Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mi regreso a los Estados Unidos

I'M HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I got in around 7pm last night. Unfortunately, my luggage wasn't particularly interested in joining us just yet. It decided to remain France for an extra day. (There wasn't enough time between two of my flights to get it onto the second plane.) So Air France is bringing it back stateside for me today.
But I'm home!!!!!!!!! 106 days after I left, I have returned.
La vida es un ratico sin duda.

Monday, December 15, 2008

If you ain't Dutch...you ain't much.

I'm in the Amsterdam airport...the wifi here has a smaller fee than the wifi in Barcelona...if you're interested.
And I'm almost home.
I'll see you very soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My last post from Spain

I'm coming home soon!
Four more days and I'll be back soon!

This is probably my second to last post in Spain

I only have one final left.
And then we have "commencement" tomorrow night. And then I'm completely done.

Sunday night, I'll probably be heading to a friend's apartment. Then Monday morning, we will wake up obscenely early and take a taxi (around 5:30am) from herapartment to the airport. Then she'll head off to Chicago and I'll head to Detroit.
I'll be flying Bilbao to Paris, Paris to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Detroit. I'll be getting back around 7:05pm Detroit time. If I get up at 5am Bilbao time, I'll have been awake for over 20 hours when I land. Oh I'll be a joy!

Also, I apparently went to Rome at just the right time. Heidi is now back stateside!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cecilia might be happy about this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'll be home for Christmas

Two finals down, three to go....

And I'm sick. This cold just might kill me.
I need to go buy wine to bring home as gifts.

See you soon!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Six days left in Spain

Well, I had an interesting weekend. Once again I was home alone whilest my "family" went skiing. Except they didn't actually go skiing because it was raining all weekend. But I was still home alone.
Friday, I went to Santander with Jessica, her host mom Lourdes, Melanie, and Andi. It was gorgeous. Then I went to Burger King for dinner when I got home.
Saturday, I did homework until 5ish when Brenda, Natalie, and Alyssa came over. We ate pizza, watched 27 Dresses and had girl talk. It was delightful.
Sunday, I went to Mass and hung around the apartment feeling like crap. In the evening, I went out with Andi and Brittany to see the Christmas lights of Bilbao. It was very pretty and fun to see them.
Yesterday was a national holiday, Immaculate Conception. So Andi, Jessica, Melanie, Sarah, and I booked it out to San Sebastian to climb a mountain, see the sights, and eat some pintxos (aka tapas). It was wonderful.
And then I went home. When I got home, I had a major migraine that had been building for the past several days. So I took Imitrex and laid down while uploading pictures from my camera onto my computer. And then about fifteen minutes later, my host family came home.
And while Angel was taking stuff from the ski trip up to the attic, he saw my luggage and brought it downstairs for me. So now I can start packing. I'm really looking forward to going home.
I'll be home in less than a week. It's been an interesting experience over here and I'm glad I had it. But I'm really ready to head home.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Moments with the kids

Well, I only have 11 days left with my munchkins. Soon I'll no longer be the oldest of three children but the youngest of two again.
So now I will share some humorous tales of my little siblings.
Monday night, Daniela asked me where I lived. "You don't live here," she said. "In your house, where do you live? What floor is your apartment on?"
Umm...if I don't live here, what have I been doing for the past three months? Is this a really long vacation or something? I'm just curious.
Then I had to explain that I don't live in an apartment building. I live in a house.

Last night, I was in the kitchen eating peanut butter out of the jar when Gabriel walked in on me. He asked me what I was doing and then dragged me back into the play room where he had been playing with Carol. I explained that I was eating peanut butter and gave him a small taste. He loved it and he wanted more. It was grand.

During dinner, Daniela asked me if I lived in America or near America. She told me that she has an aunt who lives in New York, near America. I tried to explain everything but I'm not sure she understood at all.

I have to write a paper and a summary for next week. And I have exams next week. But then this adventure ends. It really has been a "ratico," a brief moment.
But while I will miss some of the people here, I'm really ready to go home. I miss UCO...and other things too. I miss petting animals.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Raining on my Parade

Well, it's raining again. Angel thinks it's going to rain every day until I leave. Oh glorious!

I'm currently working on a list of books I want to read when I get home. It's mostly Peter Kreeft and C.S. Lewis. But hey, it's time for me to get caught up on some reading.
And I'm going to do some serious movie watching.
Basically, I'm ready to come home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not much to report

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANNIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm cold.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Crazy Weekend

This weekend, I was home alone once again.
So I had to find ways to entertain myself. This is what friends are for.

