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...