Monday, December 20, 2010

How Many Synonyms for Vomiting Can I Get into One Post?

I started taking a new multi-vitamin recently, and I just realized that it’s causing an unpleasant side effect. Today was the third time that, shortly after taking it with breakfast, I experienced an intense wave of nausea. This has only happened on days when I’ve remembered to take the vitamin and kicks in within about 10 minutes of ingestion.

Today might have been the worst yet because the nausea set in while I was in the car rather than before I left the house. I was waiting to make the turn onto the road leading to I-95 and it hit me. I started taking deep breaths and swallowing the excess saliva that kept seeping into my mouth. “Oh my God,” I thought, “I’m going to vomit into my lap and all over my car.”

I kept telling myself that I was not going to throw up, I could not throw up. Deep down, though, I really thought it was a possibility. The thing that occurred to me later, after it passed, was that I didn’t pull over or turn around during this episode. I was 72% sure I was going to puke, yet I kept driving, even executing a smooth merge onto 95 next to a giant truck. Luckily I got through the nausea without spitting up, but now I’m really curious what would have happened had I just started spewing onto my dashboard. When was I going to stop the car? Did I think I’d have the presence of mind while yakking to correctly signal my pull over to my fellow drivers? Was I just going to power through to work and clean up when I got there? How was I going to react to the looks of horror from other drivers as they passed me, while I, with hands securely at 10 and 2, projectiled onto the steering wheel? I’m relieved I didn’t have to find out, but I’m thinking I start taking my vitamin with dinner from now on…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dry Spell

I haven't written any new posts in a while. Nothing really funny or weird has happened so I need to do something about that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Kid's Table

One of my favorite things about the holidays is getting to see all the delightful little kids I'm lucky enough to be related to. This Thanksgiving was no disappointment and highlighted a big part of why I wanted to come back to live in the US. There was just general cuteness all around, but some of the things that stood out to me were the following:

- 13 month old Kendal is without a doubt the most adorable baby girl on the scene today. Before dinner was even served, she decided she was done with the festivities and looked around at everyone, waved and said "Buh bye" over and over. She also did this when we tried to feed her butternut squash soup. She waved a hand in front of her face like a celeb who didn't want to be photographed and said buh bye to the bowl of thick orange soup in front of her.

- Three year old Collin put on a show for us, standing in front of the fireplace, rocking out and head banging while playing a ukulele. My favorite part was that after every "song," he would come over to me to ask if I'd liked that one. I gave him tips like, play more than one string and hold the instrument with two hands but he decided to go in his own creative direction, and that was fine with me.

- Almost four year old Gabe has a new favorite word and has become adept at incorporating it into every facet of his life. The latest was during his nightly prayers where he recited, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my poopy to keep..."

I can't wait for all the holiday gatherings to come and even more for the new babies that are going to increase the fun and cuteness quotient of these gatherings immensely.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Princess and the Guido

Clearly there can often be disparities between how we see ourselves and how others see us. However, I was recently confronted with one of the starkest contrasts I've experienced yet about how people see me- and it was two of the people closest to me. Jackie and Andrew told me this weekend about this sort of dainty fairy princess alter ego they've created for me as their own little joke. This stems from a few different events and has (in my opinion) been blown totally out of proportion.

Once in college, as a birthday present, my parents got a car service to take my friend and I into the city for a comedy show. The next time I was home, my mom asked me how the limousine was. "Well, it wasn't actually a limo, it was a town car," I explained. "But it was great, thanks." This of course was turned into a tale of me not being satisfied with anything short of a limo when in fact I was just clarifying the situation.

Then, after I visited Jackie in Florence, my parents didn't want to make the late night drive to JFK to pick me up so they got me a car service. In this case I was fully expecting a town car when up pulled a white stretch limo with my name on a sign in the windshield.

Aside from that, there have been a couple times when I've been out in New York and once in Sea Isle when for one reason or another I've ended up being driven to my destination in a limo.

They have also come to the conclusion that I have the softest hands either of them have ever felt, which they say indicates that I've never done a hard day's work in my life.

So now whenever they see a limousine one of them will remark, "Oh, I didn't know Ali was in town." Or when Andrew saw a stretch navigator with undercarriage lighting and a fog machine getting worked on he concluded that I was getting a tune up.
Or when they drove across the bridge into Sea Isle and saw a fireworks show and said "Oh, Ali beat us here, they already started her standard welcome."

This has spiraled into elaborate pictures they paint of my wedding in which I'll ride side saddle into the reception on a white stallion with ringlets in its mane and golden ribbons woven into its tail giving a Miss America wave to the guests.

I may not agree with this assessment of me, but I've decided to make the most of it, like letting Andrew open my car door or taking Jackie up on it when she asks if I need a cushion my chair when we sit down to brunch.

The once consolation is that Jackie has an alter ego too. Due to her dedication to staying tan year round, whether through beds or lotions, the regular shaving of her forearms and her tendency to flex her bicep any time someone touches her arm, Andrew has concluded that she is a secret Guido. I'll take fairy princess any day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Work it Out

Two work out-related things are stuck in my head so I thought I'd share them...

1) I was at the gym last night and at the weight machine next to me were two ladies of a certain age. They weren't ladies of a certain age in the classy, polished, "ladies who do lunch" way. It was more in the rumpled, can-of-frosting-eating, "ladies who have every-day sweats and dress sweats" way.

Anyway, they were taking turns on this one machine when one of the members of the fitness staff came over to them and started chatting. Obviously they'd encountered each other before and talked about his mother's health and his car. This guy is maybe 27 years old, not super good-looking but clean cut, in good shape and friendly. After talking with the ladies for a few minutes he made his way back to his desk. As he walked away I heard the one who was on the machine suck in her breath and say "Oooo, I'd like to take. Him. Home!" To which the other replied with a cackling "Girl, I bet you would!"
"He is just so cute," the first one continued. "I just wanna put'eem in my car and take'eem home. I don't know how I'd explain why he was there though!"

I couldn't figure out if she meant she'd have to explain it to her husband, or to the young guy, who would be thinking she needed help cleaning her gutters or opening a jar of pickles, only to have her seductively remove her dress sweats while he stood shaking in her dark wood paneled kitchen.

2) Looking around at some of the men working out, I had a childhood flashback. Due to the "before and after" pictures in Bowflex commercials, I spent a significant part of my youth thinking that when a man started to lift weights, his muscles got so big that they made all the hair on his chest pop off.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Being home and having a lot of free time has been really nice. I've gotten to do things I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to do. For example, last week I stayed with my cousin's adorable daughter when she had to stay home sick from school. Today, my mom and I spent the afternoon with my Grandmom, Kitty, who is my dad's mom. We helped her clean her windows, wash her curtains and put up some new shades.

While these tasks aren't fun in and of themselves, doing them with my grandmom makes them pretty entertaining. In her old age, she has become one of those sassy old ladies who just decided she's been around long enough to say whatever she wants. Some people may be put off by this but I find her hilarious. Some of her lines from today include the following:

- On my mom suggesting we go to Home Depot to get new window treatments: "Oh yeah, I have a charge card for there. Hot Damn!"

- On arriving at Home Depot, the greeter at the entrance said "Hello ladies, how are you today?" "SHADES!," Grandmom shouted over him. "Window shades!"

- On how long her nails have gotten: "Well, I love to pick scabs..."

- On serving us lunch: "I don't want to hear anything about any diets. This lunch is...this lunch is just go to hell!"

- On kids not getting up and sneaking down to look at their Christmas presents: "Oh, I used to pee the bed every Christmas Eve."