Friday, I went shopping and out for churros con chocolate with Jess, Andi, and Melanie.
Saturday, I went to El Corte Ingles to buy some supplies to make Italian food. On the way to the sixth floor supermarket, I got my shoelace caught in the escaltor. Thankfully, a kind soul grabbed me and held me up while her boyfriend took my shoe off my foot and rescued my shoe. And then they were concerned about me. But I was fine. We all rejoiced.
Later that afternoon, I went out for coffee with Kayleigh and then we bought me a winter hat and matching scarf at Sfera. Then we hiked out to Casco Viejo...okay we took the metro. There we enjoyed churros con chocolate and then did some Christmas shopping. In the churros cafe, there were drunk middle-aged Spanish women singing and dancing and clapping. I asked the bartender if they did this often. He laughed and said no, just every Saturday and Sunday when they're drunk.
Shopping wise...I discovered two hippie-esque shops in Casco Viejo that had some great Christmas presents for friends. And then Kayleigh introduced me to the tea shop that has free samples of their tea. I will be returning to buy the last of my Christmas gifts there.
Saturday night, Jess, Melanie, and Andi came over and we had pizza and candy and watched Into the Wild the movie about the guy who moves to Alaska and dies.

Sunday, I went to Mass and then headed out to CV to get some pictures for a presentation on Basque religion that I have tomorrow. Later in the day I went out to Getxo (Get-sho) to Andi's place where she, Melanie, and I worked on our presentation for Basque tomorrow. And then her host mom made us churros con chocolate.
And then when I got home around 9pm, my host family was back. And I got to talk to them. It was charming.

This morning, I flipped up the the December page on the calender in my room and Daniela was thrilled to pieces because now there is a picture of a Christmas tree in my room.
And then Gabriel broke a necklace and Dani and I had to clean up after him.

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.
But I'll be home in 14 days.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm going to miss Santa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the rest of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade...I'm sad. Monday, I'll give you a report on our Thanksgiving dinner that we're having tonight.
I'm also missing watching the Lions lose for the millionth time. This is the greatest tragedy of my young life and we're all weeping and wailing over it.

Last night, we bought peanut butter, jelly, and bread as well as chips and salsa and then took them to Lit class. And we had sandwiches in class. It was beautiful. This morning I had more for breakfast. It was amazing.

Yesterday, one of the guys in my Spanish culture class brought his mom who is visiting for the week to visit our class. She speaks Spanish, if you're curious. So we were discussing the fact that Spaniards do not move out of their parents' houses until they're in their thirties. Apparently, a look of horror overtook Mrs. Nate's Mom's face. He patted her arm and smiled. "Don't worry, Mama," he said in Spanish. "I'm not going to do that."
Don't worry, Mamma. I'll be completely out of your house as soon as I can afford to pay rent my own apartment/house.

Do not mistake me for someone who is staying.
But I'll be home in 18 days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I want to marry a member of the Swiss Guard

They're just the coolest people alive. Period. They get to guard the Pope and wear amazing uniforms.

Life in Bilbao is crazy but good. I have finally finished my two essays and now I just have a presentation tomorrow.

19 more days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I miss Starbucks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reflecting on Rome

video
Just look at all the clergy; two priests just stop and stare at me for a moment because they thought I was taking pictures and they didn't want things to be blurry...or something.
But just look at them and listen to the music. That choir was phenomenal. I'm really glad that I went to Rome for the feasts of St. Cecilia and Christ the King.

video
It's the Pope speaking to us in Spanish.


video
Pope speaking Italian; this one came first but I uploaded wrong.


video
The Pope also speaks English. He's so talented. I love him.

And obviously, I made it back to Bilbao in one piece. Now I just have write papers, give presentations, and keep my head above water for 20 more days.
And please enjoy my videos of my friend, Ben. He's a German Shepherd and I really like him. He is really multilingual and extremely fun. He also has an escape tunnel from the Vatican to Castle San Andrea. Basically, he's just the coolest dude alive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On my way home from Rome

