Musings in Granada and elsewhere

Typical American college student in Granada Spain. These are my adventures, thoughts and stories.

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Location: Cada Dia Mas Aqui que Alli, United States

I travel often.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's next?

Granada is a part of me now. My worldview has taken a drastic step to the left, and I don't think it'll ever go back to the way it was. And who knows, Granada is calling to me, and sometime soon, I'm going to have to answer back.

And with that, I've decided that it is really important for me to keep writing and telling my story. So, I've come to the conclusion that I will keep writing a blog, even though I am no longer in Granada. Because the truth of the matter is that my whole life is an adventure, especially the part which is coming up. I've got absolutely no idea what I'm doing with my life, a realization I had this weekend after so many of my family members asked me "So, what's next?"

What's next? It's a question that I hope I never stop asking myself, and a question that I hope I never have a real answer to.

So check it out: So it goes...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Broken Hearted

Heartbroken. I think I'm fine and then it all hits me again. And I just feel this incredible mix of sadness, pain, loneliness, nostalgia and happiness. And calm. If granada ever gave me anything, it gave me peace. But within that peace is such pain and sadness. And happiness. I feel so mixed up, i don't even know how i should feel.

Ava sent me some pictures. And i just felt so happy. And then I thought about it. And every day that passes, it feels more and more like a dream. I look at my pictures and read my entries and it feels like it never happened. Like i made it all up. Then, every once in a while, i'll be reminded of a feeling or of a sound. Like the sound of the wind whipping the liner off of our tent in portugal. Or the sound of the tissue lady yelling her sales pitch " Yo tengo pañuelooooos!!!!. Or the feeling of being surrounded by 40 people from 30 different countries all speaking spanish and watching Matt light fireworks off of Laney's roof. Or the smell of the dirty breath of the city: a smell so completely different than New York City, a smell of fruit, people, spices, dog, tea, incense; of heat so unbearable and a breeze so thankful. And then there were the birds. The birds of granada fly in no particular direction. they dart in desperate and chaotic circles, barely above the rooftops of the city, barely missing eachother. I used to walk and see them, and immediately think of Lorca, Falla, the Reyes Catolicos, and the those that died in the battles for control of the city. Granada is a haunted city, the birds know.

I think of these things, and all i can do is cry. because I don't know what else to do.

I think of my early days in granada. those that seem most dreamlike: did i really perform poetry in a teteria? Did i really dress up in costume and run around Cadiz like a lunatic for 2 days? Did it really snow in Granada? Was there once a time when I was too scared to walk those streets alone? Did i really go to a massive rave in the middle of a dried up river bed in the mountians? Did these things really happen? Why are they so hazy and yet so very clear? How can this be?

I fell in love with a city. And I know in my heart, that even if i do go back, it won't be the same. But when I think about it, i don't want it to be the same. I went to spain a different person. It changed me. The person I am now will have new and different experiences in spain. It's just the way things go.

When I was a little kid, I used to think that people's souls were like blank canvases, and that every experience would leave a splash of color. And so when we died, God would judge our lives worthwile by the beauty of our souls.
Granada's color is orange. An orange brillant and dark and rich, mystical and ethnic, familiar and happy.
Consider my soul orange.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Te quiero, Granada

Sal del desierto, busca el mar
el mar, la mar
no tengo lugar
the language may change
the question remains the same
my answer escapes
shy blushing
glancing sideways
they won't believe you either
el sur es un desierto que llora mientras canta
canta llora
llora canta
mi alma, mi corazon
they won't believe you
even if you knew
Flee the desert
seek the sea
they never believe me
when i say i don't know where i'm from
soy extranjera
a forienger once more
a stranger in my own land
llora canta
canta llora
mi alma, mi corazon
i too wander
searching for somewhere
to long for

If i had a daughter
She would be named Tristeza
tristeza for the love i'd feel
tristeza for the pain
because sadness is the space in my soul
left to be filled with love
the deeper the sadness
the greater the love
si tuviera hija
se llamaría tristeza
because the world is suffering
because the world if full
of love.
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseperable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
-Kahlil Gibran-