- On her 80-something sister getting remarried this summer: "Well, don't tell me there wasn't some hankey pankey going on before that. She thinks she's still 60 years old, ya know."

Don't think I'm not taking notes for 50 years from now...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scaredy Cat

As I was going to bed the other night, I realized that my closet doors were open and I got out of bed to close them. As I did that, I wondered why it really mattered to me that the doors be closed. Then I remembered that when I was little, I was afraid of my closet. I tried to remember why- I think it had to do with the loud noise the doors made when they opened or closed, along with the dark, hard-to-access, hard-to-get-out-of corners.

That got me thinking about what else I was scared of as a kid, versus what I'm scared of today as a sort-of adult. Let's see how the past stacks up against the present:

Then: My closet
Now: Dying a spinster

Then: The sound of the toilet flushing in our hallway bathroom
Now: Developing chin hairs

Then: My mom when she was angry
Now: My mom when she's angry

Then: Getting kidnapped out of my bedroom window at night
Now: What state Social Security will be in when I retire

Then: Escalators
Now: Melanoma

Then: Accidentally farting in public
Now: Accidentally farting in public

I guess some things will never change.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just Desserts

This is bad. Since I came home, I've been trying really hard to detox from alcohol, bad-for-me food and general sloth-ish behavior. I've been going to the gym with my sister as her guest, taking spinning, kickboxing and boxing circuit classes. I've been eating lots of fruits and vegetables and I haven't had an alcoholic beverage in almost two weeks. I also haven't really had any sort of baked good or candy bar either and that is the really difficult part.

Tonight, Jackie and I went to spinning and then came home and had grilled chicken and salad and some raspberry Jell-O. But then we started watching the World Pastry Chef competition and things went downhill- fast. Without saying anything, we'd both gotten up multiple times and wandered out of the family room and into the kitchen, scavenging for something sweet. Unfortunately there's not much to choose from, since we've refrained from buying the bad stuff. The remaining 1/16 of a week-old apple pie has several fork marks in it. Three half-stale jelly peach rings aren't getting the job done, and I felt ashamed at almost being caught squeezing year-old blue decorative icing out of the tube directly into my mouth.

We didn't realize the extent of our desperation until I remembered a Kinder chocolate hippo that had been in a candy dish in the family for I don't know how long. I snatched it up and Jackie grabbed a knife. She cut it in half and took a nibble.

"It doesn't taste good," she said. "I think there's a cobweb in it."
"What?!" I replied. "Let me see."

I looked into my half. It looked like the cake-like substance inside had gotten very crumbly but I didn't see any cobwebs. Undeterred I sallied forth and took a bite as Jackie threw her half away, wondering how unacceptable it would be to pull a George Costanza and fish hers out of the trash. Before I could complete that thought though, I realized that the confection I was chewing to satisfy my chocolate craving tasted like blue cheese.

I spit it out, threw away the remainder and joined Jackie in leaning over the sink, repeatedly filling our mouths with water and spitting it out. I think we've hit a new low.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No Place Like Home

I've been home for three weeks now. Here is a little bit of what's been going on:

- I went to a Phillies game with my dad and resisted the urge to turn around and chastise the obnoxious man behind us heckling the left fielder
- I danced on a layer of beer and broken glass at the O.D. in Sea Isle
- I've expressed my concern over the possibility of meeting a guy who's really great but has a strong Philly accent
- I started going to the gym and tore up my little baby hands in boxing circuit training class
- I've seen almost all of my best friends and a good number of family members
- I housed a third of a box of Pop'Ems in one sitting
- I've taken multiple bubble baths
- I've taken some long drives and subsequently have sung show tunes at the top of my lungs
- I've made an average of four Wawa trips per week

We'll see in the next few months what else the US holds for me...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Electric Slide

I had a reader ask me to address a question on my blog. Since that's never happened before, I thought I should give it a shot. Since I'm apparently considered a world traveler now, I think people think I'll know a lot more about other countries than I do.

I am, however, a really good Googler So when this reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) asked me to blog about why different countries have different outlets/plugs, I said I was up to the challenge.

From what I read, it seems that the reason is twofold. First, different countries have different voltages based on their varying power supplies. The plugs are based on how high or low the voltage is coming out of the outlets. A higher voltage power requires a round plug, while a lower voltage requires a flat plug.

The second reason is fiscal. If every country had the same plugs, you could buy appliances from anywhere and use them in your home. If the plugs are exclusive to a country, residents have to buy things that are made specifically for that country, presumably by company that is based there, thus supporting the country's economy.

I hope this is helpful. By the way this could be completely inaccurate, as it didn't come from a really reliable site like, say, Wikipedia. But these explanations sound valid so I'm willing to accept them at face value. Don't worry, ths doesn't mean I'm going to switch over to be a helpful, question-answering blog. There will be plenty of stories to come of general awkwardness and random life experiences.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smile, You're in...Montmelo

I've been a little negligent of this blog lately. It's partly because I've been working on stuff for and I've been writing travel articles for other sites but I thought I'd write one for my little baby blog too.

I've had this idea for a while of going to ticket machine at the train station and randomly picking a destination from the touch screen, either by the name or not looking and just poking a finger at the screen and seeing which destination was selected. I thought it would be an adventure.

Last week my friends Laura, Jessica and I went to the train station and did just that. We decided to choose by name. We narrowed it down to a few names we liked and ended up going with a place called Montmelo (I liked it because it made me think of marshmallow).

There were a few signs that maybe should have told us that this wasn't going to be an epic adventure.

First- right after we put the money in to buy the tickets, the man behind us asked if we were in fact going to Montmelo, which he apparently spied on from his position in line. We said yes and he asked if we were going for the Formula One race. We answered with an urgent and definitive "No!" lest anyone should overhear it and think we are race car fans. "Well, it's not worth it," he replied, apparently not understanding our response. Strike one, Montmelo.

Second- On the train ride there, Jess and Laura sat together and I sat in an adjacent row of seats along the side wall. I turned in my seat so I was facing them. A young man got on the train and sat in the seat behind me. After a while I noticed that he seemed to have turned in his seat the same way I had so that he was also sitting sideways. Except that, I had turned to face my friend, he was now facing the back of my head. I sensed something in that way that only girls who have plenty of experience with creepers can.

"He's staring at the back of my head, isn't he?" I asked the girls quiety and in rapid English. "Oh yeah," Jess replied.
"And he's got a real weird look on his face too," added Laura.
"Oh God, is he gonna touch my hair?"

Jess and Laura weren't as concerned about this as I was and started trying to figure out which actor he looked like. They determined that he looked like the kid who played Anakin Skywalker and was in that movie Jumper.
"Something Christian," said Laura.
"Oh right, Christian Haydenson!" replied Jess.
"Yes! That's it!" exclaimed Laura.
"It's Hayden Christensen, guys," I broke in. "For real though, is he sniffing my hair?!"
Luckily he got off a couple stops before us. Still, though, Strike two.

We finally arrived at our desitination and began walking around. There seemed to be a church and a street with three restaurants and a shoe store. We walked around the residential streets, cameras in hand, getting some strange looks from the locals
We decided to have lunch at one of the outdoor cafes on the main street. We had a nice lunch. It was a cute little town, but after lunch we went to look for gelato. No dice. Strike three, Montmelo, big time.

We caught a train back to our beloved Barcelona and had giant gelatos (I got a scoop of dark chocolate and a scoop of hazlenut- amazing) and walked around the bustling streets, happy to be home after our "adventure."



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Signs That I Might Be Drunk

Just in case you wanted to know...