First off, the pictures and videos will be posted here tomorrow or Wednesday.
Secondly, the Keisers are wonderful and I love Rome. It's gorgeous. (You'd have to figure that I'd love a place that has loads and loads of pasta and pizza and gorgeous churches.)
I got into Rome around 9pm on Friday night and then we went back to Santa Marinella where livest Heidi and Kevin and then they gave me pasta.
Saturday morning, Kevin and I went out to explore "profane" Rome...all the old Empire stuff. We also checked out the Mamartine (sp?) prison where Sts. Peter and Paul were held at one point. Then we headed towards the Pantheon and met Heidi who had been home resting. And we had lunch. I had mushroom and potato pizza...which was cheeseless. And then we went a-churching. We started with the Pantheon. And then we went to Vatican City so I could buy icons and rosaries before Sunday when I would be attending Mass at St. Peter's followed by the Papal Angelus where these things would be blessed.
And then we went to Trastevere to the Basilica of St. Cecilia for the Vespers in her honor. Afterwards, I was taken down to the crypt to pray before her relics. There were red carnation and white lilies in the crypt chapel and I decided that I think I want those flowers at my wedding in honor of that day. It was SUCH an amazing experience.
After Vespers, Kevin went to hang out with some friends while Heidi and I went home to make ourselves dinner and then watched Stranger than Fiction and talked for a good long while.
Sunday morning, I went to Confession (in English with an amazing little old Italian priest who speaks English) at the Basilica of St. Peter and then spent some time praying and asking various people for their intercession. For example, I was able to pray before the tomb of St. Gregory Nazianus and a few popes.
And then at 10:30 am I attended Mass for the Feast of Christ the King in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. (I'll post pictures tomorrow but it's where inspiration forthe Holy Spirit stained glass window at CTK in Ann Arbor is.) There were literally dozens of priests and 2 bishops and an amazing choir and oh it was beautiful! Tomorrow I'm going to post a video of the ending procession where you can hear the choir and see all the clergy.
I got out of the Basilica around 11:50 just in time for the noon Angelus that's led by the Pope. I also had some icons and rosaries blessed while there.
And then I met up with Heidi and Kevin and we headed off to St. Mary Major to continue my goal of seeing all four major Basilicas of Rome in one day. We didn't see Cardinal Law.
Then we had lunch (I had pesto and linguine!) and Heidi headed home to rest.
And Kevin took me to St. Paul's outside the walls, which I had been really looking forward to seeing. And it exceeded my expectations. I loved it.
Next up was St. John Lateran, which was also great. And I got to see it's amazing baptistry. And on the way there we saw some awesome Roman baths.
And then, finished with the four major basilicas, we decided to hit two other churches: Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (The Holy Cross of Jerusalem) where we saw some amazing relics and ran into some friends of Kevin's including Heidi's old roommate from her first year in Rome.
After that we went to Santa Maria in Trastevere which was gorgeous.
And then we went home to eat dinner with Heidi.

This morning, Kevin and I got up at 5:30 so I could head to the airport where my flight ended up being delayed for about an hour. And the landing on the flight was horrible
But now I'm in Barcelona waiting for my 4:50pm flight back to Bilbao. I should do some homework.

Anyway, Rome was lovely and I'll put pictures and videos up tomorrow. It was honestly my favorite city I've ever visited.
But now I must head back to Bilbao for three more weeks. I cannot wait to come home. I'm so ready for it.
21 more days............

God bless!

Friday, November 21, 2008

En route to Rome

I'm using the WiFi (wee-fee; I really did have to pay a wee-fee for this privilege to use what the Spaniards call "wee-fee") in the Barcelona airport so I can get some paper writing done while waiting for my next flight. I got up this morning at 5:45am and took the metro to the bus station to take a bus to the airport. (three forms of transit before noon...not bad at all)
My flight to Barcelona went well and now I'm sitting here waiting for my next flight which departs at 6pm local time. Two hours after that I'll be in Rome.
But right now I really should be writing about "Sin Rumbo" since that paper is due on Wednesday.

And for my countdowns!
0 days to Rome...but still about 9.5 more hours
1 day until the feast of St. Cecilia and the 45th anniversary of the deaths of JFK, Huxley, and C.S. Lewis
And I'll be home sweet home en los Estados Unidos in 24 glorious days.

Now off to righting about a man without direction and the child who gave him direction....

And the C.S. Lewis quote of the day, which I almost forgot: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’...No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”
(a huge thank you to Kyle's facebook page for supplying me with that one.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All roads lead to Rome

First off, the C.S. Lewis quotation del dia: "Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature."
I like that.

Yesterday I took two grammar tests in less than an hour; it wasn't wonderful. But then I got some great ideas for my essay about "Sin Rumbo" that's due on Wednesday. And I know what I'm writing my "San Manuel Bueno, Martir" essay that's for Thursday about. Unfortunately, I have to take my laptop to Rome with me so I can write essays while on my layovers. I love being a student.

Tomorrow morning, I'm flying to Rome. I'll leave Bilbao around 8:30 am and land in Barcelona about an hour later. And then I'll leave there around 6pm and get to Rome around 8pm. And there I'll be meeting Heidi and Kevin Keiser. I cannot wait to see them. I miss Heidi very muchly and I'll be staying with her (and her husband) for the weekend. I'm coming home on Monday and missing all my classes that day. Boo-hoo
This Saturday is the feast of St. Cecilia and so they're taking me to the Basilica of St. Cecilia. I'm very excited. And I'll get to see Rome. What else could a girl ask for?

Tuesday I'll post (with pictures, I promise; I'll remember my camera this time) about my Roman Holiday.
I feel like Audrey Hepburn jetting off to see the world.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where are these kids learning these things?

This morning, Gabi and Dani came into my room to say good-bye to me before I left for school. I was in the process of French braiding my hair but definitely took the time to say "Adios" to them. And what does Gabriel say to me? "Adios, Cecilia, guapito." Guapito comes from "guapo" which means handsome. So a three-year-old tried to flirt with me. Welcome to Spain.

I have two exams tonight. Both in are advanced grammar. I could die or just start crying.

2 days to Rome
3 until the Feast of St. Cecilia and the 45th anniversary of the deaths of Aldous Huxley, JFK, and C.S. "Jack" Lewis
26 days until my return to home

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"
-C.S. Lewis

Let's face it; I like the guy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Countdown begins

27 days to home...
3 days to Rome...
4 days to the 45th anniversary of the deaths of JFK, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. "Jack" Lewis...

