Sunday, August 31, 2008

Technological difficulties....

In the past few weeks I have had more than my fair share of having to figure out technological challenges. It makes my brain hurt and it's not like I can just read the directions or walk down to the shop to ask for help. I mean I can, but it's a lot harder to do with the language barrier... trust me a lot harder.

I moved into a new home with no WiFi and had to get a wire long enough for to go into my bedroom.
What I don't understand, because it doesn't make any sense, is that whenever the wire gets unplugged and put into Julie's laptop she has to wait 10-20 minutes for it to "kick it"... when we switch back it is the same for me. It's annoying at best, but a new WiFi refuter is like 80 Euro and well...

Then a new camera, luckily those directions were in English as well as Spanish so I spent some time actually reading them. This is a rarity for me as there is little more boring to me than reading directions. However, I was so happy to see them in English I decided I would dive in. Still, there remain little difficulties and hassles that seem like they just shouldn't exist at all.
Why did all my pics of the coast come out bluish??

Next a new phone, I have wanted one that would take pics, play music, be a date book and oh yes... of course allow me to communicate whenever and wherever I please. A friend was kind enough to give me his phone when I got here, but it began to break after a few weeks and it was giving me troubles in and off for weeks so I had to replace it.

Really what a luxury? Ever think about how incredibly luxurious a cell phone is? I have a love/hate relationship with my phone (aside from the fact that I can't get my frickin' music on there). Love/hate…yes… I love that I can be contacted wherever I am. I love that if I am lost I can call someone for directions, or if I am at a cafe I can call someone and invite them down. I hate feeling obligated to answer a call just because it is ringing and everyone knows you have your cell on you. I mean who ever leaves home with out it these days... Anyway, this bothers me far less here than it ever did in NY for a variety of reasons that I don't want to get into. For now, I just want my phone to play music so I can listen to it on the beach. I know it can do it, I just don't know how to make it happen. I think they gave me the wrong memory card because I can't seem to make this one fit anywhere in the phone... I'll go to the shop... AGAIN!!!!

Than there is my computer, I am terrified of something going wrong because who would I turn to? I tried to change a little something in the settings the other day, with the help of a friend, and low and behold it turns out I am not even my own administrator... Ken took care of these things and now I am without a password to create a new account on my own machine. It's curious how interdependent we become. Each time I have one of these challenges my first reaction is to find a man to fix it. Now anyone who knows me knows I am a handy person, I like to fix things... but not everything!!! Is it wrong to want someone else to do some of it for me??? And yes, generally speaking, men tend to be better at these things than most women I know.
We don’t often like to admit it, but it is true. Luckily, I have some friends who help out here and there and I totally and completely appreciate it when they do even if I don’t like to have to rely on others, I know that I do.

I have spent about two hours this morning trying to get music on my phone. First I created a play list, and then tried to transfer it... easy right??? NO! I couldn't get it to transfer onto the memory card because it was a different format, so I used the wire which didn't work either and now after all that time I lost the play list I created and still don't have music on my phone. I also can't figure out how to get the pics off my phone into the computer... how annoying!!!

PS... I woke up with a soar throat two days ago, worse yesterday and now I appear to have a cold on top of it all.... guess I am feeling a little cranky. Think I'll go to the beach and listen to some..... never mind, I'll study instead.

PPS Still no spell check or photo download on blogger... I don't get it¿?¿?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yo se tomato....

Jajajajaaaaaaaa This is what my google search page looks like today! In fact, this is very much what I looked like today! I am so completely exhausted I can't even write about it, but I will when the pictures get processed, needless to say I didn't bring my camera to the largest tomato fight in the world... but I did buy a disposable and I did have a hell of a time.... seriously... a hell of a time.

The title of this entry will link to a youtube video taken last year in the same place. Today I was standing right across from the church near the greased pole with the hanging jamón...

Seriously, one of the craziest days of my life!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spanish Bagels!!!

My apologies for not having written in a while. I have had an incredibly busy week, especially for a girl without a job!! I am loving that, but have been preparing myself to go back to work. Schools don't start here until October and the hiring begins in September so..... things should start happening for me soon.

