Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nails, planes, and tulips

Nail art, airplanes, and tulips basically describe today :) As I was packing for my trip to Kandern, I stumbled across purple and white nail polish... and, with me, this naturally leads to some fun :D Maybe that's why I never clean my room--because I always end up getting distracted by the random things I discover.

Right now, I'm writing from Kandern, hurrah! It has been so amazing to fly across Europe and still feel right at home. I'm looking out the window onto a beautiful little German town, with the sun setting in the west, bathing the multi-colored treetops in a soft golden light. There are tulips everywhere! Pictures to come...

Today was actually my first trip "alone alone" I've traveled without adults before, but always with a companion before. Today, getting through security, clambering up the rickety Ryanair ladder into the airplane, putting mu laptop case in the overhead compartment, sitting down in the window seat with no competition whatsoever... quite frankly, it felt kind of lonely. Traveling is so much more fun with someone to laugh with! Even so, I always feel at peace when I'm up above the clouds, looking down onto the myriad of shapes, sizes, colors and textures of the clouds below.

What can I say, my blood runs thick with TCK emotions :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Uniquely normal

During these past few days, I have had random things swish through my mind. Yes, swish. Everything from decided that, sometime in my youth, I want to be a tree in a play. Not exactly your typically-desired role, but I think I would enjoy it :) I also want to wear a fake mustache around for a day, and do my hair prom-style for once.

Another thing that made me extremely happy this week was that, when my mom came home, she brought gifts from afar. Ok, ok, "The United States" is only across the pond, but it still seems far when many of your friends are there and you are here. Well, my best friend and I are unique, to say the least. Just like most MKs, we understand the importance and true value of exchanges. Food is usually the trade-mark, but in this case, we traded chapstick. And I mean CHAPSTICK. I got four little things of chapstick in randomly fruity flavors, and I have been smiling to myself ever since (chapstick encourages smiling, I have found, especially because then you get to taste the delicious Orange Cream that you have smeared on your lips). Some people are happy when they buy chapstick, but only those of you who know me personally can appreciate the true extent of my simplistic bliss.

I get excited about the little things in life, and, as I can still quote from Anne of Green Gables, "I live life with trebled intensity."

Most people nowadays just fling a casual "Hello, how are you?" at the person they're talking to, but when I say something, it usually sticks to its original meaning. When I say "take care," I truly am thinking about that person, and praying that they will be safe. When I ask, "How are you?" I generally give an honest answer, and expect the same from others. I mean seriously, if you really do not care how I am, or just want the "*grunt* fine" answer, then please do not ask the question to start out with. Even though I attribute real meaning to what I say, I cannot hope that everyone else will, and I have gotten used to the casual questions and small talk. I do not expect everyone to actually mean what they say, although it would be nice. But, I know that this is just another way to distinguish friends from true friends.

What a wild world we live in. Alas, these little perks and quirks are what make me me, so I can safely say that I am uniquely normal.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"We'll be fine!"

It all started this morning... B, L and I took the 1:30 train down to Bcn. We met A (these code names are starting to get to me!) there, and headed off to a different town nearby. They have this amazing, once-a-year event, where they reconstruct life in Badalona during the Roman Empire. Its VERY convincing to see these people get dressed up as ancient Romans, believe me! I felt like I had flown back a good couple millennium and landed in the busy harbor-city life of old Baetulo.

Although that was utterly fascinating, I have to admit that coming home was even more exciting. It all began (and always seems to begin) when A left us. As soon as he was out of site, things started going from bad to worse. It always happens: someone stares creepishly at B, someone almost falls onto L, etc. Today, it was obviously my turn.

