Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Teaching groove, optimistic glory, and blocks

1. When someone asks me how my day teaching was, I can honestly say that it´s been alright, uneventful, or even a bit amusing.

2. As I listen to other people vent about every little detail that´s pissing them off, I feel relieved that I´m more often than not, an optimist.

3. While teaching my adult students last night, I learn that ¨blocks¨ as in a reference to how far away something is (i.e. she lives 4 blocks away)...means ¨manzana¨ or ¨apple¨ in Spanish. I savor a ¨student moment¨ in a class where I´m supposed to be teaching.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Moon, window hippo, and Halloween candy

1. As I walk home, the moon is surrounded by that glowing halo of light and from where I´m standing, it´s evenly centered between two lines of trees that run along the street. There are no cars coming, but I pause briefly to gaze at the dark wisps of cloud that pass over the moon making it bright white one second and mottled the next.

2. There is a stuffed hippo wearing a red sweater in the window of a stationery shop and he´s sitting directly beneath a display light so that it looks as though the spotlight is on and he´s about to perform.

3. David brings in a package of candy corn that his mother sent him way back in October. Because his roommate didn´t know David´s last name and told the postman that there was no David by that name, the package got sent back to the U.S. Better late than never.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pink, playing along, and hot wine

1. Spanish men are not afraid to wear pink shirts or pink ties for that matter. It´s actually a pretty common occurence.

2. An older gentleman starts talking to me at the bus stop while we´re waiting and I can only pick out two or three words he´s saying. Instead of surrending and throwing out my, ¨lo siento, no hablo...¨, I decide that I´m just too tired and play along as if I understand the conversation. I make a guess that he wants to know about bus number 8. And as it pulls up, I point to it and he smiles and never appeared to have a clue that I was an idiot or foreigner or both for that matter.

3. With the help of cinnamon sticks, cloves, oranges, lemon, brown sugar, and some 75 cent table wine, we´ve created some amazing mulled wine for our Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Smiles, carousel, and a curious cat

1. I´m happy and I don´t know why, but I feel like smiling as I walk down the street.

2. There is a quite large, yet very old-fashioned carousel being set up in Plaza Mayor. I assume it´s for Christmas, like so many other decorations that are draping the city in festivity.

3. There is a white cat venturing out of an apartment window and climbing through the attached flower box. He looks unsure, so decides to hop back inside where it´s warm.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scuba Kat, sibling helper, and perfect pesto

1. Today it´s raining and instead of avoiding puddles, I´ve been stomping into them gleefully having come prepared with boots instead of regular shoes.

2. I see two young children waiting at a bus stop and I assume they are brother and sister, when the sister holds her arm in front of the little boy before he gets on the wrong bus.

3. A spaghetti dinner with the most delicious tasting pesto. If Spain can do one thing right, it´s anything to do with olives, olive oil, and olive related products.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vanilla sky, new threads, cozy

1. While walking home from work, I smell a heavy scent of vanilla in the air and whether it was born from factories or someone´s kitchen, I´ll never know, but decide just to savor it.

2. I´m wearing a new cream colored sweater today that I bought in Salamanca and it´s keeping me warm as the temperatures start to drop even lower.

3. This morning, my blanket is wrapped around me perfectly and the temperature in my room is not too hot or not too cold. I also realize this with one more hour to stay in bed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanks givings, have a seat, and past cities

1. Even though it´ll never beat Thanksgiving 2005 abroad in Hungary, planning the contents of Thanksgiving 2007 abroad in Spain make me look forward to the weekend.

2. Getting on the normally packed number 8 bus to my afternoon/evening classes and having to blink because there´s nobody on the bus. Every single last seat is available and I can sit down.

3. Having a dream about going back to Budapest and realizing how much I love that city and how I really do want to go back.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Small world, shopping, and simply standing

1. At a bar on Friday night, there´s a Lithuanian guy sitting at our table who is suddenly out of the conversation when his friends leave to get a drink. I start talking to him and realize that he´s worked very close (Darien, to be exact) to my hometown in the U.S. We start talking about 75th street and how he thinks Bennigan´s has the best ribs he´s ever tasted.

2. Walking into the shops in Salamanca with Ann on Saturday and realizing that we have the entire shop to ourselves as it is the tail-end of siesta.

3. Ann and I watch the people in Plaza Mayor, Salamanca. Just about every Spanish city seems to have a ¨main square¨ or plaza mayor. I joke to her that I´ll start a photo collection of all the plaza mayors in Spain. But mostly, we just stand there eating our sandwiches, observing all the well dressed people (the men with the men and the women with the women) just standing about as if they´re waiting to be seen or waiting for something to happen. It´s in these moments that I see cultural differences.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saturday in Salamanca, late morning, blue sky

NOTE: I missed my computer time yesterday (I´m making up for it today), because I skipped out to meet Aran for lunch.

