The Wrong Intuition

Endless buckets
Of freezing cold water
Thrown in my face
And dumped over my head.
Hard won truth,
Real talk,
And vanished illusions
Subconsciously absorbed
To be tearfully reconciled.

The scale lilts
Teetering between justice
And blind faith,
Overheard whispers
And misunderstandings.
When your guts alert
A trill of panic:
Proof you were wrong all along.
Fool.

The position of The Hanged Man,
Gleefully upside down,
Resting on his crown
With a smile,
Ignorant or blissful?
That’s anyone’s guess.
He’s stagnant
And in free fall
Unquestioning the present.

Adrenal Burnout

Drumming fingernails
Impatiently
Heart thumping
Ceremoniously
Computer loading
Nothing
Seconds feel
Like hours
Keeps drumming
Rhythmically
Awaiting an
Answer
Disappointed
Leaves
Time wasted
Urgency abated
Everyday
Every single day

Rowan turns into Seven Springs

Daily commute
Going 50MPH,
While putting on makeup,
A stupid song plays
On the radio.

I barely see anything
Besides the bumper
In front of me.
Occasionally, a chain gang
Clad in cartoonish
Black and white stripes
Working in the median
Catch my eye.
Mainly, because it’s 2017
Pasco County, FL,
And not a quirky Coen Brothers
Film.

A golden plume
Of fine fur
Balled into an amorphous
Pile
Idles on the side of the road.
No longer alive
Just a body;
A coyote, I’m told.
But in these parts
I’m used to nocturnal
Creatures curled up or
Smashed into the weaving roads.
Not a majestic animal.

Florida kills everything good
Or interesting.
Relentlessly grinding all the
Magic
Out of the swamp
And it’s residents.
Just stamp them out
Crush their skulls
Under thick black tires
And pass by at high speeds.

Every morning
I see the coyote
Slowly diminishing –
Returning to the earth.
Food now.
Gone now.
I take the same route
Daily.
This crushing routine
Comes with a loss of
Appetite
And chest pains.

Every Interaction Ever

 

My voice is a horror show.
A squeaky wheel
Of post nasal drip
And poor annunciation.
As smooth as broken glass,
As nuanced as the murky Gulf,
And yet I have a post graduate degree,
To which, by my shrill voice denounces.
No matter the subject
And really, fuck intellectual
Sentences.
Just stutter and mumble,
Mispronounce and fumble,
The short verbal intercourse.
Flipping hands and grimace
To distract anyone observant
Enough
To see that I’m just a goofy
Dim bulb with wild hair
And outdated four eyes.
Smile and cackle hard.
Maybe they’ll just stare
At my tits instead.

James Byron Addendum

As the law states,
An antique notion really, whereby:
All antiheroes are Romantic.
The push/ pull,
Between mean and keen,
Must be a spark of
Something great, predestined
Or magical.

Moreover the physics are
Distorted when chemistry
Is taken into account;
A Byronic element,
Combustible fuel,
And a dash of mythology.
Measured haphazardly,
Spilling over the side,
Dripping all over the
Eggshells we walk on.

Avoidant and aloof –
He’s just a stranger.
Cool and dismissive –
He’s just an actor.

A karmic contract lay
Between two past lives
Over a thousand years.
Older than the literary
Canon but none the wiser.
The signatures are
Sealed in amber and
Wax.
To ratify now, well,
That’s no game for amateurs.

Spanish Stories: Fin de Curso/ Bad Babysitter

The backstage area is messy with stacks of chairs, paper bags filled with props, and costumes in piles ready for the quick changes of the final concert of the school year. Tomorrow is the last day of school but today we celebrate with music, dancing, and a showcase of the young athletes of my primary school. I have two performances to get through and of course, I didn’t get the memo to convert and upload my music to the school’s shared server. Until the bitter end, I remain the last person to know.

The kids are buzzing with joy and excitement. The older ones are more serious and stressed out about missing a step or hitting a sour note. I relate to the anxious children: precocious darlings eager to please and perform perfectly for the entire school and their families sitting in the audience of the small theater in Los Mallos. I help out backstage and watch from the wings. The kids are great! Even Raul and Dominion, the hellions of the four-year-old class, were charming in an ADHD way. My groups do fine and I even danced with them (I’m a blur in the flurry of photographs uploaded to the school’s Facebook page). At the end of the day, I was so glad it was over and I wonder how these teachers do this every year.