*Te quiero, Graná.*

Saturday, June 10, 2006

mi alma, mi corazon

It's the weirdest feeling being home. I'm torn between two cities, and i think i will feel this way for a long time. My time in Granada completely changed my life. I no longer see myself on a set and continuous path towards the future of living in some city somewhere, being a psychologist, getting married and having this safe secure lifestyle. Maybe it willhappen like that. Maybe it won't. But the point is, it doesn't have to. I can pick up one day and just go, there's nothing that ever really holds us back from just leaving. Sure, our friends, our family, people who care about us, but if they know us well enough, they will know we need to go. Just to get out for a little while, to step out of the hard shells of our lives and see the world momentarily from a nother view. It is only when we leave ourselves behind that we truely understand who we are. Granada helped me discover certain things about myself, about the way i see other people, the way i see the world and the way I see my self.
I know have a new found interest in countries that previously were "scary". Countries that our president calls "Axis of Evil". I am not interested in politics. I am interested in people. I am interested because I have met and had conversations with people from Syria, from Siberia, from Lebanon, from Israel, from Bosnia, from Morrocco. I can't say I understand them, because no one can really understand fully the way another culture is without living there and experiencing it first hand. No, i certainly don't understand them, nor do i fully understand their countrys politics. What I have come to understand, however, is that the bonds of humanity really do extend to every differnt country. Sounds obvious, sounds stupid. But the next time that know-it-all preppy asshole or some anarchist political punk kid says "there will never be peace in the middle east, we should just blow it all up" I'll be ready for them. In the US, we are so isolated that we forget the humanity of others. Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? Syria? We hear all about the terrorists and radicals that come from these countries. We hear about all the anti-american sentiment, we hear about how they mistreat the women, how they strap bombs to themselves and kill everything and everyone. We talk about these countries as if they were all desert and warzone. We don't realize that we are talking about people's homes. Peoples actual homes with kitchens, and beds and tvs and chairs. Filled with families. Filled with people who are just trying to survive, people who are apart from their government. It occured to me while talking with a man from Siberia, who immediately wrote me off as soon as I mentioned I was american. "we're enemies" he said. And though its to be expected, it just really bugged me that someone could just lump me in with my government like that. And thats when it occured to me. As americans, we do that all the time to people.Not even just to people from other countries: we do it to ourselves. We lump anyone with brown skin into this category of "danger!" I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to go to Lebanon to learn Arabic and she freaked out. Lebanon is too dangerous, the people there are different than us. But the point is that they aren't really that different. Underneath the cultural differences, the political restrictions, the warzone and the danger, people are just people.
And so now I don't really know what I want to do with my life. Granada gave me the opportunity to leave everything I knew behind, to put myself in a place so foriegn that even I was a stranger to myself. It broke me apart, and helped me sort out the pieces. And now I am left glueing myself back together, looking at individual parts, keeping the ones I like, changing the ones I don't. It's so strange to be back in my old room. I look around and I don't really fully understand the girl who lived there before. Timid, shy, scared of other people, scared of herself. Unsure of what to do with her life, looking for security and acceptance. That was who I was. And I don't know why I was that way. But this is how I am now. Not completely different (I'm still a little shy, still overly polite and respectful, still softspoken) but different enough that my mother have noticed a change. I guess I just grew up a bit more. There are somethings I am more sure of than ever before: 1. Music is an important part of my life. I was silly to leave my violin at home and silly to have quit playing jazz. 2. Many aspects of american culture make me uncomfortable. These aspects are obvious (the size of everything, the point of view of people, the media, the politics etc). 3. Many aspects of american culture make me feel better. These aspects are also obvious (the music, the youth movements, non-profit organizations etc). 3. I must pursue a job that involves international travel. I love meeting people too much to stick to one country. 4. I need to be on my own for many more years before getting in a relationship with anyone. As much as I enjoy being around people, it has been made very clear to me that my independence is most important. Therefore, I need to find a way to live independently and comfortably before I let someone else in my life.
When some people go abroad, it's just a vacation. It's time to go get drunk with american kids in bars in another country. For others, it's a time to learn academics in another system, time to go to a school with an international name, to learn a language in a country. For me, it was much much more than that. I realize now that it was more about meeting people than anything else. To make connections with people who I would have never met. To see perspectives of those whose perspective is ignored by the american public. To put myself in uncomfortable situations, to take risks, to ask questions and seek after something that may only be a feeling, or may be destiny. Studying and living abroad was like looking at myself through a mirror, identifying, observing and accepting all aspects of my personality, the good and the bad.
One thing is most certain. I have taken a bit of granada back with me in my heart. It gave me an experience that I will never forget, a poitn of view which will never leave my eyes and a voice which is much more confident and sure of itself. I know now more than ever that I can make a difference on the international community. I know now that I need to not give up on american society, that my job as a student activist is desperately needed in this world. I am excited for the opportunity to raise money again this year at Drop Beats Not Bombs, I'm excited to register people to vote, I'm excited to show people that there still is hope for our world, our hope is our communal humanity.
I'm rambling.
Today I went to a job interview. I got the job. Selling gym membershiips.Surprisingly it looks much better than that disasterous promotional modeling shit from new york city. Actually get to use my brain this time, which is awesome. I emailed a woman from the Berks Social Work group and hopefully will be able to help fight for migrant worker's rights (aka make sure they get treated fairly and paid on time/enough.) We'll see of that works out. When I sit still i think about granada, spain and all the wonderful people I met there. It feels like a dream. It feels like both forever ago and just yesterday. at the same time. I am so afraid i will forget. But something tells me that things like this you can't forget.
I feel a bit like christopher columbus. Conquering the West. Sailing into the unknown future and uncharted territory, unknowing of what the future might hold, but charging full speed ahead into the abyss. Although I'll avoid savagely butchering thousands and thousands of people. Sorry, had to throw that in.

