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.