- Everything I say is shouted

- I have to ask if I’m shouting

- I stand on furniture and sing into a hairbrush

- I dance

- I get what I call at the time“the dropsies”

- I start conversations with “And another thing!”

- I go on Facebook and search for, find, friend request and message
people who most likely don’t remember me and/or don’t care to hear from me

- I assume all strangers want to talk to me

- I rap (freestyle and over popular tracks)

- I use my rapper hands* to give emphasis to everything I say while not rapping

- I tell people I’m a big deal and suggest they Google me to prove it

- I close my left eye because it seems to help me see better

- I frequently repeat the phrase “I do what I want, whatevah!”

*Rapper Hands are formed by holding both arms out in front of me, angled in at the elbows with my hands spread out, palms facing in and then moving my hands up and down

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another Milestone

Well, I'm now one step closer to leaving Barcelona, or returning to America. The way I say it depends on which side of the ocean the person I'm talking to is located. Yesterday Laura and I moved out of our apartment. Now she is staying next door to our apartment with her boyfriend and I am crashing with my friends Jessica and Sofi who graciously offered to let me stay with them.

Leading up to our departure, Laura and I were pretty stressed about whether or not we'd get any of our security deposit back. A few weeks ago the landlady had come to talk through the end of our contract and the meeting left a bad taste in our mouths.

From the minute she walked in the door, bringing with her the stale smell of unwashed poly-cotton housedress and impending death, we had a bad feeling. She was very confrontational and began looking around the apartment, finding things wrong, like chipped paint near the (very high)ceiling, and asking us what we'd done to the place.

She asked to the see the kitchen and as soon as she crossed the threshold she looked up at the (clean) white tile wall and tsk-tsked. "Ay, que sucio," she said. "Oh how dirty." I tried to follow her shaky gaze and asked where she saw dirt. "Es muy sucio," she replied. I looked again and all I saw was white. To prove her wrong, I took a paper towel and wiped it down the wall. It was perfectly clean. I held it out to her. "Mira, es limpia," I told her. "Look, it's clean." She responded by turning her head away and telling me not to try to clean it now. If she wasn't smaller than me, I really might have slapped her.

We spent six and a half straight hours cleaning the day before she came to inspect the place to determine how much money we'd get back, if any. I have never cleaned so well or sweat so much in my life. It paid off because we ended up getting all of our money back. It didn't happen without a 10 minute demonstration to show her that the washing machine worked (and how it works), turning every light on and off, and promising her we'd clean the windows and shower doors again with a specific type of cleaner. While she was there she freaked out every time she felt a breeze and commanded us to shut all the windows. It was as if she thought it was death coming for her and needed us to keep it away.

We cleaned the windows and walked around in socks so as not to dirty the floor and a few hours later she came back, gave us our money and wished us well. We both resisted the urge to push her down the stairs when she left, just for all the stress she'd caused us and just ejoyed counting and splitting up our money instead.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Favorite

One of my favorite students now is also my youngest. A little half English, half Spanish three year old girl whose parents want her to practice her English. It's like a combination of English class and babysitting. I almost feel bad taking money for it because she is so effin cute that I really enjoy hanging out with her.

The cutest part is the way she mixes English and Spanish and her accent when speaking English. The other day we were talking about the baby her mom will be having in November. I asked her what she wants the baby's name to be and she said Charlotte. I asked her why she wanted that name and her response was "Because, because, because...I don't like of the other ones."

I was fixing her hair and gave her one of my bobby pins to hold some of it back. It pulled her hair though, so she took it out. When she gave it back she said "I don't like of you cleeps, I like of mines."

It warms my heart whenever it is time for me to go and she gets upset. This was the conversation we had when I left on Wednesday:

Me: Alright, almost time for me to go, ok?
Her: You gonna go to you house?
Me: Yup, I'm going to go home and you're going to eat lunch.
Her: Why you have go to you house? I no want you to go. You no wanna stay and look me eat lunch?
Me: No, I'm not going to watch you eat lunch today, I'm going to go home and eat my lunch.
Her: Oh, but you come back tomorrow, k?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Down Philly Way

This may come as a surprise to you, but most of the world is not familiar with Bucks County, Pennsylvania. So when I meet people from different countries and they ask where I'm from, I just say Philadelphia. I've met a lot of people over the past year, from all over the world, but their responses to hearing that I'm from Philly only fall into three categories.

What might surprise you more than them not knowing Bucks County is that none of the three responses have anything to do with cheesesteaks, brotherly love, soft pretzels, the Liberty Bell or Boyz II Men (I'm personally offended and chagrined by the latter).

When I meet someone from anywhere in Europe or the UK and I tell them I'm from Philadelphia they respond with one of the following:

- "Oohhhh, cheese! Cream cheese!"

- "Iiiinnnnnn West Philadelphia, born and raised, on a playground is where I spent most of my days..." this is where I join in and perform the rest of the song with them, complete with hand gestures such as pinching my nose when I say "Yo homes, smell ya later!"

- "Oh, Tom Hanks, AIDS. I like that film."

This is who we are to the rest of the world, Philly. How do you feel about that?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Senior Service

Laura and I went to a beach today called Sant Pol de Mar, which is about an hour train ride north of Barcelona. It was a perfect beach day and around 6pm we were ready to head home. We walked back to where we'd gotten the train. We sat on a bench on the opposite side of the tracks from where the north-bound train had dropped us off hours earlier.

We had been sitting there a few minutes when I heard the signature "ttssst" that is a Spanish person trying to get your attention. I've become pretty good at ignoring this, but then it was followed by "chicas, Barcelona." At that I had to look up. Across the tracks was a very old man. He repeated, "Barcelona" and gestured to his side of the tracks, "por aqui," he said, meaning "over here." There did seem to be more people on that side so we took his word for it and crossed the tracks, thanking him when we got there.

While we were sitting waiting, we saw him assist three other people the same way. He had a gift for knowing exactly who was going to Barcelona and needed his help getting where they needed to go. When the train came and we climbed aboard, we noticed that he stayed seated on his bench. I determined that he must have decided it is his responsibility to sit on that bench for the express purpose of telling people that they are on the wrong side of the tracks.

I imagined him sitting with his friends over a beer at night saying, "You know, it's my busy season right now, they're really busting my hump down at the station. These city folk don't know their ass from a hole in the ground, I don't want to think what would happen if I wasn't putting in these extra hours. It would be chaos, I tells ya, chaos!"

I pictured him with a clicker like bouncers use to count how many people are getting into a bar, ticking off every misguided beachgoer he's aided. Then heading to the local chamber of commerce at the end of the beach day to report on his progress. "Well, Pilar, my numbers were a little low today, but you saw that cloud cover, people stayed home. I did what I could with what was there."

It made me think that I might want a similar occupation when I reach such an age. I'm thinking I might plant myself outside of large buildings like offices and libraries and warn people as they approach as to whether the door is a push or pull. I think that's something I could feel good about. And if they look like jerks I'll tell them the opposite. Since I'll be a sweet little (probably about 4'2" by that point I'd imagine) old lady so they won't really get mad, they'll just think I'm confused. I can't wait.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Today I went to a park near my apartment that has a crazy collection of these industrial-looking pools, fountains and waterfalls. I wanted to sit by the water, catch some of the waterfall spray, and get a little sun. I had been there about 15 minutes when I looked up from my book and saw that a tanned, meat-heady looking but very handsome man had walked over to my little section of poolside. I am immediately suspicious of any really pretty guy who approaches me, so the way he sauntered over to this random little section of a big park was somewhat off putting. Also he was wearing white linen drawstring pants, which just doesn't do it for me.