In the Madrid Airport

Its no secret that the US and Spain are completely different cultures. I thought, whatever, I’m from the US, I should be used to this culture. I thought my study abroad experience would be completely cultur shock free. How silly I was to actually believe I could re-enter a country like the US and not feel it’s paranoia. Seriously, you don’t realize how paranoid they actually are until you’re awaay from it for a while. I thought I’d be safe in a spanish airport. Silly me. I wasn’t spared tat all. In line to check my bags and retrieve my boarding pass, the security guy starts asking me questions. No pasa nada, its notmal security for international flights, right? Wrong. The questions got more and more interrogative, from “How long were you in Spain for?” to “ I need the exact street address of the place you stayed in spain, the exact dates of travel, the full names of the people you travelled with, I need proof of your studentship in granada I need proof of your studentship in the US what is the name of your college. If you were studying in spain, why didn’t you buy a round trip ticket ? Why didn’t you know how long you wanted to stay in spain for? Who were you living with? Did any family members visit you. Why don’t youhave any student ID? Did you work when you were in spain? Do you work in the us?” and on and on. And of course, silly me, I thought being an american citizen with a valid american passport and a visa that won’t expire until next moth was all I needed to travel internationally. It didn’t occur to me to bring official university of granada transcript, or my hamilton college student ID. Apparently my lack of “proof” was sufficient enough for them to let me on the fucking plane, so they decide d to search me, and all of my bags. And when I search, I mean SEARCH. Every piece of colthing or random article I had in all 4 of my bags was inspected, exrayed and god knows whatelse. I wish I had a backbone, I wish I would’ve said something like “I’m sorry I didn’t know I needed an official transcrip to get back into my own country” but I didn’t. With every article the more angry I got. I can’t believe how paranoid that country is. Furthermore, I can’t believe that it’s supposed to be my country. If this is how they treat me, I can only imagine how they treat foriegners. What every happened to innocent until proven guilty? That guy went at me like I had “terrorist” plastered on my forehead. And so I must say that I am completel y and 100% culture shocked. I’m sitting here infront of my boarding gate “B25” and I swear to god the only thing that’s keeping me from making a break for it is the fact they already checked my bags and I don’t know how to get out of this fucking huge airport. What am I doing here? I don’t want to go back to the US. I really haven’t stopped crying since I got to the airport. It’s been 4 hours. People are looking at me like I’m crazy. I’m sure I look crazy.
There are so many beautiful things that I’m going to miss about spain. The cab driver fivured it all out for me this morning, and though it was just a joke, I realized that it was exactly what I wanted. The conversation went something like (translated):
“You going far?”
“Yeah, the United States”
“Wow, that’s really far. Why are you leaving”
“I don’t know. To finish school”
“School? What are you studying?”
“That’s so great. You don’t like granada?”
“Oh man, I love it here. I don’t want to leave.”
“That boy who helped you with your bags, he’s your boyfriend?”
“No, we’re just friends”
“Friends not boyfriend?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend”
“Why not?
“I don’t know. I don’t want one“
“He’s american too?”
“Half french. He lives in Morocco”
“So you’re american, eh? But what are you really?”
“My family is italian”
“Italian american. That’s so great. My name’s Antonio, that’s an Italian, spanish, portugese name. Is it an american name?”
“There are americans with the name antonio if that’s what you mean.”
“that’s great. You going to come back to granada”
“Well my friend Jessica, this is what you’re going to do. You’re going to finish studying psychoilogy, you’re going to come to granada, work, find a nice granadino boy, get married and have a wonderful life.”
“No really. Work first then marriage. It’s better that way.”
“Yeah I think so too.”
So here I am sitting in this airport, in a terminal surrounded by americans speaking english and I just feel really uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I don’t know why, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I just don’t feel like one of them. And it’s such a strange feeling because I am so obviously one of them. Who are these people, and what are they doing here? To some people it’s just a vacation, to me it was so much more than that. I know I shouldn’t judge, that I can’t tell anything about a person’s life or experiences by the way they act in publilc, but I feel like I’ve picked up a bit of spanish culture , or maybe it’s just that I’ve lost a bit of american culture. Eitherway I feel alienated in both cultures. It reminds me of the flamenco song laney and I used to sing together “No tengo lugar, no tengo paisaje, lo menos tengo patria.” Sometimes I really feel like that. Now is one of those times. I’m terrified about what will happen when I go back. I really want to make a break for it. Go to Malaga, extend my visa for forever and just find a house to live in in some beach town like tarifa or some pueblo somewhere ourside of granada. Or maybe in one of the pueblos of the alpujarras or sierras. It’s like Rob, the guy who I met in the hostel said when he first got here “This city is perfect. Why am I not living here?” Why am I not living here?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Last day

Ran into Ana (the flamenco teacher) on the street on my way to her studio. Needed to say goodbye. Spent the whole afternoon with her. Talked about leaving. She really understood what I mean when I say that I don’t really feel at home anywhere, but granada is the closest thing to it. It was like all of my life something was missing and when I arrived in granada, it helped me figure some things out. But I don’t know if I got it all solved yet. In fact I’m pretty sure that I have a lot more to discover. Met some of her new students. I’m so envious of them, they have all of granada to explore. I let them in on a couple of things about granada, where to go who to meet etc. it was really funny to talk to them because they all thought my spanish was really good (it’s not). There was one girl who couldn’t understand ana and the shock of it all made her really uncomfortable, so much so that she started to cry. I told her not to worry, that when I first moved in, I couldn’t understand anyone either. “Poco a poco” is definitely the key phrase.. It’s weird to think that I used to be like that, too ashamed to speak, too scared to ask someone to esplain. Now I’m just really more open about it, because I really want to learn. I’d say it was a beautiful way to spend my last hours of daylight in granada.
I can't believe tomorrow I will be in the states. I want to hug this city, to make it feel my presence before I go. But my arms aren't big enough, and I know that I will miss it more than it will miss me.

Last night

Wandered around all the great spots of granada and said goodby to the city.We went to the mirador de san nicolas and watched night fall. For some reason, I couldn’t stop crying. Stephane and his friend were there, and so I was really embarassed to cry infront of them. “I usually don’t cry, I don’t know whats wrongw ith me, I just can’t stop” I tried to explain. Stephane’s friend just looked at me and said “maybe this is the first time you really felt fsad
Went to the Hostal to say goodbye to Tyler and some of the employees I kind of know (but not really). I don’t really know why I went, but I’m glad I did. I don’t know tyler that well, but I really enjoyed talking with him. There are only a few people in this world you can actlaully converse with. Converse as in back and forth questioning, not just dull active listening. Challenging ideas, looking for consistency. I wish I had net him earlier in my stay in granada. For some reason, even though it was irrelevent, speaking to him just made me feel better. He created his own life away from the states, and it turned out wonderfully. Why couldn’t I do the same? The world really is just a plane ride away.
Found Stephane and his friend a little later, while wandering by myself infront of the cathedral. There was the usual crowd of hippies botelloning with guitars and girls dancing and everyone clapping. And the crying commenced. We went to the tree plaza in Realejo (placeta de carlos cano) and I thought about how that grafitti tree, although it is composed of two destructive things (an abandoned house and grafitti) It can still be something beautiful. I want to be like that tree.
At about 3am we hiked up to the top of the Alhambra. Saw a park I’ve never seen before, was captivated by the fountains (running water on a humid night will do that). Walked around the public grounds of the Alhambra and suddenly realized how much I’ve changed. Sitting in the exact spot I sat when I first got to granada, looking at the city and sacromonte, my old feelings of indimidation, and unworthyness had transformed themseves to a feeling uf undeniable love. I have literally fallen in love with a city. My heart is about to be broken and I can't do anything about it. When the wind blows a certain driection, you can hear the echoing palmas and the songs of flamenquistas in the caves. It is the sound that has been in my head all my life..

