Category Archives: Thoughts

My thoughts, opinions, and assessments of various things.

Day 1: Planes, Trains, and…19,828 Steps

Day 1 was actually a little more than a day. I didn’t end up sleeping for around 27 hours!

I got an Uber to the airport (that always makes me so anxious because the traffic out in Queens is always so bad) and it was extremely expensive (like $90!). I don’t know why prices have gone up so much but I’ve seen tons of posts on NextDoor from people complaining too. It’s really out of control.

Anyway, I got to the airport and checked in, and went through security without any issues. Loaded up on crappy overpriced snacks from Hudson News and then I was on my way. I couldn’t have asked for a better flight. I was on the first row in Economy so I had ample legroom and then one of the people in my row didn’t want to sit there and asked the flight attendant to move so then the guy sitting next to me moved to her seat. There was also free wine and I watched House of Gucci and CODA.

Once I arrived in Madrid, the adventure began. I had already filled out the Health Ministry form and had my QR code ready. Passport control took all of 5 minutes and then I had to take the metro. I was kinda paranoid about buying tickets, but whaddayaknow, this isn’t New York City and it was quick and painless. I bought a 10-day pass for 28 and then headed into the city. Then in true Anna fashion, I got a bit lost–I don’t know what it is about trains but they are confusionnn!

I had mapped out my route on Google Maps but little did I know there was construction, so the route was modified. I was originally supposed to take the 8 to C4 but the 8 switched directions at Mar de Cristal and went back to the airport. So I got off at Feria de Madrid, waited, went back to Mar de Cristal, and got off again. I needed to take the brown line toward Arguelles and get off at Diego de Leon to switch to the green line…but I got on the brown line in the wrong direction and wound up at Parque Santa Maria. So I got off again and went back the other direction and finally made it to Diego de Leon where I switch to the green line and got off at Opera.

When I booked my AirBnB the host connected me with a third party who manages the listing, MintyStay and they had been messaging me for a few days to arrange to give me the keys. I was able to send them a message when I landed and coordinate so that the representative was already waiting on me. We climbed the 5 floors to my apartment, the representative showed me around, and then it was time to freshen up and unpack.

I only had three things on the agenda for my first day: watch the changing of the guard at the royal palace, go buy some groceries, and then go see what the Burial of the Sardine was all about!

The Royal Palace is right by the Opera stop where I came up earlier so I headed back in that direction and got to watch the changing of the guard for a few minutes. I always like ceremonial things and even though it was crowded and I couldn’t see very well, it was still really neat. Also, since Spain still has a royal family it was cool to see within that context.

After that, I walked toward Tirso de Marina to Lidl. I stopped at an ATM and then went to buy some groceries. I got so many things for only 16!

After groceries, I walked back to my apartment, put everything away, and cleaned out my purse for the evening. I don’t like to carry around my big camera or all my cards whenever I’m out alone in the evening, even in NYC, so I consolidated everything and embarked on my last adventure of the day: check out the Burial of the Sardine.

I walked to Ermita de San Antonio de Florida and decided to have a little dinner. I went to Casa Mingo and had a couple of tapas (just chorizo, bread, chips, and wine) and relaxed a bit. It was only 15! After I could see the starting point of the Burial of the Sardine procession from where I was having dinner so I just chilled and then walked over.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it was definitely a surprise. First, there is no real sardine, haha. Second, there was a whole fraternal order of people dressed up in capes and top hats and mantillas. The kids were also dressed, like for Halloween. Most of them were elves or unicorns–again, don’t know what that’s about. Two tour busses full of these cloaked men converged on the little park across from the church. There was also a band and the police stopped all the traffic. The huge group made its way across the bridge and then stopped for more music. It was getting late and I had a long walk back and didn’t want to get stuck on the other side of the river, alone at night so I had to leave but it was a really cool experience. I would describe it as Mardi Gras and Halloween and LARPing all mixed into one.

I walked back to Plaza Mayor and found a bar right near my AirBnB and decided to try Vermouth for the first time. During my time researching for this trip, I learned that Vermouth is really popular in Spain and that every bar has something called Vermut de Grifo or Vermouth on tap! I ordered one and while I didn’t initially like it, it was smooth and of course, came with a little tapa (toast with tomato and cheese). I sat and people watched a bit and then I went back to my apartment.

All in all, I spent 42 Euros and walked 19,000 steps!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok to see more of my trip!

13 Reasons Why: Reality or Glorification?

I am an avid Netflix binge-watcher and a couple of weeks ago after freshly cleaning out my queue I was looking for something else to watch. Netflix suggested (and I chose) 13 Reasons Why. I haven’t read the book, I didn’t know it was a hit, I had absolutely no preconceived notions or prior information about anything to do with the story. The first episode caught me off guard and I thought perhaps I was too old to enjoy the story, but then I was hooked. I binged it over a two or three day period and absolutely loved it. Loved it in a dark, cathartic, ripping-the-band-aid off way. I posted on Facebook about it and several friends (of various demographics) agreed that they loved it or planned on watching it, and I saw a few articles about school districts suggesting parents and students watch it together. I thought: cool, this was a realistic show and I hope people take some lessons from it and that was that.

