i went to new year’s mass

The world is so painfully human, today and everyday.

In Vienna, in Stephansdom with spidering lanes extending all around, rising spirals and imposing walls, a grand organ sounds. Young, old, tired, fresh, swathed in mink and in polyester, breathing incense, sitting, rising, crossing themselves in cold quiet peace.

The man in white talks of Aleppo, of Syria whole, Paris, Brussels, Berlin in soothing tones while cities and people all over the world burn.

Shuffling in unison, everyone follows the known patterns. Sit, stand, kneel, cross, repeat. Pay. Turn and kiss your lover. Turn and shake hands with your neighbor, given them a kind smile. Wish ‘Gott’s bright and dark and historically tinged love upon them in the new year. Take in the sweeping symmetry, the colored glass and excruciating detail of the cathedral completed by human fingers 857 years ago. Let the grand swell of the organ that sings with seemingly a hundred voices fill your chest with hope and joy.

In the back of the hall, a small-statured family of squirming and joyous heads tries to love and revere and quiet their brood all at once. The smallest pink curly one toddles out of her father’s grasp and locks eyes with an elder man. He sits in slicked leather stretching down his curved back. She grins, showing tic tac teeth and reaches for him. He reaches back. Old and new, young and tired, past and future join hands in anonymous love.

The world burns. We are small, but we send smoke and fumes into the ether. Our religions and beliefs are as human as our size, relative to the sun, to the the solar system, the galaxy, the universe. We are small. We writhe in them, look right with suspicion, look left with blind care, spill each others’ blood, jostle one another, step on toes and arms and heads and backs to rise up the stairs to the world’s top floor, overlooking a view so small, so far away from the black and white contrast of life that it is calm. Unmoving. Beautiful. The world burns. Dancers fall in Istanbul, killed by men in Santa hats.

I sit in my quiet, warm shelter, drinking hot tea, eyes glazing over pixelated pictures of pain on my conflict mineralized processor.

Again, somewhere, a little girl and an old man join hands. Their power of warmth sends a glow to all who watch. And we step, her, him, I, you, into the new year.

university of the super committed

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It’s been inexactly one week back in this city of concrete angels, back being a (technically) functioning member of society, and I feel like I’ve been seeing everything through tinted experience-goggles (though never of the wine variety, because Crianza and I are still in a committed relationship and also legality)

Not all bad or great, not even *that* different, just enough to leave a pleasantly funky taste in the back of my mouth.

Some observations:

My friends are really accomplished, specifically successful huggers. Which is good, because if you give me a limp noodle hug, I might feed you an actual limp noodle. (The worst). I was really a bit worried about coming back after 7 months MIA being kinda social media inactive (millenial probssszzzz). Did people forget who I was? Did they really only like the 9 extra inches of hair hanging down my back? Was I #STOKED enough about USC to have shared context to discuss? Of course, none of these mind-niggles actually came to fruition – everyone is lovely and welcoming as per usual, and it is a great cure to post-exchange friendship depression to remember that people are p cool worldwide.

Los Angeles is colder than I recall, and being alone in a ginormous, creaky historic LA home west of Vermont will challenge your squaling-suppression abilities.

Buying espresso in a European frequency is going to bankrupt me in t-minus 10 days.

The UPS monster may have eaten the new mobile device I ordered, but what it didn’t know is that I’ve developed a fondness for the slide-out QWERTY keyboard phone of 2007 I’ve been rocking. Affectionately known as the dino phone, we’re like Bob the builder together and get! the! job! done!

USC students are On with a capital O, All The Time – so much so that I needed to capitalize that middle ‘t’ on the ‘the’. Did that make sense? I’ve spent an entire business course spent on career opportunities and how to perfectly craft your online/written/media presence. I’ve congratulated more than a couple of friends figuring out their futures months/years ahead of time.

My peers are beyond cool, and I am constantly humbled, awed, honored, and proud to be their friend.

But sometimes, you can’t help but compare yourself.

