tonight. i guess just thinking about how many times i’ve walked the sidewalks here and how i look down at my feet or at the ground just ahead of me as i walk and how i’ve become so accustomed to this life, this city, these roads. my normal routine is to come home from class and flip on some music and hope i can get internet in my room. i haven’t seen colleen in four months. she used to be part of my routine, seeing my friend joel used to be my routine, double decker tacos and mega buddies from kwik star used to be my routine, playing my beautiful stratocaster used to be my routine. and none of that is it anymore. my routine here consists of listening to music, putting off what little homework we’re given, writing, watching tv shows i have, spending evenings at the cafe, spending evenings playing ping pong. i don’t know why sidewalk tiles set all this off in my head. it’s just so weird to think how my life has changed, just out of necessity. it obviously couldn’t have stayed the same because i lost everything that was normal to me before. and i’ve carved out a new routine for myself. it’s not my absolute favorite but it has sufficed. i’ve learned many, many things about who i am, personality and character wise, things that i want to take advantage of back in the states, things i want to change, things i want to work harder at, things i want to spend more time on. being isolated from community has forced me to examine who i am and what i want to do. as much as this trip has brought me a lot of loneliness at times, it’s also brought me a new kind of clarity about my identity. and i don’t want to lose that. i think what the sidewalk tiles made me realize is that i’m proud of myself for managing to carve out a new kind of life for five months in a completely new place. some of the kids here wouldn’t say that i’ve taken advantage of my time here in spain as much as i should’ve, not going out enough, or meeting new people from new places, or whatever, but this trip has gone from being about speaking another language (i learned within the first week that i wasn’t going to leave the country fluent) to being about learning about me. and i’ve had more success in that aspect than i could’ve hoped for. i’m learning what’s important to me, what’s not, what i want to work for and fight for and live for when i return to normalcy. and i’m excited to get back to that normalcy with this new kind of confidence. there really is a strange kind of confidence that comes from seeing new and beautiful things. for me it’s not always the thing itself that brings me confidence; the confidence comes from the thoughts and realizations that are triggered by seeing new things. i’m returning to the states more confident about my life and who i am because i recognize supermarket signs in spanish. because of the gorgeous cathedral in the middle of the city. because of the concrete ping pong tables outside in the city park. because of the thousands of new faces i’ve seen here. because of the sunset i saw in san sebastian and the mountains i’ve seen in the picos de europa. because of the sidewalk tiles. it’s odd how the tiniest little things like that set off such a chain reaction of introspection in me. i guess i finally feel really ready to return to something i know. ready to play my strat. ready to study my butt off this summer. ready for fountain pop. i can’t wait.

-jon

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don’t be offended if i ever talk to you with my earbuds in. i’m probably paying attention.

had an interesting chat with a friend on the bus tonight. we’d spent the day in león with some friends and most people were falling asleep on the bus and we got to chatting about the day and how it went. and i realized a few things.

it’s weird living here in spain. and it’s especially weird because the closest friends i have are people with whom i’m not really in my comfort zone. they aren’t people i think i would ever choose to be close to. they’re not bad people, just way different than i am. and i think lately i’ve been subconsciously distancing myself from hanging out with people cause i’m starting to realize that. i think i’m known around here as the kid with the ipod; at school, between classes, even if i’m talking to somebody, i have at least one earbud in, and most times two. i walk to class with my ipod, i play ping pong with my ipod. blake even drew a comic that was seen by all the students with me in it, and he drew me wearing an argyle sweater and listening to my ipod so people would better recognize me. it’s just part of my identity. i think i’m also known as the guy who doesn’t go out. there are so many days when people ask me when i did during the weekend or if i’m going out later that night, and my most common answer is “nope, probably gonna head to the cafe”. the cafe has become my second spanish home. i’m almost always guaranteed good, functional internet until midnight when they close. and they have pretty good coffee.

but that’s who i’ve become to the kids around here. the kid with the ipod who doesn’t go out. and when i realized i was really starting to isolate myself and every now and then would get crap from people about it (oh lame jon isn’t going out cause he’s got a skype date, etc.), i felt kind of bad about it at first. but i think i’ve finally pinpointed why i do it. i just don’t connect with these kids well. i have a different lifestyle, a different mindset about things than most people here do and it is so hard to truly connect with anybody. i connect best with people through music, through lists, through creativity. and no one here understands that. no one here would rather spend time in a cafe, researching artists and albums online so they can write a Top 5 list about music rather than go out and party. and i would. i’d rather spend time seeing colleen’s face and getting to talk to her and connect with her rather than go out. nothing makes me happier than letting her know who i’ve been reading about or sending her new music that i’ve been listening to. i’d even rather spend time talking with my other buddy online (yeah, like instant messenger. i still rock that.) than going out because that’s how we connect. he and i have hung out in real life less than ten times (girlfriend’s cousin) but i feel like he’s a close friend cause our minds work in a similar way. he gets excited about music, about creativity, like i do. and no one here does.

today in león, around 7pm, we’d been there since like 2 or so, and people had just bought some drinks and we were gonna walk around the city some more. there were nine of us altogether, and people were eating their snacks and drinking their drinks, and i actually put my ipod on, even with everyone around talking. it’s not that i don’t want to talk to anybody, it’s just that there are times when i’m just dying to experience a tune and i’ll forfeit being 100% involved in a conversation for that experience (“rock with you” by michael jackson was what i needed to listen to.) i ended having my ipod on for almost the next three hours, walking with everyone and dancing while we walked. sometimes i’d talk to people, sometimes i’d fall to the back and practice moonwalking or other dance moves off the curb. and it was fun.