He wasted no time in sitting down next to me, introducing himself as Alejandro and asking my name. I used my standard defense mechanism, which is to say that I don’t speak Spanish. No dice; he spoke pretty good English and pressed right on ahead with questions about me. I avoided eye contact and gave brief answers, each one punctuated with a glance into the distance on my other side or back at the page I’d been reading.

As he sat there, I could see him looking down at his chest and abs and then at me, as if making sure he was positioned and angled for my optimal viewing pleasure. He seemed eager to hear just what phrases I was going to use to praise his physique.

About 2 minutes into the mostly one-sided conversation, he asked if I wanted to go get coffee. I said no thank you. He then commented on the heat and walked over to the pool and dipped a toe in. Again remarking on the heat, he undid the single button that had been holding his button down shirt together and started to tug it off. The sleeves stopped at his large biceps and he said he needed help. I, however, was not willing to help him. This was not only because he was creepy, but because any guy who wears shirts a size too small for the express and obvious purpose of accentuating his guns doesn’t deserve to get anything he asks for, especially assistance in removing said shirt. He managed it on his own and proceeded to scoop up handfuls of water to dribble over his bare torso, where chest hair stubble was just starting to peek out from where it had recently been shorn.

He sat back down and asked did I want to put my feet in the water? No, I’m not that hot.

Did I want to go to his house to have lunch with him? No thanks, I'd already eaten.

When I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t going to put my feet in the water and wasn’t leaving anytime soon, and never with him, he asked if I would give him my phone number. I told him I didn’t have a phone. I pretended not to see him glance down at the obvious outline of my phone in my front pocket; meanwhile thinking what I could say it was if he asked about the small rectangular bulge in my pocket- iPod? Too big. Camera? Too small. Just happy to see him? Not an option. I moved my book to rest over my pocket.

Eventually the creep factor overpowered my deeply ingrained compulsion to be polite and I told him I had come here to be alone and read my book and that was all I was going to do today. He asked one more time if I wanted to put my feet in the water or come have lunch at his house, I said no once again. He leaned over to bid me a traditional European two cheek kiss goodbye. I had to turn my head as far around as it would go to avoid lip contact on the second kiss, but thankfully after that he took his leave.

I watched him go out of the corner of my eye. I saw him meander into the grassy section of the park and stop at a spot where a redheaded girl in a tube top was sunbathing. After a minute or two he sat down on her towel and a few minutes after that I saw them both take out their phones as they continued their conversation.

I moved closer to the pool, put my feet in the water and chuckled, and about 5 minutes later went home to have lunch

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Count Your Blessings

The other day I was feeling a little sorry for myself, as we all sometimes do. I got over it pretty quickly, but was thinking back on it today while riding on the metro. Then I looked around at my fellow passengers and started thinking about how lucky I am and realized I should just be grateful for what I have- or don't have. For example:

- I don't have those really long second toes that stick out way beyond the big toe

- I have a pretty good gum-to-tooth ratio

- I'm not Lindsay Lohan

- I don't say "supposebly" or "anyways"

- My eyes aren't so close together that from some angles I look cross-eyed

- I don't have a really distinct or obnoxious sneeze (although my cough and laugh may outweigh that one)

I'd suggest this activity for anyone whenever you're feeling down, although it may get you down on other people.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Catalan Casanova- Junior Edition

I taught my 13 year old student (of diarrhea fame) on Thursday. He has a desk with two chairs in his bedroom so that is where we do the lessons. But I'm starting to think that rather than seeing it as an English lesson, his pubescent mind can't get past the fact that there is woman who is not related to him in his bedroom. He doesn't want to do any work, and the past two weeks has ended up laying on his bed. This week he asked, while reclining on his pillows, if I was tired too. I said not at all and tried to lure him back to the desk with the promise of a computer game.

I found a site to do crossword puzzles in English. But he saw that they also had a golf game and wanted to play that instead. I said ok to one game, since that would at least get him back in a sitting position. But he wasn't so easily distracted, this is the conversation that followed:

Student: "We can play that if I put the ball in the cup in more than five...(I told him they are called strokes)...strokes, yes, strokes. If I put the ball in the cup with more than five strokes, you tell me to do something. If I do in less than five strokes, I tell you to do something."

Me: "What do you mean? Do what?"

Student: "I don't know, we can invent this."

Me: "Ummmmm. I don't... Ummm, what kind of thing, like what?"

Student: "We will see. Here, I begin."

Me: "Wait, no, I don't think, ummm." (but curiosity as to what he would actually ask was getting the best of me) "It couldn't be anything inappropriate."

Student: "What is this, inappropriate?"

Me: "You know what, we only have five minutes left, why don't you just play the golf game, just for fun."

Student: "Aww, only five minutes? I like this class today, I don't want it should end."

Me: "Heh, aw. Ok, then, well, I'll see you next week buddy."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tattoo Spelling Mistakes

Looking at these makes me feel good about myself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Directorial Debut

Well, after all my fretting, complaining and yelling- West Side Story is over. This was undoubtedly the most stressful part of the past nine months for me and I'm really glad it's over.

People have been asking me how it went and basically my response has been "not horrible" or "as good as could have been expected." The kids didn't come out of nowhere and blow me away, but they did do just slightly better than I'd expected.

If you ignore:
- the two times groups walked onstage before they were supposed to and turned around and walked off- only to walk back on seven seconds later when the music began

- the one time a girl (onstage in the middle of a song) saw me miming the choreography in the wings and hit another girl on the shoulder and pointed to me to show her what to do

- the fact that the singing was either incomprehensible or inaudible pretty much the entire time

then it wasn't half bad.

Watching the video after the fact, I felt that it must be something akin to giving birth, even beyond the fact that it was nine months in the making and painful to watch. Once all the stress and worry and screaming is over, and you're just left with the result, you kind of forget all the stuff that came before and just appreciate the finished product. As I watched it the next day, I just felt happy and accomplished.

All in all I'm proud of the kids and proud of myself.

Doesn't mean I'm ever trying to do it again though.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Potty Mouth

Today I was teaching one of my brightest young students. He is a 13 year old who speaks better English than many of the adults I teach. He always surpises me with his vocabulary. For example he was telling me today how he likes to cook, but doesn't follow recipes because he "likes to improvise in the kitchen."

Today, however, it wasn't his vocabulary that surprised me, it was his bluntness. He was in the middle of talking and said "Excuse me, I need to go to the toilet." I said that was fine and didn't question it. Then on his way out of the room he turned and said, "I have dee-ah-ree-ah. I don't think you want I do it here."

Now I don't know if he felt a greater explanation was necessary, or he just wanted to show that he knew the word, or if he saw an opportunity to make a (sort of) joke in English and just went for it. If it was the latter then I support it completely; I'll bust out a poop joke at every opportunity.

Either way, that combined with all the children's songs I've been singing lately got me thinking about all the silly little songs I used to sing with my brother and sister and friends and cousins when I was little. Particularly this baseball-themed classic that I vaguely remembered but had to Google to see all the words...

When you're sliding into first
And your pants begin to burst
That's diarrhea, diarrhea

When you're sliding into two
And your pants are filled with goo
That's diarrhea, diarrhea

When you're sliding into third
And you feel a greasy turd
That's diarrhea, diarrhea

When you're sliding into home
And your pants are filled with foam
That's diarrhea, diarrhea

I literally was doubled over screeching with hysterical laughter (alone) when I read this song. It brought back so many memories that I had to share it. I hope it's brought you as much joy as it did me.