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

loose ends

Woke up feeling strangely content. It's the third day in the row in which I've woken up almost alright with the idea of going home. Today is wednesday, my last wednesday in Granada. I feel kind of like I'm emerging from a wonderful dream, happy that it happened, sad that it's over. Remembering funny things about the last days of my friends: the party at Sara and Laney's house where we invited everyone we've ever met and they all showed up, where Matt lit fireworks off of the terrace and we all thought the house was going to burn down, when the cops came they just looked at us and rolled their eyes... The BBQ at amandas, where although there were only 4 or 5 americans, it was the most american party i've been to. where we had a danish man singing american blues and tom waits covers. Where we had a french cook burning the hotdogs...Rachel teaching the spanish girls how to belly dance, the bar where we switched outfits halfway through the night, where we wandered down the street and picked up some pijo guys singing flamenco and drinking gin, where we went to tantra bar but only stayed 5 minutes before it closed, when we got shwarma, ditched the gin drinking flamenco singing pretty boys and rachel corrected the Shwarma employee's arabic... Salsa dancing with Kenji...Icecream with Kim.... Dinner with Gustavo... Touring Portugal with Laney... all these wonderful endings that perfectly tie up the loose ends. And then I realize, I am the last loose end. There is no one left but me. Of course I have new friends here now, wonderful people I have met, but the chapter of "study abroad" in my life had officially closed on May 20th when everyone else left. I'm glad I stayed because I know now that Granada will always be here, even when all the people I've met are gone, there will always be more people to meet and become friends with. Granada is one of those cities that has a strange magnetism. There's this field of psychology that studies the way in which things vibrate. For example, the color orange vibrates at a higher frequency than the color blue. Also people can vibrate at frequencies: those who vibrate at similar frequencies attract eachother. Perhaps cities can vibrate too. i think it means something that we all met here. And so I've come to the decision that I have to go home. Either go home or stay forever. One thing is for sure: I'm coming back and I will stay longer.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Between the Bars 5/30/06

Last day with Laney. Woke up with intense feeling of sadness, with elliott smith Between the Bars playing in my head. For about twenty minutes stared off in the sand, thinking about all the places I've been. Not just countries but spats in granada. The strangest part is knowing that it is over. It can't possibly be over really, can it? Laney keeps saying that the granada chapter in her life is over, that she can't possibly ever go back. And so I'm left wondering the same about myself. Could she know herself so well to face the truth of her emotions? Coud I be fooling myself into thinking that I could handle coming back? I guess it's one of those things you don't know about utnil the right time. Perhaps its one of those things when the thought of losing something is actually more distressing than losing it.
I owe so much to Laney and Sara. So much of my journtey and my internal discovery is due to what they have given me in their presence. In a way I feel like they changed what granada would've meant for me. I could've been like the other girls in API, never pushing the limit, never wandering through the albayzin alone (because it's, like, so dangerous) sticking to what is new, western, familiar, comfortable: Tantra Bar, Granada diez, Dolce Vita etc. Now that Sara is gone, I've really begun to appreciate her presence in my granada experience. As much as I always write about my adventures with Laney, I've negelected to mention sara, her beautiful pensive presence. I ahve aa wonderful memoryu of her sitting in cafe central, writing in her journal over an empty cup of cofee. There was something so genuine in the way she looks when she sees a friend. If there is something I wish to emulate from all my encounters with different personalities I
've met on this trip, it would be her genuine look of happiness and excitement when she sees a friend. That look, welcoming sweet is what I'd like to take back to hhe states with me. It's a look that says "of course I'm so happy to see you, why wouldn't I be?" It's something that I've always noted to be missing in american culture, something that I've always wished to occur more often. I think of my conversation with Tyler, the american who owns the backpacker's hostel, who asked me if I knew exactly what it was that made me dislike being in the states so much. What didn't make me fit in. The only thing I could think of was the superficiality of the culture. When someone says "hey how are you?" and just keeps walking. I remember complaining to another american about that, who simply responded with " well isn't that just a rhetorical question anyway?" And thats exactly the problem. Since when is asking how another person feels a rhetorical question? Not to idealize the spanish, but at least they say what they mean. I was in abar with one of my friends who just turned and looke me dead in the eye and said "Eres guapa, de verdad. Eres intelegente, y simpatica. De verdad" and that was that.
Walked through Lisbon with the idea of dropping laney off at a hostel. She didn't like the city. To be honest, neither did I. Had I visited Lisbon before I had lived in granada, I probably would've dug it: very new york. But it seemed kind of lost, kind of souless. And so we drove back down to spain. Crossing the boarder into spain was like coming home. All the sudden I could understand what was on the radio, I could read the names of the towns easily, I could recognize the tiny little houses and the people that lived in them. We dropped laney off at the bus station in Sevilla. Our goodbye was short, callous, as if I would see her next week. Both of us wanted it that way. I would've lost it if it had been any different. Michael and I got back in the car and sat in silence for a moment. I put on Ojos de Brujo and cried but felt a little better. We drove past the bus station and saw laney walking inside. I leaned out the window and shouted "Ole guapa! Que guapa eres!" which I imagine probably startled the whole bus station, but i didn't care. the last image I have of her was her wearing that silly hat and her huge backpack and hiking boots, smiling and waving back at me. She's a strong woman. She will be fine. She will be missed.
And so my life alone de verdad will start so shortly, and end even more quickly. Greg comes in from Germany tomorrow. I don't know how he will get a hold of me. We will see if this works out. I want to be alone but at the same time I'm terrified. It's like now that sara and Laney are gone now, I've got to take the wheel. i've got to show people how Granada can be.