So which countdown was I talking about? Wouldn't you like to know?

Tomorrow I have two grammar exams. Next week, I have two papers due and a presentation on Thursday.
And the week after that I have a presentation. I think I have two papers due as well as exams for each of my five classes the week after that. And then I'll be home free. And I'll be home on December 15.

On a pro-life note, please check out this article about Christoff Cardinal Schonborn and the population crisis in Europe.

And this is one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotations: "You don't have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Silly People

video
So these are my little siblings. Daniela wants me to take their picture at the end. It's only 13 seconds. But hey, you get to see them and hear her voice. And I thought it was pretty funny.

This weekend, I developed the grippe or the flu. And the family was off in Asturias so I was home alone and sick. So I called my friend Natalie and my phone told me that I was out of minutes. But somehow, Natalie got the message that I was trying to get a hold of her. And she came over to bring me Sprite and make sure that I was surviving.
And I lived.

The family got home last night around 8pm. And I wasn't dying anymore by then. So life was good.

And yes I would love some peanut butter for Christmas. But I also want a pony.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not much to report

Sorry...my life in Spain is boring.
Dad's birthday is Sunday. But he's in the States and I'm not. So yeah, I remembered; I noticed. I win.

I'm still sick. Lovely...I need to go buy medicine.

So now I'm going to make you a list of things I miss from the States.
  1. People
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. Oreos
  4. Starbucks
  5. Peanut Butter
  6. UCO
  7. Snow
  8. Peanut Butter
  9. Macaroni and cheese
  10. Salsa
  11. Peanut Butter
Yeah, I miss Peanut Butter. See you in 32 days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A person may develop a cold

Last night we found out that Gabriel has bronchitis.
And I'm a coughing, sneezing, stuffed-up, running nose mess. Life is delightful. I think I have a head cold. I don't think it's a result of waiting around for Nathan Detroit for the past fourteen years; I'm pretty sure I didn't know who he was when I was six. But I could use some sweet and sour soup to clear the congestion.
Last night, Jessica and I were talking about Christina Rosetti and her poem "Goblin Market" which we read in Brit Lit II last semester. And Francisco was stunned we knew who Christina was.
So Thanksgiving Day: I have a presentation and a paper due. And the day before I have a paper due as well. I think I might climb out the windows that day.

Okay, I feel like crapt! I think that I should try sleeping more. But I got like nine hours of sleep last night so that can't be my problem. I don't know what's going on anymore.

But I'm going to Rome in nine days!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Bloody Mess

Well, it's Tuesday. And it's raining.

So over the weekend, my host family got their knives sharpened and forgot to tell me about it. Then yesterday after "la comida" I was cutting my daily apple when I got a little confused and sliced my thumb. And it was one bloody mess. I couldn't get Carol to understand that I needed something to cut off the circulation as well as something to staunch the blood for a while. So blood just poured everywhere. Eventually we got everything cleaned up and settled. But now I have a lovely cut on my left thumb. I just discovered that my host family does not own band-aids. But I should be fine.

Not much else is going on these days. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I enJOYed Austria

I loved Austria. I always loved Katie but now I love John, Lisa, and Maria as well. It was a very blessed trip.
They gave me TWO peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And I got to talk to them about theology and politics and economics. It was lovely. Maria is adorable and the rest of them are just good.
They loaned me a book "The Last Crusade" about the Catholic martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, which I'm really looking forward to reading. I also want to read "The Cypresses Believe in God" which is about the same thing.
They also introduced me to two beers: Czech Budweiser and the beer that they brew there at the Kartause (sp?). Both beers were good. The Czech Bud was bitter but the Dunkel was sweeter and I liked it more.

And on my way home, I had Starbucks in the Vienna airport. And now I'm going to explain why I love Starbucks. They use soy milk. I'm lactose intolerant and most Spaniards don't understand that or know what soy milk is. But Starbucks has an international company policy to use soy milk upon request. Therefore, this was the first time I could drink coffee AND enjoy it in months.

I'm back in Bilbao for 11 days before shooting off to Rome. Paris has been cancelled since I can't find someone to go with me.
But I'll be back stateside in 35 days or 5 weeks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vienna (and Gaming) wait for me

Tonight I'm off for Vienna. And I can't wait.

"But it is His work. I think God wants to show His greatness by using nothingness."
-Mother Teresa

I was looking for another quotation and I found this one. I think this will now be my motto. I want to show His greatness by my nothingness.

This isn't exactly the quotation for which I was looking but it has the same spirit. And I think this is a good reminder for us right now.

"Time: You and John Paul II, among other Church leaders, have spoken out against certain lifestyles in the West, against materialism and abortion. How alarmed are you?

Mother Teresa: I always say one thing: If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed? It is difficult to explain , but it is just that.

Time: When you spoke at Harvard University a few years ago, you said abortion was a great evil and people booed. What did you think when people booed you?

