Monday, November 26, 2012

Life is about people

Bueno, voy a probar algo nuevo... voy a escribir el post completamente en castellano y ver cómo va... pero primero...

Ok... I apologize in advance to those of you who don't speak Spanish, but I need the practice. Try Google Translate. It really doesn't butcher the meaning too badly. And hey! You may learn some new vocabulary! :)


La verdad es que tengo un montón de temas en que he pensado escribir... han sido unos 10 días más o menos mágicos. Increíbles. Podría hablar o del fin de semana anterior en Nieva de Cameros con la maravillosa gente de Couchsurfing, o de mi primer Thanksgiving y los majos con los cuales lo pasé, o de la continuación de la diversión este finde...

Nieva de Cameros, La Rioja Couchsurfing Rural Meeting, November 2012
Podría hablar sin fin de la felicidad que me he sentido, de las amistades que han crecido-- tanto las nuevas como las que ya existían.
La cena de Thanksgiving en mi casa... mira la comida!
Podría hablar sin fin, pero al mismo tiempo, no tengo las palabras para describir lo que me está pasando, ni en español, ni en inglés. Quizás por eso hablaría sin fin... constantamente intentando a acercarme a la verdadera verdad, pero sin éxito total, y entonces, sin fin. Interesante cómo las cosas que nos parecen tan importantes, tan emotivas a veces son las más difíciles de explicar...

De todos modos, lo que quería decir es que en estos 10 días, he llegado a sentir más cómoda, más a gusto aquí en España, pero específicamente Logroño, que nunca durante el año pasado. No es que pasé el año pasado tan mal... simplemente que ahora, siento que Logroño es más un hogar. Tengo amigos aquí que son divertidos, cómicos, interesantes, pero sobre todo, que son buenas personas.

Qué monos... en los dos sentidos :P
La Comida de "Jóvenes en Conserva" el 24 de noviembre
Alguna vez, me dijo un amigo mío algo que siempre me he acordado... y seguro que lo hemos oído dicho de muchas maneras, pero lo digo yo así:
La vida se trata de las personas. Life is about people.
Se trata de las personas con quienes pasamos el tiempo, el cual, para todos, es la moneda más preciosa. Se trata de cómo tratamos a estas personas de nuestra vida. Hay una cita (cómo las quiero :) ) de la película "Shall We Dance" en que la esposa (Susan Sarandon) del protagonista (Richard Gere) le habla a él de la importancia de tener un testigo de la vida. En el momento, habla específicamente del matrimonio, pero creo que se puede extender la idea a todas nuestras relaciones:
We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying, "Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness."
Con tantas personas en este mundo tan grande, una vida, desde perspectiva amplia, no significa mucho. Claro que existen unas gran personas que cambian el curso de la historia, pero la mayoría de nosotros no somos ellos. Yo no soy persona muy importante mundialmente y si me muriera mañana, hay casi un mundo entero que no lo notaría. Pero las personas de mi mundo, sí, lo notarían. Como dice la cita, las personas de mi vida son testigos de mi vida. Son la evidencia de mi existencia.

¿Qué pensáis? ¿Cómo veis a vuestras existencias? ¿Y a las personas en vuestras vidas?
(15 minutos después)
Me he perdido un poco... en las nubes. Estoy cansada, pero el resumen:
Si las personas que están participando en mi vida ahora son indicativas de cómo soy yo... pues, qué suerte he tenido! No podría estar más agradecida... a todos que he conocido en estas últimas semanas, pero especialmente a la "comuna hippie"-- os conocéis quienes sóis. :)

La comuna hippie... es decir los majos invitados de Thanksgiving (faltan dos)
 Ahora, a la cama. ¡Hasta mañana!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm Not Procrastinating; or Thoughts on The Pilgrimage

I know I've only promised one post a week, but it's Wednesday night, and I feel like writing. And yes, there is a long list of other things I could be doing right now, from the should-not-be-postponed-any-longer (buying plane tickets!) to the menial (making my bed... I know, it's sad). Some of you may call this productive procrastination. You know... when there are things you should be doing, like sorting out your bills or responding to emails, but you decide that it's the perfect time to completely reorganize your music library or re-customize your blog, or... really do anything other than what you should. I hear you. And I've productively procrastinated like a pro... but this is different. I promise, and I'll explain...

