Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fiestas Patrias, Personal and Professional Growth, and When Clowns Attack

As I type this, I find it hard to believe how quickly the year is going by.

The weather has been unseasonably cold, and we have been getting rain beyond when the rainy season is supposed to be.  I've had a few days when I've been able to see my breath on my way to work in the morning.  Hopefully spring will be on its way soon.

Fiestas patrias this year was pretty low key.  I met with a friend and one of his friends, and we made food in his apartment.  It was nice having a small gathering, and they showed me how easy it is to make hummus.

The following day I went to a fonda with some friends.  We went to the one at Parque Padre Hurtado.  It was crowded and had the typical meat, bread, and terremotos along with various displays about Chile's naval and air force.  There were games for kids, and they had bumper balls!

Elana and I decided to get in touch with our inner child.  Inside the ball I woke up a sweat, and it wore me out even though I was only inside for about 5 minutes.  Being heavier worked to my advantage, as I was able to knock people over easily and was only knocked over once.  I tried to be gentle with the little kids, but even when I tried to bump them lightly they went flying (or rolling I should say).  A friend took a video of the experience, but apparently the file is too big to post on here. You can see it on Youtube by clicking here

One of the benefits of being my own boss is that I have control over my schedule and free time.  I haven't been very good about making good use of my free time, and for me it's easy to fall into the pattern of watching TV and spending too much time on Facebook.  I feel like I haven't been nurturing my mind to contribute to my personal and professional growth, but I've started making progress in a few ways.

First of all, I found a free online course offered by the British Council about taking the IELTS.  For those non-English teachers, the IELTS is an international tests that non-native speakers of English take in order to study or live in the UK or Australia.  I've been participating in the course for the past 4 weeks.  The videos and links that they provide are very useful, and it's interesting seeing other people's comments regarding the test.  On the website I've also found a few other online courses that I'm considering taking in November.

I'm also meditating on an almost daily basis.  It leaves me feeling more relaxed and calm, and I'm more prepared to tackle what I need to do any given day while feeling less anxious.

In addition, I've found a few podcasts that I enjoy listening to.  The first one is The Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin.  It's really interesting hearing about a different topic each week and what people do in other to develop habits that make them happier and healthier.  Another one is Freakonomics.  It was suggested by a friend, and it looks at interesting economic concepts related to current events.  The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is also very interesting.  He's always trying something new, and it's interesting to see what he's done in his life to become so successful and happy.  

Taking in all this new knowledge and information is great, but at the same time it leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There are suggestions of new habits to try, new books to read, and articles that are worth checking out.  There are also a lot of interesting people here in Santiago that I could meet with in order to network and develop personally and professionally.  But where do I start?  Sometimes I feel a bit paralyzed and find it hard to start at all, but I'm trying to be patient with myself.  Between that and meditating I'm taking small steps to try new things and become the best version of myself personally and professionally.

Living in Santiago wouldn't be complete with some type of completely random event happening every once in a while.  So what happened this time?

I was attacked by a clown.

Yes, you read that right.  So, how did it all happen?

I was riding the bus home from my morning class, and a man dressed up as a clown got on the bus.  He had on a wig, a clown costume, and his face was painted white.  This isn't uncommon in Santiago, as entertainers in the form of instrumentalists, singers, and clowns will get on the bus and provide some entertainment.  In exchange they then ask for a small donation and walk around the bus accepting what is offered and thanking the passengers.  The clowns usually put on some type of comedy show.  If they are in pairs, they provide some quick-witted banter back and forth which usually gets anyone listening laughing.  If they are alone, they might make jokes or tease people.  They tend to try to get people that aren't paying attention to them to laugh or respond.

This clown was different, however.  He was seated on the other side of the aisle and spoke to me, and I ignored him and continued checking my emails on my phone.  Then he actually kicked my foot lightly and spoke to me again, but I continued to ignore him.  I thought it was strange that he wasn't trying to entertain people, but at that time I didn't think much of it.

Eventually he changed his seat to sit behind me, and then he moved back to his original seat.  A woman sat down next to me when we got to the next stop.  About a minute later, the clown started speaking loudly and stood up.  The woman fled from her seat, and he came closer to me.  He then stuck me on the head, and my glasses flew to the ground.

He was screaming at me, and I realized that he had been asking for money the entire time.  I'm not normally one to ignore someone that asks for help, but there was something strange about him from the beginning.  I shielded myself with my bookbag for about another minute while I called out for someone to help me.  We came to a bus stop, and he got off the bus.  As we were at the bus stop, he banged on the glass from the outside and continued to yell at me.

My hands were shaking, and I managed to pick up my glasses off the ground.  Luckily they weren't damaged.  A man came over to me and asked if I was ok.  I told him that I was fine, just a bit shook up.

I was fortunate that it hadn't been any worse.  The Chileans that I've spoken to say that it was a very strange situation and that they had never experienced nor heard of anything like it before.  I feel like I stood out because of my lighter skin, and he probably thought I was rich and would give him money.  The incident served as a reminder that I need to keep my guard up, even when I'm out and about during the day.

And now you can add me to the group of people that has a slight fear of clowns.

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