it’s a weird thing. i feel like a part of my mind has opened up here in spain and i’m nervous about losing that when i go back to the states. i’ve had the best opportunity to just let music sink into every part of my life here, and been able to have an outlet for it through writing. when i’m in the states, i’ve got real classes, real homework, a job, a relationship, and actual close friends that i have to put effort into. here, i’ve got easy classes, joke homework, no job, still a relationship, and one actual close friend. so i have so much time to let this part of my mind open up and let the creativity blossom. and i’ve loved it. it’ll probably be one of the biggest things i remember about this trip. it’s just an important part of who i am and i haven’t really found it here with anyone else. like when somebody asks me what i’m listening to (which by the way hardly ever happens. why don’t more people ask that to people with headphones in their ears?), if i get even remotely passionate about what it is i’m listening to, i almost always get blank responses back, or at least apathetic responses. which just kind of bums me out. not even for me, but like if a person responds in an uncaring type of way, it’s like what inspires you? what makes you feel things, get passionate about things? i just wish i was surrounded by more people who cared about things that seem important to me.

that’s the biggest reason i’m excited to get back into the states. not to get back into my comfort zone because it’s easier, but to get back to that place because it’s necessary for me. i need to connect to people who really know me cause i’m starting to really drag without those connections. so if nothing else, i’ve got about one more month of good blogs in me and then they’ll start to suck again. enjoy while you’ve got ’em.

-jon

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If I Could

i’m rediscovering jack johnson. this song in particular has just been breaking my heart.

If I Could

a brand new baby was born yesterday
just in time
papa cried, baby cried, said your tears are like mine
i heard some words from a friend on the phone
didn’t sound so good
the doctor gave him two weeks to live
i’d give him
if i could

you know that i would now
if only i could
you know that i would now
if only i could

down the middle drops one more
grain of sand
they say that
new life makes losing life
easier to understand
and words are kind they help ease the mind
i’ll miss my old friend
and though you gotta go
we’ll keep a piece of your soul
one goes out
one comes in

you know that i would now
if only i could
you know that i would now
if only i could

listen and enjoy. what a songwriter.

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#1

i love finding the cold side of the pillow. when i climb into bed, i always flip my pillow around bunches of times to cool my ears off. my ears are always get red when i’m super tired. weird. anyway. right now i’m writing my first real “blog” in my bed with my new computer. is it superficial that i feel more productive now that i own a laptop? i have a color-coded calender set up with all my big events coming up in the next month. i have a to-do list, also color-coded. i’m worried this is a novelty rather than a real life organizational change. i hope to keep this blog updated at least once every day or so once i get settled in spain. especially with pictures and stuff. and spanish phrases. that would be pretty exciting.

so anyway. i spent the day hanging out with a buddy, doing the most lazy stuff in the world. and it was great. in no great detail, i woke up midmorning, spent the day watching a few movies, playing wii, going on a hy-vee run, then coming back to watch the series finale of the incredibly hilarious show extras. what a lazy day. it was so great. and i don’t feel bad about it at all. i’m 21, maybe i should be spending my free days getting ready for my mcat or my trip to spain or something adult, but it feels so good to have a day like this right after a long semester. i only have one or two more days of this kind of living before i head back to kc and spend time with my family and really start getting ready for spain. days like this i really feel my age, like young slash old, young enough to not have too many responsibilities and be able to spend the day shooting zombies and eating pizza but old enough to drink if i wanted, or run an errand at 1:30 in the morning. this is such a weird age to be but it’s nice. sometimes it can be stressful and crazy and nerve-wracking but sometimes it’s great. today it was great. tomorrow it will probably be great too. earlier tonight i watched this show on hbo called extras. it’s about this guy (ricky gervais, who i will hopefully blog about soon) who works as an extra on movie sets and finally gets a break, but it’s on this horribly camp tv show. he struggles with sacrificing his artistic integrity and dignity for fame and fortune. and tonight’s show was the series finale, the last hour and a half special that closed the whole story out. it was all about this guy’s struggle, alienating his friends, and also how his friend who also works as an extra hasn’t been able to catch a break in show business and so she quits the acting scene and just struggles to make it working odd jobs, and she deals with all sorts of “what happened to my life?” types of issues. some of the best writing ricky gervais has ever done. for an hour and a half i slipped back into thinking all about what i’m doing right now, what i’m studying, what i’m trying to accomplish, where i want to get to, what happens if i don’t. it was a nice reality check before i started killing zombies again. lazy days like this are always great, but it’s also nice to stay grounded and aware of where you are in your life, and that hour and a half was perfect.

sometimes i worry if i’m worrying myself to death. how ridiculous is that? i should just be trying to my best at whatever i’m doing. instead i get nostalgic at age 21 and prematurely worry about my future wife and kids and grandkids at this age. why do i think about these things all the time? does anybody else my age worry this much? of course they do. who doesn’t. it just sucks that nobody ever seems to voice these thoughts.

in ten years none of this will matter. i probably won’t be blogging anymore, i’ll probably be trying to provide for my family and keep my garage organized and worry about moles in my front yard or something. hopefully. or maybe something completely different. who knows. i am just doing my best, which is all anybody can ever do. deep huh? pretty good for a first blog. ok i’m going to bed. there are all sorts of zombies that need killing tomorrow.

-jon

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