Obsessed. It's not healthy... [source]
One thing I've learned is that I, as well as most people, am much more productive when I'm doing something that I want to do. I don't mean those impulsive wants (i.e. streaming the most recent episode of Dexter(!!!) or eating those oh-so-delicious Lotus cookies... which I may or may not have sitting next to my laptop as I type).
 I mean the things-- the desires that have already been on my to-do list for some time... the things I've wanted to improve, wanted to try, wanted to just do.
Here's the (very) short list:
  • Practice (more like learn how to play) my guitar.
  • Write more letters/postcards/emails. Just be better at keeping in touch.
  • Read more. Much more. And much more en español.
  • Plan lessons and be the kick-ass teacher I know I could be if I just tried.
  • Exercise (SO much more difficult now that the weather is cold)
  • And last but not least, give the blogging thing another shot (check!)
So yes, I may be procrastinating more pressing items on my to-do list, but like I said, I feel like writing. And you know what? It's on my list too. So I won't feel bad about it. What needs to be done will get done precisely because it must be done... even if I have to stay up late to do it. In the meantime, it's better not to fight the momentum. Go with the flow.
Moving on...

I'm reading a book right now called The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. While it's not his most famous novel, it was his first. How appropriate then that it is the first of his that I'm reading. So far, I love it! This is in part because the story is set along my beloved Camino de Santiago-- Coelho has done his research well, and the proof is in the little details... the ones that make me smile and reminisce.

SEMPRE NO CAMIÑO is Gallego for
Always on the Path. True statement.
But aside from this nostalgia, the book is inspiring me to reexamine myself and to meditate on what my dreams are and what it is that I want out of this life... important questions that should not to be answered quickly... if at all... 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Long Lost Puente: Part 2

So... I've been sitting on this half-finished post for a while... and by a while I mean over half a year now (yikes). But with my new-found dedication, I've finished it... a bit hastily, but it is done. In a week or so, I will pre-date it. In the meantime, here's the last installment of the December puente adventure:

A blog post a day keeps the procrastination away...

Right. If only that was all it took. A blog a day does, however, keep us plugging right along in recounting my long-neglected-but-soon-to-be-over tale of the December puente.
If you've kept up with my last 3 posts (and really, by now you've had plenty of time ;) ), you already know that the day after my birthday, I boarded a very early flight from Bergamo, Italy to Thessaloniki, Greece, where I would be dancing the weekend away...

[more flashback, Wayne's World sound effects...]
You can see Thessaloniki near the top of the map, in the middle, on the coast. [source]
View of the Alps from the plane! One positive thing of flying at 7am.

I may have said this already, but RyanAir, I think you should buy this photo from me.

Once in Thessaloniki, I wandered around... a LOT. Note for next time: there are luggage lockers in the trainstation... that way, you don't have to lug your backpack all over the second largest city in Greece for 5 hours.
Anyway, after navigating the streets whose names I could barely read (I should have paid more attention to the

And so I'm back, from outerspace...

... or should I say from outside the blogosphere.

First, a pretty picture to distract you:

Taken this past August in Missouri on a visit to my Grandpa's. I love finding flowers where you least expect them--  springing out from between the rocks or perhaps breathing life into some wintry soil (oh, daffodils). :)
 (para una versión española, mira el fin del post)
It has recently been brought to my attention that I never rarely write on my blog. (Thank you, David). I also need to drop Rebecca's name... my lovely friend and fellow blogger (although she's much more deserving of the distinction), who recently blogged about blogs she reads and was kind enough to include mine on the list. These two people are the ones to thank for this hasty and very raw return to the blogging world.

