i’ve just closed my myspace account (and my twitter account – but as i only posted four comments, i’m not sure if it matters) and discovered that i once had a blog. who knew? (i’ll tell you who – my mother. the only one who commented on that blog as well as this one so far. bless her.)
anyway, i thought a couple things were interesting and decided to post them here. i’ve added the pictures because i thought they were fun and i apologize for my obsession with ellipsis…
originally posted on: 23rd december, 2006
and so it goes…
well, i have now officially been robbed in barcelona. and just in time for the holiday season, i might add. i woke up this morning, alone, with no roommates to enjoy a lazy saturday morning with, and thought…ah, first day of vacation. i was just getting ready to settle into a day of nothing but coffee drinking and book reading, enjoying the fact that our apartment is the one apartment in barcelona where the heat works wonderfully, when i realized, oh yes, my book was stolen on thursday… along with everything else. that is to say, everything else except, as was helpfully pointed out to my last night, my virginity. sweet jesus.
i was in a bar in el barrio gótico with some friends, enjoying mojitos and pretending to enjoy patatas bravas, on par with most nights out with the tefl gang, when i reached for something in my purse which had been hanging on the back of my chair, under my jacket and scarf (“ai, mujer” says pilar, the director of pylmon, when i tell her the next morning, (shaking her head at me) “qué pensabas?”). and yes, she is right. it was my own fault for leaving my purse hanging on my chair. naïveté rears its ugly head once again.
however, i have to say thank you to meghan because had she not texted me minutes before (i am assuming), i would have lost my phone along with my camera, my ipod, my wallet and my journal.
it was just gone; i didn’t see a thing, i didn’t hear a thing, and i obviously wasn’t anticipating anything of the kind beforehand. within a half an hour, either when i was in the bathroom or when the man sitting at the table behind me left, my purse and scarf were stolen.
i’m not angry, it breaks my heart… not that i am missing my things, if anything, it has proven once again that i really did get over most of my materialism when i sold everything in portland. but i try to put myself in the reverse position, and i can’t really.
i see a person whom i know nothing about. a person who grew up entirely different than i. a person who either doesn’t define their morals like i do or has made choices up until now that made morals a moot point to a certain degree. i wonder what that life could be like; i either don’t know enough or don’t have enough empathy to get inside that head.
what does one think when they go through someone else’s life? did they look in my camera to see if there were pictures in there before they sold it? did they wonder at all the different monies (old lire from when lisa lived in italy, costa rican colones from an ex-boyfriend, egyptian pounds from when sashi traveled there…) i had in my wallet before they discarded them as useless? did they look through my journal and see all my memories in the back pocket? old marcus aurelius quotes printed by jennifer that we had wheat pasted to a wall in downtown portland, a picture that justin drew “special for auntie laura”, my carmen opera ticket…did they wonder at all the lists of scores from countless rummy games played in figueres and cadaques? did they even glance at my outline for the first chapter of my book? or laugh and get embarrassed for me as they read through countless ridiculous stories about this boy or that silly thing i did…
it’s amazing how habitual we become and how attached to the little things. i am upset about having to get another metro map because i have had that one since i first arrived. i miss my silver card case that has been holding my id and debit card since before i moved to san francisco. i don’t know how i will replace all the little chinese fotunes that came to me in cookies in various states and countries that i keep as little silly reminders of things i find grand in life. will the person who inherits my ipod be inspired by the inscribed “radha govinda jai” on the back when they are riding the metro at 7 in the morning like i was?
and the police asked me what the estimated value of all my things was…and i couldn’t find the words, in spanish, english or the language beyond…
originally posted on: 5th december, 2006
travels of an ex-pat…
i was tired and hungover as it was and semi-not looking forward to making the short but long trip to london on friday, especially as i was flying into luton, which is, depending on traffic, an hour or an hour and a half away from downtown. when i disembarked, i was dismayed to encounter the 45min queue (as it were) for immigration. but, swallowing my impatience, i awaited my turn to speak to the powers that be. when i approached the desk, i handed over my passport, making small talk, as i do, with the officer, secretly hoping it would distract him from the fact that yes, i have been living illegally in spain for the past six months. however, such was not the case. upon seeing my six-month-old stamp, he immediately began asking me a plethora of questions that i had no hope of answering in any way that would please him, regardless of whether i lied or not. needless to say, he knew i was lying. and continued to ask me questions until i had tied myself into an uncomfortable position with no way of escaping. and so it was. his slightly veiled threats of deportation only furthered my confusion and inability to make any sort of coherent and logical story about why i had been in spain for six months without any proper visa.