A had heard of our little "post-A's-disappearance adventures", and armed with with two little pictures of himself (it was a good idea...), and then set us off on a wild goose chase. Not only did he KNOW that the train he told us to take back was dangerous at night (so he lets three girls brave their way home), but, he got us on the wrong train. Then, at the train station back in Badalona, before we were even on the "homebound" train, things turned to chaos.
One train pulled up next to Platform 1. Everyone else hops on. Train 1 stops, and doesn't look like it is about to start any time soon. Train 2 pulls in on the other side of the platform, pointed in the SAME direction as Train 1. This NEVER happens, and sure as heck SHOULDN'T happen. So, then, everyone from train 1--who has seen that that one was going no where--migrated to Train 2. Picture the Exodus. You got it? Add two trains, and one platform. Everyone and their dog ran to the other train. THAT one decided to stop as well. Both of them just sat there for over a half hour. Finally, Train 1 started moving, so EVERYONE, now on Train 2, ran over to Train 1. Doors swung open and closed again, only to be reopened by hysterical passenger-wannabes. That one left. The other one sat there for a while, then left.
"Our" train--namely, the one A told us to take to save the 5E it costs to go back to Bcn and then back up to our normal stop--pulls in. We all get on, A gets off at the next stop, and L, B, and I sit in a corner, looking grumpy and as intimidating as we can. Of course, this is when I realize that I have lost my phone. Not even my phone, but my dad's phone. We spent the next hour's ride thinking WHEN I could have lost it. But, none of them seemed likely--unless someone somehow opened my purse flap, opened my zipper, reached in, pushed my bulky camera and my wallet aside, and found the little phone at the bottom, which didn't even feel like a phone.

Everything unraveled from there. B's phone finally gave out, and her battery died. We transfered the, "just-in-case, have-a-person-ready-to-call-and-dialed" part of our defense scheme to L's phone, but, her usually reliable dad hadn't even answered 4 times before when we called at the station. So, I'm glad we didn't get mugged, because we would have been out of luck by then.

We somehow, finally, arrived at the not-usual train station, which was "where God forgot his hat and never bothered to come back for it," and found it to be one of those ghost stations that only exists in terror movies. Lights are all out, we're freaked out as it is, and then, as we're walking towards the station building, this single light appears in one of the dark train wagons. No person, just a light (like a lighter flame). Talk about making one jump. The three of us hurried along, looking as scary as we could as bith a psychological attack (on potential evildoers) and as a defense (to make us feel like we were even remotely safe). We got to the station, and, of course, L's dad wasn't there yet. Also, there was literally NO WAY to get out of there, because there were just train tracks on every side, and the little crossing area that one would THINK you could use said, "DO NOT PASS." Go figure.

Past 10:30... What to do, what to do? We ended up befriending two random guys that were trying to get to Girona (an impossible feat that spoke Spanish with a German accent, but I then later heard speak English flawlessly--just my luck--and this random, jolly old station employee who didn't stop chatting. I have the feeling that he thought we were prostitutes... I just kept getting that feeling. Well, it's not that strange, seeing as the last lady that we saw standing on the platform at that station, who had later found a taxi somehow, WAS one. He was actually quite entertaining, when he wasn't making unnecessary puns. But, I fended off the rude remarks quite admirably, all the while sparing with him verbally, and laughing away as he combined random Spanish, Catalan, and English. We had told him that we were Catalan, but that didn't keep him from inserting random words like "girls" and "New York" into the conversation, no! I think I kind of shocked him when I spoke a line of almost flawless English (I put on an accent for show. L and B almost died laughing). So, here I am, the manager of two top models, ready to board the train to Hawaii, while stopping through Copenhagen, all the while eating spaghetti and singing old "habaneras." Yes, that was the story that we all ended up concocting. It was actually a lot of fun to chat away with this guy. It might sound creepy from your point of view, but we always had us three plus another 4 or 5 people each time we talked, so I felt rather safe, and, quite honestly, thankful for the entertainment. I would have scared myself silly if left only to my thoughts at that place, that time.