I haven't time to write much, but I will tell a funny story and leave you with some pics to ponder.
Stacey is here from NY visting and we are having a great time!

Today, Stacey and I were walking home, enjoying the sights and enjoying each other when I saw it!!! The sign!

¡¡¡Spanish Bagels!!!

I though I was going to die and just had to stop and check it out. There are no bagels in Spain, or so I thought! I went in and saw two guys working behind the counter, so I asked... "How are your bagels?". One guy, Mike, explained to me that one of the machines was broken, but he thought they were pretty good usually. So, of course, I had to go into to my whole song and dance..."I am from NY and I grew up on bagels and I am so curious to try yours!!" So we spoke for a bit and it hit me!!! This is the perfect place for me to work while I am searching for a teaching job. I know bagels... lord knows I know the restaurant business and, most importantly, I can practice my Spanish!!!!!

So I asked if they needed any help. He said, "Well kinda, how is your Spanish?" Off the tip of my tongue rolled out the words, "Yo hablo español un pocito pero necesito a practicar. Yo voy escuela para español y quiero a hablar mejor." HOLY SHIT!!! I said that! in English it means I speak Spanish a little, but I need to practice. I go to school for Spanish and I want to speak better!!! He said good... not knowing that I couldn't really relay much more than that.. but hey who cares.. that rolled right off my tongue... pretty much! I was so psyched. So, long story short, we exchanged numbers and he seemed interested. I told him I was only looking for part time work and that I was hoping to teach teach English soon, but meanwhile I would love to work some place like this and I know bagels!! Maybe while teaching I could still work part time.

He said he was one of two bagel shops in Spain.... Life is so funny sometimes... I just can't even believe it!
I mean really... a bagel shop in Valencia!!! Tengo que trabajar allí... yo tengo!

And now... some pics.. well a lot of pics... I think 93 or so... look at what you like and enjoy.

Muchos besos... I am well and very happy... thanks for all the concerns and questions about when the next blog is coming.

PS... I am saving the bagels for the morning, we are going to la Tomatina Fiesta por la mañana!!!! Look it up or wait for the next entry, either way you'll laugh... I promise.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

13h, is what they call it here, 1PM that's when I woke up today. Yesterday was a holiday, though I am still not sure why. Julie had the day off and the weather was perfect so we rode out bikes to the beach and laid out for a few hours. While laying in the sun I decided I wanted to cook us dinner. Each time this happens to me I feel a little closer to being healed (I guess) from the years behind me. I wanted to cook something fine and I wanted to share it with my friends who were already planning to come for a movie night on the terrace. After the beach we went to OpenCor... the "7/11" of Spain... but not really... in fact not even close... but it is open more than any other store at least here in Valencia. I made a delicious healthy meal using eggplant, zuchini, tomato, and some peas with a little bit of turkey filets and pasta. It was delicious and light. Afterward we continued sitting on the terrace and watched movies, "In Brouge" was one of them. Brilliantly done movie that managed to make fun of the homelands of 3/4 people viewing with me....We were cracking up! I highly recommend the film.

Today I am feeling very tired even though I slept so late. I was invited by an American guy, Mike, to watch the US vs. España Olympic basketball game in a bar today at 16h. I am kinda psyched about that, though a wee bit nervous too! People get awfully funny here about their sports, but at the same time I couldn't miss it now could I?

Bummer... as it turns out all the bars with TV's were closed, so we watched the US kick Spain's ass at the place where Mike is staying with some friends. It was fun, but not quite the scene I was hoping for. Mike sat me down for a little pep talk afterward. He is 30, a corporate lawyer in DC and had lived in Valencia for 3 years or something. He wants nothing more that to return here, but the heavy load of student debt prevents him from doing so at this point. As my "American brother", he gave me some tips on the "do's and don'ts" of the Valencian immigrant scene and let me know that so far I was doing pretty damn good for myself... I knew that:)... He also reminded me that I am "green" here and people can smell it on me, so I should be careful about who I trust. He says if I have any doubts, don't trust them then proceeded to give me a list of people from lands I should never trust.... I have heard this list before and sometime will share it, but it seems strange to me to make such stereotypes, though here it is done so frequently.

