Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Visual update

So since Lily left two-and-a-half hours ago (see post below), I've not moved from the computer except to refill my cup of tea. I present you with the fruits of some of my labors:

1) Photos of strolls in our neighborhood and through the Barri Gotic on Saturday where Lily made some new friends.

Lily played football with the second kid below for a long time and they got on really well in general, speaking a mixture of Spanish, English and whatever other language that the kid Uriel speaks (It wasn't French, that's all we know.). His family's from Senegal and the dad is a drum instructor and general musician. He invited us to a musical jam session thing he was throwing next weekend and we exchanged info so we can meet up again in the center. The last kid was an Italian with a hippi mom who stuffed Lily with butter cookies.

2) Mini vids of Lil being Lil

Hanging Around

Lily's just left with Papa Ray to take a flight to England leaving Oli and I to enjoy this holiday week and celebrate our anniversary. There was a little quivering lip at the moment of getting in the elevator to leave with Papa, but a reminder that she had to take care of her blanket Diti did the trick and here's a picture of Papa and Lil plodding to the station next door to catch the airport bus:

I'm wondering what to do with myself now....and am tingling with the thought of all the things I could do. The house is in the state in which one finds a house after waking a 2-year-old up early to catch a flight, but it shall all sit for a few minutes here. I've made tea, sat down at my computer, and put on Hanging Around by the Counting Crows, regressing in sentiment to the carfree singledom of summer 2001 (the summer-of-Angela during which my time was divided between reading poetry and writing essays by an in-ground pool and working at the Champaign mall) and winter/spring 2004.

See this post for thoughts from a previous relapse into singledom.

The house is a wreck and I will give it a thorough reorganization today as it has been feeling cluttered and we need to prepare for the TEFL trainee teacher that will likely move into our spare room in the coming weeks. I will also go to IKEA for a new light fixture for our family room, then maybe to Home Depot, but I'm not sure; there may not be enough time*.

I also want to watch the Maisy DVD we got from the library for Lily before I go return it. Kids' books and films are ever-useful in that you can learn all kinds of Spanish body and movement words/phrases. These are everyday concepts you learn as a kid but that don't get taught in a foreign-language classroom. Learning them makes me sound much less immigrant when I speak....Also want to pick myself up a book at the library. Usually can't do this with two-year-old companion in tow.

Tonight I have a language exchange and then will meet with Oli and Eddie in Gracia to watch the Champions League Barca-ManU match. I put up an ad to find people to do exchanges with and met with three on three separate occasions last week and will meet more next week. All three were good, but the third (Victor) was excellent. We greeted one another and then talked non-stop for 2.5 hours that whizzed by. Looking forward to meeting up again. He's Catalan but has mostly Italian friends and I've been commanded to join them out some night in the near future.

Tomorrow Oli and I will be going to H&M after he gets home from work (we desperately need clothes!), and will then go out for a meal. Funny how whenever we have free time without Lil we're like, "Let's shop! IKEA! H&M! Please Scandanavia, take my money!!!!!" And that's a quote.

Today and Wednesday Oli's at work so I'm back to singledom in the days. The only reminder of my family is their laundry....and the toys that decorate our home. Thursday and Friday are holidays so Oli and I'll have some mini-adventures together in the city and surroundings, and remember what it is to hang out together and not talk about coordinating meals with Lily's schedule or whose turn it is to do bath and bed.

Otherwise, I miss my girl.


* For aunts and uncles, this is a reference to the movie Old School.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pluma Guests

Mal, Chris and baby Aldous visited from London over the weekend. Taking full advantage of the new Hartrich-cam:

Took the visitors straight to the market to show off our cheap stunning produce. See, I'm stunned.
Went out to the Born where we saw this graffiti, which became the catch phrase of the weekend.
Ran into friends Antony and Marta down by the port.
Out to Castelldefels on Saturday for a baby-jumping competition.

Obligatory multi-baby bath photo.
Out to Mont Juic (which we now know means Jew Mountain in Catalan) on Sunday, and from the looks of it, Chris, Mal and Lily were really excited.