L's dad finally shows up. All three of us girls literally RAN to him, and all gave a sigh of relief at the same time. We miraculously found our way out of that joint and got in the car. We all decided that we should give A his pictures back: instead of keeping bad things from happening to us, they only seemed to heighten our susceptibility to Murphy's Law (which states that, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"). Our little trip home ended with fireworks. Literally. Up ahead, there was a random, unscheduled fireworks display. It only lasted a minute, but it seemed to mark the end of our little adventure. After all, B's mom had told us to have fun, but to "Keep those adventures to a minimum." We always seem to stumble onto adventures, so we merely replied, "We'll be fine!" I think that lady us better than we know ourselves! And, to end the wonderful whirlwind of experiences for tonight, "Staying Alive" came on the radio as we left the station and saw the fireworks. Talk about a grand finale!

Friday, April 25, 2008

From old to new...

Ok, ok, I know I already posted today, but I just stumbled across the most interesting little sentence while doing my English work.

"There is probably no pattern so common [as the Journey] in all of narrative literature, from the Bible, to the Greek epic the Odyssey, to modern films like The Wizard of Oz and Forest Gump.

Ah yes, "modern films" indeed. Little things like this make me realize how far humanity has evolved in so relatively little time. What we now watch as "classics" were at one time "modern", and what we now consider modern will eventually become a classic. Although, I highly doubt that many of the movies they've made recently will ever aspire to the noteworthy title of "classic." Nothing classic or unique about them. Just a random two hours of entertainment that leave no lasting imprint on your life, or don't spur any discussions afterward. Discussions? Yes, perhaps I have been in Europe too long, but I do enjoy a good discussion about a movie, and sometimes love to delve into the plot, examine author themes, messages and ideas it is trying to get across, and any viewpoints that it is trying to push. Call me crazy. Alright, I'm going, I'm going.

I just wanted to point out how far we've come, and how fast time really does fly by. The new becomes old at an alarming rate, doesn't it?

Home again, home again?

In our busy lifestyles, it is always incredibly nice to have someone come home. This may sound silly, but, after having had Mom away in Switzerland for a week, it feels REALLY good to have another girl in the house. Trust me. As usual, our reunion was a joyful one, accompanied by song, dance, and plays, just like the old days. Ok, no song or dance, quite literally, but we did reenact certain moments of this past week that we considered as highlights. So, no song or dance, but lots of laughter and smiles. I love that part about my family: the fun we have together. It does not matter if we are recalling a very er... original soup, a rock-paper0scissors incident, or code-name "Tropical salad", we laugh all the same.

On another note, our "reunions" will happen much more often in the future, as mom travels more and more. But, I for one cannot complain. This next Wednesday I am flying to Kandern. "What a frabjuous day! Calooh, callay!" (that is all I remember from that poem, honestly) Why, you may ask? Why, to take the SAT and AP exams, of course! Don't you fly to a foreign country to take standard tests like these? No? Oh, just me? Well, it was cheaper to fly to Germany and stay with friends for the couple weeks I'm there than it was to drive down to Barcelona twice. So, go figure :) And this way, I can see many of the people I love and hold dear. So, my friends, watch out, Annalisa is a'comin'!

So, speaking of the SAT, I must go study, and prepare for the AP Spanish language test that I decided to take as well. Might as well get it over with! :) AS Kate would say, over 'n' out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We're all freaking doomed

Well, as the title indicates, I've had a reality check this morning. Ok, so I've been having them for days now, but I've just now finally ordered them in my mind and realized how seriously messed up this world is. I've always known that, but it smacks me in the face, mercilessly, from time to time. And, whomever says that studying history is worthless has just never used it for the right reasons. It is shocking how many similarities there are in social/economic/political trends and patterns, and the consequences of each. Me? I see a crisis that has already started, but is going to get much, much worse, and the consequent revolution of the people when they get trampled on.

My theme this time: corruption.
It all started in my English class, when I had to read the Declaration of Independence. One phrase caught my attention,

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

I've never been in to politics, mostly because of the mistrust that I've inherited from living in Spain all these years. But, now, I see just how far gone our government is, and, quite frankly, it scares me. All governments lie, all governments use propaganda. But, when I can TELL that they're using propaganda to sway the opinion of the masses, it makes my blood run cold. With elections coming up, everyone is barking at everyone, and more and more videos come out on Youtube about government corruption.