My last week was spent with my friend from London. We hit all the high notes and ate good food. I dragged that poor guy all over A Coruña and he helped me deal with a rat in my kitchen. My emotions were all over the place and no matter of wine and fried baby squid could mend my aching heart. I’m going to miss my kids and my life. But I have to go home.

Mere days after my friend left, I cleaned up, donated the majority of my clothes, and left my Spanish flat for Boston.

***

     My dad forgot I was coming home – he was startled to see me sleeping on the couch – even though I called him before I left. My dad’s memory, or rather the lack thereof, is the main reason I’m back in Florida. His diabetes had grown wild and out-of-control to the detriment of two motor vehicles. He is loopy, unable to focus, and confused easily. He has hours of clarity but it only takes skipping a snack to bring it all down. He now displays a raging tremor and disturbing slack glare when he goes into a hypoglycemic episode. I call them episodes, because it comes on fast and once remedied with orange juice and a snack, they disappear just as quick. He has no memory of these small attacks. But I’m scarred for life and filled with equal parts disappointment and sadness.

I’ve called 911 twice this summer. Each time five hefty men fill my dad’s modest bedroom. I’m tasked with giving them a rundown of his medication, details of the episodes, and his past medical history. The first time I was able to keep it together and played my role with pith and ease. The second time I lost my shit. I couldn’t stop crying. He looked like he was having a seizure as the tremors violently thrashed his body. Ramping up to the second call, he had small episodes everyday that week, and I kept it managed. I was failing in keep my dad from low-blood sugar, even though it’s ultimately his responsibility, I’m the bad babysitter who doesn’t feed him enough and makes him exercise too much.

***

     I’ve returned just in time for unbearable heat and daily afternoon deluge that manages to create an unparalleled layer of humidity to the already stagnant air. Summertime in the Sunshine State in the sunniest city in the country and I have a bit of a sunburn. After a year away, I’m eager to see my cat, family, and friends. I’ve missed everyone so much. I’ve missed my closet and all the different outfits hanging neatly in the closet. Nothing in Spain could replace what I have in St Pete, be ever so humble a city, it is full of my favorite things including my heeled ankle boots (it’s been too long), my favorite taco joint, and the only IPA I like (sorry Estrella Galicia). It was a great experience, but my soul is aching for community, that I never had in A Coruña.

For all the internal changes that have transpired I’m right back to where I started a few years ago. The difference is that I’ve traveled and lived and been so thoroughly humbled that emotionally I am light years away from the person I was. The empty passport girl is long in the past. The family I was missing I barely see, besides my ill father, and I’m hoping that changes soon. I don’t know when I’ll leave and where I’ll end up. I’ve applied locally, nationally, and internationally since I returned home. I’ve received 12 rejections. Breaking into academia is a tough gig and it might fling me to the opposite side of the globe come January. But I’m still hoping I can find something that allows me to stay in The States.

It took me a few months to get back into writing. I’ve been putting it off. There are several silly stories to tell and experiences worthy to retell, and perhaps, I’ve yet to process all those little traumas. Essentially, I’m ready to put this series to an end. My Spanish life is over and so is Spanish Stories. It’s just a small part in a lifetime and if you want to know more I’ll gladly meet you for a beer and chat.

 

 

 

 

Contributor: Everything Ends by Eram Socats

I am on the last night of my visit with family in rural-ish rust belt country, and I keep getting reminded over and over of the movie The Royal Tenenbaums. I hate that movie for a multitude of reasons, which will become clear as you read this. I think it is a fine movie that is well written, acted, and directed, and because of its accuracy in tone and structure I hate it. At the same time I am visiting my family, E3 has been going on all week. For those of you not aware, E3 is a conference of video game companies who get together in LA for the purpose of putting on press conferences to show off their new releases and to network with other companies.