Return. That makes it sound like I purposely left it and am now coming back. The truth is (what a statement that is)... well, the truth is a lot of things. For now, the truth is that I've not been a faithful blogger, and the reasons are many:
  1. I got behind in my posts... and then, things changed... relationships, contexts, these kinds of things, and after the changes, I didn't know how to relate my travel adventures that had happened before those changes. And so, I decided neglected to relate anything whatsoever.
  2. I constantly struggle with what I want this blog to be. Is it a way to keep my "people" informed on my life? Is it a travel blog? Is it someplace to express my thoughts, dreams and feelings about life? Is it for sharing links that I find interesting? Is it for me, or is it for those reading it?
  3. I want to do more things than there is time for in the day.
  4. Even given the above, I am lazy and don't always make the best use of this time that is already in high demand. 
  5. excuse
  6. excuse
  7. excuse
  8. and so on...
 Up to now, the only thing I am sure of is that, whatever this blog is, whomever it's for, it needs some more attention and more regularity. And so, I am about to do a very dangerous thing-- I am going to make a promise... and Rebecca and David, you can hold me to it: I will post, in some fashion, at least once a week through the end of the year. After that, we'll just have to see what my New Year's Resolutions are. :)

Please feel free to leave notes of encouragement, requests for what you would actually care to read, and of course any other questions, comments or concerns! Good night!

P.S. I've updated the About Me section (see tabs below the header).

Esto no va a ser una traducción directa ni completa de lo que ya he escrito-- estoy cansada y no soy capaz en este momento de hacerla. Pero me doy cuenta de que, tal vez a algunos de mis pocos lectores les cuesta más entender el inglés. Y ahora que estoy escribiendo en castellano, pienso que quizás lo debería hacer más para practicar tanto como para ayudar al entendimiento de mis amigos españoles... hmm. De todos modos, lo que he dicho, más o menos:

Algunos (David!) me han dicho que casi nunca escribo en el blog. Añade el hecho que mi otra amiga Rebecca mencionó mi blog en el suyo, y sentía que debía escribir de nuevo. A estas pesonas les debéis vuestro agradecimiento por este post escrito con prisa y sin mucho pensamiento-- mi regreso al mundo de los blogs.

Pero decir 'regreso' da el sentido de que yo lo había dejado a propósito y ahora estoy volviendo. La verdad es (vaya frase! como si pudiera decirla todo)... pues, la verdad es muchas cosas. Por el momento, la verdad es que no he sido una blogger fiel, y las razones son muchas:
  1. No había escrito hace mucho tiempo sobre viajes, los cuales tenía ganas de relatar-- pero entonces, la vida cambió... relaciones, contextos, entornos, cosas así, y después de los cambios, no sabía cómo explicar esas aventuras que habían pasado antes de esos cambios. Por eso, dejé de escribir... no deliberadamente, sino por negligencia.
  2. Este blog no sabe lo que quiere ser. Digo, YO no sé lo que quiero que sea este blog. Muchísimos ???
  3. Quiero hacer tantas cosas que no hay suficiente tiempo en el día.
  4. Aun dado el número 3, a veces soy perezosa y no utilizo muy bien este tiempo que ya tiene gran demanda.
  5. excusa
  6. etc.
Ahora, la única cosa de la cual estoy segura es que, lo que sea este blog, para quién sea, necesita más atención regular... más cuidado. Por eso, estoy al punto de hacer algo muy arriesgado-- voy a hacer una promesa: haré un post, de algún tipo, una vez a la semana por lo menos, hasta el fin del año. Después, tendremos que esperar los 'buenos propósitos del Año Nuevo.' :)

Dejadme unos ánimos, peticiones para lo que de verdad queréis leer, y por supuesto, preguntas, comentarios o preocupaciones! Además, si os notáis algún error en el uso de la lengua, por favor, que me corrijáis! Gracias, y buenas noches!

Besos a todos.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A square kind of poem

I read somewhere once that you could always tell if a poem was a sonnet based on its shape. Sonnets, regardless of type or rhyme scheme, tend to be rather squarish. I was recently looking for a quote about rainy weather (it's still raining in fact), and stumbled upon the square poem that follows by Edna St. Vincent Millay. It wasn't what I was searching for, but it has been my obsession for the last

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Something I needed to say

Hello there.

