Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lily dances to The Clash

One Sunday morning, Lily was really in the groove. I had just put music on and she got inspired to "Suit up" in her dance gear. With each song that came on, she changed style and got really into the music.

See what I mean?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Good day


Yes, I already posted this Caga Tio video on Facebook. Now I post it on my blog (not everyone is on Facebook!) with extended detail.

Talking to a neighbor the other day, I finally got what I think is the straight dope on Caga Tio. Why a log that we feed, then beat until it shits out presents?!!?!

Well, back in the days of the pagès (pah-zhes), the peasant farmers who populated the valleys of northern Spain and Southern France, etching out a living where no invading Moor bothered go, leaving behind massive stone houses (masias) that have endured 700+ years, man's dependence on and subjection to nature was foremost on the collective mind.

So, at Christmas time, or possibly pagan holiday time, families took to wandering the woods to find a hollow log to love and care for as a way to give back to Nature. On the big night, they may or may not have hit it, but certainly would have filled the hollow log with dry fruits, nuts, bread and other simple foods that "Nature" would then give back to them, possibly by shitting, as a reward for their weeks of care. This was Christmas dinner.

I like this tradition more and more each year, and this year, for the first time, we plan to get our own Caga Tio (today in the Christmas market near the cathedral!) which we will take to England, hide and the woods, and take Lily and other to go find. Yeah!

POINT NUMBER 2: What a great day.

It's confirmed that I have the job with this indie record label, correcting their English lyrics and artists accents when they sing. Sweet.

I spent the morning making pumpkin/carrot cream soup and egg croquetas (so we can stay out late as a family later and have food to warm up for dinner), am off to work to collaborate on developing a resource wiki (fun!), and then to meet Oli and Lily at the Christmas market.

Life is good.


Monday, November 30, 2009


I write about what Lily does a lot, but what about meeee?

Today I worked on some online inscription and payment forms for work, in preparation for a meeting tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will work on an online job board and an html email with tips for our students preparing English certificate exams.
Oh, and will meet with colleague about setting up the term end party which is also a film fest.

Lately, one day a week I work on learning MySQL and PHP for me, you know, for kicks. (Thanks Marty for suggesting that; it has worked out perfectly since a friend is doing a degree and her current course is with experts in database driven websites, so we can study together.)

I think you all now see why I write about Lily.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My glasses!

Glasses broke. Until I can afford new ones, had to figure out a way to mend them enough so I could at least still wear them at home at night when the eyes are tired of contacts.

In the end, I resorted to melting them back together.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The old poop and talk

Recently Lily has taken to reading while on the toilet. This means that she will often disappear for up to 20 minutes when doing a number 2. Generally about 18 minutes of that is reading time, during which she might call me twice to show me a magazine photo.

Yesterday Lily was on the toilet when her cousin Hannah called from England, having very recently returned from visiting her mother's family in South Korea. Lily was thrilled to be reading, pooping and talking, though most of the conversation consisted of "No Hannah, YOU'RE a stinker bum. No, you're a WASHING machine! Ha ha, ha ha."

After about 10 minutes, the conversation moved on to our front hallway where Lily carried on like a 13-year-old. Incredible.

In other news, Lily still loves Santa in a deferent, worshipful sort of way. She calls him Christmas because the British call him Father Christmas, and she doesn't quite get that you're supposed to say Father and Christmas.

We walked past a bakery yesterday with this jazz-playing Santa and in typical Lily-loves-Santa style, when she spotted him, she stopped abruptly and gasped in a quiet, serious, awe-struck voice, "Christmas."

We stayed 10 minutes watching him play jazz. She hugged him. She gently held his hand. Amazing what a big bit of dancing plastic can summon from the depths of a child.

3-year-old therapy sessions

I've said it for 10 months now: I hope with the next kid, I can just birth a 3-year-old.

Lily's just so fun, inquisitive and thoughtful. Using Stephen Covey's old "talking stick" method really works on her and if I just shut up, it's amazing the deep thoughts that come out.

The best recent example relates to her school life. I try to encourage Lily to talk about "nice kids" and "naughty kids" to get her thinking about what actions she likes people to do to her and which she doesn't, if the "naughty kids" are "bad" or just having a bad day, what she can do to help the "naughty kids", and when to just leave them be. Usually when we're snuggling in bed, or at dinner, I'll ask who made her happy and who made her cross today at school.