My mom’s side of the family is from this town and I have never lived here. I have been estranged from them my entire life but still have kept abreast of their doings through my mom and some relatives that I talk to once in a while. It’s got this very ephemeral quality to it for me since every time I visit it’s as if the town isn’t changing at all, but all the people are. It is as if I am unstuck in time, dipping in my toe periodically to see an American experiment. I am affected by it and not affected by it concurrently.
My grandparents were pillars of the family and were the nexus of a large part of the community up here. At one point the entire irish and depression-era community were dependent upon my family. A couple generations through and with the death of my grandparents passing, everything fell apart. People stopped talking to each other, gatherings slimmed, Christmas cards stopped, and some people moved. Lots of varying levels of family members and friends have died since then as well, and the corners of the family become ever distant. A once prominent wing of my family: rich, beautiful, smart, established, large 5-child family has been similarly dissipated. Three of the children are on other land masses now, and the ones left here have been beaten down by mental health issues, substance abuse, and financial hardship. Another wing of the family blessed with riches and opportunity have been feeding on the tablescraps of the economy now, I found out. The family business is going the way of the cassette tape, and nobody else in town is picking up the slack. Can you spot the parallel with my movie reference?
As I have been witnessing the slow decay of this Macondo, I have been watching, ostensibly, the future, my future, through the E3 livestreams online late at night. I am pursuing a future in game development, dear reader, and have grand plans to make a good living from it. As I envision a bright future, I strangely feel an obligation to this town, its past, and the people in it, despite never having lived here. Every structure needs some fasteners in it, and there aren’t any left. It has come undone and there is no sign of it restructuring. With those feelings, I also find myself wanting to close my eyes and move forward whilst leaving everything and everyone behind because that would be the easy way. What’s the point of trying to build a structure which will inevitably decay? The once strong pillars of this building have eroded, and all that exists is trellises and vines. I want to help, one day I want to help, but everything ends.
I will let the town be swept away by the wind but will plant my foot in the dirt if I can.

Spanish Stories: Cooties

In the past six months, I’ve been sick more than I’ve been well.

I wake up every morning and shoot saline spray up each nostril; not the light squeeze bottle full of salty water, but an aerosol canon. Then, I blow my nose, and often, hack up a glob of lung butter directly into the sink. I check the color of my mucus everyday. It’s been a month since signs of an infection have been present in my snot. (Knock on wood.) However, I keep drinking copious amounts of water and hot tea with honey and take a decongestant every single day as a preventative measure. When I feel the slightest irritation in my throat, I swallow an ibuprofen and pop a cough drop in my mouth. I’ve gone through a shit ton of green tea bags and about 6 kilos of local honey. Not to mention one trip to the doctor, which is a whole other issue, and a biweekly trip to my local pharmacist. While, I haven’t crunched the numbers, I’ve certainly spent quite a bit of time and money maintaining a low baseline of health.

All right, sure, I didn’t have the strongest immune system before I moved to Spain. In fact, a have been classified by my peers as “sickly” on more than one occasion. I do suffer from allergies, sinusitis, migraines, and chronic sore throat (mainly from post-nasal drip and sleeping with an open mouth). I deal with it on minimal medication and instead opt for home remedies and homeopathic hacks. I’m not a hippy; although, I have been overmedicated in the past and remain weary of too many doctor visits.

The obvious culprit for my prolonged illness is the classroom full of germy children. The lack of hand washing and mouth covering and regular attendance of sick children is astonishing, at first. When you’re asked for tissues constantly or coughed-on whilst helping a student, you begin to feel like an overworked mother with 200+ children, and man, do I have a whole new appreciation for parents and teachers. Yet slowly, I learned that this is normal, not just for Spanish children, but for Spanish adults, as well. I’m coughed-on on a daily basis: on the bus, on the sidewalk, in line at the store, etc. Then, there’s the public spitting. Gross, right? Well, when you are suffering from your fifth consecutive cold you expel that phlegm with zero fucks. Trust me, I’ve been there #sorrynotsorry. It would seem that Galicia is a breeding ground for chest infections and no one is safe.

Since I cannot remove sick children from my life or move, I must come prepared and that includes a good nights rest every night, maintaining warmth with appropriate clothing, drinking little to no alcohol, and forget smoking (ironic, since its so smoker friendly here). I’ve become the embodiment of a buzz kill. The ultimate wet blanket in a party culture. It’s so cold, wet, and windy here that leaving my flat, especially when I don’t have to, is a struggle.