Unfortunately,Mike leaves on Monday to go back to the hectic 60+ hour work week he detests so very much. He says he is back every few months, I have know doubt. Once being here, it is hard not to want to return. In a big part, that''s what happened to me.

Off to lunch with a friend. Tomorrow I will go to school again and feel a little more like I am doing something. Four days off has already been too much when I only go 2 hours a day anyway. What a busy chica I have been.

PS... My spell check and photo uploader thingy has not worked in quite some time. I am not sure what to do about it and I hate posting without having something to proofread it, but alas there is little I can do about it right now. Damn... I have some fun pics to post too. :(

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heat wave...

Yesterday was the first day the heat really got to me. It was still breezy as always, but the breeze itself was hot and humid and the temperature was over 40C or 104F. It was gross. After school I had planned to go to the beach, but the wind was so intense it would not have been a pleasurable experience. The sand is very fine here and it gets everywhere even on a breezy day. Anyway, it was too hot to do anything, so I just didn't move until the evening. Luckily I promised Julie we would meet for tapas so I had to get up and go out.

Last night Julie and I sat on the terrace and watched fireworks across town. Valencianos love their fireworks and nearly every night one can see them going off some where in the city. It's nice, sometimes a bit noisy, but I like it.

Today the wind is so strong I had to close more door and it's only 80F... the weather is weird everywhere I guess. In spite of the "cold spell" I had a great afternoon. After school I went out with my new amiga Cleo de Londones. We went to her friend, Nicola's house and then out to lunch at an Armenian restaurant. Delicious and light.... first meal I had in days, and the only one today. There is something about being here that makes me not want to eat much, although the food is fantastic. Just little bits at a time, I could eat tapa style forever.

There really is nothing terribly exciting to report. The city is all but completely closed due to the August holidays and I am enjoying the quiet time. Tomorrow I will try to get to the beach again... weather permitting.

Me siento fortunado.... I feel fortunate.

I cant get blogger to open the window so that I can upload images.... sorry no pics for now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shake hands

Dear friends,

The Dalai Lama's Olympic handshake is circling the world, headed for Beijing. Click below to see more and join the call for dialogue!

As the Beijing Olympics begin, the world looks on with mixed emotions. It's a moment which should bring us closer together, and Chinese citizens deserve their excitement -- but the Chinese government still hasn't opened meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama, or changed its stance on Burma, Darfur and other pressing issues.

Even worse, extremists in China are promoting the view that Olympic activism like ours is anti-Chinese. We can't stay silent, but we also can't let our efforts be abused to divide people. So what can we do? The answer comes from the Dalai Lama himself, in an unambiguous gesture of Olympic spirit and friendship: a handshake.

It began in London, passed hand to hand by thousands of us -- now the handshake has gone online, and is criss-crossing the globe on its way to Beijing. All of us can join, Chinese and non-Chinese, and it comes with a promise: to hold ALL our governments accountable where they fall short, in Tibet, Iraq, Burma or beyond. We'll deliver our message in a bold media campaign in Hong Kong and around the world: Click below to see how the Olympic handshake started, sign up to join in, and watch it circle the globe --

The worldwide outcry has produced a little progress, but much resistance from Chinese officials so far. If we are to see advances not setbacks after the Games, we need to show both that our voices will never fall silent, and that our challenge is a positive one.

We have one last chance to reclaim the spirit of the Olympics, with the message of friendship and dialogue we share with the Dalai Lama. The more people join the global handshake, the more powerful our message will be when it hits the Chinese and international media. So let's forward this email on, encouraging everyone to join in. "One World, One Dream" is an ideal that's bigger than the Olympics -- it's time for citizens around the world to take it back.

With hope and respect,

Paul, Ricken, Ben, Milena, Graziela, Iain, Pascal, Veronique and the whole Avaaz team

PS For a report on Avaaz's campaigning so far, see:

I have waited 5 weeks for this new friend. Introducing mí nueve bicicleta....::)

As per Patti's request... here is a picture of one pair of new sandalias... super comfy and stylin'!!!

Seeing how there are pictures on the blog again., guess what else I got....

I think it is even better than the last one. It has more zoom ability, rechargeable batteries and it is much more compact with a stylish carrying case that I can hang from a belt loop or my purse. So far it only speaks to me in Spanish so I will try to master it without changing the language, yet another way to learn right?