Well, as you can see for yourself, or rather, as you haven't seen for yourself, my absolutely fickle dedication to getting you all caught up on my life here in Spain and surrounding areas has failed miserably and most of you, unless you've contacted me by some other means, have not a clue what has happened to me since my birthday over 5 months ago... that's more than half of the time that I've actually spent here. My sincerest and much-too-often-relayed apologies. Someday, you will hear all the stories between then and now. 

Mine should go to 4... or maybe 11. [source]
As for now, however, I have some other things on my mind. Within the last two weeks, my life here has gone through quite a few changes, the biggest of which is this: I have moved from Logroño to Calahorra. For those of you not in the know, Logroño is the capital of (and biggest city in) my region of La Rioja. Calahorra, while the second biggest, has about 120,000 less people. It is where I teach, but I'm sure you can imagine why I chose to live where I did at the start: more transportation options, more nightlife, more people... just more period. Anyway, without going into all of the details, I had my reasons for making the move. The most immediate of which was a very uncomfortable roommate situation that made what should've been my home feel more like a place where I needed to tiptoe around without leaving a trace. If you want more information, ask. The other reason was that I've started dating someone who lives in Calahorra, and as I'm sick of doing the long-distance thing, the idea of being in the same place as a person for once was extremely appealing. All of the pieces seemed to fit, I had a place to stay, the moment was right, so I made the move.

Remember this picture? Multiply this by three or four and that's how much stuff I (and two lovely souls-- shout out to Ash and Tom) had to pack up and move. How quickly it accumulates...
That was two weeks ago. After being in limbo for about a week living out of a suitcase, I finally moved in and had a home this past Tuesday. And I'm finally realizing how much of a toll having an uncomfortable home-life was taking on me. I'm also realizing how awful I've been at staying in touch I've been... with friends in Logroño, with friends back home, with family. I can't even remember the last time I talked to my brother. I think it was back when we saw each other in person at Christmastime. That is sad.

Anyway, the topic I really wanted to talk about in this entry, but from which I have digressed somewhat is my madre (that's mother for you non-Spanish speakers). 

With Mother's Day coming up tomorrow, I suppose that's only natural, but with everything that's been going on these last few months, but the last couple of weeks in particular, I have been particularly distant... much more distant than I would like to be. The worst part is that I can't help but fear that she's felt that somewhat. If you have, Mom, I am so sorry. It's a terrible excuse, but as I said before, I've been generally awful at staying in touch, even with my best friend.

In honor of tomorrow, I was looking for a good quotation for the occasion and I stumbled upon this gem:

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."  Washington Irving
Now, I know that unfortunately not everyone can say this is true for them, and that reminds me all the more of how fortunate I am to have been blessed with the woman whom I call Mom. It also makes me feel foolish for not remembering what this quote says on my own: when I'm feeling a little grey, the way I happen to feel now, one conversation and I almost instantly feel weight lifting off my shoulders... 'dark clouds dissipating' and 'peace in my heart.' She reminds me that I'm always my own worst critic, that I put way too much pressure on myself, that I can accomplish anything I set my mind and my heart to. She's known me longer than anyone, even myself, and she is and will always be my biggest fan. And I am so lucky.

I mentioned that I'm feeling a bit grey today, and you're probably wondering now, well, why haven't you called her?! I wanted too, honest. But as I'm sitting in a café with loud music and strangers all around, that wasn't an option-- I will try her later or, if not, definitely tomorrow. This entry was my next best option... and I think it has helped cheer me up.

Now, those of you who have finished reading this and feel so moved, go call your mom, send her an email or, if she's nearby, give her a great big hug... and feel your troubles melt away, or at the very least, watch them become a little less insurmountable. Tell her you love her.