Cliffside adventures 5/28/06

Woke up cliffside, overlooking rocky beaches and a foggy purple dawn. Had set up the tent nezt to a bed of pollen, due to our lack of visual ability the night before. Had played folk gameat sunset. I amagine it will be the last folk game of my life. Drove around all day searching for our next beautful beachside. Came upon abandoned beach. After traversing accross mountains of sand dunes, I felt like a character out of a fairy tale, wondering ofver mountains of sandy desert in search of the beach. Had some realizations about myself (dilusions caused by the heat no doubt): I'm not the princess I once thought I was. I am a warrior. If my life were a fairytale, I wouldn't be the princess, I'd be the warrior because I don't need to be rescued. I am not fragile or weak. I have no desire to be that girl anymore. Swam in the sea on the abandoned beach, large eztension of sandy nothingness. Clear blue sea, white sand, covered in colorful clam shells. Sang a saeta to the sea, saeta del mar. Drove around a bit more. Drove into Sintra, the most beautiful city in Portugal (if it weren't for the tourists...)Found an abandoned palace and driving by, imagined being a crazy old poet living in this haunted estate. Drove around intil late in the night, looking for a place to sleep- propbelms with civilization: all the beaches are tightly patrolled, the campgrounds closed for the night, no hostels in sight. Stumbled upon a tiny motel in exurbia, looked like something out of psycho. either that or a bad porn. The latter became affrimed when we entered the room: complete with mirror on the cieling, a circular bed, red neon lights, cheeezy romantic musicand automatic floral scent which sprayed itself every couple of minutes. Hilarious. Awful. Too tired to care. Some day we will laugh uncontrollably about it. For tonight, however, we will cook dinner and try not to choke on the horrible plastic floral scent.

Fisherman's wife 5/27/06

Woke up on an abandoned beach at dawn, wind shaking the liner off our tent. The sun barely peaking over the jagged cliffs and rocks to our east. The stars last night were incredible, so low and clear as if you might bump your head on one of them if you were not careful. "Orion is on the southern horizon" Said michale. I don't know whwat that means, but the warrior is facing south. Significant? Ran into a nomatic fishing family to ask for directions. Portoguese but spoke french too. Lucky for usm Michael can speak a ton of languages. They looked so peafceful and happy, eating a bucket of snails and fish that they no doubt caught earlier that day. I wonder if I would be able to do that. To marry a nomadic fisherman and travel up and down the atlantic coast with our family. What a simpler lifestyle that would be , but imagine all the things we would see, all the clifs and sunsets and dawns underlined by frozen blue water. No doubt I'd miss the lighstyle of american consumerism. Nice clothes, tv, restaurants, but perhaps by losing them I could gain something more. Then again, maybe not.

El Mar, El desierto. 5/26/06

Fled to el mar. Granada is a desert which cries while it sings. To soothe the soul is to seek light and water. And so we did. We rented a car and headed west. And now I'm sitting here on what is literally the most western point of europe. The atlantic is a huge vertical drop below me, my feet inches away from the ledge. In ancient times it was forbidden for humans to sit here after sunset. they believed that it was territory of the gods. Romans believed that wne the sun set over the water, the fire would cause the water to boil. Until Cristopher Columbus's trip, this was considered the end of the world. Sitting here, watching the sunset, I can see why they believed it. It was not ignorance nor stupidity. It is quite convinsing. If you look hard enough you can see the shadow of the setting sun behind the water. There are no signs of life farther than the horizon. Ava believes there are magnetic energies in blessed zones of the world. Laney believes in an omnipotent god. All I know for sure is this place had to look like this. Not by Gods will nor by the magnetic energy but rather because if this land did not look like this, with sudden cliffs and flaming sunset, the world wouldn't be the same. This spot I am sitting has been the same for so many years. It had to look like this then and it must look like this now.

Parade 5/25/06

The dates on this thing are a little screwy. Stay with me. Laney Packed her house up. And I needed to get out. After a long morning walking the city on my own, i spot Mostafa putting chairs outside his restaurant. I sit down with Kim and Stephane (my new housemate) and we watch two of myu friends play guitar on the sidwalk. Ran into some poeople who had already disappeared grom granada in my mind: Gavino, the gypsy jazz guitarrist from Belliville Trio, and Greg, the american Flamenco Guitarrist and Alvalro, Laney's portugese neighbor. Said goodbye to all of them otravez, knowing the chabnce of seeing them on the street was slim. Said goodbye to Matt surely for what will be the last time (goes back to US and then back up to northern spain to do the Camino). It was more sad than I expected it to be. Went up to Laney's and helped her finish packing. The house seems so empty without Sara, and I know Laney was really feeling it. Stayed with her until 8pm and then went down to Paprika to eat dinner and hang out with some friends. Stephane was working and proceeded to give food and drink for little charge. Ava and Ana had a show on the same street, but when I went there I was greeted by the bar owner who claimed the show was cancelled, even though there was a large crowd and Ana and Ava were all ready to play. Proceeded to walk the entire city with a train of hippies/beatnik/street musicians. Somehow I was designated cherry girl and ended up holding/distributing a bunch of cherries to the insane group. Within the group there were bums from the UK, musicians from Denmark and a very loud but charming group of israeli teenagers. There was also a couple from the US, in their mid fifties, who, despite my constant reassurances, kept complaining about how old they were. At one point I turned o them and said "Aw, it doesn't really matter, age is only a number" and they stared at me as if it had never occured to them before. they were the coolest parents I think I could've ever met. The woman told me about how she studied abroad in madrid some 30 years ago, and how she never wanted to leave but did anyway, married at 25 had children and woke up one day in a routine she deosn't want or enjoy (one of the israeli teens asked her what do you do for fun" and all she could say was "I don't know, I get up I go running, take care of the kids, make dinner and go to bed") She said she felt there was a reason she had met all of us (all of us being the 40 some hippies) and there was no coincidence that she was there talking to me at that point in her life. And as much as I don't believe in destiy and all that, I'm thinking that maybe there was really a reason for su meeting but not for her. More for me. I know now I can't end up like her, regretting never returning, sucked into the void of suburban comfortable lifestyle. Looking at her was like looking into my futre, what it could be if I don't follow what my spirit needs but rather follow my security.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Flying solo

