Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
A christmas favorite has always been the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Not entirely sure why, but laughing at the Grinch's sinister smile and singing along to Ravenscroft's "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" has been an annual tradition.
The little dog is darling, the Whos are ridiculously utopic, the grinch defies physics way too many times, and the songs are weirdly catchy. My mom has been using the movie as a teaching tool in her english classes here in Spain; it's rather amusing to see her students watch it for the first time. Their expressions subconsciously mirror those of the grinch. Once the movie ends, she explains the moral: it's not the presents or decorations or location at Christmas that's important, but being with those you love.
Christmas in Spain is different. Really different...but it's still just as special. Our Christmas tree is a wooden triangle atop a post. Decorated in colorful trimmings, fruit and plants from the region, and bright red candles, El Ramo is a different kind of tree....but I think it's beautiful. There are no presents beneath it, there aren't any twinkling lights. No christmas music plays on the radio (haha, a bit of a relief), Santa Claus is made fun of, and there's no eggnog.
Our Christmas Tree
Last night, we all crowded around Enrique's family's table in Léon to celebrate Christmas Eve. The Spanish chatter rose as everyone joked, laughed, teased, and ate merrily. The talk was cheery, but I'll admit, the food was daunting. The first course was eel salad. You look down at your greens and sitting atop are dozens of little, squishy baby eels. Yeah...that was rough. Needless to say, Christmas meals are rather different here too.
We squeezed all ten of us into the kitchen
But this place is beautiful, and today we had an American meal so I could relax with my pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. Food security blanket, thankyouverymuch. When all is said and done, though, it's like the grinch discovers...it's not about the food, nor the location, nor what actually happens at Christmas. At the risk of being super cheesy, it's being with those you love that makes it a real holiday.
Merry Christmas. Give someone a hug.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
The sun is up, but the air is chilly.
Beneath my third-story window, people pass by bundled in colorful scarves, thick jackets, and knee-high leather boots. The narrow, cobbled streets are full of people, but they're socializing, not frantically buying last-minute presents. The town is small and the people grew up together.
When we walk through the town, the elderly stop and give Mom and Enrique their blessings. We are called into shops just to say hello or catch up on the day's happenings. People are busy, but relaxed; there's time to visit or stop for churros. Peaceful.
And for the last couple days, there's been music in the streets. I listen to the cathedral bells tolling in the night and in the morning, chimes play traditional carols and hymns to the people of Astorga. Through the narrow streets, there's the constant sound of singing or bells...most tunes I recognize, some are new, all are beautiful. Life is quiet here; easy-going.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I'm halfway through finals. Tomorrow I've got two back to back. That'll be interesting.
My brain is jumbled and full of too many facts, theories, ideas, and musings....therefore this will proceed in bullet form:
* After tomorrow I will have finished my first quarter at a UC. A real UC. Me. I looked back in my calendar a couple days ago and realized that one year ago, to the day, I flew down here to tour the campus and meet with the dean. I didn't know what my major really was. I wasn't sure what the campus had to offer. I didn't think this school was even a possibility, but my mom made me fly down here to check it out anyways. Well, I thought I had landed in paradise (I kinda had) and now here I am exactly a year later. Challenged, but thriving. Who would've thought?
* Tomorrow's gonna kick my butt. Still a little in terrified denial.
* By mistake, I had double health insurance this quarter. However, my UCSD coverage ends on Monday. Since I'm going to be traveling/studying abroad a lot in the next couple months, I decided it was strategic to get all my vaccinations taken care of now since they're free for the next four days. So, I'm officially taking finals a tad drugged up; T-Dap and typhoid immunizations done, a ton of malaria pills, prescriptions in case of yellow fever or chagas disease, and preventative medication for dengue fever. It's pretty intense being an international relations major. :)
* I'm driving home in two days. And I'm going to Spain in 9. Home! Spain! NINE DAYS. That's enough to drive me to distraction...I'm ready to toss finals out the window. No. No I'm not. But maybe....
* My roommates and I have decided that this is the worst time of the quarter for us (you're thinking, 'no duh'). It's finals. We're sleep deprived, famished, stressed, chock-full of facts and statistics, breaking-out, bitchy, and generally not very nice people to be around. I'm surprised my neighbors still talk to me...but then again, they're being bitchy too, so we're all equals here. Finals week is cruel to everyone. And we're boring. There's nothing new to report, "Oh hey! How was your day?" "*gurgle* It went something like six hours in the library studying...". And even when there IS something kinda cool that happened over the weekend, the neighbors were there, so they already know. We're all suuuuper ready for break so we can become interesting, lively, happy, nice people once again.
Viva la christmas.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Now that I'm volunteering with them, I see the IRC everywhere.
One of groups presenting in my refugee-health class highlighted the IRC's work in Burma, the IRC has been heavily involved with the Lost Boys of Sudan, and look!...they're even advertising on my music playlists.