Mother Teresa: I offered it to our Lord. It’s all for Him, no? I let Him say what He wants.

Time: But these people who booed you would say that they also only want the best for women?

Mother Teresa: That may be. But we must tell the truth.

Time: And that is?

Mother Teresa: We have no right to kill. Thou shalt not kill, a commandment of God. And still should we kill the helpless one, the little one? You see we get so excited because people are throwing bombs and so many are being killed. For the grown ups, there is so much excitement in the world. But that little one in the womb, not even a sound? He cannot even escape. That child is the poorest of the poor."

In REALLY exciting news, I emailed Heidi Keiser yesterday to ask her if I could use their towels whilest in Austria. And while thinking about this visit, I realized that I'd be there on November 22, the Feast of St. Cecilia (and C.S. Lewis who would totally be a saint if he were officially Catholic) so I asked Heidi if we could do something about this. And she replied that they'd already realized that I would be in Rome on the feast of my patroness and they were already planning on taking me to the Basilica of St. Cecilia that day. I'm psyched! Not only do I get to go to the Basilica of my patroness but I get to do it on her feast day. This will really be amazing. Oh and the Keisers have towels I can use. I'll be there in about two weeks. And I'll be in Vienna around 4:30pm tomorrow and Gaming around 8pm. I'm so excited.

And my reading assignment for myself right now is Humanae Vitae. I've never read it and I think I need to do so now more than ever. I'm also planning to read Evangelium Vitae. I really miss the free printing at GVSU. Here it's 8 euro cents/page. I think I'll save these on my computer and read them here. And then we'll print them off later. And for those of you who are interested, the Vatican's website has a wealth of encyclicals from most of the past several popes.

May God bless us and have mercy on us. We need Him now more than ever.
I'll be home in 39 days; I can't believe it.
May the peace of Christ be with you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Grief Observed

Okay it's not really as bad as Joy Lewis dying. But I am very sad. My Spanish culture professor offered me her sympathies and shook my hand because I was the only person in the class who voted for McCain.
Last night, I was praying and I had two thoughts.
1) "The one who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' Then he said, 'Write these words down for they are trustworthy and true.'" -Revelations 21:5
Christ makes all things new. And whatever happens politically, if we cling to him, we're going to make it out alive...in one way or another.
2) "Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again." It's from "Every New Day," a song by Five Iron Frenzy and I think that mercy and grace are all we have right now.

Life in Spain is going well. Zapatero (Spain's Prime Minister) and Europe rejoice at Obama's election.
I'm going to Austria to see the joys in a few short days. Tomorrow night, I'm taking a night bus to Barcelona and then Friday I'm flying (via Austrian Airlines) to Vienna and then taking a train to Gaming where Katie and Company will be waiting for me. Sunday morning, at 10am I'm flying back to Barcelona and then taking a bus back to Bilbao. It's a short trip but it should be good.
And then Rome (and Heidi and Kevin) is about two weeks away.
I finsihed three essays this week as well as "San Manuel Bueno Martir" by Miguel de Unamuno. And now I need to finish reading "Sin Rumbo" by Eugenio Cambaceres. So my life is never dull.
Last night, Gabriel was running around in my boots again; he likes to play "El Gato en las Botas" with my rubber rain boots. His mom doesn't like this game because she doesn't like him wearing shoes in the house.
Oh well...well, until tomorrow! And I'll be sure to take pictures in Austria.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Potatoes and other tales....or an Election Day 2008 Post about Spanish food and drink

"It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes."
-Douglas Adams

I think we can all agree that I really enjoy Douglas Adams. I also think we can all agree that I really like Peter Kreeft. So where, you might ask, does this leave us? Well, most of you are in the United States of America. AndI am in Spain. So I think we're all ina delightful place gramatically.

So recently people have been remarking about how I shouldn't be missing pumpkin pie and other fall delights of my home country because I'm in Spain. I'll be sure to invite you all over the next time someone feeds me anchovies. Do you think I'm kidding? Oh, no...I've been fed those little disgusting things about five times during my stay in Spain. And then there was the seafood thing that had tentacles and suckers; it wasn't octopus but I don't know what it was. Okay, I don't know it's name. I gave it a very fair chance but it was disgusting.
The rest of the food here is pretty bland; they don't use a lot of spices. We do eat a lot of potatoes and you really cannot save the world with potatoes. Umm, we eat a lot of local fish. We have spaghetti every week or so. We have chicken once a week. It's all pretty bland and regular except for empanadillas which are fabulous. Other people I know have host moms who are great cooks. But at my place, it's all pretty bland and regular. I get fried eggs with chorizo some times. Eggs are good; chorizo, meh, not so much...
So yes, I do feel entitled to miss pumpkin pie.