Thanks, guys, for a pluma fun time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

'Some people just want to know, "what's the update in the celebrity world," like, just give it to me straight'

Listen at: http://perezhilton.com/2008-04-22-avril-on-perez

What bothers you most:
a. That someone who could have been a cheerleader in your high school Health class is a celebrity,
b. That, according to her, thousands of people a night are paying good money to listen to her, or
c. That radio air time is being dedicated to interviewing her and disucssing Perez Hilton?

An astonishing case of one entertainment media (radio) discussing another (Perez Hilton) that discusses another (Avril Lavigne).


(Shame on me for reading PH and turning this blog into media, discussing media, discussing media, discussing media.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy anniversary - and - Angela makes her way back into the world

April 15 was mine and Oli's second anniversary. Remember this classic video?

We're pretty bad about planning things for ourselves (this is something I think you get better at in your first few years as a parent and citizen of a foreign country, but that you need to make a concerted effort at in order to not go crazy slowly from lack of care to yourself) and even though every night for a month we discussed that his brother would be visiting the week of our anniversary and could possibly babysit, we still never came up with anything to go out and do and the two of us ended up going out to the park to drink beers, play ping-pong and toss the frisbee around, which was, to be fair, very enjoyable. There was little pressure to come up with anything bigger mostly because we knew that the first weekend in May we'd be taking a trip of some sort to celebrate and also because we are swamped at the moment and the last thing on our minds is anything happening after tomorrow (Although I have managed to purchase our plane tickets to the US for Christmas).

Despite being here months, there's always another bureaucratic process to tackle. Once one goes through, it just means I then have the ability to use whatever number has been assigned to me to apply for another one in another system. This is all complicated in that I don't just deal with my immigration, employment and healthcare paperwork, but also Lily's ID, healthcare, daycare, and all utilities and filings for government assistance...all of which include multiple steps and are reliant on one another in a silly web of paper and numbers (I do like puzzles so there was an exciting element of challenge, but that wore off some time ago when each time I'd go to an office they'd tell me something contrary to the information I had previously spent so much time piecing together; it was like an Agatha Cristie novel where she doesn't give you real clues or any chance of actually solving the mystery for yourself. You read a whole novel of things that make you go 'Hmmmm' just so at the end Hercule Poirot or Ms Marple can sit you in a room and tell you some solution unrelated to all that previous stuff you spent so much time hm-ing at. Only here the solution revealer is almost invariably a chain smoking woman with dark rimmed glasses that you wait two hours to see and she always has bad news and says I'm sorry but inside is really laughing at me and my fourth visit to her office.).

While my immigration process was a nightmare (See parenthetic statement above.), other things that are handled by the city hall or by the health care authority have been extremely well organized and customer assistants have been fantastic. Lily even had her first doctor's appointment on Monday and I was relieved to know she needs no new vaccines and can go to nursery if we want, and I have managed to find one I like that I can get her into this late in the academic year. So I can't complain really. It's just a matter of keeping going. And you better believe my Spanish of bureaucracy is getting, well not great, but pretty darn GOOD. I must say I like the work "trĂ¡mite" which basically means "a bureaucratic process" and can be used as a verb (tramitar) as well. Extremely useful stuff.

Anyway, point being, after days of being with Lily, going to offices (Sadly, Lily knows the word office really well but somehow shows no aversion when I say we're going to another one; what a good girl.), enjoying time with guests, and seeing my husband for a few minutes, I find myself up 'til past midnight every night cleaning up, preparing food for the next day, putting together applications, researching applications and opportunities, putting up ads for the available room in our flat (we're poor!), looking for Spanish classes or intercambios, and playing around on Facebook (Has anyone realized how absolutely fun the graffiti application is?!). I figure that most parents, and adult people in general, lead some sort of cluttered life, so I'm not asking for special pity here.

Despite all the negator talk above, the nice weather has been uplifting and we've been out together with friends in the city to parks and beaches A LOT, which has been really really nice. Lily loves the beach and could throw stones in the sea and bury Lego men all day.