I'm heartbroken, and it brings tears to my eyes and a sharp, piercing pain to my heart. Worst of all, there is so little I can do to change it. As much as I want to, I never seem to have the "right arguments" to show people what is really going on--then again, is the claimed, "really going on" real? or just more propaganda, but in a different direction?--and what they need to know. I'm remembering past conversations, or, more like, tongue-lashings, with people here about the war in Iraq, in the very beginning, and the reasons for declaring war. As any proud patriot, although I am not usually a very convinced one, I defended what my President stuck to. In retrospect, I feel ashamed about it all. All lies, and I followed blindly, foolishly trusting the ones that I considered as interested in the future of America. Now, I have my own conspiracy theories swirling about, and I'll probably never be able to prove them (otherwise they would be "fact", not "conspiracy theories"), and I'll be branded as a heretic no matter what I do stand up for in the end.

At least now, I yearn to make my own decisions, but am not foolish enough to believe I actually can objectively. All I can do now is try my best, take information from both sides, analyze it, test it, and come up with my own conclusions. I'm learning that the truth usually lies somewhere in between each extreme, and sometimes, it is completely off the charts. "You cannot serve two masters," I recall, and, history shows us just how true that is. You cannot bring about a true reformation from your couch, wallowing in riches, greedy for more. Revolution calls for sacrifice. And, although I attempt to brace myself for the impending crisis, I doubt anyone will ever be truly ready.

Oh, but I pray for my country, I pray for those who lead us, I pray for the people of America, that they would wake from their stupor long enough to realize that everything is not hunky-dory, and that there are changes coming, at an alarming speed, and it doesn't look too good.

I'll leave you all with this cheery thought, and hope that you'll at least dedicate a minute to realizing what is going on in the world--not just America, please do not get me wrong--and pray for the future.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What a wonderful world

Over the past few days, I have experienced, time and time again, little things that make me undeniably happy.

--Sitting outside, with my laptop, doing my schoolwork while the sun shined down on me and a gentle breeze caressed my hair. Then, it started raining. But, not the usual, dark and gloomy kind of rain. It was sunny and bright, with hardly a cloud in the sky, and beautiful patched of azure peeking through. Yet, even so, little drops of cool water splashed down all around, making beautiful little ripples on the surface of my pool.

--Hearing from dear friends, knowing that they're safe and sound, enjoying life, and even thinking about me from time to time.

--Crawling under the table chasing a wiggly little 10-month-old girl who looks just like Boo (from Monsters, Inc. Same rosy cheeks, giggly smile, and little pigtails) who was in turn chasing down Tessa. Her giggle is one of the cutest sounds in the world, an unimaginably warm sound that just makes me smile.

--Looking back through my old files, finding little writings and journal/diary-style notes here and there, seeing how much I've changed, or what I aspired to, and what has become of those aspirations.

--Feeling tied down by schoolwork, yet reaping the benefits of hard work.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beautiful Soul

I don't want another pretty face
I don't want just anyone to hold
I don't want my love to go to waste
I want you and your beautiful soul

I heard this song on the bus the other day, and it has really gotten me thinking. I couldn't help but feel that that is how God must feel, to some degree. He sees us down here, struggling to get by, yet blissful and full of thanksgiving other times.

The older I get, the more I realize just how much effort it really takes to be a worthy woman of God. Lately, it seems that things that never used to really bother me are starting to surface, and I find myself looking in the mirror more often than I'm proud of. Vanity really had never haunted me this much before. I'd stuff my hair into a messy ponytail, throw random clothes on (I managed to make them match or look decent, in some subconscious way though), and put chapstick on my poor cold/dry/humidity-intolerant lips. Now, makeup has opened an entire new world for me, and I can't say I'm pleased. Buying $10 lipgloss for $3 is a bargain, but just what does it entail? How will it affect me? Over the past few years, I've become very happy with myself. Not in an arrogant, self-righteous, boastful way, but just happy to be alive and with the gifts that God gave me. Nowadays, I have to keep examining the true thoughts of my heart: why am I dressing up? For whom am I dressing up? I earnestly yearn for the answer to be "for God, and for His glory," but, just as honestly, most times it isn't. Luckily, I've always stayed far away from the typical boy-craze, and I'm still not dressing up for them, Praise the Lord! The day I find myself doing that, I'll raid my pathetic little collection of makeup and mirrors and lock them away for a week. Not sure if that will help, but it will definitely give me time for a reality-check and a large enough wave of downright shame to make me realize how far I've gone from my original purpose of merely boosting my self-respect and my beauty in God's eyes.