This is the strangest sensation i've ever experienced. Somewhere between really excited, really content, really lonely and really scared. Rachel (my travel buddy) left last night, Julie (my roommate) left this morning. My host family left this afternoon. I'm alone in Granada. And for the first time, I think ever in my life, I am bombarded with the feeling of complete independence. And it's very frightening. I woke up this morning, after Julie left and my first thought was "That's it, I'm all alone now" Of course I'm not really alone. I've got Sara until next tuesday, and Laney until the 31st. I had my first experience apartment hunting, which was terrifying and wonderful: Two of my fellow americans and I decided to rent a room in an apartment together. We went to the apartment, talked to the flatmates, and everything was peachy. Until later that night- when the flatmates reconviened and decided that they didn't want us to live there. Mind you, this happened yesterday, and today is my last day living in the apartment with my hostmom. So of course I start freaking out. I go from hostel to hostel, asking for prices and for work, hoping that if they hire me, i'll be able to get a discount on the price of living there for 20 days. No luck. Finally, I run into an acquaintance/ a friend of a friend on the street, explain to him why I looked so upset, and he proceeds to tell me that there is an empty space in the flat where he is living. Apparently the apartment is owned by an older spanish man, who has 4 empty rooms for the summer and is subleting them out for 8 euro a night. he shows me the apartment, which is fully furnished, has hot water and a fully functional kitchen and bathroom. It seems wonderful. And so after a lot of thought, I think I'm going to take it. The owner seems pretty nice, although his thick accent is kind of hard for me to understand sometimes. I met one other person living there, a young man from Morrocco, who seems really friendly and nice, so I'm not too worried. The only thing about the apartment that has me kind of nervous is the fact that I will be living with 4 men. But my room has a lock on it, and I think everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. I move in tomorrow.

This morning I walked all over granada by myself. I just really needed to get out of the house because it is dark and empty. I walked through the albayzin at 9am, and it was so beautiful. No one was out on the streets and everything was still quiet. I walked across town from the albayzin to parque de garcia lorca and sat on a bench and read a book for 2 hours. An old man walked past me and we had a strange conversation:
"Hola" (not looking at me)
"Do you like to read?"
"well, yes..."
"I don't like to read at all" (sitting on the bench across from me)
"Oh. Why not?"
(something along the lines of): I like reading letters. Just not books. I don't like books at all. I like letters, like the kind you get in the mail, not like those email letters you kids have all the time (mumbling incoherently about email and kids or something)"
"Oh" (I continue reading)
"So what do you study?"
"Here in Granada or in my country?"
"Where is your country?"
"The United states"
"Ha! You kids from the US just love Spain don't you. I don't understand it at all (mumbling incoherently about kids from the US studying in spain or something) You like granada?"
"Yeah, I like it a lot"
(awkward silence)
"What time is it"
(he looks at his watch) "12:30"
"Oh, well I have to go"
"You're going?"
"Yeah, I have to meet some friends"
"It was nice meeting you"
"Yeah. Bye"

I don't know if he was crazy, weird or just lonely and socially awkward. But I really like how people here are a lot more friendly than in the US. I can't imagine sitting in a bar or in a park in pennsylvania or new york city and just striking up a conversation with someone, just because they look interesting.The idea of it seems really scary to me for some reason, although I do it all the time here, and when I do it here it is in spanish. You'd think that speaking to someone in english would be a lot less intimidating, but there's something about the culture, at least east coast culture that makes me afraid to talk to people. I'm sure I'll forget about the culture difference when I'm there, maybe it'll just slip out and I'll surprise someone. Maybe I could make a friend...or they could just tell me to fuck off.

I had an indepth conversation with my flamenco teacher last night (seems like we talk more than dance). She is such a wonderful woman, very emotional and sensitive, but really caring. She was upset at Laney and me because we cancelled our lunch date (I cancelled because it was Julie and my last lunch together, Laney cancelled because she was buying fireworks from some gitanos in some pueblo....?!)She just poured her heart out to us, and started crying. She's really upset I think because her life is this dance studio, and most everyone she meets is forgien. And because she is so friendly and caring, she becomes friends with all her students. But then they just leave her after a semester or two. And so she feels she has no stability or constant friends in her life. It's really quite sad. But while she was telling me about how she hates saying goodbye, about how she hates the unstable lifestyle with people constantly coming and going, all I could think was "that's life" And was really shocked at my indifference and insensitivity. I expected myself to start crying when she started crying, but that just didn't happen. I felt bad for her, but I didn't feel bad. It kind of bothered me, and I've been thinking about it a lot. Ana suffers because she expects things in her life to be constant and permanent. But I've come to understand that nothing is really permenant. Even friends that you've had forever and ever change, and it's only if you allow them to change that the relationship still exists, and even then, the relationship is different. It's part of life to lose things, it's part of life to experience loss. Life is all about the experiences you have with those people. And even though it hurts to let them go, you know that the pain is a result of something beautiful, that the pain has its essence in something wonderful and special. And therefore the pain, though it hurts, is something beautiful and affirming in itself. And besides, you never really lose people. People and experiences come and go, and if you do it right, they leave little marks on your life and your personality. Nothing is extraordinary and meaningful in essence, and therefore everything is extraordinary and meaningful. I wanted to tell her that, I wanted to tell her not to cry and not to be sad. Life is to be lived with open palms, not clenched fists. I wanted to tell her, but I don't think she was ready to hear that. So I'm going to lunch with her on monday. And I swear I won't cancel this time.