Anyway, one of our major principles as parents is that kids need to see their parents doing things that make them happy. Thing is, I currently can't remember what I'm interested in or if I ever had interests to begin with. I also have a sneaking suspicion that many people, childless and childful, have this sensation, so I don't feel so bad. Solution to me seems to be making it a priority to stay in touch with the outside world through media and human contact such that connections (between synapses in the brain, ideas, people, opportunities) occur over time in an accumulative fashion and one day you realize you're the person all your friends describe as "really into [fill in the blank]".

So, it will not happen over night, but after almost a year of doing little more than moving and installing my family in a new country, I'm making efforts to take some baby steps into the outside world again. Is the world ready?


Post Scripts:
1 - Up above there at the beginning of this post I pretty quickly glossed over the fact that we recently had an anniversary. Let me just say I've been a terrible person lately for reasons outlined above and that my husband generally has a way of really listening to abstract maniacal thoughts and responding to them with openness, sympathy and real solutions. Oh, that sounds so robotic. I don't know, I guess he's just good at being my partner and sometimes I can't believe it. He's also makes me a much funner person than I would otherwise be.

2 - We now have a real internet connection and land line. It's soooo nice.

3 - Oli's brother Dave and his (Dave's!) girlfriend Laura were with us and we really enjoyed having them. Without a digi cam, we have little evidence of their having been here. Lily LOVES the venus fly trap and cash register they bought her.

4 - The Hartrichs (Jim and Deb) offered to buy us a new digi cam after we hosted Nate and Laura Hartrich and lost our digi cam while out with them. J and D said they wanted to thank us for showing N and L such a good time. We (very very naughtily) accepted and the camera arrived on Tuesday. THANK YOU. So......

5 - When Chris and Mal and Baby Aldous visit us this weekend we will take pictures.

DONE!!!!! It's 1:32 in the morning and I'm going to BED.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Good weather has officially arrived in Barcelona and Lily has spent four days at the beach this week. On Wednesday I took her to Bareloneta in the city for an afternoon. On the way we bought new sandals (Zara kids - how posh!) and a sun hat. On Thursday we took a train from the station next to our house to Casteldefells, 30 minutes to the south. Very few people were there so we had a zen day on a vast silent beach. On Saturday afternoon we all met with Georgia and Mircea (our Romanian former flatmates) and went to Sitges where we picniced and dug deep holes in the sand to bury Lily in. And today, we spent part of our paseo de domingo on Barceloneta.

A typical family thing here is to go out wandering and lazing on a Sunday, often dressed up a little more than on a weekday. Meander to the park, read the paper, let the kids play, get a coffee, maybe lunch, walk more, end up at the seaside if you're lucky. Go home for dinner then sleep soundly.

Today we enjoyed one of our longest and most classic paseos, Starting out at the top of Passeig de Gracia and walking to the central Plaza Catalunya looking for a toy shop we never found with Oli and Lily kicking a little football around the whole way. The football had earlier fallen onto the metro tracks after the train had dropped us off and a guy had jumped down onto the tracks for it. Stopped in the plaza so Lily and Oli could chase the numerous pigeons, watched some boy catching pigeons while a man asked me to go to a bar with him. Moved on down the Rambla along which Oli grabbed a Mcburger (!) and met Timo and Eddie at the bottom of the Rambla in the guiri bar for roast and football. All wandered along the port to the beach, lay on the beach while Lil and I chased waves and smashed sandstones. Headed back to the center and caught a metro home for pizza and pineapple.

Oli's brother Dave and his girlfriend Laura will be with us for a week as of Tuesday. Looking forward to it.

Some videos to come shortly.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A chat with Brian Sniggle

Asked Oli tonight what he'd ask for if I could get him any gift in the world. After some discussions of the lack of limit on the gift, he stated:

A space craft fitted with (and I quote):
light speed
time travel
material replication
sophisticated environmental sensors
holographic imaging devices
robot helpers
teleportation devices
sophisticated computers capable of calculating any number of algorithms instantly
sophisticated medical facilities capable of prolonging his life and others

and with the ability to:
solve all of mankind's technicological and environmental concerns
predict natural disasters
create sustainable technologies

When I explained that I had meant something that actually exists he said:

I guess what you said, free flights.
Or like a really good computer or camera. Maybe a house?

What a weirdo.