I shopped around a lot and was nervous about making these large purchases on my own without the ability to communicate clearly. What's done is done and I have a new way to get around town and keep memories of what I see and who I meet.
Bueno, bueno, bueno!!!!!
Go me :))

¡Ahora iré a la playa!
Now I will go to the beach!

blogger is screwing up again.... grrrrrr

It's late, but I am wide awake. Today was a weird day. I was in a pissed off mood when I woke up, but I made the best of it. I started packing and looking through paperwork to get ready for the upcoming move. This will be the easiest one this year... just a taxi ride away. I blew off class today because there have been from 10-13 students in the class. It's just too big and there aren't enough opportunities to practice reading, writing and speaking in that time. The seat time can be made up later in August when the school slows down. Now is the time for Uni. students to come from all over Europe. They tell me n a few weeks there will be less people and a bit older too. That'll be nice, though most of the people I have met have been great.

At about 4:00, I went to the beach too much earlier than that and the sun is wicked strong. I relaxed, chatted with friends and went for a swim. The swim was in part to wash off the mango that had dripped all over me and in part to float in the sea. I love to lie on my back and float.

A long bath and a little pedicure were the plans for the evening. My feet had been so blistered that my blisters literally had blisters. I had always thought this was only an expression, but it's not. I assure you. Anyway, they are mostly healed now so I did what needed to be done to make them feel normal again. I'll just have to wear different shoes everyday if I am going to walk a lot, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

It was a really kick-back kind of day. This is rare here, even for a girl without a job! In a way, it's all a job or at least work... even the fun parts. I mean seriously... you live in a beach town and you gotta have a tan!!

I even got to talk to my mom on cam.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Radio City

Tonight I went to an overcrowded bar called Radio City with my friends from school. There was live Flamenco dancing and music. The music was fantastic, so passionate and alive. It was too crowded to see much of the dancing so for a while I stood apart from the crowd, closed my eyes and felt just the music. I would like to go again, only earlier so I have a better view.

I can't deal with not having a camera much longer. I vow to have one by this weekend.

My teacher told us today that the Spanish think Tuesdays are bad luck.
En Martes ni te cases ni te embarques.
On Tuesday don't get married nor embark (like on a ship)!
Shouldn't be a problem, though if I get the invite... on a ship I may go. I'll keep my fingers crossed though so I should be just fine.

Monday, August 4, 2008

bueno, bonito y bararo

It's kind of strange that it is getting harder for me to write.
Each day more words are popping into my head as Spanish mixed with English... well it's still mostly English, I just hear more Spanish than ever. It's a sounds little weird when I try to explain it, so perhaps I won't. I will say this though, I understand more everyday.

This weekend some friends and I went El Puig, a small Pueblo outside of the city. We watched the running of the bull. I was separated from the group for a bit when the bull ran into the square in which we had safely stationed ourselves. For almost an hour I sat and spoke with these two old men, yes in Spanish! Well, truth be told, they did most of the talking but I listened and answered. Sure I had to ask them to repeat and slow down, but in the end we all got a kick out of it and I am pretty sure one of them wanted to introduce me to his son the They were lovely men, though a bit on the dirty-old man side, if you know what I mean..

Sunday, I went to a Formula One barbeque at my new place-to-be. There were about 20 people there from Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, Great Britain, and one other from the US. It was a lot of fun. I watched and listened to people speak and attempted a wee bit of Spanish on my own, but it's really hard a large group. About half the people there were ESL teachers so I asked a lot of questions and made a few connections. Finally, I came home to relax for a bit before my friend Ed came over to say good-bye. His flight left Monday morning, but little did we know that he would miss it. Now I get 4 more days with my amigo... well now only 3.
Yesterday. I started to attend afternoon classes at the school because they wanted to move me out of the beginners class. I have a new teacher, Miguel, he is very nice to look at.. oh yeah, and he seems like an excellent teacher as well. What's nice is, the class is full of new students and while I miss the old group a bit, I know more about what's going on and was able to answer a lot of questions. Miguel asked me if I wanted to move to a higher group, but I decided I would rather stay here a bit to reinforce what I have been learning and to gain some confidence with my speech. I think this will help a lot. Everyone keeps telling me... poco a poco... little by little... I like that. I find that often that it is easier for me to have patience with others than with myself. So I try to keep in mind that I deserve a break too... sometimes it's not easy.

