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Unnecessary Personal Update #3: I'm Almost Out of Peanut Butter

Before we came to Barcelona, the counselors and instructors showed us a graph. A long, curvy line showed us the ups and downs we could expect while spending almost a year studying abroad. The excitement of arrival, the frustration of having to shop, get around, and find an apartment in another language and culture, the thrill of actually accomplishing those tasks, the unavoidable homesickness, etc. I glanced at it at the time but shuffled it back into the ream of documents we'd been given. 'Don't tell me how I'll feel,' I probably thought, ' I'll tell you , when it happens.' And through all the good times I've had here in Barcelona, I haven't thought much about that graph. But during the not-so-good times, the days when the entire city seemed to be an implacable force motivated only to bedevil me... I thought about that graph. The damned prophet that had seen all of it coming. Yes, there have been ups and downs this year. But even in th
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Pastis

The entrance was a small window and a door lit by a string of lights. I walked in and waited a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting; it was darker in the bar than it had been out in the street. A bar eventually resolved around me but it took me a moment to recognize it as such. It was a room not much bigger than the living room of my apartment, which also wasn’t spacious by any standard. There were two tables with three chairs each, and a short row of stools along the bar. I sat down on one of them and waited for the bartender, a fat man wearing a red sweater, to notice me. The bartender appeared to be as much a part of the décor as anything else. The limited wall space wasn’t dominated by a giant mirror or row after row of bottles with colorful labels and syrupy liquids. Instead the space was packed with signs, notes, and comics written in French, Spanish, German, a few in English. More than a few of them were handmade,

The Old and the New

With only a little more than a handful of weeks left in Barcelona, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fine line I’ll approach and cross come June. I’ll be leaving someplace ‘different’ and going home, but in many ways I’ll be leaving a home to go someplace ‘different’- different than I remember it, different than it used to be, different than I used to be. I don’t know how many things have changed in that town that never seems to change, but I know they have. I also have no idea how much I’ve changed, and I probably won’t know until much later after I return. Until then I’m here in Barcelona, thinking about the old and the new. Which was probably the best part of having Rick and Joy visit all last week: exploring a place I’ve only just gotten to know with two people I’ve known forever. It was a non-stop week that was part show-and-tell, part exploration and re-exploration, and part marathon. Much of the week seemed so natural that somet

When Did That Happen?

7:56, just before the alarm. I set down the clock and rolled back over to look at the ceiling and wake up for next four minutes. A few morning sounds filtered in through my window, which opened up into the interior of the building. I listened to the indistinguishable morning conversations of my neighbors, birdsong from the cages hanging in other windows, and echoes of the noise from the street. It was relatively quiet, but I knew that soon the sounds of jackhammers and construction would invade through the walls. When I’d first moved in I would bolt upright in bed at the sound of it, cursing to myself and suggesting that the construction workers’ mothers were promiscuous and, perhaps, canine. Lately, though, I was already awake and getting ready by the time the work started. Today was no different; the first groans of construction were beginning as I got out of bed. I awoke fully and dressed. I looked briefly in the mirror and, not fo

365 and I Didn´t Waste A One

Originally I was going to write a humble, what-I’ve-learned sort of review of 2010’s major events for me. That’s kind of my thing, anyway. But then I started listing what’s happened this year and I decided to throw the humility crap out the window. I’ll just say it: this year was awesome. I’d be doing it a disservice if I tried to play it down. 1. U of I- My second semester of U of I was filled with interesting classes, new friends, and a lot of fun. My classes were varied and I learned so much that I still carry with me. (I can have a basic conversation in French, I can draw and label a cross section of a brain- to a certain extent, I learned about force and momentum and electromagnetism and a bunch of other things I’d never have learned about in an English class.) I got all A’s and made the Dean’s List again. I spent a lot of time applying, writing, and interviewing for the study abroad program that allowed me to be in Barcelona right now. I survived Un