P.S. In case this wasn't enough for you, there is a blog dedicated to variations of this song. I think the person who created it may be my soul mate-

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Good Week

Last week was quite busy, but in a good way, as I had some new private students (i.e. more money) and fun things to do at night after work. Of course, having a lot going on, some interesting things are bound to happen. Here are some stand out moments.

- Riding the metro to the city center on Wednesday night, Laura and I were standing in the space between two cars. There wasn't really anyone around us and we were just chatting quietly. Then after a brief lull in the conversation, I went to say something and turned my head slightly to the left as I did. During that lull in which I'd kept my eyes looking straight ahead, a woman had sidled up so close to me that when I did turn my head I was able to count the number of unruly eyebrow hairs that were sticking out over her right eye. I jumped back immediately and then Laura and I were both so overwhelmed with laughter that we ran to the next car.

- As I mentioned in a previous post we've had a visit or two from certain multi-legged, attennaed friends recently. This week Laura discovered a giant one in the bathroom. Her solution was to put duct tape over the cracks at the top and bottom of the door and hold her pee till she got to work. I'm usually pretty squeamish about bugs but in this domestic situation I am the tough guy. So I got home from work, took everything out of the bathroom so there was no place to hide, opened the window, wrapped the fly swatter in duct tape and wrestled a giant cockroach to the death. I won.

- On the train ride back from a day trip to a beautiful beach I spotted what I like to refer to as a Canadian Tuxedo trifecta. This consisted of denim shorts, a short-sleeved denim bolero jacket and a long-sleeved more traditional denim jacket tied around the waist. It really made a great day at the beach truly complete.

- Later that night before going out, I made myself a glass of tinto de verano to have with dinner. This consists of red wine mixed with lemon Fanta and it's a popular summer drink, particularly in Southern Spain. The small glass went down really quickly and I told Laura that it was already starting to go to my head. "Well yeah," she replied. "You drank it really fast, you usually sip your red wine." "I know," I said. "That's how you're supposed to drink red wine. But you mix that stuff with soda and all bets are off." It was a good precursor to that Saturday night, where we drank caipirinhas, which are basically Brazilian moonshine and lime juice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Addendum- Things I Can't Stand

It has come to my attention recently that one of my posts may have offended a reader or two. Since I only have seven readers, I feel I need to rectify this to maintain my audience.

In my post regarding Things I Can't Stand (, I said that one of those things included holiday ties. Let me alter this to say that, if you are a smokin hot 23 year old gay man, you can pretty much pull off anything, including a classy, well-knotted holiday tie.

That being said, I would also like to add to the list of things I can't stand, these two items:

- Guys carrying their girlfriends' purses

- People panhandling on the metro who have highlights in their hair

And if you have a problem with either of these, then we just can't be friends.

2010 By The Numbers

Wow, it's June- already. That means we're about at the halfway point of 2010. I realized this yesterday and I started reflecting on this year so far. It's been really good overall, probably one of the best of my life. I decided the best way to paint a picture of the first half of this year is to do it the only way I can paint anything- by number. So here are my first six months of 2010 by the numbers:

9- the number of planes I've been on

8- the number of airports I've gone through

57- the number of little Spanish lives I've enriched with the joys of the English language

6- the number of students of mine who can actually form a sentence in English

2- the number of occasions this year(so far) in which a guy didn't kiss me goodbye because he feared he might vomit on me if he attempted to do so

3- the number of times I've had to teach the word "poop"

0- the number of times I've taught the word "poop" without laughing

2- the number of parties we've had at our apartment

4- the number of old Spanish lady neighbors we've heard complaining about our parties the next day

8- the number of wonderful visitors I've had here since January

4- the number of of wonderful visitors still to come

12- the number of different pastries I sampled during a 2.5 day stay in Paris

34- the approximate number of prostitutes working the street outside my hotel during said Paris visit

1- the number of cockroaches I've discovered crawling on me in my sleep

5- the number of times I've had to tell a four year old student to stop staring at my chest when I speak to him

1,583- the number of times I've completely lost my cool at West Side Story rehearsal

2- the number of rehearsals left until the actual production

11- the number of celebratory drinks I plan to have when West Side Story is finally really over

Infinity- the number of times I've agonized over what to do with my life for the second half of the year and beyond...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

La Cucaracha

I had a busy couple days this past weekend, running all over the city with Jackie and Andrew. So I was pretty excited about getting a good night's sleep last night. My wish was coming true too, I was in a sweet, deep slumber, (which I think may have even included a dream in which I was really skinny) until about 4am.

I was awoken by a tickling feeling on my arm. Right after I became aware of the tickling, I realized that the tickling was moving (crawling, you might say) down my arm. I didn't need to be wide awake for my skeeve reflex to kick in and I swatted at my arm. Immdiately after, I felt the tickly feeling reappear on my leg, so I swatted again and then turned on my lamp.

There on my bed was a little fella that looked something like this:

I picked up about five different objects, including books, a mug, and my cell phone charger trying to figure out how to handle this. It was too big to step on, I didn't want to do anything where I would have to feel it through a tissue or something, and I didn't want to smash it into my comforter. I finally decided to get a plastic cup and guide it in there with a book. Unfortunately, he wasn't too enthusiastic about that idea and scuttled away a couple times before disappearing under my bed.

There's tons of crap under my bed and I can't lift the bed to move any of it without help. I stood there in my room for a good five minutes, looking around as if I expected someone (preferably my dad) to appear and make it all better. Finally I accepted that that wasn't going to happen. I decided to take the path of least resistance, which at 4am I will opt for every time, and took a pillow and blanket out to the couch.

I drifted off with elaborate plans in my head for fashioning screens for my windows and woke up about every 35 minutes to glance at the crack under my bedroom door to make sure he wasn't coming to get me.

I haven't seen any sign of my late night guest today. Laura and I are going to take all the stuff out from under my bed and see what happens, but I have a feeling he'll only reappear at night. I think he might just want to cuddle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things I Can't Stand

For some reason I feel compelled to share this. In no particular order, things I really can't stand:

- Seeing kids in casinos

- Pleated-front pants

- Trying too hard (there are many manifestations of this throughout all areas of life)

- Being pushed in big crowds

- Holiday-themed ties

- Clear plastic strap bras

- Nervous laughs

- Cardigan sweaters intentionally left drooping down on shoulders

- Cell phone charms

- Couples walking with their hands in each others' back pockets

Hope I didn't offend anyone- it feels really good to get that out there.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Power of Love

As in many European cities, there is a large group of African immigrants in Barcelona who sell knock-off bags and sunglasses on the street. They usually travel in groups and yesterday a number of them, with their bed sheet bundles of fake Prada bags in tow, got on the metro right where I was standing.

Some were chatting and some were quiet and I didn't pay too much attention to them. Then one of their cell phones rang and the ring tone was this song, at about the 59 second mark. The ring lasted about eight seconds, I think he delayed answering just so he could hear as much of it as possible

The other passengers nearby must have been listening to their iPods or dead, because nobody laughed but me. I eventually had to turn around and face the wall because I couldn't stop laughing and was worried I was going to get a faux Chanel to the face.

They got off two stops later and I was able to continue my ride in tranquility, but I've had that song in my head for the 32 hours that have elapsed since then.

P.S. There were several video choices for this song on YouTube but clearly the one I used was superior to them all in every way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Candy Man Can

I've always had a feeling that someday my insatiable sweet tooth would come in handy or do something to redeem a lifetime of detriment. Well, I think that day has finally come.

