3 months, 14 days

past

&

51 days to go.

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School is going really well! While I’m not terribly intrigued or have passionate desires to analyze poems or am really grabbed by any particular narrative books or poems, each day is a learning experience. ¬†I love my professors and fellow students. How lucky I feel all the time to be surrounded by such distinguished scholars and budding colleagues. Each day when presented with new material I am excited to practice the language and learn more about the words, grammar, punctuation and perfect my skills. That is what I like the most about my daily interactions and classroom time. Content? I’m passing….and more than passing! I had such a vast improvement on my two most recent essays ūüôā I’m quite happy with the improvement. Yes, I can do better, but I feel so good to know how much the time and effort put in is paying off.

¬†Essay 2This paper was a paper I turned in for my Latin American Writers and the Spanish Civil War class. It was an analysis of the poem titled “Imagen espa√Īola de la muerte” written by the Peruvian poet, Cesar Vallejo.

EssayFollowing is a paper I wrote¬†for my Latin American Modernism class. I chose to discuss¬†a¬†short story called “Amante de las torturas” written by Juli√°n del Casal in the book Cuentos fant√°sticos modernistas de hispanoam√©rica.¬†

We’re preparing for our final exams, final papers and final presentations for all the classes currently. It’s hard to believe that that only 3 weeks of classes remain. In those three weeks I’ll be turning in three 8-10 page essays and presenting one book. The following week I’ll be taking three final exams. So there’s LOTS of studying to be done. Which I’m glad for. The constant distraction of learning keeps my mind off ‚̧ but also makes me feel happy. Knowing I am “Mastering” the language animates me because that is what I came here for and I’m going to become the the master. Por supuesto. Si, se puede.

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The weather has been jumping around like crazy lately and changing every few hours or so. It’s very Texas like right now. However, it’s also just very spring. It’s difficult to plan an all day outdoor activity, but when the sun comes out sporadically I’ll take advantage of it by popping outside for un paseo around the block, grabbing a cava at an outdoor caf√© or exploring one of the many beautiful and lavish markets that make up this town.

Last Saturday I cruised down to the barrio of Chueca and spent some time exploring Mercado San Anton. This market is absolutely beautiful and totally charming! It’s funny because when you come to it, hidden amongst cracked sidewalks littered with cigarette butts and fast food wrappers, you wouldn’t imagine that inside this cold gray building is a bustling, beautiful, clean and plentiful market full of delicacies.

The market of San Anton is four floors, including a bajo floor of a regular super market, one floor of mini kiosk shops for purchasing olive oil, meats and cheeses. One flight up is lined with little shops (like at Pike’s Place market in Seattle) of a variety of delicious treats. There is a sushi stand, a stand shelling fresh oysters, a couple of tabernas where you can get a ca√Īa, un vino tinto or una cava to compliment your seafood. There are specialized Mediterranean stands, as well as Spanish tapas stands, Italian¬†cuisine and so on.

If you had time, you could wander throughout the market, get a few pieces of a salmon skin roll, try a greek salad fluttered with feta, sip bubbling cava and polish off your palette with a piece of baklava or gelato. The only obstacle is finding a place to eat your food. The top two floors of the market are lined with tall tables, both for standing and sitting at high bar stools. The market is usually quite bustling, and as we’re in Europe here, with the food stands, tables, narrow spaces and custodian carts moving along like snails, there is a lot of pushing and shoving. I don’t know if it’s a European trait or a Spanish trait to not say excuse me or be aware of others around you, but all I know is that if you don’t push your way to the front you’ll get stampeded and smashed to the bottom and never get your cava nor caviar. #firstworldproblems

All this pushing and shovingIMG_3025¬†reminds me of the book “Hope for the Flowers” where the catepillars are climbing on each other all to get to the top. Or maybe it’s “survival of the fittest”. I should probably read the book again…

I ordered a sparkling and refreshing cava from the taberna and from the Greek stand, I purchased a small salad and Marcona almonds with herbs. I snacked on my indulging mini banquet for about 30 minutes.One almond at a time, I tried my hardest to eat slowly and observe the world around me.

