07 July 2008


How has it happened that several whole weeks have gone by since last I wrote anything here? It was kind of not my fault, because of the lack of internet in Barcelona, although it is kind of my fault because I can usually get a neighbor's signal if I sit on or near one of the balconies. Plus, we were in Brussels this past weekend for a wedding, and there was internet. But again! Not so much my fault! Because we had guests staying with us and you know how it is with having guests: you end up running around doing stuff and not so much bloggity blogging.

So, enough excuses. Since I've dropped off the face of the earth (no skype either, not since the Great Computer Failure of June 08), I should just briefly--but chronologically, as I am unfortunately linear in my thinking--summarize what we've been up to since I came to Barcelona with intent to live. (You see, strangely enough, after all of this time visiting Barcelona on summers and vacations and weekends, and even after we bought an apartment here, I've never truly thought of us "living" here. And now I do, because we are. It feels good.)

Hold on, first another (non-linear, parenthetical) note: I just typed the word "resume" instead of "summarize." Even as I pressed the delete button I was dumbly trying to process: why isn't resume right? why on earth did I think it was resume? what's the right word anyway? My fingers, typing faster than my brain, typed resume because in Catalan, you say "resumir" to mean "sum up," "go over," "summarize." Can it be that Catalan has so infiltrated my thinking that I am using reverse false cognates?

Anyhoo. The first week here was a madness of getting the apartment in shape for the Mister's birthday party and for guests who were to spend the following weekend with us. It was grimy from disuse and lack of time, on prior whirlwind weekends, to clean. I finally was able to convince the electrician to come and install all of our lights, which was a relief because it meant that our restored original lighting is now in place, instead of naked lightbulbs. The weather was sultry hot, humid, sunny. I didn't sleep properly for days, because of the heat, and the noise from the street through the open windows. But it was better than Brussels, where jackets are still necessary.

We had a fun family-and-friends birthday party; everybody had just left the house around midnight when our weekend guests arrived--the same Italian friends whose wedding we attended in Sardinia. We went to the beach for the first time this year, we ate lots of good food, we trudged around the city in the heat, we watched Spain win the European football championship. Our Italian friend (a big football fan himself) was a little puzzled, I think, as to why the Catalans were rather lackluster on the cheering front, until we pointed out the Franco-era flags waving in the stands and listened to frenzied radio commentary about the "raza superior": it's amazing how football in Europe can be so...political, so closely tied to ultra-nationalism.

Our friends left last Monday, and I finally had a rather calm few days to myself here. I got some work done, explored the neighborhood, did a little sales shopping. (In Europe--well, at least in Spain and Belgium--the sales are restricted to post-Christmas and late summer. Other times of the year, it's rare to find anything on sale, and so during these sale months everyone goes crazy, and it makes the news, sort of like Black Friday. I myself rather prefer NOT to shop during these times, as formerly orderly shops become bargain-basement jumbles of clothes, and formerly solicitous salespeople become surly and snappy. But I went to buy some items I had my eyes on earlier, and snagged them on sale on July 1.) I also finalized our rather complex set of plane tickets from Barcelona to Boston (me) and Brussels to Sioux Falls (him), then Sioux Falls (me) and Omaha (him; yeah, don't ask) to Las Vegas, then Las Vegas to Barcelona. It'll be his first trip to my midwestern birthplace, and I haven't been in years. We'll be in Iowa/South Dakota for a family reunion, and then we're taking two weeks to drive around California. I have never been (less surprisingly, he hasn't either) to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. So those are all on the list, and I have a feeling two weeks is going to start seeming awfully short.

I also got a haircut! I got a very short cut--a pageboy?--with long straight-across bangs. I've never had bangs like this and I'm still adjusting to them, but I think I like it. It looks kind of retro, kind of flapper-ish, and it went well with the beaded dress I wore to the wedding this weekend.

I had a bit of a misadventure when I flew to Brussels last Thursday. Somehow in setting the alarm I changed the time as well, so that when I thought I was waking up at 5:30 in the morning it was really 3:30 in the morning, and I had in reality only slept for two hours. Not until I was wheeling my little suitcase down the dark, deserted street did it occur to me to wonder why there were so few people and why it was so dark at 6 am. I showed up at the train station at 4:15 in the morning, and had to wait for it to open at 4:30. The first train to the airport was at 5:30, so I kind-of-slept for an hour, dragged myself to the airport and through check-in and security, and then kind-of-slept for another two and half hours because--Murphy's law!--the plane was delayed for two hours.

Upon arrival in Brussels, I had to rush home--shivering, because the skirt and tank top that had seemed so smart in boiling Barcelona did not quite cut it in chilly, rainy Brussels--change, and meet my Mister at a super swanky delicious restaurant called BonBon to celebrate our two years of weddedness. It was worth it though, because the meal was a memorable one and the travel stress melted away under the influence of a nice wine recommended by the sommelier and the handsome face across the table.

Unfortunately the glamor could last only for so long, because we had to clean the house in preparation for the guests who would be with us for the wedding, arriving later that night. The weekend was full of wedding flurry, inevitably. The bride and groom and many of the guests were a group of friends who had studied with the Mister at the Johns Hopkins International School in Bologna, a fun mix of Americans and Europeans of all stripes, and I got to meet some of them for the first time. The wedding itself was a civil ceremony that took place at the very grand town hall in the very grand Grand Place, and drinks afterwards were Belgian brews at a nearby brasserie. We danced and mingled until four o'clock in the morning, and the next day we were plied with the famous fries at Chez Antoine in Place Jourdain. I flew back to Barcelona late last night (the Mister had flown to Madrid for a conference) and well, here I am.

Here I am, that is, until a week from tomorrow, which is when the whole American adventure starts. I'm super excited to see family and celebrate and lolligag in cabins by the lake, but I'm really quite beside myself that we're finally going to take a driving trip around the west coast. Even if I end up feeling like foreigner in my own country.

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