One of my four year old students had a bag of Gummi Bears in class today, and since he wouldn't share I was really craving something sweet and chewy on my way home. I decided to stop in the candy store close to my house. I got a bag of my favorite Besitos de Fresa. While weighing my candy, the shop owner commented on my choice and asked a question about what types of candy I like (ha, what don't I like?). Often I'm embarrassed by my Spanish and will avoid extra conversations like this with people who might otherwise not think I'm quite so foolish as they will after I open my mouth. Since we were talking candy, though, I didn't hesitate to reel off the names of my faves (got that vocab down real quick).

While he went to get me a new type of marshmallow to try he asked where I was from and what I was doing here. When I told him I was an English teacher he perked up and asked about the types of classes I teach, how much I charge, my availability etc. Turns out he has two kids who he'd like to have a leg up on English.

While we were talking and he was writing down my name and phone number, an old man walked in. He heard us talking and got into the conversation (all the while spitting out particles of the almonds he was eating), saying he might be interested in classes too. He asked how long it would take for me to teach him to speak English. I told him that depended on how hard he was willing to work and that it would take a long time to speak perfectly. He decided to turn it around on me and ask how long I'd been in Spain. I dodged a big piece of chewed up almond and told him eight months, to which he replied "well, and you don't speak perfectly." I told him that was because I don't have someone as good as me to teach me Spanish. I think that won him over and he took my number too.

The best part is that the candy store owner said if I teach his kids I can have free candy. So the moral of the story is that I'm never going to resist a craving again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Week in Teaching

- One student couldn't think of the word she wanted to use when we were talking about recess time in school, so she said "during the Kit-Kat time." Clearly a candy-related trigger was all I needed and I lost no time in shouting "Gimme a break! You want to say 'break'!!!"

- I survived the first pseudo-performance of West Side Story, which was just a preview for the parents. When it was over I felt pretty good about it, since I hadn't set my expectations very high. Then I went to talk to my boss and said "That went pretty well," at the exact same moment that she said, "That was a total disaster."

- I was playing charades with my private, brother/sister class. We had to do either an action verb or a profession. After several attempts to act out her word, I finally gave up and asked the sister to just tell me what it was. Eight year old Georgina informed me that she was being "sexy police." A few minutes later, when her brother had to write a sentence on the board using a possessive "'s" he wrote that "Georgina's favorite food is Cristiano Ronaldo."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mirror Mirror in the Shed, Why'd My Computer Sh*t the Bed?

I haven't blogged in a while. It's not because I don't want to. It has more to do with the fact that my computer went all Snow White on me (meaning ingested something bad and appears dead, but is, I hope, faking it) and I'm still waiting for the prince (in the form of a techie) to wake her ass up.

Since I'm using my roommate, Laura's laptop in the meantime, I've been trying to keep my computer time to a minimum. However, once I have access to all my usual tools and pictures and things, I will be able to write some of the posts I've been planning and do them the way I want to.

In the meantime, I can tell you that since my last post I had a wonderful visit with my friend Lex and her boyfriend, Ben. We went on a little trip to the Basque Country and it was GORGEOUS there, so I can't wait to share some pictures.

I also started (just today) a juice fast along with Laura. So far, so good, but I also haven't come face to face with a pastry or block of cheese since I started, so I don't know the real extent of my will power yet.

I have also been building a list of "Things I Can't Stand" which I hope to share soon. Though I feel as though it may never actually be complete, I can at least post it as a work in progress. As a teaser, I'll you that it includes holiday ties and nervous laughs.

There has also been a more generous than normal crop of weirdos on the metro that I'm mentally filing for an upcoming round up.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Know What Happens When You Assume...

Everyone knows the old saying about when you assume. However, during my time in Spain there are a few assumptions that I've learned are pretty much always safe to make. I've broken a few of them down for you below:

What you see: The sidewalk is wet
What you can assume: Urine

What you see: A group of over-dressed, dolled-up, noisy girls
What you can assume: American study abroad students

What you see: A dog pooping on the sidewalk
What you can assume: Owner will not be picking it up

What you hear: Loud cheering, chanting and singing
What you can assume: Barca just scored

What you see: Shady character on the subway/rambla/street
What you can assume: He would like to take your money/possessions. Preferably without your knowledge but he could really go either way

What you see: An ingredient on a menu that you don't recognize or understand
What you can assume: Ham

What you see: Any type of pastry involving chocolate
What you can assume: Delicious

What you see: A smiling girl walking down the sidewalk giving a wide berth to shady characters, puddles and dogs, while clutching a chocolate-filled pastry
What you can assume: Me

Friday, March 19, 2010

Word To The Mother

My mom has worn a lot of hats in her life. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. Secretary, paralegal, Red Cross volunteer. But one of the things she's always wanted to be was a college student and graduate. As one of eight children, her parents weren't in a position to send her to college, so after highschool she began working.

Then she met my dad and soon after that became a mom and for a long time that was her full time job. I've often heard the story of when my mom tried to go back to work when my brother and I were very young. She dropped us off with the neighbor who would watch us all day and as she drove away the two of us stood in the doorway, holding hands and watching her car disappear. She cried the whole way to work and when she picked us up and we asked "Mom, why did you leave us here?" She replied "I don't know, but I'm not going to do it anymore."

Once we were all older and in school all day she went back to work, which my brother and sister and I benefitted from . I remember going on special trips or doing other fun things and my dad saying, "Thank Mom because she saved her money from work to pay for this."

Now that her kids are all grown up, it is finally time for her to do something for herself. She is currently kicking ass and taking names in her first full time college semester. It is such a delightful role reversal to get emails about how well she's done on a test or the good feedback she received from professor. I've always loved and admired and respected my mom, but I love the added pride I have in her for going after what she wants, giving it 100 percent and reaping the benefits.

I know she is going to go on to wear many more hats in the years to come, including a college graduation cap. And while she is going to continue to excel in the world of academia and beyond, I know that, for me, the most important lesson is one she taught. My mom has taught me what it is to be a mother and what kind of mother I hope to be some day, and that's a lesson you can't get in a classroom.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Though it took two different planes and three take-off attempts to get there, and then a cancelled flight home and an extra night in the Gatwick airport Hilton, I had a great time in London last weekend.

The first plane that was supposed to take us there had a problem, forcing us to turn around 15 minutes into the flight and return to the airport. Many people got off that plane rather than wait to see if the problem could be fixed. Many others stood in the aisle, cigarettes dangling off their bottom lips, waiting to see if we'd be allowed off the plane long enough for a smoke. My friends and I sat in our seats formulating our Plan B for a night out in Barcelona in the event we didn't make it to London. We did make it to London, just six hours late.

Big Ben

We saw many of the big sites in London and I enjoyed hearing English spoken on the street, particularly in British accents. It was strange not having to mentally rehearse what I'd say before speaking to someone and feeling confident that I was definitely speaking in the correct tense.

Westminster Abbey

I did, however, get a little mixed up language-wise when we went to get shawarmas on our way back from the bar Saturday night. I ordered my usual- it's so usual for me to get this in Barcelona that I ordered it in Spanish. My friends kept trying to tell me that the guy behind the counter spoke English and didn't understand me. So ingrained in me is my standard shawarma order, though that I couldn't keep it in my head to just ask in English and our time in the shop was punctuated by my shouts of "Sin picante!" and "Ternera!!" Somehow I ended up with what I was looking for so it was all good.
Buckingham Palace

In Kensington Garden

That wasn't the end of the language confusion. We met some French people who didn't really speak any English. I've been taking French classes but unless they were asking for directions or numbers I couldn't really converse. My friend who is from Argentina tried to make introductions in her limited French. She said "Je m'appelle Sofi." Great. Then she tried to ask their names and said, "Y tu? Como te je m'appelles?" We didn't talk to them for long. I actually spent most of the time in their company sipping water trying to relieve myself of the hiccups. At least you hiccup the same in every language.

