a wandering woman writes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meanwhile, in a Salamanca convenience store

I can't tell you I was born to work alone in my home.

While I covet the convenience of a virtual life, I have discovered I am far from a virtual person. Every so often I get up and wander the neighborhood or toss a few stones off Salamanca's Roman bridge just to remind myself there's a world out there.

This morning's break was a stroll to the neighborhood kiosko for my daily bread and El País. As the owner was making my change, a man dropped off 2007 Semana Santa posters for him to hang in the shop's windows.

We were opening the posters when we heard someone in the doorway. An elderly woman was standing in front of the open door, trying to get the owner's attention. She was greyhaired, with spindly legs leading up to a black coat and a bright pink scarf. She desperately wanted to be heard.

Perdona. ¡Perdona! ¡¡Oye!!

We both looked up. Her next sentence started small, but built its way up to a dramatic Castillian finish.

Luego.... ENTRO.
Later....I'm coming in.

She jabbed her finger in the air like a politician who'd just promised to right every one of the world's wrongs. Satisfied, she marched away.

The store's owner looked up and shrugged.
Cuando quiera.
Whenever she wants.

We went back to the posters.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tagged: Why do I blog?


I've been tagged.
Laura passed me this question: why do you blog?

My first answer, considering how little time I've spent at this blog lately, was sad and sheepish: ummm..lately? I don't.

But as always, Laura set my pen to scribbling, even at 2 AM. I'd climbed out of bed and booted up the laptop, a jetlagged stupor and legendarily bad eyesight conspiring to convince me it was 6:45 AM and time to start my day. Good time for a good question. Perfect time for this question, since I've been hankering to get here more often and more than hankering to give this blog a long overdue makeover.

Why do I blog? The tag asked for 5 reasons. I'll give you 6:

1. Blogging helps me pay attention.

I look at life like a writer when I blog. I notice what's around me, find myself catching things I would have missed in my bazillion mile per hour past. Just knowing I'll be heading here pricks the ears, opens the eyes...keeps me awake and scribbling.

Internally, the effect's just as dramatic. Posts, comments, the blogs I visit through the comment box...blogging stirs up things I doubt I'd run across any other way.

2. There are some truly cool people hanging out on the other side of this keyboard.

See them there? I can't count the fabulous people I've met through this blog, many in person. Can't count the pincho tours during Salamanca visits, the friends this blog has brought me, the cool things I've been asked to do. I just plain like the people who visit this blog.

I have a certain way of looking at the world; I've learned what I've learned navigating the waters of expat life in Spain. If any of that can spark something in somebody else, answer a question, forward a resource, or inspire a good hearty laugh, all the better. Sometimes I think blogging is the ultimate way to pay it forward.

3. Some days I surprise myself.

Amazing what an empty text box can coax out of me. Some days I blog just to see what I type.

4. The blog keeps track of the minutes.

You can't spend 5 weeks in the States and not notice what you don't have in your life: a house, bursting bank accounts, a car, a family and the SUV to cart it around in, you know, things you've built, stuff you've bought. When I moved to Spain, I bought myself a life of well-lived minutes. I don't earn what I used to; I may or may not get back to owning a house and collecting possessions. But I've got to tell you, I spend my time well. This blog lets me mark all those minutes and come back to celebrate them again.

5. I've got this funny thing about bridges.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere really different from the States. Then I talk to someone who's convinced all Americans are illiterate gun owners who eat nothing but McDonald's. Or open an email from an American who's not sure cell phones have reached Spain yet.

Every once in a while I watch this blog bridge - Spaniards to Americans, Spaniards to expats living in Spain, Americans to the world outside our borders, conservatives to liberals. Catalans to Castillians. People who speak Spanish to those who don't. I like when we disagree; I like when people who are absolutely convinced they know what Americans or Spaniards are like misunderstand me. I like being forced to question my own experience here. I love hosting the party where people who thought they had little in common find common ground.

And there is nothing I would rather do than encourage more of my paisanos to cross the Atlantic, or the Pacific or the border with Mexico or... Travel, people!

6. Writing about my wanders is the perfect excuse.

I must wander, I tell you! I must! I must turn this hard won vocational virtuality into solo travel and blog posts. You're all counting on me, aren't you?

Speaking of which: I'm booked for Tuscany in April. Recommendations, oh wise, well-travelled ones?

Anybody want to pick up this tag? I won't name names, but please, if you'd like to join the tag, leave a comment with a link to your post about why you blog. Here's a spin, nonbloggers - leave a comment about why you don't blog! I've just declared this an equal opportunity tag.

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I must be Spanish

My cellphone just flashed the following message:

Ya no caben más mensajes.

Poor little phone. Can't store another SMS.

Why yes, wise guys, I have deleted old messages. Many a time. Still, giggle, it's full.

I'm feeling quite Spanish.

Think I'll clean it out right quick and send somebody an SMS.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's a long road to Madrid: Two stuffies and a bump

There's an old joke about New England. Maine to be exact. An crusty old New Englandah answers a tourist's plea for directions like this:

You can't get theayah (there) from heayah (here).

I'm beginning to believe you can't get from Providence to Madrid.

I've been bumped, now that I've checked in for my twice cancelled flight to Philly. On the other hand I have scored a free roundtrip ticket, discovered WIFI and plugged in my laptop, making me a happy thrice-cancelled wanderer.

