Thursday, October 30, 2008
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
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 think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?"
"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays. "
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
"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."
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This is Dori. I stayed with her and her family over the weekend. She's really sweet and pretty dang awesome.
And this is Jesus's wife, Rosario. She's absolutely awesome. And she owns the In Spirit and Truth CD. Therefore, she is pretty much fabulous in my book.
Life here is going pretty well. School keeps me busy most of the time. And I have Heroes to get me through the day. I'm not quite sure what else to tell you. I miss home but I like being here.
I'm now officially going to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Paris. (That's the new charge on the card, Mom.) And I'm still looking at heading to Santa Marinella (that's sort of Rome) to see the Keisers pre-baby. And I'm definitely hitting up Austria and the Joys in early November. God is good and travelling is fun.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
One of my best/happiest moments there came Saturday night. I was at a prayer vigil the youth were having and we were eating dinner. Over dinner, Rosario (the wife of one of the coordinators) took out the In Spirit and Truth CD and we were all looking at it. And they were asking me if I knew all the songs on it. (I do.) They know some of the songs but most of them don't speak English very well. But they all know "Take Us Higher Up" by Ed Conlin from On Holiday last summer (2007) but they couldn't remember the tune. So they asked me to start singing it for them. So I did and suddenly I had a table of about 15-20 Spaniards singing that song.
The whole weekend was absolutely wonderful and I plan on returning. (I think they expect me to.) It was a real blessing and very good for my soul.
In other news, last night we learned that Cecilia can get REALLY pissed off in Spanish. Last night I was playing Memory with Daniela who HATES to lose at anything and so she cheats like there's no tomorrow. So after telling her to please stop cheating or I wouldn't play with her anymore, I just got up from the table and left, taking my cards with me because she wanted to claim them for her own. And then she and Gabriel chased me to my room screaming at me and trying to hit me. So then, in the middle of the kitchen (in front of their parents) I told her that I wouldn't play with her until she stopped cheating. Umm...that went over well. So I went to my room to do homework and then she got a lecture from her dad. Her mom thinks that kids don't really understand things until about age ten but her dad just wants her to learn to stop cheating.
And she apologized and things were much better by dinner time.
In other news, I had my first migraine in Spain yesterday. That was NOT fun.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Marisa is Marian's slightly ridiculous mother who thinks I need more Spanish friends and I need to get out more and study less; I'm pretty sure she's NOT the one paying for my education. She also disappeared for about five minutes yesterday evening and I'm trying to figure out where she went. Paco is Marian's father who speaks exceptional English and doesn't understand the U.S. political system as well as he (and most other Spaniards) thinks he does.
My ballot for the U.S. election arrived yesterday and so before filling it out, I was showing it to Marian and Paco while explaining the issues. They were amazed at the things I have to vote on. And the idea of writing in a candidate? That one blew them out of the water. But they were looking at things like voting for MSU, UofM, and WSU's various Boards of Regents/Governors. And then they were looking at things like Proposals 1 and 2. (By the way, how did you all fail to let me know that medical marajuana had made the ballot?) But then we were discussing U.S. politicians and what they think of Obama, McCain, Palin, and the Clintons. Paco really liked Hillary. Ayeessh! I like these people but my goodness! I'm sick of them trying to explain the U.S. political system to me. I know that our economy is in deep crap right now. I am also aware that Europeans don't really like Bush or the Iraq war. Maybe it isn't as big of a deal here or to these people, but for me, abortion and infanticide and all related issues are incredibly important when it comes to my voting record. I'd rather vote for Mickey Mouse than Obama. But only if Micky is pro-life...
Last night, I was (finally) watching the first half of the season premiere of Heroes. (Yes, I am aware that it first aired about two or three weeks ago but what with my hard drive's death and all, things took a while.) And at the end, one of the characters was reciting "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats while they showed where all the main characters were at that point. In a horrible way, the words really reminded me of this election and of the way I feel this world has been going of late. It especially struck me since Donal has been sarcastically referring to Obama as the "Messiah." These last five lines really struck me.