Then I started reading posts about people who HATED the show. A friend posted a status about the fact she would never finish it because it glorified suicide. A Catholic magazine I follow posted an article with a warning from clergy stating that people shouldn’t allow their kids to watch it because it glorified suicide. Other viewers and critics said they thought the show was over-dramatic and that high school really isn’t that bad. And I continued to see posts stating the show portrays suicide positively. I thought about it at length and realized it connects to something my last post touched on: the idea that talking about or portraying something in pop-culture dediabolisizes or normalizes it. I talked about my disagreement with this idea in the political arena, but it fits here too.


If you haven’t watched the show or don’t plan to, this might be helpful.

So, I’ll get right to it. I don’t think this show normalizes, glorifies, dediabolisizes, or portrays suicide positively.

I understand why people may think the show portrays suicide as a solution (especially if they didn’t watch the entire series) because in fact, Hannah’s peers only understand how their actions impacted her after she kills herself and they choose to listen to the tapes she leaves behind. But the show does not portray suicide as a solution to Hannah’s problems.

The show never shows that Hannah killing herself or recording the tapes has any effect on she and Jessica’s rapist. Their rapist never hears her tapes. He is not held accountable for his crimes. Her death does not fix Jessica’s pain. Her parents financial problems are not fixed-in fact, her death makes them worse. Her death and her reasons for killing herself do not solve any of the problems she used to justify killing herself. Her death leads directly to another student being shot in the head (we don’t know the details surrounding that situation, yet). Her death allowed her to escape her circumstances as all death does, but the producers and author never even elude to the fact that suicide “fixes” anything. *Her tape to Clay does contribute to him being nice to Skye, buy his tape clearly states he was always nice to Hannah too.

The show also certainlyyy did not portray suicide as the easy way out. If we are to believe the tapes, this was far from an easy choice for Hannah. It took thirteen separate encounters for her to decide to do it. She didn’t get knocked down in the hall one day and decide, “Welp, imma slit my wrists tonight”. Her rape wasn’t even enough to make her kill herself.  She tried-12 times-to move on, to ignore, to make new friends and 13 times her efforts were met with yet another incident. The show does not portray suicide as an easy decision.

I’ve also seen posts stating that the tapes were a way to get revenge. I don’t see it that way at all. She thoroughly and diligently explains how each interaction with these 13 people made her feel. She got revenge in a passive way, of course. Those people will have to live with the knowledge of how their actions (even if they weren’t violent or mean) led to the death of someone, which is definitely some serious baggage to carry around. She uses the tapes as a way to explain why she did what she did, not as a way to seek revenge. Clay seeks revenge on her behalf, but her suicide is portrayed as an escape not as vengeance. The whole point is that she made the tapes so that people would listen to them and understand how their actions contributed to her suicide. It shows that children (and all people, really) just want to be listened to. She could have written notes. She could have left nothing behind. The emphasis is on the tapes for a reason and that reason isn’t to convince victims to kill themselves.

Also, the show explains that a HUGE part of Hannah’s suicide was caused by her OWN actions, not her victimization. Not only does it show that she ultimately chose to end her life, but two or three of the tapes (maybe more, I can’t remember) center around the fact that she did something wrong. She watched her friend be raped and did nothing. Her PTSD caused her to reject Clay and in turn made her blame herself for hurting him. The show made her an active participant in her downfall. While ultimately she was a victim, it did not paint her as someone who just had some bad stuff happen to them and decided to get revenge. If she was seeking vengeance, she was seeking it against herself as well as her peers.

Lastly but most importantly for my defense of the show, throughout the show the counselor and his lack of professionalism are emphasized time and time again. His character’s conscience is burdened from the start because he knows he did not act correctly to prevent Hannah’s death. By the end, we know that Hannah asked for professional help before killing herself! She did the right thing! She did what we are all taught to do! She asked for help. She went to a professional. She dropped her pride and fear and went to an adult. After trying 12 other times to avoid situations, to avoid being antagonized, to ignore her tormentors, to make new friends, to find love, to have fun, to express her pain through art (poetry), to anonymously ask for help (that letter in class), to change her attitude, she asked an adult for help. And that adult could not or would not or did not know how to help so then she took her life.

Continue reading 13 Reasons Why: Reality or Glorification?

A Flawed System: My Personal Experience with FAFSA and University Financing

I am a 25 year old, single, childless woman, with NO criminal record (not even a speeding ticket). I have never received a grade lower than a B in ANY class I have ever taken. I started college when I was 17 as a concurrently enrolled student, and have since received two degrees: a Bachelors degree in Social Sciences and a Masters degree in European history. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in 2011 and I had a 4.0 my entire career as a Masters student. 

I am not artistically or athletically talented. I don’t have any awesome abilities that can score me an epic job making millions and I am not particularly good at math (in part due to my own disability, but also in large part due to growing up in the military public school systems in Georgia and Hawaii). I like to learn about history, languages, religions, etc. and I am good at learning and writing about these things. Therefore, I made a choice when I was about 19 years old that I was going to pursue academia, instead of marrying and building a family like many of my peers. I understood and still understand that every choice in life comes with complications and that I am inexplicably lucky and fortunate to live in a time period and location where I am even allowed to educate myself.

Now, with all of these details out of the way…

Continue reading A Flawed System: My Personal Experience with FAFSA and University Financing