You can’t help but use it as wonderment and motivation and a questionably healthy (?) sense of fire under your chair to try to FIND that which is going to be your FUTURE and bring you CONTENTMENT and MEANING through CAREER. It’s far too much to ask. But sometimes it feels like just enough to ask, and sometimes it feels inadequate to just ask for so little. I’m rambling. I’m thinking, I’m questioning, I’m questioning again, because that is the power of these peers of mine.

And sitting at home, writing this on a Saturday night feels right.

And being back in Los Angeles, feels right.

que vaya bien, barcelona

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Local Time: 12:42 a.m.
Departure to California: 4:45 a.m.
Current status: jittery and nervous and sad

Seven months later, I didn’t think this moment would actually arrive. I didn’t conceptualize what it might feel like, I didn’t realize I’d truly have to leave this city, didn’t think I wouldn’t know when I might exit the US again. Didn’t think the prospect of returning to LA would make me nervous, didn’t think I’d be this human I’m mostly proud to be, didn’t think, didn’t think, didn’t think…

Didn’t believe I would actually feel this loss, didn’t know what leaving a geographic location might mean. Didn’t expect my privilege to grow to such heights, didn’t expect my beliefs to be so challenged. Didn’t expect to fall in love with so many people, didn’t know the definition of home to change.

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Didn’t expect to look so far and wide for my future, didn’t expect to feel a world citizen. Didn’t know what I’d learn from whom, didn’t expect great beauty at each turn. Didn’t think I would truly struggle, didn’t realize whom I’d miss. Didn’t know what I do not need to live, didn’t know what I wanted from life.

This life journey is just beginning, I know I need to remember that. Life and beauty and excitement exist at geographic home as well, I just have to search. But this unsettled urge, this desire to wander has been instilled – I just have to shed a few baggage kilos, and I’ll be back.


I have been incredibly, incredibly indebted to a lot of things/people in the last seven, and especially four, months.

  • the parentals, for support/funds/not freaking out (too much) when I said “i’m in Paris” and then didn’t answer the phone for 5 days
  • USC – I haven’t always loved it for the same reasons, but it is the beginning and end and reason for this place that I am
  • HUMANS. Couldn’t have climbed 6 flights of stairs with my suitcase without hostel friends, couldn’t have dealt with crazy landladies without apartment friends, couldn’t have made it out of the house without roommates, couldn’t have smiled at coffee without friendly cashiers, etc.

This isn’t the end of Alimentarily. In fact, I hope for it to be just the beginning – I have a million things to digress about a couple of places (Prague, Morocco, Paris, Girona, to name a few) that I was too harried to recount before now. I hope what I have to say about them is still interesting though not quite as timely (a few hundred apologies to my past and future journalism instructors). And then, digressions about wherever I happen to be in the coming days/weeks/months/on

In the mean time, nos vemos pronto California.

12 things i learned whilst on the biggest procrastination binge of my life

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(Kind of like when I was in that cathedral in Madrid where I took this picture and my head was swiveling in the wrong direction. Unless you count that to be the right direction because heaven and what not. #digress)

  1. Working out the brain is also habit. or rather, forcing your brain to work out takes practice. its so much easier to bow out of obligation when you’ve had no obligation to bow into for so long. school is going to be very difficult to return to.
  2. Drake DID date Rihanna
  3. The USC student government has postponed determination of their diversity resolution by 2 weeks, citing reasons such as “we all had class today”, and “where is the money coming from?” at a private university halfway to their $6 billion fundraising goal.
  4. LeAnn Rimes and Giuliana Rancic once had a skinny-calling compliment fight where they told each other to eat sandwiches.
  5. Shell once claimed they had no “direct” role of the death of the people in the Niger Delta where they were operating, and they were acquitted in an international forum.
  6. There may be a reason that Lupita Nyong’o’s favorite musicians are African-American, and that reason may be connected to the fact that 99% of the other celebrities Vogue interviewed in their 73 questions series are not of color of any type, most probably unintentionally.
  7. There are bigger than us factors at play in the motion of the globe, and no one person can be in control. Contrastingly, those with power of any sort have great immeasurable responsibility.
  8. The hairstyle I would like to rock is now called a “wob” – wavy bob. That’s dumber than even I could have come up with and now I am doubly stoked to order one.
  9. IceCube would like the world to know, that NWA does not stand for ‘Nickelback was Awesome’
  10. I owe my roommate a box of “barritas de cereales” because oops where did they all go?
  11. Cello is the closest-sounding instrument to the human voice, according to Spotify.
  12. If you don’t renew your Spotify student subscription within a year, they start charging you real-person prices. If you were real-person price ready, you would be more salty and take your business elsewhere. But you’re not. That’s why you’re writing this right now, and not your paper.