he asked me what my country would do if he arrived there without any paperwork explaining his intentions and his recent activities. to which i replied, without a hint of sarcasm, “sir, i have no idea what my country would do as i am not an immigration officer.” actually, i said customs, which i think in the end helped my case, as my sole defense was that i had never done this before and had no idea that i was supposed to bring my supposed return ticket to the states and proof of my supposed travels around europe and the surrounding area with me.
as it so happens, i was not deported. however, i was hassled in immigration for god knows how long and finally, as i began to cry in desperation and frustration, he relented; implying that he was doing me a huge favor, he outlined the basics of what it meant to be allowed into the country on a code-3 visa: i am not to be allocated any public health funds, regardless of what should occur to me, under no circumstances can i consider working in england, and last, but not least, my “leave to enter” has been restricted for six months. saying this, he angrily stamped my passport and about five other papers (with this code imprinted above the normal stamp), including the landing card upon which he had written everything i had said, including where i was staying in london, who i was staying with, how much money i had with me, where i had last worked in the states and a million other small details that i don’t even remember.
about two hours later, i arrived at victoria station, in the rain. sashi and sam were, of course, no longer there waiting for me and i was left to my own devices to find our hotel. which turned out not to be very difficult. especially considering everyone spoke english. had this situation occurred the weekend before in roma, i would have been in a far worse situation.
oddly enough, i hadn’t realized until this situation how much i was actually looking forward to my trip to london. i had forgotten how london had always been one of those cities that attracted me from some previous incarnation and that there was truly some spark of connection there for me. at this moment, walking through the rain towards a hotel i only assumed by trust was in front of me, i fully realized that i was devastated that i couldn’t return.
however, when i returned to barcelona, they did not even glance twice at my code-3 stamp and now, despite the luton immigration officer, i am now legal for another three months…
to be continued…
originally posted on 10th october, 2006:
so, i was walking to work the other day and on the ground, written in spray paint, was a few hearts surrounding a message: “no puedo vivir sin ti” with an arrow pointing to the door. everyday, i walked past this public lovenote and thought various capital – r romantic thoughts. i even thought about taking a picture (that’s how cute it was).
then, one day, for no particular reason (and i don’t know why i didn’t do it before – too focused on avoiding the mountains of pigeon shit that litter that particular sidewalk i suppose), i looked up to see what sort of apartment the type of person that someone can’t live without lives in. and i see nothing else but the telepizza (which is the largest, if not the only, pizza delivery chain in barcelona).
i couldn’t help but laugh at myself, at my silly little culture that makes me think as a capital – r romantic and at the fact that for the next 3 hours while i was teaching a bunch of bratty 8 – 10 year olds, all i could think about was pizza.
are they marketing geniuses or is there someone out there that honestly can’t live without telepizza?
originally posted on 22nd september, 2006:
the last piso i looked at today…
i should have known to leave when a lady popped out of her ground floor apartment in an old, slightly soiled pink mu-mu to ask me what floor i was going to. and i thought, as i told her which floor and which piso, what does this do? does this protect the inhabitants from anything? whether i am going there invited or not, i am still going to
the same piso. me knowing that there is in fact a second piso on the sixth floor doesn’t prove that i belong. but, my answer satisfied her and she retreated with what seemed like twelve little yippie dogs trailing behind.
the elevator smelled of that odd, extremely pungent just-before-smelling-like-old-person smell (at least you can identify the old person smell) and the inside door swung harshly back and forth as the elevator headed to the sixth floor. the woman and man were 45 years old (and made many jokes about being old enough to be my parents). they were nice enough, really, and i felt kind of bad for wanting to get the hell out the whole time. and then i started thinking, as i often do here, how odd it is that north americans have this ingrained sense of politness all the time. there was no reason for me to remain listening to their repeated stories about this person and that person and the other apartment they owned, which coincidentally is down the street from mine now, and how their business is going, and how they visited north carolina before. i somehow justified staying because i felt like it would help my spanish. they were both from argentina and i haven’t heard an accent as strong as theirs in some time.
finally, i got over it, and told them as nicely as i could (using ustedes the entire time) that i really had to leave.
i have seen what feels like a million apartments and most of them are ready to rent to me at that moment, which i find somewhat unsettling. they don’t even really ask me many questions, they are really just renting a room out. and somewhere inside of me, my ego is calling out saying, wait, don’t you want to know why i am here? don’t you want me to tell you in my practiced spanish sentences how long i have been here and what i am doing? you don’t want to hear my funny story about teaching the present perfect today in my pre-intermediate class?
i find it difficult to make a decision like that on the spot, and thus am left on the 21st with few prospects for the 1st, yet somehow, my faith in my intuition remains intact…
i always leave, oddly enough, in such a good mood…singing to myself as i walk down
the street towards the next absolute failure of a place. somehow, it is restorative and it reminds me of my first day in spanish class when my teacher asked me to talk about the strangest person i’ve ever encountered and i was at a loss for words, in english or in spanish…