I vividly remember walking out the back door of this airport and crossing the tarmac to my plane when I'd head back to college after summer and Christmas breaks. Twenty years later I'm spending the afternoon in Gate 6 (6! of 12 or 15!!), ecstatic to find that my hometown airport has added not only departure gates but WIFI. In true Rhode Island tradition (I once misdialed my father's phone number and reached someone who knew both him and his new number, I swear) I spent my first hour at the gate chatting with my very first employers - the former neighbors whose children I babysat until the day I walked across the tarmac to college.

I prepared for the day''s travel with one last taste of the Ocean State: a cup of chowder, a couple of deliciousstuffies and a well placed dash of Tabasco at O'Rourke's, the new pub in the old town where I grew up. There are clams in my belly and peanut butter in my suitcase. I'm ready to go home.

I stumbled across Quahog.org while searching for a stuffie photo. Everything you could want to know about little Rhode Island and then some.

Meet you back here soon, hopefully with tales of morcilla and patatas meneadas....
¡Hasta pronto, Salamanca!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Spainsick....and stranded

Okay, I don't know about troubles immigrating to the US, but I'll tell you, I'm having a fairly hard time emigrating this trip.

I've got the Eagles on the brain: You can check out anytime you like....but you can never leave.

A generous friend left work early yesterday to personally deliver me to the airport, but as it turned out I'd packed for nothing - again. The flight I'd rebooked when my first flight was cancelled on Tuesday was cancelled as well. Next available seat for Madrid? Sunday afternoon.

So the photo above is a little bit for all of you and a lot for me. I doubt today's as sunny and warm on Plaza Anaya as the June day in the photo, but I'm feeling my Spanish r's coming back just looking at that Plaza.

The Upsides of Being Stranded in Rhode Island in February? Let's see:

1 Last night's hot italian sub, hot pepper relish and all. What we Rhode Islanders affectionately call a grinder (grindah, for those of you who speak rho dilandese.)

2 The discovery that I am, in fact, virtual. Point me at a source of WIFI and my clients are calm, cool and sure I'm working hard for them, somewhere.

3 American milk! Better yet, the yummy whole (yes, gasp! whole!) milk delivered every morning by a milkman to my newest B&B, the sprawling home of the generous airport shuttling friend.

4 The company of a masterful toe-warming corgi, who seems fascinated by my virtual workday jabbering (to myself, of course.)

5 Although I still have never seen a Super Bowl (my uniquely American claim to fame), I did watch my first episode of American Idol last evening. My hosts were aghast to hear we don't get the show in Spain. I was merely grateful.

6 In a last waltz with spice, sweet, sweet, hot spice, I will be dining on Thai tomorrow. Hmm, maybe this has bought me time to carry the fixings for picante cooking back to Salamanca? Of course, I won't get any Salmantinos to eat with me.

7 Beer you have to order by name. Mmmm, pints of Guiness and Newcastle and Bass and whatever microbrew the bartender suggests...

8 And last, but definitely not least, a few hours to catch up on the blog....


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

(A Long) Weekend in New England

OK, there are worse places to be stranded than lovely Little Rhody.

And there are far worse places than your mother's house, especially when your mother cooks like mine.

But still!

I'm working at my mother's kitchen table, watching frozen rain hit the window glass, and trying to identify the work soundtrack that best accompanies the wind and splash and ping on the pane.

A quick weekend hop to New England to tend to an expat's nightmare - the expiring US driver's license - has turned into a weeklong stay with Mom. My flight back to Madrid was cancelled yesterday, in anticipation of today's rather disappointing winter storm. I had hoped to be out making snow angels this morning. Instead I'm watching Rhode Island melt.

I'm rebooked for Thursday, and hope to get back here before then.

Meanwhile I'll continue to convince my mother that this really IS work I do all day, perched in front of my laptop.

Providence webcam from www.wpri.com and www.projo.com .

Friday, February 02, 2007

What EB said

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.

E.B.White US author & humorist (1899 - 1985)

Shamelessly swiped from cream, who made my day with it. If you've yet to discover the dynamic duo of cream and feedblitz, which will effortlessly deliver his posts to your inbox, you're missing lots of made days.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Live, from the kitchen....

it's WIFI!!!!

I'm back, and as Irish luck(?) would have it, I am online, in my piso, live from my very own kitchen. A mere 45 days after signing up for WIFI.

Buika's singing to me (note to self, get a handle on where she's playing live in 2007). I'm sipping an unexpectedly fabulous Jamaican coffee some friends brought back from their island wedding (and drinking it con leche, pero con mucha leche, ahhhh, back in España). And I'm typing on the stovetop (ceramic, of course) just to prove I can.

I can!

So listen, a month back "where you come from"...with stops in a couple of those "places where you come from"....gets a woman to thinking. Expect the wanderer to muse for a bit.

But first, to pinchos with my Madrid-living, Spain-loving, opera singing fellow americana Kathleen and her visiting parents. Time to show off my pretty little town and its delicious little pinchos. After a far less than satisfying stop (it wasn't my idea, I swear) at Cafe Iberico in Chicago, I'm more than ready for a taste of Salamanca.

Question as I leave, this site's in line for serious rehab.....which may require a move to typepad or who knows what. Before I jump ship, anybody want to weigh in on the new Blogger? I've yet to try it. How's it do with categories and tags for archived posts? Can you post ahead and set a date for publication? Are you liking it?

See you back here soon. I barely recognized the blank white box. Man, it feels good watching it fill up with all this lovely black text. This is blogging, huh? Mmm. I like this.

So, you guys still out there?