Election fever is on in Spain. They're covering our elections on their TV news; it's all very strange. And they're all eager to know who will "ganar" or win. Will it be McCain or Obama? Angel asked me about it at dinner the other night and I told him that my guess was that it would be Obama but only "por un poco" or by a little. He told me that he agreed. At this point, Miss Daniela felt very left out and announced that she thought that "McCama" would win. I don't think she was trying to be funny; I think she was confused by the names and really thought that one of them was name "McCama." Kids these days....
And my classmates are all discussing it. I'm thinking about both Proposal 2 in Michigan and the election and very worried about the future of life in our country. Our Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." NowI know that our Founding Fathers were mostly Deists, not Christians. But they still valued life. Why don't we?

And just to conclude...as a reminder of what I said about a week ago...
"It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. "
-Douglas Adams

And in honor of the election, I'll throw in some Marx for you...Groucho Marx that is.
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies."

But in all seriousness, I am praying for my nation and asking the intercession of St. Gianna Molla as well as the patron of the U.S., Mary conceived immaculately.
May God help and bless us all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Uh-huh...sure....

Friday, Brittany and I went to the mall. And there we met a woman who wants us to come over to her house for an hour a week to speak English with her kids. She'll pay us 6 or 7 euros. So we said yes. More details to follow...
And then that night, we (about 11 girls) were hanging out at my apartment since I was home alone. We got talking about our essay for Intro to Lit that's due on Wednesday. I'm done with mine since I also have to write on for Panorama of Lit. And Natalie looks at me and says, "If you write my essay for me, I'll make you balloon animals." I refused. And about two hours later, I found out that was a really good thing when she informed me that she doesn't know how to make balloon animals."

This weekend, I met two more Rioja wines. I'm really liking them. Brittany and I are talking about heading down to the Rioja on the 15th for the day.

Last night at dinner, it came up that I'm going to Austria this weekend and Dani wanted to know why I got to travel all the time. Her dad told her that I behave myself and work hard and study hard so I get to travel as my reward. She protested that she behaves and studies hard too. So then Angel told her that she was too young.
Big sister laughs....

42 days to home! I'll see y'all soon!
But first...Vienna, Rome, and Paris...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ah Espana...we love you

First things first...
I don't know if he'll see it but it is his eighth birthday so I"ll at least acknowledge the occasion via blog. And it's Alaina's birthday but I already took care of that via facebook. Now that we're all caught up on our duties....

The internet here is getting worse by the day and it's getting to be beyond ridiculous. But it's only in certain place.
And I have a culture exam today. That should be interesting. It could be disastrous. Or it could be fine. We'll have to see.

I shall be home alone this weekend. Yeah, that's right. I'm home alone for the third or fourth weekend in the eight weeks I've been here. How do I feel about that? Oh, let's aim for pretty pissed off. But I have plans for this weekend. So hopefully that will improve my prospects. I'm going to the movies tonight with Kayleigh. I'm going shopping one day this weekend. And tomorrow night, Alyssa, Brenda, and Natalie are coming over to watch 27 Dresses and I'm going to see if they can spend the night. If so, there will be more movies involved. We'll see what happens. Who knows what I might end up doing? Maybe I'll do homework. I could be a good kid and surprise us all.
I'm really craving Starbucks. I miss pumpkin spice lattes. I miss coffee shops. I miss pumpkin pie. I miss home. But there's only 46 more days in Spain. And next weekend, I'm going to Austria but I have to go to Barcelona to get there. And you know what Barcelona has? STARBUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They don't have pumpkin spice lattes but they do have mocha and caramel macchiato and blueberry muffins. I'm getting excited.
In eight days, I'll be in Austria with Katie and it will be amazing. But first I have to write two papers and take an exam.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Europe 8, Cecilia 3

So today Europe won two battles. I now own a pair of skinny jeans and a pair of rubber rain boots. My feet have been completely soaked through a few too many times and my ballet flats are basically ruined. Therefore I now own boots. And you literally cannot get these boots on your legs without wearing skinny jeans. Hence, I own skinny jeans.
And I made that count up. I have no clue what the count is between me and Spain. I might actually be winning. Who knows?

Yesterday, a classmate told me that he liked my outfit that day and thought I looked very Victorian.

And today, Carol, the nanny, told me that she wants to quit her job because for 600 Euro/month, she now has to take care of the kids, clean our apartment, cook for us and the grandparents, and clean the grandparents' apartment. I think she's pretty serious. She told me that she'll stay until I leave and then she wants to leave after that. So what do I do? I'm pretty confused.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

It's raining. Welcome to a Bilbao winter. This morning, I pegged my jeans before walking to school. (It hasn't stopped raining since yesterday morning, fyi.) And when I got to school, my feet were soaking wet because I'd stepped in a few too many rivers. I used an umbrella and everything but I'm still pretty wet. And I don't like it, not one bit.
"I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?"
-Douglas Adams

"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays. "
-Douglas Adams

Yeah, that's how I feel. Plus, Thursday is the end of my school week.

