Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Different Kind of Free

Well, to help me relax out of an exhaustingly intense day filled with the marvels of AP Bio, the torture of AP US History, the annoying repetitiveness of Geometry and thought-provoking English essays, I have been listening to music. Now, I am very picky when it comes to music. Unlike most people my age, I do not necessarily have a favorite band that comes to mind, nor a singer who I just NEED to get tickets to her concert. Sure, I have bands and singers that I like, but I rarely like the WHOLE album, or their band as a whole. Honestly, I focus more on individual songs. Even if the tune is catchy, I always focus on the words. Words have power, even if you aren't listening to them. I first realized this back in my Dark Age in Banyoles. The sadder I got from school, the more I listened to music. The more dark, depressing, "the world is falling on me" and "everyone is out to get me" songs I listened to, the more aggressively rebellious and depressed I became. Although I can now follow that argument through with my amazing logic skills, no one had the heart to tell me back then. Anyways...

Recently, I started cleaning up my room (LONG process, do not expect me to finish that soon, if ever. Although, conference is coming right up, meaning I will be traveling again soon, therefore I clean my room up nice and neat right before--so that I can clutter it up after taking apart my luggage) and stumbled across all of my old CDs. I have not owned a CD player (other than my laptop... which, I just realized, can PLAY CDs. Imagine that) for years now, so it was truly the equivalent of a time capsule. Amidst David Bisbal's first CD, and a pirated Chenoa CD that I was forced to accept, I found my old CD case, full of a bunch of Christian bands. One of my favorite groups form that "era" of mine was Zoegirl. It is one of those groups that every little good Christian girl listens to in 4th grade. Well, I have never really been one to honor frenzies, and only got it as a gift when I left the States in, you guessed it, 4th grade. I actually liked their music.

It not only had a good beat to it, but it also gradually improved my mood and was a major factor in my ascension from darkness, and it really helped me morph into the cheerful, warm and caring girl I am today. Ok, I see some of you giggling at me. Yes, I once was dark, and yes, I am now kind and nice, for your information. Deal with it ;) As for Zoegirl, it was one of the few groups I spent my money on to buy their new CDs. Here, in the pages of this oh-so-secret diary, I will admit that some of the parts that made me cry then still bring tears to my eyes today. I have found these songs to be soothing, healing, uplifting, cheerful, etc. OR, they make my heart cry out for various reasons. Their lyrics really speak to my heart, and sometimes it comes as a big reality check. It wakes me up to the harsh life that some people face every day, and it truly makes me wonder what I can do for them.

Over and over, I feel like there is nothing I can do, yet I don't want to give up without a fight. There must be SOME way to help the girl they sing about in "She." The more I learn about the world, the uglier it can look, yet, I will not give in to just seeing the negative. For as much bas as there is, God fills our days with little things, good things, that bring us relief in the form of a smile and a giggle. I'm off for today, but I want to wish you all a great Wednesday full of smiles and happy memories, as well as the ability to recognize the many blessings God pours out into our lives. Take care!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Granada: the Alhambra and more


I have NEVER seen so many olive trees in one place. Ever.

Annalisa reporting back. Well, this summer is, as you can tell by the lack of posting and by the condensed nature of my rare posts, packed with work and trips.

Together with my family and a family that we know from here, we all traveled to Granada, at the south of Spain. We flew to the Granada airport, then rented a big 9-passenger van and headed down a couple hours southeast, to visit the dad's family down there. We were welcomed by lots of, "oh, my, how much you've grown!"s to the J brothers (one is Joseph's friend, and one is in elementary school, and they hadn't seen this part of their family for years now) and lots of food. Got to love Spain. : As expected, olive oil flowed like water, and was everywhere, in everything. That was due to the vast extensions of hills, valleys, crevices, plains, and rocky mountains atop which olive trees grow. I say again, "I have NEVER seen so many olive trees in one place. Ever." Although it may be hard for you to fully comprehend, there were literally olive trees everywhere (except for the little stretches of dirt or asphalt cut out as roads): including on extremely steep cliffs of a rocky mountain. I kid you not.

After a day of feasting and napping (the siesta is a MUST down there, not because they are lazy, but because it is too hot to do anything for the midday hours), we hoped back into the van and drove up to Granada city. The main focus there was to see the Alhambra, and meander through the famous Arab souk (market) (It was funny to realize how much knowledge I had stored up from reading all of those Amelia Peabody books.
Amelia mentions the souk in Cairo many times, and now I finally got to see a miniature version of it!). I honed my bargaining skills--although the elder J brother would disagree. He basically just sat back and laughed at me as I eagerly tried to bargain down the store owners--needless to say, I got much better deals than he did. They have gorgeous earring for cheap down there. I am a sucker for shiny things... always have been. And, if the price is right, there is no throwing me off the trail.