How can I give my all to God, and through His power, turn my current self into the beautiful soul that He wants me to have? I definitely do not want to put His love to waste, but I don't think going about in a scraggly tee-shirt and jeans, looking disgusting on purpose, is going to solve anything. Sometimes the simple T-shirt and jeans brings out the best of people, but I don't think that God wants us to purposefully put ourselves down as punishment for wanting to be beautiful. Somehow or other, inner beauty and outer beauty are connected, but how to strike that balance is far beyond the current me to pinpoint. Well, here goes, another crazy search for the unknown. I never know what I'll end up finding, but I have to admit that God always blows my mind and answers my questions in ways that would seem almost too clear to be real.

How do we balance outward beauty with the beauty of the heart?
Signed, the struggles of a girl

Sunday, April 13, 2008

There and back again

Today my whole family decided to "get out of the house" and go somewhere. When we couldn't decide where to go, we all kept piping in ideas. Joseph's plan would have gotten us the farthest, seeing as his idea of a road trip was getting dressed, in the car, and then out to the entrance to our subdivision. He figured that the distance between our house and the entrance would give us enough time to decide.

Somehow or other, we ended up driving about 1 or 2 hours north, towards France. We lolled around the last town before actually entering France, and sat on the beach for the longest time. I almost learned how to make flat rocks skip on the surface of the water... then again, my record was two bounces, so I'm not so sure if I got any better :)

Then, just for fun, we crossed over the hill that separates Catalunya from Catalunya Nord (aka, France. But, JD, the sign ACTUALLY SAID, "Welcome to Catalunya Nord"--translation), and popped in to France, just because we could. I mean, who decided to leave on a Sunday afternoon on a random excursion and not stop by France? :)

Anyways, that was fun, had an interesting lunch, and remembered why I love the Catalan countryside so much. That deep sapphire blue water was just amazing!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Snowfall is to hair like max. temperatures are to house

Today, as my mom and I splurged into another round of college-hunting (it has been a mother-daughter past time recently), we found this nifty site with all sorts of graphs, charts, and data on the specific town where the college is located. As I am still aiming for WU, I looked up Spokane, WA, as compared to HC in Houghton, NY (I got a "care package", as I call them, from their school this morning, which actually started the college research frenzy). As I looked at HC's data, it said that the average temperature (in what I would consider the "warmer" times of year, such as, well, summer) were really low in my opinion, under 50F. My mind working as it does, I did a simple regla de tres ("rule of three", does that even translate? hm) and ended exclaiming, "that's colder than my house!" You see, my friends, the house we lived in Banyoles was ALWAYS at 60F. Especially in the winter.
Now, 60 is cold, no matter what anyone may say--even more so if it is INSIDE the house. That brought back a flurry of memories that I swept to the side as I tried to focus on the project on hand: trying to figure out if HC could be my elusive "6th college" (for those of you who are not familiar with the SAT, they send your scores to 6 colleges for free, and any more you have to pay for.). Now, I have been trying to fill that spot for months now (I finally got it from 2, to 3, to 5! Hurrah! Yay me!), and I was starry-eyed at the prospect about finding the missing link to my college preparation.