Okay, so I'm now convinced that Spanish children are spoiled rotten. Gabi and Dani scream and cry to get out of everything. And when their dad tries to punish them, they just scream more. Last night, their grandparents were over and the kiddos were screaming. Angel wanted to send them to bed without dinner and their grandmother interfered and the kids got to stay at the dinner table, eat dinner, go to bed with a bedtime story, and everything. I was PISSED. I didn't say or do anything but my gosh! If I did crap like that, I got spanked. Just punish the kids. Screw the grandparents. Tell them that they're not the parents so they should shut up and let the parents be parents. All these kids are learning is that if they scream and cry, Grandma will interfere and they'll get what they want.
Last night, Daniela was criticizing my Spanish accent as she often does. I speak with a Mexican accent and she's always mocking me for it. She said that she couldn't understand me and she was pretty sure that I was speaking Italian, not Spanish. I'm sick of her mocking me when her English isn't as great as she thinks it is. And her accent sucks; she can't say sugar correctly. It's "SHU-gar" not "sue-GAR." And that's just the start. So I looked at her and said, "Well, when you speak English, half the time, I can't understand you and I'm pretty sure that you're speaking Irish not English." (By Irish I meant Gaelic but I don't know the Spanish word for Gaelic.) And she started to cry because I insulted her English, which does suck. But then her dad told her that my Spanish is better than her English. I win!

But in other news, I'm 48 days from home. And God is here and I'm starting to see him more and more. And I need to remember this quotation from Dante Alighieri
"In God's will our peace."
And I really think the title of this post (however confusing it might be) really does apply to me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I needed to share this

I know I never post multiple times in a day. But this is how I feel about the election.
"It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."
-Douglas Adams
Please check out this link. It's been making my day.

The hallway is VERY cold

It really is. I'm pretty sure they don't use the heat here.
And yes, Jenny, you can come to the Jane Austen night. It's open to any GIRLS who want to come.

So the weekend...
Well, Friday I did homework and watched movies on my laptop. Saturday, I did homework and then I had a coffee and movie date with Crissy. We went to see "El Nino en los Pijamas de Rayas" or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It's about the Holocaust and VERY depressing but very good. It's British and I strongly recommend it.
Sunday, I watched Heroes and came up with theories about the show. I really do lead a VERY boring life. I need more movies to watch or something. Any recommendations? I'm really into chick flicks and stuff like that.

Also, I need a long-sleeved MICHIGAN t-shirt. Mine has holes in the armpits. And I fixed them as best I could with thread and a tapestry needle. But yeah, that's a sign of desperation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

53 days to go....

That's how long until I come home.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. I'm looking forward to home but I'm not sure I want to leave here. It's complicated.

This is the best story I've ever read.
"Cuando despertó el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí. "
That's the whole story. It's by Augusto Monterroso. What does it mean? That's the great question of life. And it's difficult to say. Francisco introduced us to it in literature yesterday. It was amazing. But I didn't laugh out loud. Francisco really likes my laugh, which is funny because it has been described as the "most obnoxious sound on earth" by various people. But I'm glad someone likes my laugh and doesn't tell me to stop laughing when I laugh.

Last night we went out for wine, cheese, and gelato to celebrate Natalie's birthday. She's 21! We had an amazing local wine, Sierra Cantabrica. And I had Kinder gelato, which was amazing. I love Spain on days like that.
I really want to watch the new Sense and Sensibility and then the Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow. I think I need a Jane Austen movie night. Maryn, you in for this? We'll do it when I get home.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It’s the Emptiness and Loneliness that hurts the most

Loneliness continues to be my biggest struggle in Spain. I want to see God here. And I know he’s here. My question continues to be “But where?” I want to know when the night will end and the day will dawn. But I also know that night is always darkest just before the dawn. So either things will get darker or they’re about to get better….

And as the greatest musical of all time continually reminds us “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will dawn. We will live again in freedom in garden of the Lord. We will walk behind the plowshare; we will put away the sword. The chains will be broken and all men will have their reward.”

Yeah, I’d like that.

I’m sick of the internet here at school but it’s all I have. It sucks; it randomly times itself out and just shuts down on me. It's obnoxious and it drives me nuts. But at least I have internet.

And there are things here that I love. I have four professors here and I'm taking five classes. So I'm going to take you through my school week.

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 9am I have Basque Cultura and Language with Itziar Munoz. She's not even 30 and SOOOOO cute and sweet. She has a huge class and she does a pretty good job of handling us.

Monday and Wednesday at 4:10pm I have Advanced Spanish Grammar with Jon Ortiz de Urbana. It's really a linguistics class and it's boring as can be. Alyssa, Crissy, and I are counting down the days until we're free of Jon and the class. He's a nice guy but it's just soooooo boring.

Monday and Wednesday at 5:30pm I have Intro to Hispanic Literature until 1900 with Francisco Sogeuro. Francisco is hysterical in any language and a great professor. His idea of democracy is "Quieres leer? Yes or Yes?" It's great and he really is a good teacher and he's fun.