an argument against academic papers

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Coming to you live, swaddled on the couch in my turtleneck, slightly sweating out a slight fever, and slightly more than slightly frustrated with the academic paper I am supposed to be writing on the topic of business ethics (can you say procrasti-blogging? Me neither)

Business ethics is a topic that lies very close to my interest – I am a disenchanted business student (to say the least) who often annoyingly rolls her eyes at things like ‘the bottom line’ in my marketing courses, who is thoroughly enjoying her class on reimagining capitalism, and is totally unsure where in the consumer world to find myself in just one short year post-graduation.

So obviously, I entered this course with high expectations – top business school, PhD candidate professor of the Institute of Social Innovation, classroom full of international peers with individual views on the role of business and we got to discuss ETHICS while the world around us broils with consumer desire for shared value!

A session and a half in, I found myself defining legitimacy as it applies to the moral understanding, the cognitive understanding, or the pragmatic understanding, and its relation to the modern conceptualization of instrumental CSR. Did I lose you? Because I lost me.

So I, as a mildly obnoxious student that I have the ability to be, went up to my prof at the end of class and in polite, smiling, hesitant words, asked her, essentially, “What’s the point?”

What is the purpose of academia without application?

Of forming the Global Environmental Council for the Health of the Ailing Alpine Sheep and studying in great detail The Coalition in Support of Less Cotton Candy Coverage in Social Media?

(The mention of sheep cannot be either confirmed or denied.)

The response I got was two-pronged, and (spoiler-alert) I think the real Prongs would have called the responses less impressive than a strong Befuddlement Draught:

Prong 1: To get a good job! [This seems to be a be-all, end-all answer to a lot of “why’s” in business school. Why learn this? Because everyone before you had to suffer so now you do to, because when you get out you’ll be expected to show your battle scars. Sounds a lot like hazing to me but what do I know?] Because when you’re a high-paid CSR consultant to a boxy corporate company, they will expect you to reference academia so they can reference academia and the cycle shall continue.

Prong 2: Sometimes academia is simply for the sake of discussion. And though I’m all for educational, thought-provoking discussion to get the creativity flowing on date night, this sounds like a whole lotta “no reason” to me, especially in a topic like business ethics that has all this relevance and practicality and in a room full of the world’s future business members, shouldn’t we be DEBATING something? Practicing our ability to consider ethics in the face of profit, or practicing our ability to totally ignore it at the very least?

I don’t want to paint a completely bratty picture of the education I’ve been getting here – most of my courses at ESADE thus far have been engaging and thought-provoking in a way that I am very grateful for, especially considering the amount of time I have been able to dedicate to them and truly absorb their material.

But when ethics surrounding business, a topic that has killed thousands of people, and taken homes, health, families, and food away from another set of thousands is addressed in this clinical and sterile way, I don’t know what to do with myself.

I welcome every criticism of my viewpoint, I’m so naive when it comes to most topics that are past my bubble-sized scope of understanding, that putting an opinion of anything out in the world is one of the scarier things I might do. And I’m truly searching for an answer to this question – what is the purpose of academia surrounding a pragmatic topic, if it is not connected to a practical goal? If the purpose of debate is debate and the issue being debated involves humanity, why take time in the citations?