Love you, Madre. :)
A day early :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Long Lost Puente: Part 1.75

Hello fellow travelers, family members and any other followers out there. What a horrible little blogger I have been. I have a backlog of things to talk about, but I wanted my stories to be told in order... and the longer I wait to start relating them, the more things I have to tell in order to catch up to the present, and consequently, the more burdensome the task becomes (in my mind, anyway). But no more! This week, I will give you all the pertinent information and you will soon know about my life in Spain in the here and now. Not to be a tease, but there are SO many exciting things happening that I can't wait to divulge. But first... let's finish up what has become the most drawn out story ever, that of my puente adventure back in the early part of December...

[imagine blurring images and flashback sound effect, a là Wayne's World, as we go back to that long lost time...]

Como and Lago Maggiore! (December 7th-8th 2012)
First lake view as we began our trip.
 After a lovely time in Milano, one of my new friends and I traveled north by train to the lovely town of Como where we met up with L who I mentioned in part 1.5. After spending a very fun night there, the three of us spent the day (my birthday!) driving around the beautiful Lago Maggiore through a slew of quaint little towns. Among them were: Lugano, Bellinzona, Brissago, Cannobio, Verbania and Stresa. We even passed through Switzerland! All in all, a whirlwind couple of days, and while I generally prefer to stay and soak up a place before I move on, I can't say that I didn't have a good time. Not a bad way to turn 24. :)

Because my memory of those days has faded, I will let the pictures do the talking.
What a lovely place this would be to live! Wake up to the snowy Alps!
Oh, hello Castle! You know, no big deal.

Why drive over or around the Swiss and Italian Alps when you can drive THROUGH them. This tunnel was something like  10 miles long!

An absolutely beautiful day for a drive through Italian Lake Country. Just wish we could have stopped longer to smell the flowers
Just sigh. Lovely paradise.
A little too chilly for a dip, although there are stairs going right into the water :)

The travelers. In silhouette.
There were houses UNDERneath the road. Crazy.

Our awesome rental: The Yellow Panda (thank you, Fiat, for the perfect name)
That's an island. I wonder how they get to work?
Last shot of pretty lake country before driving back to Como to return the Yellow Panda.

After returning the car, L. and I sent my new friend from Milano on his way and then headed for Bergamo, aka the actual location of RyanAir's "Milan" airport,  where Liz would be staying for a bit and from where I would be embarking upon the next leg of my epically long adventure the following day. We arrived very late and very hungry... and desperate for a good wifi connection so that I could talk to family on my birthday (because yes, it was still December 8th!).

The next morning (and I use that term very graciously as I don't consider it to be morning if it's still dark out), I caught the bus to the airport, went through the same RyanAir stress-fest, and made it on my flight A-OK. Now, while I don't know if I would choose the dawn flight if I had other options, but flying before the sun comes up does have its absolutely breathtaking advantage: Getting to see the sun rise from the sky!

It was a whirlwind of a week in Italy, and I probably should have caught a catnap on the plane ride, but I was excited and then some as I flew to my next destination, Thessaloniki, Greece, for a weekend of a different alphabet, feta, gyros, but most importantly, Lindy Hop! To be continued... :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Long Lost Puente: Part 1.5

Where did we leave off? Oh, that's right. I had survived my first RyanAir flight without having to pay any "fecking fees" and was on my way to Milan, Italy...
If you're just joining the party, I recommend reading the previous entry first :)

Milano! (December 5th-7th 2012)

By the time I landed and took the bus from Bergamo (location of RyanAir's "Milan" airport) and found my slightly-more-expensive-but-DEFinitely-worth-it hostel called Ostello Bello, it was already dark, and I was late for dinner with a fellow auxiliar friend who happened to have similar puente plans (She also has an amazing blog and talks about a lot of the same places I went on my trip here).
The Duomo at my first night in Milan
Afterwards, I returned to the hostel and made a few new friends at the bar (yes, the hostel had a bar)... two guys (one from Brazil, the other from Seattle) who had met each other earlier that night and were burning the midnight oil like myself. In the midst of (quite a few) drinks-- including my first glass of grappa-- the three of us decided to spend the following day touring the city together.