The concept of "going home" seems so strange to me. Where is home? I don't even know anymore. Julie pulled out a 20 dollar bill yesterday and i felt a wave of nostalgia. Last night while I was lying in bed, I pictured myself walking through the Philadelphia airport and to my surprise I didn't feel disgust or sadness; I felt secure. Is it the same feeling of security I get when I am on the bus coming back into the city of Granada after a trip elsewhere? Maybe, but it's more strong. I feel like I belong here, I feel comfortable here. But when I think about things like the Philadelphia airport, my dorm room, my house, I just get confused. I can see myself living here for the rest of my life. I can see myself opening a practice here and working with study abroad students who have probelms adjusting. I can see myself living in a house in the albayzin, or perhaps an apartment in realejo. But I also see myself going to Grad school in the states, becoming a professor or joining a practice there. I can see myself living in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, or somewhere in the vast unknown called the West coast. How can I belong in two so completely different places? How can I see myself living two completely different lives? Is it possible that my soul could thrive anywhere? And if so, where is home really?

If someone were to ask me what I see myself doing in the next five years, I wouldn't be able to answer. For the first time in my life, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to be doing. It's like someone opened the flood gates. There is so much possibility in the world. How can I possibly choose? How can I possibly say how I'm going to feel, who I'm going to meet and where I'm going to be in the next five years? I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow.

So my life in granada as a student has come to a close. All day yesterday, I felt like some kind of impostor, like I should be going home, as if by my staying here, I would curse Granada, and my experience would lose some of it's magic. But this morning after I walked around a bit, I realized that my experience here is what I make it. It's just a city and I'm just a traveler, and I'm surrounded by citizens and other travelers. So I'm really feeling some closure. It's strange, I was expecting some sort of desperation, some kind of urge to run all over the place and hug and kiss random buildings and people just for being part of granada, or rather my experience of granada. Sometimes I feel that way but mostly it's just a feeling of peace, with occasional uncertainty. Is this how real life feels? It must be.
I don't know when I started thinking in riddles. These next three weeks will be interesting, to say the least.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I'm sitting in the API office, waiting for them to come help me print out my paper. Waiting waiting waiting. I've been waiting for about an hour. Might kill someone. There is a girl flipping out about some facebook picture. I sound really obnoxious right now, but man I really just hate the way english sounds. Ok enough:
My exam this morning was for my civilization and culture class. The class is completely made up on the spot, and I could probably teach it. If the professor wasn't so amusing, i would've dropped it. Anyway, he gave us our partial exams back today (the day of the final exam). The exams are really strange. Basically he just photocopies an article from the newspaper (last time it was how the youth of today have no direction/future etc) and we have to write for 1.5 hours about it. So this time it was an article about the coke usage of adolescents under the age of 18. So i'm sitting there thinking, well great, we haven't talked about this in class, the only things I know about drugs are from my neuroscience class and my adult psychopathology class. So naturally I wrote about them. basically I gave all the social reasons I know of that would cause someone who, despite knowing the consecuences of using drugs, still uses them (ie: social pressure, low self image, the desire to be accepted, poor family environement, depression, poor education, poverty, the media etc) It was fun to write in spanish (sarcastic) because we weren't allowed to use dictionaries, so I have no idea if it made any sense. But basically my main point was that the drastic drug usage in my generation is not a result of us being "bad apples' but rather a result of societial pressures/actions which cause us to desire the effects/image of drug usage. I talked about how I know that when I talk to my friends about all the stuff I've learned about the effects of coke (the fact that you're chance of having a heart attack is nearly tripled in the first 10 minutes of being on coke) and ecstacy (the fact that habitual usage will lead to depression and, to put it simply, it eats holes in your brain) and the fact that I'm telling them (as a peer as opposed to an authority figure) helps them resist the social pressure to use/continue using these drugs. But sadly most of my friends are from my college. And that means we are from a selected demographic (specifically rich suburbanites) and that i really don't know about how much someone like me could affect other demographics.
Moving on from drugs:
We were also supposed to hand in a paper about a movie today. I wrote it, I had one of my friends edit it, but unfortunately by the time it was finished, I was unable to print it. Basically I wrote about how the movie shows that women immediately after the spanish civil war had to deal with surviving in a hostle environment (hostle against both their sex and hostle because of the political conflict). Surviving this hostility caused the women to bond in a way that american women have not: they could see that despite their politiical differences, women were the ones who had to absorb most of the shock of war: they had to figure out how to continue to survive in the household.
This is the paper that I was waiting to print. I'm going now to hand it in (!!) ahh! more later.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Off, Birthdays and what I´m going to do

It´s off! I´m free! Woohoo! No running, jumping or dancing. But at least I can walk!
I´ve been thinking a whole lot about what I¨m going to do this summer. I really feel like I¨m not ready to leave europe yet, especially spain. Maybe I will stick around granada or portugal until the week before my birthday. I definitely want to be home by my birthday because I want to celebrate it with my friends, family and especially my brother. And I do miss being home, a lot. A few days ago, I woke up and expected to be back in my room in the US. And I had a horrible craving for chocolate chip pancakes and eggs. AAh.
On wednesday was Sara´s birthday, and at first I was feeling kind of awful because I didn´t think I could make it up to the house. But I took a cab to placeta de san miguel bajo and walked down the hill without much problem. The next problem was getting up the stairs in the house. After about 20 minutes of brooding and questioning whether or not I was going to fall down the stairs and die, we figured out a very easy method: someone carry me. The rest of the night was fantastic. I got on the roof and was greeted by Laney, Sara, Kim and about 20 random spanish musicians with accordians, guitars and some type of drum. It was a great night. Tomorrow is Laney´s birthday, and I¨m sure it will be quite interesting, especially since her mother and grandfather are here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pity spanish style