Between class yesterday I found a flea market in my new neighborhood which is just a few blocks from school. I bought 3 new pairs of shoes... they are all very comfortable. look great, were super cheap and 2/3 are made here in Spain... I love them!!!

My new favorite expression for shopping... bueno, bonito y barato.... good, pretty and cheap!!!
Pero suena mejor en españaol. But it sounds better in Spanish.

The dilemma today... which new pair should I wear????
Life is good and I am grateful.

Friday, August 1, 2008

¿Cómo está mi español?

The big question I get from everyone... How is my Spanish????

Well the following is a perfect example, but first let me explain.

I have met a woman, Adriana, via LoQuo, (similar to Craigslist) with whom I do a language exchange. Her English is far more advanced then mí española, but she doesn't seem to mind. She is about my age, has been in españa for 10 years and is from South America. She is very bright and friendly and I enjoy her a lot. We use Skype and email to communicate pretty much daily, plus we meet once a week.

Today I decided, for the sake of practice, I wanted to write in Spanish about my new flat... well I think it is my new flat, at least I want it to be. Anyway, I wrote what I thought was a fairly decent paragraph and asked Adriana to check it for me. LOL... the following is our correspondence. Her corrections, all of which I am thankful for, are in red. The reason I post this is not for anyone to try to figure out what I was saying, just to show how many mistakes there were in my writing and how much I have learned and have yet to learn. Please don't try to translate...that would be crazy!

Quiero hablarte a tú de mi piso nueve nuevo... vale?

Está en el piso noveno... ocho pisos con el elavador ascensor (if you say elevador, people can undertsand you but here in Spain they use ascensor) y (uno pisos) un piso con las escleras.
El salón, la cocina y el baño (is muy un pocito) son pequeños pero (mí) mi dormitorio es (medio) mediano.
(De mí) Mi dormitorio (es) tiene una terraza con plantas, (la) una mesa y (mucho) muchas sillas. (Más) Otra (escleras) escalera va a otra terraza (otro) donde se puede ver (la vista de) las montañas, el mar y (ciuidad todos) toda la ciudad... (el) la vista es hermosa.
Julie es de (Belgium) Bélgica, será (mí campenera nueve) Mi compañera nueva. Es viente y cinco agosto de 4... Leo así mí.

Tiene veinticinco años y es del 4 de agosto. Es Leo como yo.

The good news is, I think I kind of got my point across... she knew what I was trying to say and I barely used the dictionary because these particular words were in my head.

Basically it says... I want to tell you about my new flat.... ok?

It is on the 9th floor, 8 floors by elevator and 1 floor by stairs. The living room, kitchen and bathroom are small and the bedroom is medium sized. From my room there is a terrace with plants, a table and many chairs. There is another staircase to another terrace (the roof) and from there you can see the mountains, the sea and the whole city.
My new flat-mate is Julie from Belgium. She is 25 on August 4th and a Leo like me.

Yes... I know... the writing is very basic, but the flat is still great (and CHEAP!!!!) and I may even get to move in before my birthday!! Too bad I have no camera to take pictures... maybe buying one will be a project for this weekend.

It's weird how the Spanglish is seeping into my brain... even when I write now some words come out in Spanish instead of English and my brain gets confused. They tell me I should stop everything that is related to English, writing, talking reading... thinking... all of it!?!?! But how can I do that? I feel like I will never be able to communicate as well in Spanish and if I stopped all the writing I have been doing I just might spontaneously combust.

Sometimes the whole experience reminds me of the first grade when I was learning to read and write. It's like I can feel those same feelings again.. The frustrations and joys of putting together a new sentence. I have no doubt my empathy for this type of learning will be apparent when I enter a classroom as a teacher again.

Such a bizarre feeling.

Hey! Can anyone tell me how the spell check on my blogger window could be broken? It hasn't worked in weeks and claims everything is always correct?!?!?