The real kicker is that layers of warm clothing do precious little. My thin Floridian blood is not compatible with average highs of 52F and lows of 32F, which isn’t that cold and frankly, I look ridiculous on the street among the windbreaker-wearing masses. I want to look cute but I also don’t want to get sick yet again. So rain boots, bulky sweaters, and utilitarian coat it is until summer, since spring, is proving to be winter 2.0 (at least, for me). My obsession with the seasons and weather has permeated my lesson plans. The fickle mistress of maritime weather has become my education muse. I keep finding ways to inject my classroom discussions with the cliché of talking about the weather and what to do in it/with/about it and how to describe it. Maybe I should name my memoirs: The Rain in Spain Falls, not so Gently, to my Distain or How I Dealt with Constant Colds.

 

Spanish Stories: Is it possible to truly hate a 4-year-old? And Other Concerns

El fruto no cae lejos del árbol.

– Spanish proverb

It must be awkward to be the only black girl in class. Doubly awkward if the only other black person in the entire school is your older sister. I teach them both and they both hate me (one more than the other). As an outsider myself, I sympathize and want to support these girls no matter their disrespect and rudeness. After all, it’s not ME they are mad at. The anger is funneled to hit the kindest ear – it’s a safe bet I won’t react with a billowing scream or drag them out of class by the arm. To them I am soft. Before the Classroom Management Regime began I was a bit too nice and not as tough as a teacher. They had no cause to respect me before I put my foot down.

Now that CMB is in full effect, the two black girls are testing my patience, and part of me loves that they are strong-willed and fiercely intelligent, but as an authority figure whose job depends on classroom cooperation, I am having a hard time maintaining sympathy. One day, the youngest girl punched me in the stomach. My reaction was a flat quip, “seriously?” Yet later that day, as I helped the little kids down the stairs, she nearly fell down the steps hugging me, clinging to me for dear life, nearly knocking us both down in the steps process. The other day she refused to let me zip up her coat and ran away screaming and crying that she didn’t want me near her. Only minutes before she was seated properly and quietly in my class. I try not to play favorites (of course I have a few that like more than others) and be fair to everyone, so when this happens, I have to believe it’s coming from the home and not me. I’ve been nothing but kind, firm of course, but kind. I treat her like any student.

I feel like a fool for even caring in the first place. Perhaps that was my first mistake thinking that my sympathy and kindness was enough to make them behave better. The worst part is that she has corrupted another student, a shy sensitive girl, into acting out. It’s all for attention, I know, but it really angers me. So much so that I think I hate her. I hate a 4-year-old with obvious emotional issues. Hate is a strong word, but it’s true, and the word dislike doesn’t begin to cover it. I cannot stand this child and with each passing day I believe its mutual.

There will be no resolution for me. We can’t just talk it out. I asked her once if we could be friends, just so she would stop acting like such a turd all the time, and she refused and slapped my hand away. Maybe my hate is obvious now. Perhaps she has caught on to my distain. I’ve worked with people I have hated before and I can do it again, although, I wouldn’t have thought such a young person could be the root of my daily headache. What if my child acted this way towards another person or myself? I can almost feel my ovaries shutdown at the mere thought.

 

***

“Both in my private and public spheres, my experience is that people here [in Spain] do their jobs, but I come across a lot of people who are very anxious to find a position for life, they’re obsessed with security.” – Margareta Hauschild, from the article “Spain – A great place to live, a terrible place to work?

I have three weeks left of my second trimester as an assistant teacher. March is right around the corner, as are, visits from an old friend and a dream Spring Break (Semana Santa) in Roma and Bologna, Italia. This month is going to fly by and I simply cannot wait for the time lapse to begin, busy, but in the best way possible.

You see everyday is exactly the same: rainy, cold, and annoying. I know, I live in Spain in my own flat and have two jobs – I am extremely lucky. I’m halfway done with a postgraduate degree. I write a bit and have a lot of ideas for fiction. I relish the quietness of my all-too-cold flat. I found books in English. I’m alone a lot, sure, yet I am going out more and more. My homesickness is gone and I miss things less. My cheer levels are fairly high given the annoyance and humidity of being a teacher in La Coruna.

First off, most of the upper primary teachers continue to ignore me. I had dinner with the other English teachers once. Beyond that, I don’t spend any time with staff outside of school. During break they talk over me or around me in rapid fire Spanish. I only catch a word or two. Oddly enough, the only time someone translates for me is when I understand the conversation because it’s at a normal speaking rate. This leads me to think that I am not welcome and thusly, I stopped sitting with them and sit with the kids who choose to do their homework instead of kicking around a football with the other kids. The infant and lower primary teachers have started to get my humor and we have some real laughs. I chalk it up to the fact that I spend more time with the infant and lower primary classes than upper primary.