Tower Bridge

London is a really cool place and I hope to get back to check it out a little more thoroughly in the future. It's a big city and we definitely didn't get to explore too much in the short time we had, although I am now quite familiar with the layout of Gatwick airport.

Houses of Parliament and a glimpse of the Thames

Kensington Palace

Icy Statue in Trafalgar Square Fountain

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Michelle Came to Visit!

I had another great visit from a friend last weekend. My college friend, Michelle came from Thursday to Monday morning. We packed a lot into the short trip and had tons of fun.
She arrived at 8am on Thursday and I was happy to break my rule of not waking up during single digit hours to pick her up at the airport. We pretty much started the sightseeing right away, stopping by Montjuic and the Olympic stadium before I went to teach a lesson and she took a nap.

After my lesson and some lunch we went to see Sagrada Familia then Michelle accompanied me to my classes. She got to see two of my favorite classes. First, the group of 19 kids ages 3-7 who I play games with in a gym. She also got to see my favorite part of that class- the gym teacher.
Next was the seven year old class, where I caught Michelle nodding off once or twice. She assured me that it wasn’t that my teaching was boring, but that she was already pretty clear on what day comes after Saturday.

We went right from there to get some drinks and tapas, where we were treated to complimentary glasses of cava, pretty much just because “it was a beautiful night and we were beautiful American women.” Nice.

Then back to my neighborhood for the Sants bar crawl, which included our regular spot, Ca La Maria. This is a fave thanks to Jordi, the manager, who welcomes new faces by trying to stick his tongue in their mouth. He grows on you.

That night saw the beginning of my signature pose of the weekend. Due to a cold sore that popped up on Wednesday (which I was told wasn’t noticeable but which felt to me like a pulsing, red goiter on my lip, fiendishly winking at anyone who looked at me), I adopted a neck swiveling reflex every time I saw a camera appear. Like here:

Or here:

You’d think I’d forget about after a few pints and just be normal, right?

We even tried to tempt the little guy out of hiding with some paella.

He wasn't so easily fooled.

Despite my affliction, we had so much fun, ate great food, saw the sights and got to catch up, which was the best and most important part for me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Miracle Worker I Am Not

In addition to teaching adult and baby classes at a language school, I also do private, in-house tutoring for individuals. I teach a pair of super-smart brothers, and an Italian woman who’s English is probably better than mine. And then there's Aleix. Sweet, awkward, slow Aleix.

Aleix is 14 years old and has been studying English since he was about six but it seems the language has just never clicked for him. His pronunciation is almost as good as most of my four year olds.

So I was really excited last week when his parents told me that he'd gotten back the first English exam he's taken since I started working with him and his grade was a big improvement over past tests. I was excited until this week, when his mother showed me the exam and I saw that his grade was a 10.5 out of 30. "What-uh, what were your grades before, Aleix?" I asked. "Umm, ford o fibe," he answered.

A big part of the problem is that the tests are all translation, and his spelling is horrible. The teacher gives them a sentence in Catalan and they write it in English- not really the best way to learn. One of the sentences he showed me that he'd translated read as follows (this is not exaggerated):

What hai cat mi her the peoples make funni at mi.

I can't speak or really read Catalan to see what the original phrase was, so it took us about seven minutes to realize that the sentence was:

When I cut my hair people made fun of me.

In another section he had to translate individual words. There was one we had trouble figuring out, he's spelled it:


Major points for anyone who figures it out before I tell you....

...still not sure?...


Clearly my work here is not done.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

40 Days and 40 Nights

So, I realized that today was Fat Tuesday and that if I was going to give something up for Lent, I had better decide pretty quickly what that would be.

For the past five years or so I've consistantly given up chocolate, which is difficult, but I get through. I decided this year that I'm going to give up chocolate and bread. This may prove to be pretty difficult seeing as:
1) Eating is one of my favorite things to do and these are two of my favorite things to eat

2) I live in a place where there is a bakery on every corner selling fresh baked bread and delicious chocolate filled pastries
3) My roommate works in one of said bakeries and has access to a constant (free) supply of said bread and chocolate filled pastries

However, seeing as the most difficult part of my life these days is making sure I wake up early enough to get a walk in before going to work at 4pm, I figured I could use a challenge.

Also I've caught a few glimpses of myself lately that make me wanna vom.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday Night Line Up

Some random interactions with people from yesterday:

I was sitting down on the metro ride home from work. To my right sat a disheveled, sickly looking girl determinedly munching her way through an entire sleeve of Chips Ahoy.

To my left was a couple standing up and leaning against the side of my seat. There were three things that bothered me about them:
- The guy was carrying the girl's purse, not just holding it for her while she did something, he
was straight up carrying it all around
- The girl was wearing a Canadian tuxedo and the jacket had an elastic band around the
- While simultaneously trying to 1) keep his balance 2) hold the purse and 3) make out with
his girlfriend, the guy almost elbowed me in the eye socket about seven times

This experience was later negated when I met some German guys at a bar. One of them continually pointed out that Germans are not always serious and that they "love to have fun and make party all the times." This was emphasized by a little dance move reminiscent of John Candy's "Polka Twist" in Home Alone.

I told him I could not stay out very late because I had to work in the morning. He asked "which o'clock" I had to wake up at. I told him 8 and he said that meant I could make party until 5.

I made party until 3:30 but then I had to pack it in.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Week in Teaching

It was an interesting week teaching English to the people of Spain. This week:

- A four year old slyly looked down my shirt while I was kneeling in front of the group and then turned to one of the other boys and told him loudly that he could see "las tetas"

- I had a spit ball land on my pant leg during my already tense theater class. If those kids didn't know the phrase "Are you kidding me!?" before, they do now

- During a music-based lesson, one student performed all the choreography to "Thriller" which segued into me explaining what the song "Billie Jean" was about through a series of stick figure drawings on the black board

- An adult student asked me what the expression was for when a man was trying to have sex with a woman. I mentally filed through about fifteen different possibilities and how to explain them before I realized the one he was looking for was "to hit on"and breathed a sigh of relief

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bum Bum Bum Ba Da Bum Bum

I have both "Under Pressure" by Queen and "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice in my iTunes. It's always a weird moment when I have iTunes on shuffle and I'm in another part of the apartment so for the first couple notes of the bass riff I can't tell which song it is.

I always stop whatever I'm doing, and swivel my head in the direction of the computer, like a hunting dog picking up a scent, with the urge to run over and assess the situation.

I usually stay still, though and wait it out for the two to three seconds it takes to realize which song is playing. You know, the tell tale "tsch" after the "bum bum bum ba da bum bum" that so sets Ice Ice Baby apart.
If it turns out to be Under Pressure I go about my business, if it is Ice Ice Baby, I'll most likely go change the song. For some reason, though, I don't remove it from my library. I think I like that it keeps me on my toes. Although I'm not entirely sure how it got there in the first place. I can't imagine any time in my life when I'd spend $.99 to purchase it...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sara Came to Spain!!!

Thanks to Continental airlines and Xanax, my good friend and former roommate, Sara visited Barcelona this past week, and it was so so much fun. It was her first time in Spain so I was determined to show her a good time and I think it was pretty successful.