Until I figure it out, I guess I’ll start this paper.

#blessed

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You saw this one coming.
You knew that I, who have an overwhelming need to use obnoxious vocabulary in everyday life and say the word beautiful (emphasis on the beauuooooo) far too often, would leave you with a mushy/corny/cheesy (all the weirdly textured adjectives) post about how blessed I currently feel by the potentially (non)existant higher power that there may or may not be.

You might not have expected that this comes after a period of slight strife. I feel like Shalaka outside of the US struggles even more than Shalaka inside the US, which is saying a lot. Tending to the harried side of things, its far too easy to get wound up in my stressed mind, running around, sweating it, etc. And its been a tech whirlwind of a week: the quintissential my-iPhone-got-stolen story, followed by the not so common story of my laptop going kaputz. Apple deserted me! Technology only brings evil! I thought about ditching it all and becoming a hermit.

But some Lianne La Havas telling my I’m ‘Unstoppable’, some roommate support, some angry group running, and some deep breaths later, I did the epiphany thing.

I feel so lucky to be seeing this world. I am so privileged to not worry too much about comfort and security.
I feel so lucky to have people at home that give me perspective.
I feel so lucky to constantly be surrounded by smart/funny women.
I feel so lucky to have feet that can carry me through the beauty of this place.

You might even say, I feel hashtag blessed.

(Shoutout to all the ladies that came and made me become my mom-the-hostess this one eve. To many more!)

A joyous September 11

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Oxymoronic? Just plain moronic? Just what exactly are you talking about Shalaka?

Granted, Sept 11 has always been known as a grave day in my conscious, conscientious memory. I remember where I was, etc etc etc, and I recognize it as the catalyst for a million ripples in the world’s salty pond.

BUT. In places of the world where America ISN’T the center of attention, (woah wait what? Take deep breaths, stay with me here) – September 11 carries very different, albeit still weighty, meaning. Here in Catalonya, it is the day that commemorates a tragic military loss in 1714 in which the independent Catalonya lost its’ autonomy. September 11 is now known as the National Day of Catalonya, and since about 2010, it has also come to represent an increasingly emphatic demand for independence for the state. The Catalan people and their (very well spoken) president are organizing, speaking, singing, and rallying for an independence that Spain is not even close to accepting. Come September 26, 2015, they will perform a faux referendum vote, and if it passes, they *say* they are going to declare independence. My very well spoken Spanish professor says that absolutely nobody can actually predict what is going to occur.

Blah blah history geography politics, if any current college students are reading this, you might be zoning out. At first, that’s what I thought as well. It was like Labor Day at home – a day that I’m still kind of unsure what it celebrates, but no school!

But then we stepped onto the streets of this throbbing, varied city on this important day.

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I saw kids running around with Catalan flags strung across their backs;
Heard an orchestra swell to a crescendo in support on the Calle Meridiana so crowded with bodies and babies and strollers that it was impossible to pass through;
Watched the event organizer stride back and forth across the stage calling to the crowd that gathered;
craned my neck to try and see the press table as they frantically relayed the unfolding history back to their outlet;
And witnessed the crowd thrusting flags and banners into the air in a resounding roar, seemingly at random, chanting “In-Inda-Indapendencia”.

And it felt important. The day and the spirit and the joy felt momentous.

The Catalan people may not have a lot of political backing to their proposal. Catalonya is a money-producing state for economically depressed Spain. Spain holds veto power in the European Union, virtually blocking any potential attempt to enter as an independent country. There are other cultural groups who want to separate that Spain does NOT want to encourage, including Basque terrorists. (All information I have gathered from speaking to different people/reading some basic news/learning from my Spanish prof. – not by any means a certainty)

But standing on the streets, watching the Catalonian castells (human towers) rise 5 stories high, clapping to the joyful music, it feels like their heart might overpower. And there’s a little girl running down the street from the cafe in which I sit, in bright Catalan red and yellow, to (maybe) prove it.