little sarah Big World

Month: October, 2009

Memory Savings

Today I arrived at the school to find hardly anyone else here. No students, no teachers, not even the office people.

Turns out it was Daylight Savings. Not today, but on Saturday.

I’m not surprised that this slipped my mind, passed without my noticing, as I’ve never actually been informed of DST in any other way than by word of mouth. Ever.

In this way, it strikes me as a rather Spanish concept: poorly organized and wholly informal, though entirely official. Like most of my experiences here, it just felt so random.

Like hearing this song TWICE on the bus today.

Or sitting in the back of math class while the kids review algebraic properties, which is really a review for me, as well. It reminded me of this one time, in fifth grade, on the bus to school. Who knows why, but I was talking to some younger, bitchy, blonde-headed rich girl about math. I told her that I was really good at it, and she tested me with some ridiculous little equation, something like “seven times five plus two minus 8 divided by 10 times 300 plus ninety…” etc. I don’t remember what solution I gave her, but she insisted it was wrong, and then her and her little friend had a good laugh at my expense. (Years later, when I learned the order of operations, I realized that I probably had solved it wrong).

Anyways, she’s probably married now with already, like, two children and a house in the suburbs. While I, on the other hand, am in Spain.

Wishing that I could go home.

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In Dreams

I’ve been having some disturbing and vivid nightmares since I got here.

I dreamt that I was camping near a lake with Whitney and some other family and friends. The dream was thick with an inquieting, auspicious and ominous feeling. There was a submarine resting on the lake, near the shore. We decided to take it down to the bottom, to explore. As we began to descend, water started seeping in under the door, then rushing. I wanted to turn back but my companions were anxious to see the lake floor. On the bottom, we found ourselves in an abandoned underwater suburbia. Everything was perfect and untouched, clean and tidy, with brightly painted houses, shining silver mailboxes and (of course) white picket fences. Everything was still, with seaweed floating silently in the front yards and paved roads that stretched out into nothing.

I guess creepy is an understatement. With my fervent pleading, we booked it out of there, back to the top. Then I woke up.

*   *   *

Then, in Potsdam, I had a dream that I returned home to Madrid to find my precious, white flowered nightlamp broken on the floor. I tried to pick it up and put it back together, but it was so brittle and crumbled in my hands.

This last one seems to me to represent my happiness here–so fragile, so tied up in tonterías (silly little things), like a nightlight, a little wooden mesilla, a fresh croissant.

But my happiness seems to have become a bit more durable of late. I always forget that I just have to hold on! Just wait a little bit. This too shall pass.

other beloved items include: a book from chad, sheets from laura, little alarm from Oviedo

The afore-mentioned nightlamp

A Confederacy of Dunces

Just finished it. Here are my most favorite quotations:

“Ignatious, what’s all this trash on the floor?”

“That is my worldview that you see. It still must be incorporated into a whole, so be careful where you step.”

“When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life. Ignatious was about to say this to himself; then he remembered that he went to the movies almost every night, no matter which way Fortuna was spinning.”

“He rolled down the window an inch or two and breathed the salt air blowing in over the marshes from the Gulf…As if the air were a purgative, his valve opened. He breathed again, this time more deeply. The dull headache was lifting.”

This was a going-away present

Excerpts from My Journal

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
(Toledo – Bus Stop)

I wonder what my life looks like from the outside. I know that sometimes you have to step outside of a thing to appreciate it. “Can’t see the forest for the trees,” but I feel like I already appreciated my life in Utah before I left. There were days when I was enamored of it, even. Giddy. But maybe that’s not the same?

And how can I truly step outside my own life? Because here I am, still living it.

I think I need to resign myself better to my current situation, in general. Resign seems too strong a word, but I don’t want to say “live in the moment.” That’s not exactly what I mean, and it’s too…new age. Bullshit.

It’s easy for me to look back and appreciate the life I’ve lead, the shape of its overall arch, the contours, the outstanding moments. But I know damn well that I was restless the entire time. Anxious, distressed. I was drowning in still waters, clinging to each misfortune as a sign that I’d chosen, or been forced down, the wrong path.

I tend to focus on what I can’t have, to think in terms of limitation, seeing each decision as confining. Whenever I take action, I see only the doors it closes for me, instead of walking through the doors it’s opened. And then I’m stuck; no way out, paralyzed with fear.

Maybe Spain is an open door for me, then. Maybe it doesn’t shut me off from Utah, or from music. Maybe it opens me up to myself.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
(Madrid – Metro)

I’m starting to feel at home in Madrid, on the metro. Like I belong. I see the other Americans, recognize the accent, but I know I’m apart from that somehow.

Just now, feeling my new life conforming, starting to fit, like a new pair of jeans, I thought “How quickly I’ve forgotten Utah! How distant it all is!”

But that’s not true. Memories of riding my bike along Windsor Street, summer’s warmth cut with the clear, brisk autumn air. Friday nights going to the midnight movie by myself—it’s as fresh and vivid as ever.

Ha! It’s as real as if it were only two weeks ago.

Friday, October 16th, 2009
(Potsdam – Café)

Feeling better after a walk, even though it’s damp and could out. I almost gave up after one turn around the block, but I warmed as I kept going.

Today marks three weeks that I’ve been here, and I’m finally taking photos. Decent ones, I might add!

Potsdam is lovely, quaint, charming. The people here are all very friendly and very English-speaking, which is nice.

I’m warm and toasty inside a café, with amazing German comfort foods—potato soup with fresh veggies and sausage, brown bread, and hot chocolate.

After this, I’ll practice and maybe read for a bit, then it’s dinner with Beth and hopefully a chance to talk.

If only the whole year could go like this. No work. No Illescas. No hustle and bustle. Anyways.

Two Weeks in Spain

I think if my life were a movie right now it would be an indie movie. Maybe that’s a bit presumptuous, or a bit telling—marking me as some arrogant hipster—but, really, it’s a question of genre. My life here most closely resembles what my dad would call a “slice of life” movie, without any dramatic plot twists or interesting character arcs. Where not a whole lot happens.

Make no mistake, I am hustling and bustling all over these mean Spanish streets. There’s plenty of go go go, plenty of action and conflict, but I know that it’s not what people imagine it to be. It can’t live up to the action-adventure/rom-com/coming-of-age tale that others have hinted at or hoped for.

If I could offer up a single image, it would be this: Me, standing in the supermercado, holding a tin of olives and staring half-heartedly at a wall of equally esoteric olive tins. Now repeat that—change the store (now it’s El Corte Inglés, now the Ahorra Más, now SuperSol), change the product (tuna fish, pasta sauce, lotion), but don’t change my facial expression, my constant state of being: confused, irritated, and exhausted.

Or maybe I’m stepping off yet another bus, or climbing out of the Metro, to realize once again that I have no idea how to get where I’m going or what to do when I get there. The world spins on around me, so many short and pushy Spaniards going about their daily lives, and I stand there, a beacon of aimlessness, letting it all swirl past.

Then I take a deep breath and dive in. I just keep going.