A. sent me a message this week. She said she wanted to write a blog post about México (where she is studying now) with the walking-through-the-street perspective of the last post. So, since a little artistic swap may be in order, I thought I’d borrow the style of one of her last posts: topical grouping.
And, since I’m taking the day off (aside from my Catalan class and 40 minutes max of worksheets I did this morning), I’ll just round things off and type this up today. Tomorrow, I am going to have to get serious–outline a paper in morning (one that I thought I’d make minimal corrections to, but now, like “Huevos” is facing a pretty extensive re-write) and read half a book in the afternoon. At least, those will be my academic goals.
Sant Jordi (doesn’t start with a C)
The firecracker festival of the year (maybe?) was this week. It is sort of fallas-light…they burn some things, they make some noise, people drink things, and stay up late and for everyone’s sake, the next day is a national holiday. N. and I celebrated by heading to her Catalan friend C.’s house. C. lives in an àtic in Poble Sec, within pleasant walking distance from the library I was pretending to productive in earlier in the day. I, with great class and the confidence that comes from having met C. on more than one occasion, brought an already opened-bottle of wine (my mom just went “Oh, Kaitlin.” And put her hand over her mouth and thought “You really shouldn’t do that.”) and Nancy and I picked up a few more goodies at the súper: olives, salty chips, gluten-free beer (I lie not. There is such a thing.) We arrived early. I poured a glass of wine and put one olive on each finger (one of those is true) and we enjoyed the nice views as a few fellow guests arrived. The night consisted mostly of pleasant chit chat, more olives and other salty foods, and periodic admiration of the randomest display of pyrotechnics one has ever seen. And, one huge arse bonfire. (Symbolically, this festival marks the summer solstice, so as the year turns and life changes for the better, best to leave your baggage behind. And burn it.) We stayed until after the
cake coca was cut. Coca is a flat pastry made from sugar, that flaky pastry dough (which I don’t actually love), and whatever filling you want–pine nuts, chocolate, etc. Very typical here.
Anyway. Bicing’d home and that was that. Total bicing hours to date: over 7. Total times I have dumped my bag and very luckily found some of the contents a block behind me: 1. Total times I have told myself I’m not going to cross when the bike-pedestrian sign is red: 18. I really will stop doing that. (My mom’s head is back in her hands. “You really shouldn’t do that.” I know. I’M STOPPING.)
N. and moi.
The attic view.
In vino, FIREWORKS!
Holy cow. I don’t even know how to begin to explain this to you. (How’s that for a little 21st century rhetoric, A.?) This week, I have had three two-hour classes and each one has been a show. On Monday, I was [mostly] biting my lip as ze profe read from the book. As I mentioned last year, I can be a very impatient student. After several rounds of interjecting as politely as possible “I get this” only to be met with the highly-teacher centered response of “Well, we’re doing it anyway,” I was beginning to be convinced that the 106 hours of class I had left would be long.
Tuesday I was nervous to have to do it all again. I got to the language school and the owner tells me that J. cancelled all of his classes today because he wasn’t feeling well. BUT, she made him show up for mine because it was my first week. Fast forward to J.’s arrival: he spends the first 10-15 minutes explaining about how peeved he was that he had to come teach, but that “it wasn’t my fault” and blah blah. BUT, this was my opportunity. Compassion I can do and so vent he did as I listened (I figured I’m still practicing the language, so whatevs). I could empathize by telling him I know it’s tough because I teach, too…And ya know what? He softened a bit. We ended up having a fine class.
Today was adventure number 3. I get to school and he walks in with a Nelly bandaid on his cheekbone and a serious black eye. Apparently, the night of Sant Jordi, he–like me–had taken the bicing home. For him, this was after some light revelry. At some point on that journey, he dumped on the bike. But, experiences like these are usually sobering. We ended up having a pleasant conversation and even went slightly overtime on class. I was also able to offer a few thoughts about the text we were using–we BOTH very much agreed a more communicative text would be better. (The problem is that since the Catalan-learning pubic is small, and even smaller when you are not working on basic survival skills, the financial solubility of publishing Dream Textbook is low. Waaaaambulaaaaaance.)
Anyhoo. We’ll see if we have a new textbook on Monday. And though I’m not sure about the book, I am sure there will be a new adventure.
First I made it here, Plaça Espanya
Something that is exaggerated when I spend time abroad is the amount of time I spend in my head, sometimes enjoying my thoughts and sometimes trapped in them. I suppose it’s because I’m not talking to my normal people and so I make up for it by talking to myself. The effects of this are usually not cheer-inducing. On bad days, my distractedness leads me to make poor decisions (such as running red lights on the bike while I’m busy re-devising my next life plan). And, quite frankly, it can make the days longer in all the wrong ways.
Thankfully, there is an antidote. While I am no newbie to physical activity (I have walked to the moon while listening to episodes of “This American Life” and I have held a plank for at least one sentence of said show…), I have never been one of those people who really experienced a mood change after exercising. I mean, I’d go for a walk and get some space from the world, but it wasn’t like taking a happy pill.
Tediously long introductions aside, climbing does that for me. I attribute it to two things: often I go with someone and you talk about what is immediately in front of you…this peg, the other. (Sometimes you talk about other stuff, too. A., my new climbing buddy, is a both a delightful chatter and engaged listener and lets me practice Catalan). While I can let my mind wander between the Hundred and Single-leg kick, I cannot when I feel like I either hold on or slip off. And while the “threat” is hardly cray-cray (today, we were maximum 22 inches off the ground…), it’s enough to make me feel awake and present. When the show is over, I feel a lot better.
This morning, I was feeling womptastic beforehand and though I was totally pooped after, I had a smile on my face and it stayed all of the [sore] day.
The super cool (and super free!) climbing tunnel, La Foixarda.
This is the face of someone clearing the bugs off the windshield of the mind. Also, it is the face of someone 4 inches off the ground.
A. very nicely served as my photographer. For good measure, I stayed 4” off the ground…
I promise to never write so much again. Go have some chocolate.
Pancakes and bacon,