The Alhambra (the moorish palace. Granada was, after all, the last Muslim stronghold on the Peninsula, and the sultans sure made themselves comfortable) was... awesome. Not awesome in the typical teenager way, no! Awesome as in awe-inspiring. The delicacy of its wall carvings, and the overall beauty of it washed over you from the start. Then it was a whole day of it, yet I never grew tired of it. There were no people or animals portrayed, due to their customs, but, the intricate geometric patterns, and the white marble everywhere made up for it. Swirls and curls and gleaming white stone stalactites hang from the walls and ceilings. Certain rooms actually have an 8-star ceiling, towering up toward the vault of the heavens. It was truly magnificent. [Pictures to come, soon, I hope]

We spent two lovely days in Granada, miraculously avoided the infamous heat that Granada is known for in mid-July, took hundred of pictures, bought boxes (OK, Only I bought a box... but I wanted to add to my box collection :D), and teased about the belly-dancer outfits displayed everywhere (I would have tried one on for the fun of it, but they don't really consider the need for changing rooms... whereas, I do. Punto finito). Ah! And we had tea at a very comfortable, very dark and cozy tea house, complete with all sorts of delicious tea (Persian tea--black tea, orange blossom, rose, vanilla. That was for all of you tea-connoisseurs out there). My brother and his friend were slightly disappointed not to get to smoke the water pipes there, though (They all decided against it when the owner of the store told us that it was "fruit tabacco" instead of tea. I didn't know you could smoke tea... Anyone?)

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and I loved getting to travel with the G family. They are a blast, even if they consider my taking pictures of architecture a boring and odd hobby. But hey, it kind of is. Few people actually appreciate my "artistic shots" ;) Take care!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Daughter-in-law?

Have any of you ever felt that someone regarded you as a daughter-in-law already? Of course, this question is mostly directed at my female readers. Guys, if someone is looking at you as a future daughter-in-law, run as fast as your legs can carry you and don't look back. Then, of course, tell me the whole story :)

Well, I ask, because, every now and then, I feel that way. One of my friends (adult friends, mother of two boys and loving wife) really likes me, obviously enough. So much, that she seems to want to have me in her family--officially. Now, smart woman that she is, she reasoned out logically that, the easiest way to do this is to marry me off to her son. Usually people try to marry off their sons, rather than marry their sons off to gain a daughter. Who knows. Anyways, she has a son about my brother's age. Real nice guy, and actually treats me with some chivalry (HE OPENS THE DOOR FOR ME. This shouldn't be extremely exciting news, but, so far, he is the ONLY Spanish/Catalan/European guy to even consider holding the door and letting me go first). Some people call it flirting, others call it being a gentleman. Quite frankly, I don't care which it is. That might sounds weird (Ok, Ok, I admit, it DOES sound weird), but you have to understand that I use to hold doors for other, and wondered why I couldn't be a guy (nowadays, that thought of being a buy is so far gone, believe me. Personally, I am loving shopping more and more, and painting my nails has turned into a hobby. Not exactly manly past-times), and that way have at least one gentleman in the world (Other than my dad, and my brother when he was little. The whole door-holding thing slips away during their teens, I believe).

Strange child I am. So, you see, I already have people around me pushing people at me, wooing me into their family trough their poor victim of a son (I'm not that much of an ogre, but I can just imagine how utterly disturbing it would be for a teenage guy to have his mother determine his fiancee, and perhaps even force him to comply.)

Not that any of that is really happening, but that is what the behind-the-scenes story looks life from center-stage.

So, although I have not been married off yet, there are those who try. :P

El escriba ha vuelto a casa

"The scribe has returned home"

After a wonderful week down in Barcelona, my English grammar is almost non-existant, my Spanish has "resorgired" and my Egyptian grammar is at its height. I now erroneously expect others to understand me when I speak in sentences with no verb. And I'm not talking about elliptic verbs, either. I mean, NO verb. Or, sentences where a prepositional/adverbial/nominal/adjectival phrase suffices in place of a verb. I have been analyzing sentences for a solid week, taking them from the verb-less Egyptian (although it was always fun when they suddenly threw a verb in there, just to confuse you) to Spanish. FUN! Really, I mean it. But, it does affect one's other "assolired" grammars.

Apart from that, I met up with a bunch of people this week. First of all, I got to take the second part of my Hieroglyphics class, a year later, with the same teacher (hurrah!) and the only girl there last year (we became friends REAL fast, and formed an unstoppable team. It was great) in a class of 8. This week, one of the guys that I befriended in last year's class came to "visit" and say hello, and my teacher, and us two students (once a student of hers, always a student) meandered around Barcelona for the afternoon. The next day, I met up with a friend down at the famous pigeon square, and chatted away for hours while enjoying an ice-cream on amazingly comfy couches in the downstairs of the ice-cream shoppe.

All in all, it was a wonderful week, full of fun, laughter, and learning. What more could I ask for?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hieroglyphics, part 1

Hi to all!