Observations she has made on her own include,

"Marcel gets sad when his mummy isn't there. He's scared and then he hits. I don't like it, but he's just not happy."

"Gerard (her best friend) hit me today on the playground. I was playing with Valeria (her friend from music class), so I think he was just jealous. I told him no and he went away."

A commonplace event on the Spanish playground is that kids shout "malo!" or "mala!" at each other, which means "BAD!". I really don't like this one and Lil says it from time to time when someone commits a minor transgression against her. When she was talking about Marcel, I brought this up, asking:

"If Marcel is feeling sad about his mom, so he hits someone, what will he feel when someone calls him "malo"? Will he feel better, or sadder?" I mimed sad body language, slumped shoulders and sad face when I did it, and got even slumpier at the "malo" part.

This seemed to drive the point home and her face went really serious. "No, he'd feel sadder," Lily responded grimly. We left it at that, so I suppose it will stew until the next time it's relevant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things to make you smile

Paintings made by Lily while she grooved along to Actium by Aphex Twin:

Apple cider we made the other day:
(3 cups nice apple juice, boil for 5-10 mins. with the following things set in it either in a strainer or a cheesecloth:
- slices of one orange's peel
- slices of 1/2 a lemon's peel
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks)

Amazing rainbow that appeared around 6:30 this evening after 2 days of typical wild change-of-season Barcelona rainstorms (the sky was also filled with fantastic orange light):

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mas Peras - FAT II

Some friends here have a 700-year-old house in the country. I visited for a party in the summer and knew that Oli and Lily had to go there.

Luckily, last year they started an annual Festa de l'arribada del tardor (Arrival of Fall Party), which is a weekend-long party inculding a film fest called FAT, and required guests to bring an under-5-min home made video, so they got their chance to visit this past weekend.

Here is a taste of what the Baix Empordà region of Catalunya is like:

And HERE are even more photos.

Malibu gecko

We found a lizard in our house and since our contract says we can't have housemates, we made him his own Lego house.


As I still live life on the academic calendar, now is New Year's resolution time for me.

As I look back on years gone by, my regrets always center on not having realized how fleeting the lifestyles I have passed through would be. That is, my life tends to completely change every few years - city, house, work, friends I see regularly, day-to-day tasks, restaurants I frequent, etc. I would always think I had time to "perfect" how I operated within those lifestyle - being a better friend/sister/daughter/worker - and that I'd have plenty of time "later" to take full advantage of the place I lived. And then something would happen or I'd make a decision that eliminated all the usual day-to-day stuff and replace it with new stuff....before I ever got a chance to perfect my rhythm and really enjoy myself!

I'm often too busy trying to organize my life into manageable chunks that I don't live it.

My blog posts illustrate this perfectly: Instead of regular quick posts about a single recent noteworthy thing, you get infrequent tomes of evaluation. Perhaps this can be the last of least for a while.

A new effort has been put in to play to enjoy Barcelona and the friend group that has been forming over the last year. One day we may not live here, all these friends will likely move away at some time, and Lily will certainly not be this age forever, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't invest in now.

Recent efforts include:
- Go to lunch/have coffee with co-workers (most of whom are my regular friends anyway) regularly
- Play with neighbors in our building's garden a couple times a week
- Do fun girly things with female friends like "clothing exchange" dinner occurring next week
- Make commitments that require us to be creative like friend's parties to which attendees must bring a short film they have made
- Trying out new marketing angles at work that require me to get to know people who work for magazines and social event planning organizations around BCN

Clearly, I'm still organizing....but things seem more fun this time, and life seems to be getting richer faster. Instead of thinking of what I want to do and then trying to make it happen, I'm just trying out what's right in front of me.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Am fond of these pics recently added to facebook by friend Jarad.

Those Gaspar Project days were fun ...even though I was generally sick to my stomach with anxiety pre-show Wednesdays. One evening sticks out for some reason. It must have been fall and was already completely dark at like 6pm. I was nauseous with the usual nervousness and walking over the knolly grassy area leading from the six pack, past the McDonald's (What was that McDonald's building called again? Something with "Orange" in it, right?), on my way to practice in Lincoln Hall, before heading over to the Channing-Murray for warm up and the show. I was thinking, "Why?! Why do you do this? Why are you in improv if it makes you so crazy? Aren't people who do this supposed to be psyched and fun with it?" I was trying to calm myself and get excited at the same time. Then I suddenly just thought, "Man. You are so lucky. This is awesome. Go have fun, you big douche." And I started whistling, totally happy walking through the crispy cold autumn air. I think one of the guys "smoked" from his "vagina" in the show that night. Or maybe it was the night of "Sugar Cookies". Or maybe the night in which during practice, I forgot I wasn't really on a trampoline, just jumping on a classroom floor, and I did a somersault flip onto my back. All that class just runs together in my mind.