1. Thinking about a day trip to Salamanca tomorrow with a friend. I know nothing about the town, but I´m excited to travel and move away from all things work-related.

2. This morning is the first Friday morning that I´ve not had to be at work until 3:30, because my colleagues and I have no Young Learner´s Course this morning. As a result, I feel a bit more rested and fresh.

3. The sky is of a color blue that I´ve never seen before. A color that people would pay for in the shape of a gem to sit and gaze upon their finger. It gets me thinking about how many shades of sky there actually are.

November in Spain, morning light, and passafires

1. Seeing my breath in the air, people armed in winter accessories, the temperature on the clock at one degree Celsius, and yet there are still palm trees standing tall, seemingly untouched and unfazed by the cold.

2. The horizontal sunrise line gradually moves higher and higher across cathedrals and plaza columns on my morning walk to Spanish class.

3. My two adult students ask for the name of the thing that Maggie Simpson has in her mouth. I explain that it´s a passafire. As the two women laugh and talk in Spanish, I can understand that they´re creating their own meaning for the word. Something roughly like, ¨when the baby cries, it´s like a fire, so you need to pass something over quickly to stop the fire.¨

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Teacher voice, ´za, and student compromise

1. Getting pushed to near breaking point by students, but then remembering that lashing out does no good for anyone, then lowered my voice to a gentler decibel.

2. Coming home to the smell of baking pizza.

3. After a much too loud argument among my students about who gets to clean the blackboard, Angela smiles sweetly and raises her hand. ¨Idea...Gonzalo today, Pablo Wednesday, Paula on Monday,¨ she says. I was pleasantly surprised and took her advice.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The other side of the desk, long underwear, and ARRRR...

1. Going to my first Spanish lesson, sitting in the desks my students normally sit in, and getting extremely giddy about being a student again.

2. My nine year old students refer to ¨tights¨ as ¨underwear.¨

3. Another student adds ¨pirate¨ to the list of professions we have written on the blackboard.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Good job, animal hybrids, and Sunday trip

1. Positive feeback from the Director of Studies about my classes at Lourdes.

2. An advertisement in Madrid with a red silohuette of a ¨horsechicken¨ that amuses me so much that I want to take a picture. I can´t help but think how top heavy the horse head is compared with chicken legs.

3. Coming home on a bus from Madrid with Aran and Ann with a good meal in our stomachs, many pictures, and realizing that I´ve found an antidote to the Sunday blues.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Autumn, Christmas, and wise words

1. Yellow leaves whip through the sunny morning air like twirling golden stars.

2. Workers have begun hanging green and red glass ornaments nestled in garland from the buildings in Valladolid´s main square, and even though I know it´s still fairly early for all things Christmas, I can´t help but be excited, anticipating this year´s holiday in a new and very religious country.

3. Remembering a piece of advice my dad gave me about being careful not to burn bridges.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Teenage enthusiasm, present, and ride home

1. Watching my normally indifferent and lethargic fourteen year old students squealing with laughter during a warm-up game before the lesson.

2. Opening my fridge to see that Aran bought me three portable bottles of Coke Light, just the way I like them.

3. Leaning back in my seat on the bus after a long day of teaching, while letting the bus driver take me closer to home and a warm dinner.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My very own, a special treat, and foreign transactions

1. I find a laminated worksheet listing all the English tenses that I bought in Budapest several months ago and realize that I can hang it on the wall, because it is indeed my very own classroom and I can put it anywhere I want.

2. On my way to my first class, I stop at the grocery store to grab a Coke Light to give me the kick I need to get through the rest of the afternoon/evening and as a bonus, I´ve made it in time before the pre-siesta rush.

3. My bus card is low on credit and I´m still somewhat nervous to ask for things in Spanish. However, when it´s over and I´ve managed to communicate, ¨I want to recharge...for 5.80....thank you...see you later...¨ I feel that rush from accomplishing a micro-mini chore in a foreign country. I

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Making life easier

I´ve decided that I have got to start writing more. But it´s hard to do it when I´m jumping all over town with only several minutes to spare on Internet. So, I will continue my posts in the theme of another blogger who I discovered about a year ago. She delivers her observations and thoughts in digestive bits of 3 each day. These bits are something beautiful and positive, even though they may appear little to an ordinary observer.

A few days ago, I read my online quote of the day and I was told that happiness is not a trip to Paris or getting a successful job, because more often than not, expectations will not always be met. Happiness is in the traveling....not to Spain or France or Turkey or wherever a dream destination may lie...but in the traveling through life and the little things you encounter each day. I can´t remember who said it, but it´s stuck with me for a week now. Between reading Clare´s blog ¨Three Beautiful Things,¨ the above paraphrased quote, and my desire to write and capture my time in Spain, it´s become time to chain myself to a chair in front of the computer for at least a few minutes everyday and write....starting....tomorrow.