"The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"
Umm...yeah, I don't know why but that really struck me. It was written right after WWI, and was reflecting the poet's feelings about the change of the world. But somehow I really feel that we need to ask ourselves this question right now. What is coming?
And why does Cecilia keep blogging about politics and not her life in Spain?
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
So if I can walk by the end of the day, it will be a miracle. This morning while walking to my wardrobe (where I keep my lion and my witch) I walked into my doorstop. And yes, I was wearing my glasses. I think it's time to get my brain checked. I ripped the skin off two toes and resisted the urge to scream the English form of "Joder." Go look that up and find out how Irish I really am.
And then on my way to school, I was crossing this wooden (and steel) bridge that I cross every day. But it was really wet today and I kept slipping. And TWICE I did the splits and landed on my right knee. And the second time, my right foot slid in between two boards on the bridge. I now have cuts all over my foot and my knee is bruised and bloodied. (Am I in a war?) The first time I fell, this nice girl stopped and asked if I was all right; I replied that I was since my pride had been wounded more than anything. But the second time, two girls walking by just started laughing at me. Okay, God, I get the message; I need some humility. By the way, could I have some painkillers with that humble pie? My knee and hip are killing me.
So I'm now going to address something that came up about a week ago. I posted about my spiritual loneliness in Bilbao and someone commented to remind me of the cloud of witnesses that surrounds and upholds me in faith...referring to the BVM and the saints. Okay, I know they're there. I talk to them A LOT. I think I probably owe St. Michael about $2,000, four children, two cats, and a chocolate bar. I'm pretty sure I'd better name one of my daughters Gianna, one Mary, and another Monica considering the amount of time I spending talking to them. And I'm already named after St. Cecilia and St. Irene, so I think I'm good with them.
My problem is in accountability and support. I hate being surrounded by cafeteria Catholics and having no one to uphold me in Catholicism. Spanish Catholics rarely go to Mass and they seem to ignore God or have forgotten him except when He can get them a day off work. They live in the land of saints like Teresa of Avila, Isidore of Seville, Ignatius of Loyola, and John of the Cross but they have forgotten God. And it is heart-breaking.
To worsen things, there are Catholics in my program but they aren't strong Catholics clinging to the morality of the Church but rather cafeteria Catholics. I hear girls rejoicing to be liberal Catholics, rejecting the Church on the scores of abortion and gay marriage. They embrace a practice that abuses women and reject He who liberated women. Christ was, in the words of Dr. Peter Kreeft, "such a gentleman that he asked his mother for permission to be born." And then he kept liberating women through his interactions with the women of his day. Most Jewish men of his time NEVER would have treated women like that. But now we must embrace the false Messiah who is really the African-American JFK who wants to kill all the "imperfect" babies. So if you aren't exactly the way we want you, you get to die.
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us. We're complete and utter morons. We've rejected truth in favor of the Kennedy family and their associates. The bodies keep piling up and we keep putting up our blinders. And we don't deserve the mercy of God for the crimes we are commiting. This November, this election will be a matter of life or death. Our culture, our way of life is on the line. Do we fall and join Europe in letting those who will reproduce and follow their Abrahamic law take over our world? Or do we rise above and accept the culture of life, accepting people the way and in the time decreed by God? Do we make ourselves the God once and for all or do we finally accept that we are not God and trust the Creator and Source of Life? We are in a pickle and in less than four weeks, we will find out exactly of what we are made.
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us.
Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Immaculate Conception, pray for us. We can't do this on our own.
And what do I want spiritually? I want support and accountability. I long to know that someone cares about me living according to the Gospel. I long to know that I'm not alone in living my faith. I long to see true Catholicism without reserve or adjustment living in my world. I know that I have support in heaven. What I wonder about is the world around me.
But I'm going to Vitoria this weekend; that should help.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Last night, the munchkins were in my bedroom before dinner while I was working on an essay. And Daniela found my copy of the September 2008 issue of Vogue, which I bought in the airport on my way over here. I like to look at the pictures, the photography in there is fabulous, and the clothing is so gorgeous. Dani was flipping through the magazine telling me what was "bonita" and what was "fea." And Gabi just wanted to look at the pictures because they were pretty.