Yeah, we got home really late last night. We drove all the way back from past Teruel (Aragon). Around... 1-2ish maybe? it was late. real late. Between that and a very tired and slightly emotionally unstable little 15-month old (but I love her anyways), I only got about 5 hours of sleep. What's a girl to do? Even so, I LOVED today. Class was amazing--althoug it is slightly taxing on one's intellectual abilities when listening to a teacher reading you off excercizes not only in Ancient Egyptian, but in oral transliteration, no less, with a Spanish accent, and nice and fast. Get those little grey cells moving.

I met up with Angela, the girl in my class last year that I really hit it off with. Ok, ok, the ONLY girl in my class last year. But we really did hit it off :) So, I sat next to her in class. Good memories :) Surprisingly, there is only 1 guy this year (well, "boy" is more accurate, whatever), and 5 of us girls. Kind of the inverse of last year, where us girls were outnumbered 2 to 6. Also, we have the same teacher as last year, which means it is going to be a blast! Once again, thank you so much for this! it kind of restores my faith in Spanish society each time I come back, seeing as I find that it really is possible to laugh, tease, and even cooperate with people in perfect harmony (the laugh and tease part imply that BOTH parties are enjoying themselves, not the typical ridicule).

My commute was intersting. I took the metro this morning, seeing as last night was way too late to start looking at which bus stops where. Quite frankly, I think that I'll continue taking the metro. It's fast, its easy, and I don't have to explore uncharted waters all over again (as I would ahve to know those streets by heart to know how to get to the Museum from whatever bus stop I hop off at). This morning I left extra early, so that I could buy mysef a lunch... Do you have any idea how utterly uncooperative this city is in terms of takeout? If anything, they open at 10 or 11, only at lunch time, or after 6. Go figure. I ran around, finally found a Fresh&Ready, bought myself a Caprese sandwhich (which looked so bad that it was obvious that I was both short on time, and desperate. Although, then again, it was the least disgusting-looking thing there. It had pesto. And cheese. And poppy-seed bread. yeah) for a ridiculous price, and skeedaddled over to the museum. Of course, it does not open till 10. and I mean open at all open. Light are OFF until 10 kind of closed. Very exciting.

Then, after and exciting day of summaries, repaso, guesswork, transliteration, and translation, (all very fun, no matter how it may sound to others), I was dead set on buying myself some sort of food. Whether for right then, or tomorrow's lunch, I didn't care. I needed food (no breakfast to speak of, a puny sandwhich, and a day later do that to you :D). So, I wandered ALL around the Passeig de Gracia/Diagonal/Urquinaona/Pla├ža Catalunya/Corte Ingles/Clot area. It's a big area. I found a KFC on the other end of the world, a Dunkin Donuts (which I already knew was there), another Fresh&Ready, a bunch of random asian buffets (not takeout. you'd think, of all buffets, they would be the bright ones with takeout. But no), and bakeries with nothing more than croisants. Don't get me wrong, croisants a re great and all (I actually bought 3 of them. That made me happy), but I was looking for pizza or something lunch-like.

I finally found some random Catalan cuisine takeout. I'm doomed. I can't escape from catalan food. But, they had a menu for a reasonable price (pasta, croquetes, dessert, drink. a real meal :P). So, I bought one for tomorrow. Of course, they open at 10, and then again at 6. So, I get to play around downtown for an hour. It goes by really fast when you are parading up and down these big /small streets, looking for more than 6€ tapas. Also, I stopped by a Mango store, and browsed for a while (I found a pair of really nice pants, but they turned out to be those wierd, not-entire-pirate-pants-but-just-a-tad-too-short-for-pants things. It makes it look like you are wearing pants tht you grew out of. Anyways). I also combed the entire Corte Ingles supermarket floor. You'd think THEY would have food, no? NO! Well, lots of food, but not anything take-out like, or instant anything, or, well, much other than squirming fish and skinned rabbits. I stayed extra-long in their Oriental section (well, part of a row), and found a bamboo rolling matt. I decided not to buy it after all, because I really was on a food run, and would hate to not be able to buy myself any form of take-out I could aquire because I bouhgt a bamboo sushi rolling matt that I cannot use. It would have been one thing if they had nori (seaweed) near the mat, because then I would have tried making sushi for myself for tomorrow. But no. It might be just as well.

That is a pretty thorough and complete narration of my day, taking out the 7 hours of class time that would probably confuse you more than provide you with any entertainment value. All I can say is that we got to go through the museum again, and translate things rigt off of pots, statues, or papyrii. AWESOME.

There we go! Update complete! Now, on to APUSH. Thrilling, as you know. Soon, I WILL post my Paris experience and my Alcorizas (Aragon weekend trip) memories. The latter includes real footage of a "corrida" I went to down there. I got the whole thing: bull-fighting ring, bulls and "vaquillas" (slightly smaller, but fast as anything), lighting their horns on fire, people dashing in our and around the bulls, people jumping up on the sides to get out of the way... a very very very drunk Captain Marvel (decked out in an extremely tight, sequin-decorated, bright red torero suit and cape. Needless to say, I had my camera out and ready to film the moment of his death, if it were to roll around--which we all expected, honestly, and, if not death, a good mauling.

Anyways, ciao for now!