Friday, June 13, 2014

"How to explain Americans"

I often feel egocentric as an American overseas, because even all the way across the Atlantic Ocean America is just constantly oozing its presence in the world.  Just posting this makes me feel like an egocentric American.  But in my defense, being on this side allows for a different perspective, one through the eyes of Europeans, or in this case, an Italian.  This NYT opinion piece is interesting and spot-on..

"Control reveals America's passion for order and predicatbility.  How-to books date from Benjamin Franklin, who was always quick to spot a market niche.  America is a nation of optimistic self-improvers, convinced that happiness is above all a question of mind over matter."  Beppe Severgnini, How to Explain Americans

Friday, June 6, 2014

hey there!

Oh hey there!  I'm back.

I've had a recent resurgence of blog nostalgia so here I am.  But where to begin?

I'm sitting here at my kitchen table looking out the window at the building adjacent to mine; it's bathed in sunlight.  I could literally reach out with a stick and touch it.  There are two sleeping dogs at my feet. They're extra tired after the stressful ordeal of their monthly bath.

Friday afternoon, on the cusp of a long weekend.  Technically I'm already there, since like many Spaniards I enjoy a half day of work on the last day of the week.  What's surreal about this three day weekend mid-June, though, is that there's only two weeks left of school.  Teachers and students alike have long been checked out.

And as this school year comes to an end, I can't help but reflect on the nearing five year anniversary of my coming to this country.  I decided to start working on a compilation of videos I've made since I came to Barcelona (since I've had an iphone) and I only regret not having made the effort earlier to film more of my time here.  My rudimentary camera skills are just more proof of a burning desire to document the most minute moments of my simple little life.

And yes, that's my only regret, though it sometimes takes a surprising bit of energy to continue justifying living abroad.  Though I often consider myself crazy lucky, there are others when I feel cursed by the overwhelming freedom my generation has been granted and the plethora of choices that always look so tempting.

But those choices aside, the choices I have made have brought me here, to my kitchen table, still writing in this blog after all these years. And as such, I will dedicate this post to the ruminations and the decisions and the days that always led to the next of my last year, my fifth year in Spain.

First and foremost, I made the decision this year to marry myself to Lucas, which was not as difficult of a concept as what it implied.  Lucas and I have an easy relationship of comfort and friendship...deciding to take the very necessary step of making it "official" was never one we had to question.  But marrying Lucas meant marrying a lot of other things. For me, the idea of marrying SPAIN was hard to get past.

As lovely as life here can be,  I am constantly plagued by the sensation that I am living in feudal times.

On Monday the king of Spain abdicated the throne, possibly in an attempt to save it.  The people immediately flocked to the streets demanding a referendum to get rid of this entity that does nothing more than spend their tax money, and sometimes, even worse, scandalously.

So the people flocked to the streets, and I rolled my eyes.  Their pleas apparently fell on deaf ears as we woke up to the same old stuff on Tuesday morning.  I leafed through one of the prominent newspapers to see little coverage of the prior day's protest, instead thirty-some pages glorifying the monarchy and its various characters in this soap opera.

On a smaller, more personal scale, there's my work.  I started working in a charter school, which was a big step for me.  I had been longing for the community and the culture and the classrooms of a school again and I was lucky to land something in the middle of the school year.  But not long into my time there, I was disenchanted as the details of the school's management (run by nuns) slowly unfolded.  I won't go much further, but let me say that this is a school heavily funded by the government, and nonetheless the ethics class teaches pro-life.  Students who don't demonstrate these views on exams fail.

Aaaanyway.  I did not mean to go on that rant.  Back to the point.

We moved into a new place and started fostering greyhounds again, which deserves a whole post, or ten. We walk around the neighborhood with them and make friends with the always-outspoken senior citizens of La Ribera.  We go to the market on Saturday mornings and fight these same senior citizens for cutting us in line.  On Saturdays we eat fresh fish.  It sometimes feels monotonous but almost always it's a beautiful way to spend a sunny Saturday.  My fifth year in Spain has been one of defining proof that I am indeed a house cat.

We went to Morocco in April and I was reminded how good it is to travel.  It's the best way anyone can spend their time and money.  I wish I did it more.  We saw many a sight, had many a laugh, bought many a smelly leather product and all in all, had the best time.  We just bought tickets to visit Berlin at the end of August.

I have questioned my career in education but did not arrive at any conclusions.  Until then, still enjoying, but still questioning.  It's good to question, and never to settle.

We went to Primavera Sound, for free, on Friday and Saturday.  We were extremely lucky, and surely we won't be this lucky again next year, so we decided to never not buy a pass again, it was that awesome.

I decided to change my look, and opted to start wearing contacts instead of shaving my head.

I had an idea to start a free monthly newspaper in English, and considered learning some computer program to realize this dream.  Remembering how much I hate working with computers, I decided to team up with a friend who already has these skills.  More to come soon.