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:10pm and Wednesdays at 9 am I have modern Spanish culture and civilization with Ana Ruiz-Baton Ruiz. She's ridiculous. This morning, she called herself a witch. She also told us that if we wanted to overthrow her as captain of the boat, just let her know and she'd leave. She's a character and I love her. She's also a really good teacher who does a great job of making stuff that's pretty boring really interesting.

And then Tuesdays and Thursdays I go back to Francisco for Panorama of Spanish Literature. It's great. Most of the kids are in both classes so we're all getting to know each other and Francisco pretty well. I'm really enjoying this.

But spiritually, I'm still struggling. I want to know when the night will end. But as John Hughes's voice is currently reminding me, the battle is now; we're here to fight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"The Morning Report" gives you the long and the short

Not a tail I distort on the Morning Report!
I should just watch The Lion King. I really love it and I listen to the musical's soundtrack quite a bit. But then since I don't have a whole lot of music, I listen to the same 300 songs over and over again. It's quite boring; please send music.
Anyway...life here in Spain is going well. This morning, Gabriel woke up sick, which isn't fun for him. But I got to stick my tongue out at him before I left for class this morning. He was so cute. He was sitting on the couch watching a movie in his pajamas while opening and closing these boxes he found the other day. He really is easily amused. But he's so cute...
Last night, Angel came home from visiting his parents in the Principality of Asturias. His mom had surgery on Thursday so he spent the weekend visiting them and helping take care of her. So last night, I walked in the front door after a fantastic skype date with Kyle. And Gabriel came flying out of the playroom/dining room, expecting his father.
Instead he found me. So he just stared at me while I put my purse and backpack in my room. And then when I turned around, he started running so I chased him into the playroom/dining room...where we ran into his mother, Daniela, and Marian's aunt and uncle. It was a little embarassing but they were very nice.
And I got empanadillas for dinner; they're my favorite. By the way, the picture is of the Prince of Asturias. He is the heir to the throne of Spain. You can learn more about him here. He is the son of the King of Spain and all that jazz. I'm not quite sure how/why Asturias gets him as their prince. I think it's kind of like the "Prince of Wales" bit that Charlie-boy has going on in England. Ah, Charlie-boy, he's a good old chap...


Life here isn't terribly exciting these days. I'm looking forward to doing some travelling next month and not quite sure how to entertain myself these next few months.
Why do the Spanish come inside to smoke when it's cold or rainy? I'm going to get lung cancer from these jerks.
And why do women who aren't twigs insist on wearing skinny jeans? Or why do brunettes go blonde? And what the the poetic world's obsession with the idea that blondes are prettier than brunettes. I take offense.
I think I'll get off my soap box now. Please go play with Wikipedia; it's fun and occasionally correct.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Joy: the ineffable sign of the presence of God

We went to Guernica and the Sea this weekend. I think I'm just failing in love with water here. It really is an icon of God.
Just look and see. It's so beautiful and so Godly.
The other thing I did this weekend was homework and play with Gabriel. I was tickling him a lot on Sunday when I got home from Mass and then we were wrestling. And then I was flipping him around. I really love being a big sister. He's so loving and sweet, most of the time. He is really one of my favorite things about Spain.








These are probably the two best pictures I've ever taken.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lead us now unto war; we accept our mission

Alex sent me "Lead On, Oh Lord" a couple days ago and it makes me SOOOOO happy. That's where I pulled the title from. My titles are generally songs or word blips that I have in my head that day.
This morning, I had a Basque Culture and Civilization Exam. I think it went pretty well but there were a couple things I was worried about. School is really starting to pick up. I have an essay due in one of my two literature classes every week. So travelling EVERY weekend is not really that great of an idea. But I'm going to be in Bilbao part of this weekend and all of five weekends scattered throught the next several weeks before my return home. But I'm planning to make at least one more trip to Vitoria before I leave and one of those is my last weekend here, which will probably mostly be spent pakcing and saying good-bye to friends and family here. And I do need to spend some time here learning and experiencing the culture.
Being here I often find myself wondering why God has called me to this place. I also worry about returning home. I know that I'm growing and changing here and I wonder how that will all fit in when I go home.
“…How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold. Bilbo once told me his part in this tale would end... that each of us must come and go in the telling. Bilbo's story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him... save one. My dear Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.”
This quotation from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King often rings in my mind. Am I Sam, Frodo, or Bilbo? How will the journey I am on be affected by returning home? Am I Bilbo who was able to live at home for a time but was never the same? Am I Sam who was able to live a long, fruitful life in the Shire after the War of the Ring? Or am I Frodo who was wounded and unable to live in Middle Earth any longer? This all sounds very weird and slightly morbid and depressing. I know that I'll be able to live in Michigan in my old world with my old friends. But will it be the same? I know that I've changed and I'm sure other people have changed.
But anyway...it's almost the weekend. And I love weekends. I think I might take myself out for pastry after Mass on Sunday. I really don't like going to Mass alone. Does anyone want to come visit me and go to Mass with me?
But I know that I'm here to do the will of God. So now I just have to figure out how that manifests itself in my life.