In any case, I'm glad to still be friends with those/you guys. Only wish I'd spent less time stressed and more time having fun! Although, really, there was quite a lot of fun. Remember that terrible gig at the posh dorm?

Things here are good. Lily's in her third week of big-kid school and is liking it. She's coming out with full sentences and explanations in Catalan and Spanish with us now, not just her teachers. I always wondered what it would be like if our kid did really end up speaking another language. It's as enjoyable and weird as we thought it'd be.

And that's about all I can must. Man, I am tired. I actually can't type any more. Woop.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lily wrote a story

Lola and Lisa are playing princesses and kings and queens and doctors in Lola’s room. Charlie comes into the room. Lola and Lisa scratch and pinch and bite him. Charlie jumps.

They all go downstairs and eat breakfast. It’s pasta and salad and carrots. Lisa’s favorite food is water. Luckily, there’s water for breakfast, too. During breakfast, the kids get down out of their seats and run around. The daddy runs after them and puts them back in their seats. But the kids run away again.

The daddy catches them again and says, “No, bad, I’ll throw you in the bin!”

The kids respond, “No, we’ll throw you into the sea!” and they throw the daddy in the sea.

The daddy yells, “No, no, no! Water, water, water! I’ll throw you into the sea!” And he does.

The end.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall flight sale Chicago - Europe

Yo, Punks.

Check out above link to British Airways flight sale on flights from Chicago to Europe. Maybe do a little searchy search on flights to BCN - El Prat?

If you're going to get a sale, may a well be with a non-US air carrier (personal TV, decent food, reasonably nice staff who don't bite your face off every time you ask them something because they're preoccupied with how they're going to get laid off preeeettty pretty soon.)

Do it. Go on. Do it.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chug a choo choo and work.....back to grind stone.

Actually quite desperate for routine to return to life! Three months of vacation (with some working) can be quite overrated. Sorry. I know that's an annoying thing to say.

Despite yearning for return of routine....can' get back on the....ball.

Lily starts school proper tomorrow and had summer camp all this last week. I am hoping that school will kick us all back into gear. C'mon, School!

I can't really be asked/arsed to write more. Until I can get my act together, here's a link to our non-Slovakia summer photos of activities with the Seeleys and Ruiters in France, Engand and Spain:

Found a lizard on my bedroom ceiling last night. Don't know how he ended up on an 11th-floor ceiling. But, he's awesome, with little gecko-y feet. Think we'll keep him a few days, then release. I forgot I had bought my brother two little lizards when he was younger and that it was super fun playing with them. Lily had him running all over me this morning. Was cute, 'til he tried to wedge himself between the kitchen cupboard baseboards. Oh, instincts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Balloon Fiesta...of death.

Back in the UK for another gray summer.

To be fair, we've had sun at least half of each day, except for that day it rained all day.

Slovakia was great. Like a rugged England where the people speak jibberish. Making my way from the airport to the country house was humorous. Nothing like being in a place where you can't even guess what the scribble on the bus ticket machine means to put you right back in your place. But through the international appeal of Spanish and English managed to get from airport to train station to Zilina. From there, handed mobile phone to taxi driver, and Slovak friend Stani told him where to take me in Terchová. Taxi driver got somewhat confused at one point and we had fun speaking loudly and slowly at each other in our respective languages, trying to determine where exactly my friends and family might be. An old lady on the side of the highway eventually sorted us out. Then I told the driver I liked his music and he let me use his phone to call Oli to alert him of my arrival, since my Spanish phone gave me a message that more or less translates to, "No, loser, we will not let you use our Slovakian network, even though we never give you problems in other European countries where you can better speak the language". Gah.

Besides that, was weird and nice reuniting with Oli and Lily. Lil ran across a road when she saw me and held on in a tight hug for a full two minutes before letting go. That was nice.