I was squished between a couple picking at their sushi and gossiping about the color, who else they knew that had eaten it, the taste and so on. Spanish people love to gossip.

The guy on my left sat in silence, but with a pleasant look on his face. His lady returned shortly after, they left together and I moved over to allow myself more space. I don’t really care to be shoulder to shoulder in crowds, especially while dining. It was a great little perfect to enjoy my beverage and lunch and observe people.

La terraza at Mercado San Anton is an absolutely beautiful place to be. It has an actual sit down area for dining which is a covered area. Aside from that, there are all these very trendy and posh wicker chairs and cushiony places to sit while sipping mimosas or talking over plates of cheese and olives. On a sunny and warm day this was an absolutely lovely place to be! However, the fact it was a sunny and warm SATURDAY made it  dreadfully crowded, so I cruised back inside and found a great little café that was half inside, half outside. I found a warm stool next to a sun baked counter and read my book for a good hour, just taking in the sun and sipping a white wine.

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As mentioned previously the Spring has brought many weather changes. While the rain and gray isn’t always desirable, it sure is keeping the foliage and aesthetics of Madrid very green. Which I’m so happy about. On my way home, just 3 minutes in front of my apartment building¬†is a mini park ¬†and the green is so pleasing to come home to and see.

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IMG_3017This photo on the left here was what greeted me when I went to use the restroom at a jazz club last Friday night. It wasn’t an amusement park ride nor anything more than a bathroom decoration. I’m not going to lie, it was a little hard to pee with the blaring blank eyes of a white porcelain carousel horse glaring at the vent on the wall. Perhaps it was one of the carousel horses¬†form the animated scene in Mary Poppins that pops off the carousel and jaunts through the countryside. When it jumped back into real life, it was probably frightened when the magic was gone and it ¬†ended up in the basement in a Jazz Club in north Madrid. Yes, that’s probably it.

This was a really fun night, however. I met up with three of my classmates and we enjoyed some really great jazz at a funky little cultural bar called, “de modestia…na”. Up top it’s a normal Spanish bar. It’s quite small and exposed at night by burning bright purple and fuchsia neon lights that outline the bar. Down the rickety staircase is a perfect little jazz venue. It’s small, but the small that will demand attention from the artists and at the same time keep the waitress and the spectators comfortable.

IMG_3018I’ve never seen Spanish people so quiet. There was barely any side chatter or interrupting. The music was alluring and the musicians were captivating. The group was composed of four men: pianist, trumpet player, drums and stand up bassist. They all had such expressive personalities. The piano player moved his long arms and leering neck back and forth like a brachiosaurs flowing to the rhythm and the drummer was a bobble head of happiness. His eyes twinkled and his neck and arms jerked around with cacophinoc gestures that confidently kept the beat. The bass player was hidden the whole time, but his sounds weren’t.

IMG_3019What a beautiful vibrating grace that resonated from the tall, arching bright red wood of the base.

Those three were Spaniards and the stoic trumpet player standing tall in the front was the American of the group.

After an hour and a half of music, wine and tapas, we went upstairs and enjoyed friendly conversation and more tapas¬†until about 1:30am. At which point my younger and Spanish-izing friends headed downtown to start their night on the town. I smiled and hopped in a cab home. 1:30am was good for me ūüôā

I really must go back to this place. This Saturday they’ve got a Bossa Nova group playing which would be great. But what would also be great if I made some very intelligent progress on all my essays…..

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IMG_3036¬†Last Sunday I participated in a run put on by my school called “Run for Ethiopia”. They organize multiple runs a year and I believe that two of them (one spring and one fall) are fundraisers for various causes. They are organized by the running club and the Sports & Activities director. It’s a fund raising run for the schools teaching program in Ethiopia. It was a short run, just 2.34 miles, but it was down at Retiro Park and fortunately a day that ended with rain and gray, started with sunshine and warmth ūüôā

It was also just 2.34 miles, so it wasn’t much, but I did set a get great pace, running each mile at an 8.3 minute average, which¬†I’m happy about. I also made some new friends and is there anything better than running in the sunshine? Not sure if there is…:p