I´ve been having my ups and downs for the past couple of weeks. My experience here has changed drastically since I´ve been on crutches. One thing that´s really been interesting for me to observe is the way in which people treat me because of my foot. For a while it really bothered me how people would just stare at it. In the US, if someone has a broken foot, its like nothing happened at all, people just keep walking. But here, people have absolutely no problem staring, and being caught staring at my foot. Little kids will sit and point, people will just stop what they´re doing and look. It´s very interesting to note that the elderly people, the ones who usually wouldn´t even give me the time of day, have been incredibly nice and helpful with me. I was walking across the street the other day, and happened to be walking next to an elderly woman, who then sat down on the bench and called to me ¨Hija, sientate!¨ (honey, sit down!) She then proceeded to ask me to tell her exactly what happened, interjecting with many head nods and sympathetic looks. Another time, I had an elderly couple walk up to me and ask if it was hurting me )it wasn´t). Another thing which has been really interesting is the way people are really helpful. Granada isn´t exactly the best city to have a foot in a cast (in fact, it´s pretty impossible to get around) and so a lot of times, even though I don´t want to, I have to accept help from others. This is especially true with the door to my apartment building. It is a constant battle with that door. I just can´t balance myself on the steps enough to push it open. Every day when I come home, I struggle with that door for a good five minutes until I can wedge my crutch into the opening or someone from the street helps me out. Usually someone will come and help me. The first time it happened, I almost started to cry. When I told my mom, she said ¨well, you´d have done the same for someone else.¨ but would I? I would love to think that I would´ve been the kind of person to help someone without being asked, but the truth is, I really don´t know. Now, after having this experience, I think I have changed my view. The fear of offending someone or of putting myself in a situation like that has completely dissappeared. Because as much as I hate accepting help from those random people off the street, I really do appreciate it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Whats worse than a broken foot?

A broken foot when you´re in granada! I can´t believe my luck! Basically it all started when I went up to my friend´s house before a jazz show. We were goofing off barefoot on the roof (the best place to be when its 80 degrees and sunny) and we decided it was time to head down to the show. So someone(I can´t quite remember who) thought it would be a good idea to put a full bottle of beer in a broken plastic bag. So of course the bag breaks even more and the beer falls through and shatters on the floor. At first I thought I was lucky because I had my shoes on. But no, the glass went right for my foot. Everyone was so frantic about broken glass and beer being everywhere (my friend´s parents were about to arrive) that i slinked off to the bathroom unnoticed. I knew immediately that something was wrong with the placement of the cut, but I didn´t know exactly what. It just felt like I had cut my foot on a piece of glass. My friend´s sister eventually found me, and a bunch of people helped me wrap it up. I walked to the plaza on it, it hurt a bit, but nothing more than a usual cut. We ran into my friend´s parents at the plaza, who then frantically told me to sit down and go to the hospital. Everyone thought they were overreacting. I tried to walk down to Laney´s, but the hills were too steep and they hurt my foot even more. Some of the guys who were with me got frustrated and drunkenly decided to carry me down, which I appreciated as much as I despised. We arrived at Laneys, who then helped me apply butterfly bandaids and an ace bandage, and Matt had a car so we all left and went to the show.

The next morning, I couldn´t really walk, and so I knew something was really wrong. I called the API office and they told me to meet them at the hospital. The doctor took one look at my foot and scolded me for not coming in sooner. Apparently he could tell immediately, just by looking at it, that I had broken a tendon. Lovely. They operated on my foot, which hurt like hell. I tried to be really strong and not cry about it (the fact that I broke a tendon, aside from the fact it hurt like hell)but the timing just couldn´t be worse. It´s my last few weeks here in granada and i´m restricted to crutches! The worst part about it, in my opinion, is the ironic way in which i have to inject myself every day with blood thinner. I say it is ironic because usually my mother has to chase me around the house when it is time for my flu shot. I´m terrified of needles. It takes me a good hour or so to psychologically prepare myself to inject myself, but I´ve been getting it done. I told my mom that when i get back to the states i´m going to pierce my belly button because really i´ve pierced it 10 times already and so i know exactly how it´s going to feel!

That all happened last week. I´m feeling a little bit better now: I went to the doctor this morning, who told me that I had two more weeks with the cast. I wanted to kill him, but I know it´s not his fault. Some of my friends have been absolutely wonderful. I took a cab to a cafe and hung out with Laney and sara on saturday. Gavino met me on the sidewalk infront of my apartment and we had a drink at a cafe. Others have been calling me and leaving me text messages, which is wonderful especially since I get really bored lying in bed all the time. Others have not been so great. I haven´t really talked to anyone who was there when it happened, they all seem to be MIA.

And incase you´re wondering. The jazz show was awesome.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Otra vez Bellville trio!

Tonight I went out with my friend patrick to see the Bellville trio again. I met Patrick randomly in a plaza on monday, and we went to Picaro on wednesday, so I figured if he liked jazz, he´d like the bellville trio. We got there at about 10pm, when it was supposed to start, but of course since we are in Europe (and this is not a bad thing) it didn´t really start until 11:30. So we sat in the bar and had some wine and tapas, and then I noticed that the only other people in the bar were the members of the band. So I strike up a conversation with one of the guitarrists. He was surprised and happy when I mentioned that I knew Stefan Grappelli´s works and even more surprised when I mentioned that I played jazz violin. It was very cool. Eventually Laney, Sara, Matt, Rob, Sophie and the rest showed up, and the bar filled up. The show was incredible, as usual. As much as I enjoy watching flamenco in the caves, it´s also quite nice to be able to watch a form of music that you know you understand fully. During the intermission I spoke with the guitarrist a little more, and mentioned that I wanted to see them next tuesday, but the cover was a bit expensive (5 euros). So he told me he´d put me on the list so i could get in for free. I don´t really believe that he´ll remember my name, but we´ll see!

This weekend is the start of our spring break. i think i´m going to Nerja with Celia on saturday. I´m kind of excited because I haven´t been to costa del sol yet. So it should be a cool experience.