And then we went to the play room to play because Gabi wanted to play with my Bible and I was afraid he would rip it because the pages are so fragile.
On Sunday, the family went to the Rioja valley, the wine capital of Spain, and brought back grapes. They're SOOOOOO sweet and deliciously amazing. The wine from Rioja valley is really good and the grapes are fabulous. I love eating them. They're so small (uvitas, no uvas) and very sweet. It's fabulous.
Monday, October 6, 2008
So I bent down to his level and he coughed in my face. Big Sister Cecilia replies, "If I'm sick tomorrow morning, I'm going to come looking for you."
His response? "Don't worry; I'm already sick."
Gee thanks buddy...
Friday, it rained cats and dogs. But I had a coffee date with friends so I decided to brave the weather. Before I left, Marian told me not to get wet. When I came back three hours later, I was soaked. She took one look at me and said, "Did you get wet?" I sheepishly nodded and she laughed before saying, "I told you so."
I deserved that one...
We went to southern France and Loyola, Spain on Saturday. It was wonderful. I'll post pictures soon. I'm also working on recreating my computer since I lost pretty much everything when I got my new hard drive on Friday. But the sea is beautiful and I loved it. But the quote of the day was our professor Isabel as we arrived in France. "The people here have a very bad habit that you must be aware of. They speak French."
Saturday night when I got home, I was talking to Marian when Gabriel came into the kitchen and just starting pulling on my hands trying to drag me out of the kitchen. And then when he went to bed, he made me promise to come see him the next morning when I woke up. I think I have a friend.
This weekend, I'm going to Vitoria to see the community; I'm getting pretty excited. I feel like there was more I wanted to blog about but I can't think of what it is.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Last night I had an amazing skype date with my big brother and Nicole and Clarissa. I love those kids; they're amazing.
And then I went home to the world where I'm the big sister. And I love being the big sister. You see, as a child, I was THAT younger sister. I wanted a younger sister, someone who looked up to me and admired me. Now, I have someone who stares at me all through dinner and loves seeing my clothes and my hairbands and my "pendientes" (earrings) which are always "que bonitos." And then I have a little brother who wants to spend as much time as possible in my room climbing all over me and going underneath my bed. Last night, I got home after they'd eaten dinner so they were playing while I was eating and talking to Marian. Daniela had just taken her first ballet lesson that day so she was showing me what she had learned. That girl was born to be an actress or something; she loves having an audience. After dinner, we were in the kitchen cleaning up and I suddenly became a human jungle gym. I was being climbed and people were crawling between my legs. So I kept moving to make their game more complicated because I'm all sweet and loving like that. And then when it was time for the munchkins to go to bed, they were supposed to give me a kiss and say "buenas noches." But instead, they both started climbing all over me demanding that I give piggyback rides. As we all know, I can't carry two children at once, so I just started walking...with one child hanging on to my right leg and the other on my left. We almost fell over a few times and as I walked I was delivering a (probably unheard) monologue about not being a horse or a tree. But it was worth it; we made it all the way to the bathroom where they needed to brush their teeth. And I actually got my good-night kiss from Gabriel this time. But that was probably only because I picked him up and kissed him on the cheek. But they really are great kids...
And on a computer note, Dell is supposed to give me a free new hard drive and then reinstall Windows for me. Oh joyous...I think it's time to start a fund to raise money for me to buy a Mac when I get home.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Last night, Marian tried to make carrot cake for the first time. And she mixed the ingredients in the wrong order. I was trying to help her and neither one of us really knew what we were doing. So we took it out of the oven and it wasn't perfect. But it was edible. And it was pretty good for her first try. We showed it to Angel and he started making faces. I started laughing at him partially because I could tell Marian was really nervous. And because his faces were hysterical; it wasn't that bad. But he, being the fancy cheese snob that he is, wouldn't eat it. This is the man who loves eating Gouda and Camembert; I'm kind of nervous about serving him meatloaf tomorrow night. It's not fancy or anything. I like simple things, but what if they don't like it? I'm really nervous about that. But that's tomorrow. I still have to get through today.