The next day, however, before touring, I had to keep my 9:30am appointment with Signore da Vinci and his Last Supper. It was somewhat saddening to find out how poorly it was treated throughout history... and sometimes even intentionally... but through dirt, flooding and bombings, an echo of what da Vinci originally painted remains, and it is truly breathtaking. No pictures were allowed, but here's a better image than the one previously posted:
Note at the bottom how someone decided "Hey! Let's put a door here." :(
Regardless, it's still amazing. [source]

With that done, Seattle, Brazil and I hit the beautiful streets of Milan! 
No idea why Elvis was there, but it was an excuse for a jumping sequence, and a great way to kick off the day. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Long Lost Puente: Part 1

Once upon a time, in the lesser-known land of Calahorra, there was a puente in honor of Saint Nicholas. And on this puente, the wandering teaching assistant Cate was graced with almost a fortnight of completely uninterrupted holiday time. As if this weren't luck enough, Cate's birthday happened to fall right in the middle of it all. Excited at the prospect of such glorious free time, she made her plans, bought some plane tickets, and then, was off on her grand birthday adventure! This is the story of the first part of her journey.

Parli italiano? Zaragoza, or Getting to Italy (December 5, 2011)

In a word, no... but that didn't stop me from trying in my first destination. Where did I go? To the fashion mecca of Italia: Milan! Or as the Italian call it, Milano! Before I get to Milano though, I need to tell you how I got there.

Enter the biggest city in Aragón and 5th biggest city in Spain: Zaragoza! 
La Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Zaragoza, España
Zaragoza also happens to be the closest city to Logroño (about 1.5-2 hours by bus) with a functional airport (I say functional because technically, Logroño has an airport... that I've never heard of being used). Anyway, most importantly, Zaragoza is a hub for RyanAir, that infamous but oh-so-cheap discount European airline. 

At 9:00 am, I caught the bus to Zaragoza-- literally... I kind of mistakenly thought my ticket was for 9:30. Thank God I was up early and happened to glance at it in time. Phew! Anyway, my flight out wasn't until after 4 in the afternoon, but I hadn't been there before, so I thought I'd allow some time to get my bearings and walk around a bit. After arriving, I headed for the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, "the second most-visited pilgrimage destination in Spain," and lo and behold, I discovered a festival, complete with wise men, a Christmas market, and CAMELS!
Say hello to my camel friend! (Thank you, kind lady who took this for me!)
Also, see the baby behind mama camel?

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Return

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! I've finally returned to my blog after a solid month of home (in the U.S.), traveling around Ireland (with Ohio boy :D), show-and-tell at school (again with O.B.), and then readjusting to day-to-day life in Logroño... and subsequently procrastinating entries on this here blog. I apologize for the delay, but I promise to make the next few entries worth the wait. Here is what's to come:

  • a picture-littered entry about that week-long trip I took, once upon a time, to Italy and Greece
  • a post about home, possibly highlighting some of the differences between life in Spain and life in the States, but mostly gushing about how lovely it was just to be home.
  • a post about how this guy from Ohio met me in Chicago to fly across an ocean just to spend time with me... and you know, drive around Ireland and stuff. :)
Ladies View, Ring of Kerry, Ireland...
Gorgeous. And there's more beauty to come :)
Look for at least one of these before the week is over! 

Happy New Year! What's your sign?
I'm a fire rabbit :)
Now, it's off to do some errands. My weekend was full of fun... including one North Carolina boy's bar birthday bash, a chilly but invigorating search party walk with a friend whose keys decided they wanted to explore the Parque Ebro alone, and then a lovely (and delicious) Chinese feast in honor of the Year of the Dragon with some friends in Calahorra, followed by cards, drinks (new additions to my top five: Boston and Moscow Mules, thanks Ash!), and a night out on the town. 

A very full weekend, indeed, but unfortunately that means I did nothing particularly productive on the home-front. Time to rectify this...

By the way, anyone have any suggestions about what I should make for dinner? I'm stuck in a cooking rut and any inspiration would be most appreciated :) 

I love you all! Thanks for reading.