Otherwise, it was all catching up with friends, climbing mountains, scootering down mountains, drinking beer on mountains, and barbecuing in stone pits (near the mountains). See photos.

Our first weekend in the UK we were excited to use the VW. She worked well in France, but then started acting up with a similar problem to the previous one. Basically, on a full tank she's happy. Under 1/2 tank and she starts shuddering and stops. We thought, let us not take her to Wales in this condition (mechanic hasn't had time to look at her yet), so instead, we went to Bristol to do some simple camping. This weekend happened to also be the annual Balloon Fiesta (Why "Fiesta"?). What luck, we thought.


Bristol is known for bad traffic. Think Chicago but with roads the width of capillaries. Add a hoard of hot air balloons taking off on a big hill and you get traffic chaos of the most heinous proportions.

So, the bus broke down just as we entered Bristol, but no problem, there was a gas station just on the other side of the road. Oli and our friend Sam added more fuel, bus was happy and off we went. Then we made the terrible decision to proceed to the Balloon Fiesta, rather than leave the bus at Sam's place and somehow make our way to the Fiesta. Entered the most ridiculous single-file line of cars and in a most non-de-script moment, we ran into the car in front of us. They were fine and so was their car, but their tow bar had completely nailed the bus' face :( Her VW symbol even fell off. Sam rescued it from the pavement and within 5 minutes we sadly proceeded. But now, all the other VW drivers wouldn't wave at us (there are lots of buses in Bristol). As Larry David would say, "No wave? Where's the wave?!"

After 40 more minutes of moving nowhere, we decided to park where we could and walk the rest of the way. Of course, from that point on, there were no turnoffs. Then the bus broke down again, most likely due to all the idling, and now we were blocking the second lane that had just opened up. Now the traffic jam was worse, it was our fault, and the balloons were set to take off in an hour. All we had wanted was to get some time-lapse footage of balloons. Actually, no, all we had wanted was to CAMP...there had just happened to be a balloon fiesta. How did we end up here when all we wanted was CAMPING!!!?>£:e

Lil and I jumped out with a book bag and a stroller and went to a nearby park. This was fun, until in a moment of looking at the camera to make sure I knew how to work the time lapse function (I was determined to get Oli his footage!), Lily somehow managed to fall off the play equipment, and when I looked up, she was hanging upside down with her foot caught in a ladder, holding on for dear life with her hands, blood dripping out her nose. Shit. Luckily, the trauma passed quickly, like less than 40 seconds quickly.

In the next hour Lily and I made our way up a monstrous hill through crowds the likes of which I have never seen and in a desperate moment of crowdedness, I spied a teeny patch of green on a hill above the balloon launch site. It would be ours, if all the day's events were to not be in vain, it would be ours!!!!Lkgoprs@kisortu7isrtu!

And it was.

The only other casualty was my eye, which got savagely elbowed by a drunk in a crowd while trying to get the hell away from the god forsaken balloon fiesta. Fortunately it only hurt for a few minutes, but I have this silly little bruise next to my eye such that it looks like I perpetually have makeup smeared there. Blurg.

Now we're chillin' in England 'til the 25th of Aug, and the bus will most certainly not be heading back to BCN with us. But it could be worse. We could live in Bristol.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


I'm over my funk. (Man, I mis-type that word every time.)

Today was a lovely last one in BCN, for three or so weeks anyway.

Clearing up my apartment since the Americans left and the French were arriving. Welcomed Franck (a French student who lives in BCN) and his parents who are visiting him, and they were such a cute little family I ended up staying for a long time with them. The parents spoke no English or Spanish, so it was sort of a Spanish-French free-for-all, with lots of gesturing and smiling. The dad Claude was such a dad: "Where can I buy a French newspaper? Where can I buy tobacco?" And the mom Regina was such a mom: "How does the washing machine work? There's a market up the road?!" It was all that much more cute because when Franck had come to see our house a couple months ago, he was specifically pleased that we had a big balcony with a view ("For my father to smoke his cigarettes and look at the sea.") and were near the Hostafrancs market ("My maman hates supermarkets.")

Met up with Rodolfo for a final coffee before our respective vacations. Reading material exchanged.

Then zoomed off for one last clothes shopping session (We've entered segunda rebajas, people! Super low prices on great stuff. Wrah!)