And finally, I gave up the city bike service and got my own bike.  This is so small, but so important.  I love my bike so, so much, and there is nothing that can give a girl one of those "lucky bitch" moments like cruising around the city on a Friday afternoon, which is what I plan on doing right about now.  Thanks for tuning in.

Friday, December 13, 2013

the rest of 2013 in photos

I've been meaning to do this for months and months and months.  Here are some photos, thank you Danny K for the iphone that made so many of these moments capture-able!

Some are very old and they are all out of order.

My old hood, my new hood.  We moved last month into our own place, just a five minute walk, after a very memorable era at Fusina.  We love our new apartment but Fusina is undoubtedly the best street to live on in Barcelona.

There were 800 photos to choose from and this was one of them.  End of the 2012/2013 school year, we studied summer clothing.  Here are some boys in my summer clothes.

Are some of these squared because of Instagram?  Not sure.  This is Fusina Rotten Umbrella: The re-making of.  We used palm tree branches to make a super cool umbrella cover because the other was covered in mold after spending all winter outside.

We are always saying that we will go hiking more but never actually do.  When was this, April maybe?  Montserrat, pretty incredible place.

This was just last month.  The Ibiza crew, 4 lyfe.

We went to Madrid in May...saw these lovely faces...

And went to a wedding...dressed in our roommate's clothes..

Here come the men in black, men in blaaaaack, galaxy defenders!

I teach English at a photography studio and they took my portrait.  It was humiliating, but the results are nice! Thank you :)

Sluiz is an enormous home decor warehouse in Ibiza that is possibly a drug font.  Lucas LOVES this place.

Over Semana Santa, the water was chiiiiiilly, so we wore these matching wetsuits.  Mom  has this picture on her fridge..she says we look like movie stars.

That hand was a prop for Halloween lessons.  Then it became a prop for things like cooking or scratching backs.

SUMMER.  This was our favorite spot to go for a dip.  Technically it's prohibited to go out on the jetties in the city, but the beach is unbearable in the summer...

 BOTIFARRAAAA! Typical Catalan sausage, probably my favorite food of Catalan cuisine.

Els gegants...also very typical of Catalunya.  On any given weekend you can find a parade of them somewhere in the city.  This was right outside my house.

Sushi at Fusina!

A while ago.   Gardening at Fusina...Lucas made planters with pallets.

This summer we rented a scooter and explored around the dirt roads of Formentera for three days.  Slept on the beach and in caves!! Feels like a dream now...

Formentera.... oops!  A storm brought this sleeping boat up to shore.

Sant Joan---the equivalent of 4th of July in Catalunya.

This is March....

And some months later, Olivia was born!!!!!!!!!! July 7th, 2013

The great grandmother.

Pilar, Marcelo, Alex and Isabela came to visit.  If they came out with an album, this would be the cover.

My uncle Marcelo :)


Macba, the modern art museum, is probably the "coolest" place in town.  Skater heaven.

Kristen and Dustin got married!  September 2013

Wedding weekend...roaming around Aspen.

Went digging through old photos at Mom's house and found this gem...

Mom selfie! Vickie and I went on a road trip to Charleston..

We visited the Angel Oak tree..

I saw two childhood friends this summer that I hadn't seen in over ten years.  It's amazing, how it feels like nothing has changed..

Mom's oasis in NC.

Ten years, several moves, a baby.....

The housemates of Fusina, in a not-very-flattering photo of any of us.

Deerhunter at Primavera Sound. 

Ibiza. We went and saw the movie Badlands and Lucas was a cowboy for weeks afterwards.

Autumnal sunrise with Jenna.

Boat camping in Formentera.

The next day we fished a barracuda! 

This is from May.  Jenna finished her postgrad in art therapy and they had an exposition.  Here is her work, pretty cool stuff!


A fall fideua in Ibiza.  Fideua is the Catalan version of paella, more or less the same idea but with little macaroni noodles instead of rice.  Romain, in the middle, is a master of the art.

Oh, Barceloneta....  This is a picture from a second hand market we took part in.  Made some three hundred euros and had an amazing time hanging out and bartering.

Sometimes starting a fire can be complicated and extreme measures must be taken. 

How many paellas did we have this summer?? I think half my photos are from these events.  This is what I love about Barcelona.. the mediterranean lifestyle is somehow so much more apparent than in Madrid.

Despite what most non-catalans say, learning the language can be quite useful!  Here we all are from Básic 1 in front of the school.

November in Barcelona :)

My friends Toni and Marta.  Important--a few weeks ago Toni let Marta and I put makeup on him.

Our new pad!  With Rafa :)

Lucas at his new office!  Pretty incredible feat...getting a job in this market at a very interesting Japanese cloud-computing start up!! 


AND THIS.  So surreal!!!

Squid fishing!

And we saw dolphins!

December dip.  Perhaps the last of 2013.  Looking forward to the new year and in TEN DAYS SEEING MY MOM AND SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!