Secondly, I learned that there is no Spanish word for accountability and I can see why. No one actually takes any responsibility for anything. I’ve never heard someone apologize or admit fault especially when it comes to the lack of training I’ve had in regards to my after-school English classes. I had two parents complaint about my lessons: that they are too easy and too many videos. No one is monitoring me, helping me, or has asked me how my Monday and Wednesday nights are. No one told the director. It was just passed down until it got to me. I defended myself and made the proper adjustments. So far so good. Although, I wonder why no one involved the director. If it was serious, wouldn’t he be involved and this whole matter would be documented? My thought is that the blame would fall to those who are supposed to assist me if it went to the boss and since there is paranoia about job security, it makes sense that the blame would be shifted to the novice. (Most of the staff have been there for most of their adult lives – I’ve seen the photos and they are hilarious.) Of course, the complaints stayed quiet and I was made to feel like a lazy teacher. The sad part is that it took me awhile to stop believing it.

Thirdly, I lie to myself. Well, I lied to myself for a long time. I only realized this a few days ago: I am not as nice as I think I am. From a young age I’ve worked very hard at appearing a certain way to others instead of just being a real person. The real me was a sensitive, open, loving creature who wanted everyone to like her and that’s just not possible. I was bullied for being too hairy, too smiley, too quiet, too smart. You name it. I was punished for being simply myself. That’s when I created this image of niceness, covered my arms and legs, and forced myself to only raise my hand once per class. I was controlling and managing my true self from a very young age – no wonder it took so long for it to dawn on me! After all the breakthroughs with therapy and struggles with depression, I learn the hardest lesson of all: I am not nice. I feign niceness for social ease and to avoid conflict. This is not so strange as American culture dictates a certain decorum. However, in Spain, niceness is not the norm, indifference is. Surrounded by so much naked disregard and aloofness, the façade slips and I feel myself caring less about what other people think. Not altogether but in bits here and there.

Generally, the best part of my life in Spain is when I leave the school or academy. Being here but really not here. If the old adage is true, that, “if your life is four walls, it will always be four walls, no matter where you go” – then, I am fucked. Meaning no matter where I go I am faced with same issues and no amount of social interaction or enviable vacations are going to fix it. Maybe I’m not cut out for this life. The thought of going home is starting to look like a good idea again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelogues – TOCD (Travel Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

 

I’m always in the right seat and make sure of it. Double check. Triple check. I want to be comfortable and settled for the journey ahead, be it, on a plane, train, or bus. Without fail someone comes up to me and claims I’m in their seat. Assertive yet politely, I explain, “Oh no sir/madam! I’m in the right seat. Here is my ticket.” The other party generally replies with an apology or some sort of mea culpa, but I understand, it’s easy to be confused and often things are made unnecessarily difficult. I help whenever I can but rarely do I need to. Most travellers quickly realize their mistake and course correct immediately. However, on my way back from Porto by train, an older couple fought me, while the train rolled on the track towards Vigo, a pair of retirees stood in the aisle steadying themselves for the light rocking motion of the carriage, and refused to believe me and my ticket that correctly placed me in my assigned seat.

The aged Canadians clad in their finest camping gear and requisite backpack failed to understand the proof in black and white. The only evidence that matters: my ticket. Solid, unequivocal, without a doubt proof that I belong in this seat on a particular journey and I am NOT moving.

The ticket checker came by and I asked him to verify their ticket. I was attempting kindness in an awkward situation. The ticket checker agreed with me. I was right. They remain unmoved and unfazed by this support of a member of the system they are trying to buck for the sake of a window seat.

The ticket checker relents and allows the couple to sit on the aisle opposite me, even though, they are assigned to car 6 not car 1. This is the same man who made two older men move yet let these fools swipe a prime seat.

“See? It doesn’t matter!” the male Canadian idiot retorted as he flung his bag in the empty seat next to me when there is a huge luggage rack lining both sides above the seats. I know this because I put my luggage and heavy coat there, NOT next to me in the empty seat.