Unfortunately, it was a dead end. It's extremely small, in the middle of no where (or, as they say here, "On Déu va pedre l'espardenya i no la va tornar a buscar", "where God forgot His slipper and didn't bother to go fetch it back from"), did not really have any majors that I went, "ah-ha! that's me!", and really had nothing more appealing than an amazing equestrian center and being 2 hours from Niagara Falls. The reviews also included a particularly "exciting" story about driving 30 mins away and going to Wallmart (ok, now, I'll admit that sounds exciting to me, but that is an entirely different story). That drew me in, but the rope ended about there. Whenever the population of the town matches that of the college, I kind of lose interest.

Back to the chart site, I found that the average snowfall of one of the two cities I was looking up was 16in for a month. Again, my mind working the way it does, I cried out, "that's way more than my hair!" Recently, I've been trying to grow out my hair to a minimum of 10in, a desire for 12in, in order to donate it to Locks of Love.

So, as I heard once and quote all the time, as for my brain, "its a big bag of weird in there!", and I never cease to amaze myself at the simple complexity of how I think, the comparisons I make, and what I glean from anything I see. :D Well, now you know that whenever I compare things, what you'll heard about out loud will make absolutely no sense to you, yet it could not be easier for me to understand.
Cheerio, my confused friends! By the way, those pictures are both from Banyoles (the town with the freezing cold house), and one of them is the lake there. That was basically the only thing I enjoyed about that town, honestly. And even that had a downside: the cotton-ish trees that FILLED the air with white fluff about now, leaving me lying on the floor in one sneezing, puffy-eyed, runny-nosed mess. So, yeah, wonderful place.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rrradio Girona

Yours truly can now add a "Radio Interview" to her list of experiences. :) Yesterday I was interviewed (along with my mom) for one of the four Christian radio stations in Catalunya--and this one was the only one to do everything in Catalan. This past week there was a case against a couple down in southern Spain for child abuse against their son, because they were homeschooling him. Yeah, I know, hard to believe, right? But, even so, these parents are facing 3 years of prison and the custody of their son on a basis of "child abandonment." Now, this wasn't even your hard-core homeschooling program either--no! He had a tutor come in every day to teach him.

Strange place, Spain. What I really am curious to know is, not what did they do, but who did they tick off? That's usually how it goes here...

So, I went and gave my opinion on homeschooling, seeing as I have been both in the Spanish system, the American system, and now homeschooling on the Internet. Quite interesting. It was the first time I ever had to wear those giant headphones while speaking into the matching giant microphones.

Was I nervous? Well, I didn't sleep too well the night before, was fine while driving to the studio, then got these uncontrollable spasmodic shivers while talking. Go figure. Afterwards, though, I was cheery and care-free. :)

This is my little duck friend that I made at the lake :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sweet dreams

Seeing as I have SO much extra time on my hands (yes, that was a joke, and not a very good one at that, but it made me laugh at the dripping sarcasm embedded within that simple phrase), I have started a sort of psychological experiment on myself. Nothing strange, but I am interested in researching my subconscious mind. Specifically, my dreams. I've read up on the subject before (stages of sleep, types of dreams, etc.) and have cultivated a rare ability to not only be aware of my dreams while they're happening, but also feel their lingering presence after I wake up. I intend to change this somewhat, by actually being able to recall my dreams throughout the day. Being able to control my actions within a dream would be amazing too, but I'm planning on doing this one little step at a time.

Its extremely interesting to remember what I dreamed, write it down, then look for repetitions, or even causes of little incidents. I plan on trying different methods of dream recalling for a couple months, to see if its possible, and, to learn something from all of this.

Do not be alarmed, there shall be no mysticism or dream "interpretation." I am simply curious to determine if it is possible to bring the back of your mind to the front, in a way. And, oh my, I've had some really fun dreams before, and it would be nice to be able to turn my dreams into fun ones, wouldn't it? And being able to stop nightmares and change the plot of my dreams (yes, mine have plots), while dunking it all in a layer of creativity would be fascinating.

So, I shall let you all know how it ends up, but for now its a personal, sort of a dream journaling experiment, so I will not be posting the random details of it here. Take care everyone, and sweet dreams!