Then to Adam and Leeann and Violet in Barceloneta....where Leeann mended two articles of my clothing on her sewing machine, fed me gorgeous homemade food for the third time in as many weeks, and was pleased to see I was wearing the earrings she had made me (They are perfect for my head! I wear them every day almost now.).

Now at Antoni and Marta's café using their internet and drinking their coffee....then it will be home to shower off my many bike-rides' worth of sweat, two episodes of Entourage, and bed.

Have received a little email from my monkeys and am in the quiet happy pre-viaje mode. Mmmm.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Like four seasons in one day

Or 3 blogs posts.

I was bored and googled myself and found out that The Chicago Flame did publish the angry letter I wrote them while working at UIC. Haha. I think I make the original article sound much more respectable than it was. It was pretty douchy, man.



Sunday I'm off to Slovakia. I just need to take a 2-hour bus ride to Girona, fly to Slovakia, take a bus to a train station, catch a high-speed train for 2 more hours, get picked up by someone there in a car, drive 35 km, and then I'm on vacation.


Awash in space and time

I'm all stuck in the funk of the last week of a life.

I've got that same feeling as right before I left for Spain the first time. It started with me and Brian hanging out getting drunk afternoons in the half-empty Francesca's apartment. Then Brian left and it really made me nauseous being alone those last few days. Right between one thing and another. Not sure if the one thing will ever happen again.

I'm in that floaty space, right before coming in to focus. Being on my own, with new people, in a different place, rips away all the outside stuff and leaves me just me. I like these times because they're tough and I'm pretty masochistic, but also because they leave me feeling solid, simple and chill....with a really long "i".

This morning I hung out with some Brazilian thugs on the train out of town, right after they boarded in the heart of the ghetto of Bellvitge. They were drunk and guards had just threatened to pull guns on them for not wearing shirts (True story - In Brazil it's normal to not wear a shirt in most public places. My friend Paulo, the one with a PhD in Political Science, did it throughout his first year in BCN before realizing people were staring at him.). But once all that blew over, we struck up polite conversation in which they hopelessly tried to guess where I was from and asked me how much money I'd give them to hit each other hard in the face. 5 weeks ago I would have been way too deep in the zone to just go with this. Today, I was just like, "yup".

Being alone for a prolonged period invariably brings up Chicago. Being out of my element just makes me want to jump right onto a sofa in pajama pants with friends in pajama pants, engorging myself like a crazy squirrel with Cherry García ice cream (I completely forgot about my three-year-long love affair with that stuff until right now! Aw, Cherry Garc ía.), or gratuitously dance to offensively lyricked music with wrecking-ball hips Edwards, or barbecue. Yeah, barbecue.

Chicago will forever be on a pedestal in my psyche, a metaphor for feeling 100% comfortable in my own skin, a perfect place where even when I do dumb stuff, the people around me just ruffle my hair and say, "Oh, Angie. That was silly".

Remember that time I thought I was getting fat because of the estrogen in European water? Then I remembered that I had recently gone back on the pill? So really, the fat was due to the estrogen I was directly ingesting in large quantities once a day? That was funny.

So far this all sounds pretty positive, not funky at all.

The funk is sort of like that Fitzgerald story (name?) where this guy has always felt a connection with a girl acquaintance from back in high school. It's been years since they've seen each other but he has a hunch that she feels this connection too. Some unexpected circumstance brings them together and they spend a whole day chatting about old times. He feels like all this confirms his hunch until it all comes crashing down when she takes out some old photos, says, "Look, here's you," and points to someone who is not him. She thought he was someone else the whole day and doesn't really remember Mr Protagonist at all. Oh dear.

Sometimes I think I fall back on that version of Chicago and let it into the core of my self definition and what makes me happy, let it become a mark on a measuring stick that other experiences can't quite reach. It sort of weirds me out that something as intangible as my perception of a time and place forms a fundamental piece of me and my identity and my happiness.

So I guess the funk is a combination of feeling so far away, in space and time, from some fundamental part of me, and at the same time wondering if that thing is not just something I've built up in my mind, that might actually be interfering with my operation in reality.

And it's thoughts like these that remind us of why women should not be allowed out of the kitchen.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Take it back, Brad! Take back what you said about Thor.

Just watched L'auberge espagnole again and it was awesome. I take back what I said about it being shit. It's actually brilliant.