“I was just trying to help you, sir. This is my seat. I am not moving. Enjoy the trip, ok?” I spit out the words in a flurry of annoyance and exasperation, fuming mad for the first time in weeks. I refuse to let this fucktard ruin my final day of vacation. I am going to read The Last Pope and relax if it kills me.

“Where ya from?” the female Canadian asks me in an attempt to decode my behavior since my voice is clearly that of a native English speaker. As if it matters. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. This little incident is over a seat: what else do they think they are right about but are actually flat-out wrong? At no point am I trying to admonish or humiliate this couple or older foreigners, in general. I endeavor to keep to myself. Read a book or space out looking through the window at the zipping countryside without the hazard of conversation.

***

I obsess about timely arrivals and departures simply because of the lack of solid time management skills on my first solo journey. Running to your gate in international airports the size of a small city is not fun nor is missing a flight entirely. My last adventure has molded me into a creature of habit: planning ahead of time, mapping out my route, and packing as light as possible, in the unlikely event, that I do arrive late. My time and money is precious. I do everything in my power to “come correct”, if you will, and thus far, I have been successful.

Since I moved to Northern Spain one question has pervaded my thoughts: How can I see and do as much as possible with limited resources (time, money, etc.)?

I call it TOCD or travel obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Not to make light of the seriousness of OCD syndrome, by any means, while I do not suffer from this particular disease, I know what it is to obsess. Trust me, I know, to a painful degree.) Before I took off and travelled the world, I didn’t know I had TOCD. I fell into it. Like how I fell into traveling and the consequential bug to see it all. This new personality trait has only helped ease me into a better solo lady traveller. It pushes me to dot my I’s and cross my T’s when I often cannot see the forest from the trees. Although its not altogether a bad thing to put an effort into time management, it can get out of hand and remove the optimal trait in any traveller: flexibility.

When I have done all the necessary legwork, I foolishly believe that everyone should, too. Most experienced travellers, almost effortlessly, find their correct gate, seat, route, etc., like its second nature. I strive for this effect. Perhaps that’s another reason I obsess about travel plans: for the appearance of road knowledge. There is nothing more satisfying than being right in an absolutely foreign situation. Mainly, since my Spanish life is so completely humbling at all times, I relish the moments when I’m mistaken for a local, use the right word, and function without wanting to run home and hide under the covers.

All this travel and living away from my home country has thickened my hide yet there is still this marshmallow fluff inside quoting Shakespeare to myself, daydreaming of poems and prose of a future writing project, and framing mental photographs of this strange life I have now. That’s probably why I don’t feel like I belong in the expat community or with the coughsurfing nomads. I don’t wear rose-colored glasses and consume but leave nothing of value behind. I want to leave as a better person and imbibe this mysterious world into my art, preferably, without sounding like an absolute idiot.

***

I recorded my train ride with two older travellers, retirees. Notating the frustration I felt was not inline with the traveller philosophy of so many other blogs and articles involving the subject. You’re supposed to be loving and caring and sharing to a selfless degree. There is a hippy dippy ethos that is flimsy at best, but tantalizing all the same: we’re ALL in this TOGETHER. A commune of sorts; a traveling circus of mostly heterosexual, white, young, native English speakers likening themselves to a pack of gypsies (not real gypsies, mind you, rather the white-washed Aladdin version of street urchin) living like those in the musical Rent not La Boheme.

It hit me, on a travel home from Porto, that I’m very much stuck in my ways and while my mind is more open and I’m tougher than ever, I still don’t have time for bullshit. Don’t get me wrong. I will help whenever possible. I have great care and compassion for humanity as a whole. But if you accuse me of taking your seat faced with proof in black and white, well then, I hate you and refuse to be altruistic. I won’t apologize for being correct and polite when I could have been rude.

Sorry not sorry is the unofficial motto of Spain. No one apologizes unless they really mean it. Actually, it’s more honest and refreshing, really. Even though at first I was quite put off by such seemingly abrasive behavior. There is an air of zero fucks given that thickens the air and I simply inhale. If I hadn’t had the staunch Spanish air fresh in my lungs, then I might’ve moved for them, to honor my elders and appease an obviously oblivious pair of people. But living abroad has taught me to stand up for myself saddled with the strength to be firm in the face of others trying to take advantage. Now, if it was a crowded metro or bus, I would have given up my seat without hesitation yet that was not the case.