Friday, September 22, 2006

Granada is a fruit.


My arrival in Granada was warmed with a package waiting for me at the school when I picked up my keys. Marshall had done me a great favor by mailing me a sports bra, because I did not pack one and could not find one that actually offered any support when I searched in Barcelona. I’m sure they exist in Spain (they must, no?), but I could not find one. Along with my beloved bra, he sent some of my favorite treats. I’m sure I looked like a bag lady making my way from school to apartment, with my back pack, my purse, my computer bag, my canvas bag with a rolled up linoleum square sticking out that looks like carpet, and the package. When I arrived at the apartment, the key did not work, but a nice old man let me in. But then, the paper did not have the apartment number. And it was a fairly big building, probably 6 stories. I could not try my key in every door. I asked the old man if he knew if there was an apartment with students. He said in the building two doors down. I looked at my paper, but it definitely said #2. I felt like crying. I’d gone form happy bag lady to homeless. I dropped all my bags and sat down on the floor while I dug around… I had two papers with the address of my apartment. The other said #4 and included the apartments number, the old man helped me carry my bags to the next building, but my key didn’t work there either. I was really hungry and tired. But the old man tried the key and it worked. He was an angel.

And when I got to the apartment, it was actually clean. My flat mates are friendly, and there is water in all the faucets! All the time! I was happy again.

If I’d known everything I know now, I could have stayed in Spain a year, which was one of my options. But I already bought my ticket to Paris, and things have unfolded the way they have. But we can never know what we are going to know, so those kind s of thoughts are worth spending much time on. In fact, I generally dismiss them immediately, although the surface often. I was never certain I’d stay a year, although I always felt like I should; it was more the idea of this trip somehow being a “success” than really thinking I should or shouldn’t. But then I realized I don’t know Spain. And, I resolved in the time before I left to just always do what I want to do, so if I want to go I should go, and if I want to stay I should stay, and if I want to return I will return. So, I consider this my scout trip.

If I had come here first I would stayed. But I am going to live here someday, for at least a year, within the next five years. I would like to buy a Carmen up on the hill. A Carmen is like a villa in the city, a house with a garden on the hillside. There are also houses that are built into the hills, like hobbit homes, or caves. One of these would also be okay.

There are a number of journals and residencies that I am going to apply to when I return. I am going to apply for a Fulbright, with a similar project as the last time I applied, but in the Donona instead of Estonia. The Donona is a big National Park here with lots of wetlands. Also, I am going to apply to PhD programs in Ecocomposition this December, to begin in September 2007. I am excited about all my ideas, and I hope that I can turn them into reality when I get home.

It has been kind of hard for me to share a flat with so many people, most of whom are younger than me. The age is not really the difference, but they are all kind of aprtiers, and also they always speak English. While I thought I might come to Spain and party I really haven’t felt like it, and since I do what I want when I want, I haven’t partied. If the people were a little older or spoke Spanish or a little more quirky, maybe I’d feel like it, but things are what the yare, and I have just eaten a lot of chocolat and churros and skipped the discotechs. However, the biggest problem is that most people don't think about the shared space the same way I do. I prefer to not impose in the public area, that way it remains open to everyone. But it seems that others fill the space, mostly with noise. Whether it is TV or music, they fill it with what they want, when they want, without considering the others. (Because even though I am an advocate of doing what you want when you want, I am an even bigger advocate of consideration.) And most people certainly aren't as sensitive as I am, but the intrusion of TV or unwanted music is really hard on me. Also, there is so much furniture in the flats! This is probably normal for most people in the USA or Europe, but I like to have some space somewhere where I can spread out my stuff when I am working, or stretch myself at some point in the day. This does not exist in the flats. This makes it hard for me to feel as good as I would like, physically, which of course then affects me mentally.

But, it is interesting to experience this, after the peaceful and spacious existence at Can Serrat. It is good fodder for Ecocomposition - the affect of environment (immediate as well as general) on how we compose.

There is so much more to write, but I don’t want to give a chronicle of my every move. Well, I kind of do, but the thought seems a bit narcissistic and / or compulsive. Instead I’ll just write a few of the more interesting moments.

I went searching for the park of Garcia Lorca, where his parents had a vacation home and spent a lot of time. It was a fun adventure. I went too far, a little confused by the map, and ended up in the country, on dirt roads and surrounded by cornfields. I t was really beautiful, and the day wasn’t too hot, so I think it was better than going to the museum. Later I told the director of the school here and she said the museum is boring, that the y say “Here is the bed where he slept,” and “Here is the notebook he took to school.” I figure walking around in the country is more like what he experienced, so it was a better day for me.

One treat is that there was a cooperative grocery store across the street from my flat in Seville. I didn’t realize this for the first week. It is only open a few hours a day, so when I finally saw it I was about to leave. I bought a few things, like organic raisins, almonds, figs, and kefir. The real treat, though, was QUINOA! I have searched and have not found this anywhere here until this delightful little shop. I bought some quinoa, and decided to wait to open it until Granada because I didn’t want to transport it while it was open. I have bee in quinoa heaven since I arrived, eating it everyday!

A few days ago my flat mate made himself some coffee. All the cups were dirty, so he used a glass pitcher that was cup-sized. He poured the coffee, let it sit a few minutes, and was tending to the coffee pot when the entire pitcher exploded. It didn’t crack; it didn’t break. It literally exploded. Shattered bits of orange glass and coffee spewed all over the entire kitchen. It was truly bizarre. He was pretty foul over it, because he’d only slept a few hours the night before and was really looking forward to that cup of coffee and the coffee pot is single serve, and class was going to start, and he had to clean up the mess and leave with out his coffee. I found the phenomenon fascinating.