- Filming and writing are actually good.
- Xavier telling Anne-Sophie that it's racist of her to say Barcelona is dirty. Love the theme about certain people not seeing past Barcelona's scruffy crust to how great it is.
- Wendy's brother, clearly
- The pissing and puking in the street. It really is just like that.
- The American
- Xavier walking among tourists in Paris at the end. They perfectly captured that realization that you are no longer defined by your surroundings.
- Cheesy as it may seem, Xavi saying he doesn't want to disappoint his younger self, I love it. I've thought that so many times when wondering for what reason I'm doing the things I do.
- The film also gets points for geographical and airport accuracy.

So there you have it. It's actually really worth watching. Oh, and I forgot Audrie Tatou was in it.
Tonight I watch Russian Dolls.

Single days


This week I come to you from l'auberge espagnole.

That’s a cheap reference to the 2002 French film about coming of age in a Barcelona apartment filled with young Europeans (you can watch it on YouTube). It’s actually a pretty shit film, but since young Europeans, unlike young Americans, have few coming-of-age films to latch on to, some people really cling to this one and its sequel Russian Dolls. To be fair, it has its awesome parts, like how the only American is a real dude who has a guitar and when all the main characters are drunk in a plaza one night, he leads them in singing No Woman, No Cry…thus seducing the British girl. I have actually seen this happen…twice….*shudder*.

Anyway, I find myself in just such a flat this month.

Last year when Lily and I were in America and we rented out our home in Barcelona, Oli stayed in a room usually rented by a girl on his football team who would be away during the summer. The only other person living there was a Spanish (I think) guy who owned the place. He was nice, but not really a riot. Oli taught an intensive English course to teens for the duration of July, which included teaching all day and grading papers all night. Add to that that we didn’t have as many friends as we do now, and you can understand why he had a pretty lonely month.

Flash forward to this year and oh my, have things changed. I’m having a ridiculous blast.

As mentioned in a previous post, our friend Daz is away teaching in a summer camp, so I’ve rented his room for July. The apartment is rented by two guys who happen to live abroad at the moment. So, their other flatmate, Kristina, who is Czech, manages the place, keeping all the rooms full with renters. Right now Kristina and her boyfriend Roni (from Bangladesh) have one room, I have Daz’s, and Raúl, a Spanish guy from Cáceres just moved in. There’s one more bedroom, but it is kept free for friends to crash in. Also, the people who are the contract-holding renters but live abroad tend to come by every few weeks and use that room. They’ve both been here this week.

The apartment itself is one of the great 1930/40s ones with high ceilings and tile floors. A bit crumbly, but someone has taken care to paint every doorframe and door a different bright color, and that mostly makes up for any crumblies. My room is a nice sage green, and today Kristina and Roni are painting their room lilac. Kristina will be back to studying full time for her master’s in a few weeks, so they thought it important she have a nice happy place to work in.

I’ve been here two weeks now and man, does time fly. The night I moved in, I arrived at about 9:30pm with a big suitcase. Kristina, who I had only met once for 5 minutes, opened the door, shouted, “Hola, guapa!”, grabbed my suitcase and dragged it to my room. Then she asked me if I had eaten. When I said no, she showed me the massive platter of curry Roni had made (he’s a cook), made me a plate, poured me some juice and sat me in front of the TV with her and Roni, as they had just started watching Bend it Like Beckham, in English with English subtitles on an 8-second delay. I was home.

Kristina talks more than I do. I feel a bit bad for the neighbors who have to listen to two foreign broads talking at a ridiculous pace in ridiculous Spanish about things like if Brüno’s dancing penis in the Brüno film was really Sacha Baron Cohen’s. We think so. Still have to check on the Internets.

Yeah, the one down side to old buildings in the Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona is that you can absolutely hear everything happening in every other apartment that opens onto the interior light wells. I’ve never known what a blessing my 1970s apartment on the 11th floor is. Here, I awaken in the morning to the two children across the way and their cartoons. Sometimes mom yells. Sometimes she sings. There is an obnoxious American who lives over one and down one. Another guy speaks cute foreign English on the other side and up one. There was a party the other night over one and down two, and they were lucky I was drunk when I went to bed, otherwise I’d never have been able to fall asleep with them singing along to George Michael and La Bamba (although, it was the first time I understood the words to La Bamba).