We saw all the major sites of the city, like Tibidabo, Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, various Guadi buildings, Las Ramblas and of course, the famous Irish pub in Port Olimpic that has generated so many of my fun memories here. But, as expected, the highlights of the trip weren’t so much the sites of the city but the general silliness that usually accompanies any Sara/Ali outing. Some of the best moments from this visit are as follows:

- Meeting a new friend from Belgium named Jacob. Sara thought it was polite to call him
by his native pronunciation of the name, which sounds like Yah-kub, and proceeded to
say his name to punctuate pretty much every sentence she said in his presence

with our buddy, Jacob

- We went to a bar/club with a DJ and Sara approached him to request a song. He said
he couldn't oblige her requests for the likes of Justin, Britney, Gaga or Kanye. Since I’d
been there before I knew the golden ticket to get the crowd going. I leaned across the
DJ booth and asked in my best “English with a Spanish accent” for him to play “Meester
Yones.” He nodded and a few minutes later, Sara got to see how the youth of Barcelona
really gets down- to early nineties alternative rock by the Counting Crows

- Sara’s new thing is taking videos on her camera and she captured some amazing moments
on video- such as my tough love style of friendship, when you can hear me saying
forcefully “Sara, put your camera away and get out your metro card, now…Sara, put the
camera away, put it away now!”
- We made a quick stop in a shot bar one night. As we were trying to decide what to order,
Sara spotted people doing a flaming shot, and as she exclaimed “They’re doing a shot
that’s on fire!” I just shouted repeatedly at the bartender, “Algo con fuego!!!” Luckily we
had a Spanish friend with us who was able to successfully order us some pretty cool shots
that involved a half an orange peel filled with alcohol, set atop a shot glass then set aflame.

- In another video you see some enthusiastic men jumping around and dancing. Sara’s
narration reports that “these are Irish guys, dancing to some Irish song.” I broke it to her
later that the Irish song the guys loved so much was called “Human” and it was by The Killers

- She put me in my place about music later, though, when she informed me that she was
relatively certain that she had been the first person in Akron, OH to discover Nelly. I
asked where she’d discovered him, to which she replied “The radio.”

drinks on her last night in town

- While there were so many great things to see in the city, one of the most fun nights was
spent hanging out at my apartment listening to our favorite songs from our days as
roommates and rapping as only suburban white girls can. Some of our best numbers
include “Gold Digger,” P.I.M.P. and the Nelly Remix of N Sync’s “Girlfriend.” The videos
of this will not be shared in a public forum of any kind.
rapping, obv

Monday, January 18, 2010

Transportation Retardation

I may have gotten a little too used to driving while I was home for the holidays, because I've had some issues with the metro since my return to Barcelona.

On Friday night I needed to take the metro to teach a private lesson across town, close to the school where I teach most of my classes. I had a ten ride metro card, which I thought had two rides left on it. Since I usually go out assuming I'm going to get pick-pocketed, I only take what I really need so when I left I didn't grab any cash or credit/debit card to take with me .

When I put the card into the slot and walked through the turnstile, the machine showed that I had just used the last ride.


I was tight on time as it was so I had to go straight to the lesson and couldn't go back to my place to get money for a new card. After the lesson I looked in my little change purse to see if I might have enough to buy a single ride ticket. A single ride is €1.40. I had €1.32.


I was about a 1.5-2 hour walk from my apartment, and not entirely sure how I to get there on foot. Once the lesson was finished, I wandered around the metro station like homeless person, looking for change on the ground or in the ticket machines. I called Laura, mainly to laugh about the situation since there wasn't anything she could do. She said I should ask someone for money but I could not bring myself to do that. Finally I decided to go over to my school on the off chance my boss was still there at 8:30 on a Friday night.

Thank God for the rare European workaholic.

She was on her way out but she was still there. She gave me a single ride metro card she had but at the last minute, gave me ten cents too, just in case. It was a good thing she did, since the card she gave me didn't work. I had visions of one of the coins slipping from my fingers and rolling beneath the ticket machine, but the transportations gods smiled on me and the trip went smoothly.

I got home, got my debit card and went down to buy an unlimited monthly card.

Then on Saturday night, on my way home at around 6am, when again entering the metro turnstile, I managed to slide my card into the seam of the machine right above the card slot. My friends tried to help get it out but it was really wedged in there. A guard noticed me staring, glassy-eyed and helpless at the machine and was able to open it up and fish the card out for me.

I'm thinking of trying to do more walking from now on.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Welcome to America, Here's Your Gun"

In one of my adult classes this week, half the students did not attend. Thus, the ones who did were able to cajole me into having, instead of a grammar lesson, a two hour chat session about whatever struck their fancy.

One of the things we talked about was my trip home for the holidays. In talking about the US, some of their ideas and preconceived notions about America and Americans came out that surprised me. According to what they know from movies and TV:

- Most Americans live in New York City
- Pretty much everyone has a gun
- The majority of men drive pickup trucks
- There is a hot dog cart on every corner of every street in the country
- There are many, many farms with many, many cows

This led to me telling them what people in America thought of Spain and Spanish people. I told them that many Americans probably didn't know a whole lot about Spain at all but the ones who do think that:

- They drink a lot of wine
- They eat dinner late and stay up late
- They take a long break in the middle of the day
- They don't work too much

They conceded that this was a fair assessment and we moved on to a discussion of favorite vacation spots.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Peace Be With You

In an email to me today, my mom mentioned that she learned she had not gotten a job she'd interviewed for editing the parish bulletin for her church. She followed that statement with a hearty "WTF?!"

I replied with an indignant "What the HELL?!"

I can't imagine why she didn't get the job.

Back in Barca

I'm officially back to my life in Barcelona. How do I know? Well, I watched TV and movies on my computer, I'm typing with chilly, numb fingers, I have laundry hung out on clotheslines to dry and I am dreading teaching my disobediant and hyper theater class on Wednesday.

You know how else I know I'm back? I went for a walk today and saw no fewer than three beautiful fountains and multiple gorgeous buildings, I'm eating fruits and vegetables again, I got an enthusiastic welcome back head nod and smile from my buddy who works in the convenience store downstairs and I sat in a cafe yesterday and read about the Spanish royal family in a gossip magazine while sipping cafe con leche.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I have certainly been remiss in my blogging over the past couple of weeks, but I'm not sorry since I've been having too good a time with friends and family to sit down and write anything.

It has been a great visit and I've gotten to do and see and have pretty much everything and everyone I wanted...well, I haven't done any people, that was misleading, perhaps not the best way to phrase that. In any event, it's been fun.

Some of the things I was most excited about and got to do are the following (you'll notice something of a correlation to the post I wrote about what I miss about the US):

- I ate multiple Wawa hoagies and other delights
- I got to meet and hold my cousin Jen's new baby
- I had Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, thanks to a late-night sojourn by Jackie and Andrew
- I played shuffle board at my Uncle's bar
- I drank Yeungling and requested about $15 worth of songs on the juke box at Tierney's in Montclair
- I went to the spa with my mom, sister and sister in law and got a massage
- I sang Karaoke with my cousin in front of several family members and other bar patrons
- I slept to my heart's content in my super comfy bed in Sea Isle City
- I got a guitar for Christmas and bought a book to learn how to play it
- I went grocery shopping with my Dad, which has been one of our 'things' since I was about 6 years old
- I got to see just about all of my best friends (and I really am one of the luckiest people ever in that I actually do have about five best friends)
- I helped decorate the Christmas tree
- I just got to be silly with my brother and sister
- I played some slots in Atlantic City
- I rubbed my pregnant friend's belly and helped construct the crib for the baby
- I visited Coyne PR and hung out with my old colleagues
- I went to see a show at the UCB
- I wrapped presents and cuddled with my sister
- I ate a few slammin Greco family weekend breakfasts
- I got to be home