I am most looking forward to: my very own comfortable bed, taking yoga classes, eating quinoa whenever I feel like it, and having access to all my hats, shoes, and clothes.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

About Seville

I am in the city, but not near the bumping part, which is good because its actually quite quiet (after midnight), but annoying because the groceries are 20 minutes walk, not so fun with bags, but oh well.

The school is also 20-25 mintues away (the program told it would be 15-20, but it's not. I was late to my first class, and also missed the evening event (it took me nearly 30 miutes to walk here this evening - walking slower in the heat and with my laptop than in the morning without it).

I do NOT have Spanish roomates - they are all in the school and all speak ENGLISH!!!!! It's actually two guys 18 and 19. The 18 y.o. is from Holland and obnoxious and speaks no Spanish. The 19 y.o. is German and very sweet and speaks fluent Spanish, but still speaks English to me even though ask him to speak Spanish. But he has been here a couple weeks and has told me and the other new guy where the grocer is, etc. and had a job ehre and just seems quite mature (esp. compared to the dutch boy).

The apartment is a dump. There is no f*ing water in the kitchen. That is just ridiculous and apparently there hasn't been any for 3 weks. I already complained and they told me it would be fixed today or tomorrow, but apparently that's what they say to everyone. I told them if there wasn't any water tomorrow that I need to change apartments and they agreed. The German guy can't change apartments, but he's on some program that made that decision, not the school. But tomorrow cam and went, and it's still "manana." You can change "manana" or the water will be fixed "manana."

There are also cockroaches, and dust bunnies, and the only plug in the bedroom is falling out of the wall, and the only fan
(which we take turns having at night) doesn't even fit into the plug. There are different sizes, but the same voltage. In fact, there are actually some American plugs in the apartment, which is very odd.

There is of course, no AC, and apparently it is unnaturally hot for September, and it is really f*ing hot. God damn global warming. Seriously. I make jokes, but it's so true. I take 3 showers day. Cold.

The only good thing is that I paid for a shared room and I dont have a roommate this week, but I expect one next week. Still, there are two beds and one is bigger and much more comfortable and so I'll get that one for both weeks. Poor girl. >:)

Thoughts on Happiness and Independence

Credit given to Leslie Lou, without whom this post could not have been possible.

We work, we have kids, we do whatever, and it’s not that great, but we like life anyway

The sailor mark said something one time that was profound (just once). He is still in my dreams sometimes (still totally banal). But the thing he said is that life is a whole lot of waiting around in between a few really great moments.

I don't know if life has to be that way. I think we can be happier than that.
We can be happier than that, but what is happiness? I think the point is that we don't have to have great wonderful things happening everyday to feel satisfied. We don't have to travel or see the Eiffel tower or be rich to be happy or satisfied. Yet I feel obligated to do things that I have the opportunity to do...

I need more structure too. It's hard for me to do things, because everything I do seems disconnected. I think I'm stuck in wanting to do big things, and nothing seems big. I read a quote by someone, who said something like that. We should just do things even if they seem small, and we will accomplish something.

I always find making a plan is assuring, even if it changes everyday (and it usually does).
But maybe you need to get over your attachment to success? I think that it’s something related to your desire to please others. I don’t think you really care about success. You just want satisfaction, which it doesn’t seem like money will bring you, but rather being close with people.

Well, if you're miserable everywhere then you're depressed and you'll have to make lifestyle changes until you fix that imbalance. But if you're miserable form your job then you have to choose another path. I don’t know whey you’re miserable there. It’s not about what you "should" or "shouldn’t" feel - that's pleasing something external! It’s about what you DO feel, and how to feel the best that you can.

One thing from What SIDWML? Is the idea of an "inner circle” that sits in judgement of your actions - who are you trying to please? Parents? Former colleagues? Teachers? Siblings? Spouse? High school friends?
Your inner circle should be YOU. And maybe your closets friends and family who want nothing but happiness for you, but even then you have to be careful because sometimes they think money or something else is what you need when its not.

I’m very careful and paranoid about people stealing my ideas, so I don’t put anything up that I’m working on in any other way (business, essays).

You know, I'm basically on my own. I've been having trouble dealing with that. Sometimes it's good, to feel independent and on my own, and other times, I feel like there is no one external, and I'm all alone and lost. I came to Spain to be on my own, but I’m not really succeeding. I'm probably going back to live in my parents house in SD!

Whatever...there no such thing as independent, except maybe hermits in the woods.
What's so great about being on one's own? We all need other people.

So, the result is: I'm torn.

I don't really want to stay in Spain. It's nice, but I think I'll be lonely if I stay. I need places like People's or Wheatsville, and they're not available in Spain. But if I return, I feel like I'm giving up a chance to be fluent (even if becoming fluent means
being lonely for a year). I mean, I can continue to study Spanish, but studying for 4 years has resulted in limited ability to actually communicate, so it's not the same as staying and living. And I wonder if I'll regret returning. But then it will also be much more easy to get things done in the USA, like applying for PhDs or fellowships or whatever. Even here it's so hard to speak Spanish... everyone at the school speaks English outside of class, and everyone in the shops speaks English. So how important is it for me to learn Spanish? It's easy to argue that it's not important - I can live a perfectly happy life without speaking Spanish fluently, of course. But it's also kind of embarassing to be monolingual, especially here because everyone speaks English, but so many are from other Eurpean countries.

So, what should I do? Stay or return?