Otherwise, I’m living the sweet life. I wake up late. That’s pretty fun. I go to the beach. Also good. I buy foods I don’t normally, like delicious steak, and take silly amounts of time preparing Mediterranean salads for myself, in addition to buying myself Bifidius yogurt drinks (intestine bacteria drinks) like a proper middle-aged woman. When I’m good and ready, I grab a Bicing bike and ever so leisurely ride to work, being sure to enjoy the view and give pedestrians who stray into my territory quick drive-bys from behind. Shopping for clothes is also a high priority. My wardrobe sucks and this month is sales month in Spain, so that has worked out well. I’ve not bought too much yet, but consistency is the key. I stop into shops regularly to have a peak, and only buy things I love. There’s too many thing in my wardrobe that are just OK, but don’t really grab me. They’re going.

Work-wise, I do 20 hours a week of work for Oxford House on a completely open schedule. I’ve published the new homepage and site design. I’m organizing a language workshop on Common Errors of Spanish Speakers for this coming Saturday. I’ve gotten digital frames up in reception, advertising courses, activities and other things, and have made some more online forms for various staff members who need them. Also am getting a new domain special for our business courses and services and have to get that site up and running.

I’m running “technology sessions” two days a week for two hours for the kids doing our summer courses at the school. As I said before, I have 5 to 15 year olds, so I ultimately asked for an assistant and was awarded one: the owner’s 18-year-old son. Everything has gone well. The little ones love digital camera scavenger hunts and posting photos of their favorite things on our course web site (“Somos famosas!” shouted the girls when they learned that indeed, the site was viewable anywhere in the world, except China) and the big ones like playing on Facebook, building Google sites and making Walls ( Is cool.

Besides that, I cover reception sometimes when they need me, which is good practice since I’ll be doing that 15 hours a week starting in September when one of the receptionists goes on maternity leave.

And beyond that, I’ve been hanging out with Kristina and Roni, going dancing and beaching with Sara (the Italian) and her crew of Colombians, and had Matt visiting (our old flatmate from 2004 – from Oli’s hometown) who currently lives in London but is moving to Hong Kong in a week (!). His visit was three sloppy days filled with drink, pursuing Japanese girls on the dance floor (she got away, but not before falling on her butt in front of everyone else in the club), street-fighting with Moroccans (Matt saved me), visiting Lawson in his bar, and searching for Czech beer at 10 in the morning in the back alleys of the Born (a hostess gift for Kristina). We also had a lot of deep conversation, but it doesn’t make for very good blogging.


(PS - The only photo I have of any of this is one of Matt and me taken by the Japanese girl using Matt's phone. It's not flattering. My neck is super stressed and Matt's doing a peace sign...)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oh, June, you wicked month. You're lucky we know how to have fun.

June, june, june june, june.

I tell ya, if there's one downside to living your life on the academic calendar, it's that June is a killer. If there were a second downside, it'd be that September is a rapist. (You know that's funny.)

Of course, June is only further complicated by the fact that we Ruiter Seeleys think we're entitled to travel the world in the summer, and therefore rent out our apartment, and make all sorts of crazy arrangements in order to have fun and make money at the same time.

So here's what we've been up to/will be getting up to:

- I've finished my Bàsic 1 Catalan class. I can now string together sentences and speak crazy common-man-Latin with Lily. I'm supposed to be doing a Bàsic 2 intensive in July, but I think I'm going to have to cancel because of other engagements.....(Read on). I wish I had learned Spanish how I am learning Catalan, speaking from day 1, focusing on talking and using everyday phrases rather than on conjugating verbs. I still translate Spanish from English in my head, but speaking Catalan stuff just seems to be popping out of my mouth and in retrospect I realize it comes out right 70% of the time. Sigh.

- We are not living in our home right now. Three ballerinas are there (2 girls and a boy) ho study at the California Institute for the Arts are taking a dance class at the center next to our building, we found each other online and they are there. They are all cool and we've actually been hanging out since they arrived.

- Oli, Lily and I are staying with my friend Rodolfo for a week until Lil and Oli fly away to England, and then pick up our VW (IT IS FIXED) and will make the maiden voyage (without me! SOooooo jealous!) to Prèfailles in France (Brittany) to spend a couple weeks with Oli's family there.

- I am staying in my friend Daz's apartment in July. He will not be there. He and everyone else from OH will be in A Coruña being teachers at English summer camp. His flatmate Cristina, from the Czech Republic is there. I will be continuing my role as Communications Coordinator at OH throughout July, doing search engine optimization on the website, putting together new promotions, redoing the homepage and web site stylesheets, refurbishing bulletin boards, and getting digital picture frames installed in the school, for publicity. I will also be teaching technology sessions to kids doing the OH summer course. It's like Little House on the Prairie up in there in that I will have 5 - 15 year olds in my sessions. Still don't know what that will be like, especially since Spanish kids suck. (You know I only half mean that.)

- Also will be working on a personal project in July, an idea for a web site I would like to build that will make us very rich and able to travel the world and see family at will (when Lily's not in school). Will be meeting with a woman in BCN who set up a similar site, with a different theme, a couple years ago that has been very successful. Watch out, Internet.

- In August I get vacation. I meet Oli and Lily in Slovakia, along with other British friends, on August 1st....right after the ballerinas move out of our house and I welcome in the middle-aged French couple who will be staying there in August, visiting their son who is doing an internship in BCN.

- After a week in Slovakia, back to UK. Hang out. Take VW to Wales. (Finally I get to use it!!!!!)

- Return to BCN 20-something of August, put house back together, welcome my parents who are visiting from the 27 Aug - 5 Sept. (Yeah!!!!)

- Commence with Lily's week-long summer camp, new school meetings (she starts at bigger kid school in Sept), and swim lessons.

Otherwise, we've spent the last few days at a "Welcome to new school in the fall" picnic, a "goodbye school" party, and a "goodbye for the summer, workmates" dinner.

Photos from Lily's school party:

We will miss her pretty school. Sigh.

People really get into the dancing at the school parties. It's cool. Here's Lily's second-favorite teacher, Mireia.

And there's Enriqueta. The love of Lily's life.

Joan, Joana and Ani.

Arlene, Gerard and Oscar.

After the party, there happened to be a painting workshop for kids at the center next to the school. It was organized by Hippies. They're good at this sort of thing. You can see a clear escalation in the painting frenzy and level of comfort with the paint as the photos progress. I got my legs and arms painted and then had to meet a French guy on the street later to pick up the deposit money for him to reserve our flat for August, while covered in red hand prints. I looked like a psycho. I bloody psycho. It was awesome watching the old people pretend not to stare. Take that, Catalans.

On Saturday we spent the day in a central park with Gerard, Oscar and Arlene. It was great to do very little except eat, drink coffee, lay in the grass and play ball. As usual, it all ended with naked children.

(Look! More Hippies in the background. They're everywhere.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lily lines

Lily is interested in old people and is always asking me question about them. She sees lots of old people in our neighborhood who have "helpers" so they can get around. She knows that when we get older, our bodies don't work as well, but wonders what else happens when we're older and often asks for clarification. For example, after listening to my heartbeat the other day she asked, "Do old people have hearts?"

Another great recent line requires a bit of prior knowledge: the word for 'milk' in Catalan sound similar to 'yet'. Oli is fond of saying to Lily, "The Force is really rather strong with you Lil, but you're not a Jedi yet." The last time he said it she responded, "Milk?! Does Darth Vader speak Catalan!?"


Monday, May 18, 2009

What we've been doing lately

I went to Madrid and saw Colin and Kristen. It was cool, especially because the institute in Madrid gave Kristen lots of money, and I got to help spend it.

Our friend Sara (a real Italian) made pizzas for us, with Lily. Making the dough was the best part. Lily was ecstatic and Sara more patient than I ever am.

Daz and Oli waited in desperation.

The boys found a way to amuse themselves while the cooks were busy, water balloon throwing, which has very much become a Sunday ritual.

Putting the pizza topping on was the second best part. Unfortunately, never got a shot of the final pizzas (4 of them!) because I was busy eating them.

This week it was our turn (though we didn't plan it that way, a dinner just sort of happened) and we made paella, for the first time, for several people (Daz, Stephanie, Sara, Mikey, Lily and ourselves). Oli got in this one publicity photo, but I'd like to take credit for the paella that ensued.

Hunger and chat.

La poderosa.

Also this weekend, we attended La Nit dels Museus during which many Barcelona museums had free entry and concerts a'happening. We went to the National Museum of Catalan Art, where Lily discovered painting and sculpture, as well as a new friend. Watch for the surprise ending.