Monday, January 12, 2009

Freak Like Me

It's safe to say that most people don't really make new years resolutions (everyone's given up smoking and people who are foolish enough to think that by paying a monthly membership they're actually going to go to the gym are already doing it). People do take up new hobbies at this time of year though, as I found out today.
I have an embarrassing obsession which is signing up for adult education courses at civic centres. I have been doing it for about 3 years now, and have tried a variety of different things: yoga (for geriatrics...or maybe they were the only people other than me who could make it on Friday morning), Sevillanas and Rumba dancing (I loved this one, especially the woman who took it so seriously she mesmerised me with her competitive stamping and clapping), Indian cooking (this was also a good one with a teacher who really knew how to stir up not only the ingredients but the students too), African dance (a disaster: I think I went to about two classes), Cooking from around the world (with a woman who strangely seemed completely averse to any food or people that weren't Catalan).
Two things they all had in common: there was always one freakish person who you got the impression was there as some sort of 'rehabilitation into society' programme and generally had absolutely no aptitude for whatever the course was, and secondly, that the atmosphere between the people in the class itself was surprisingly frosty.
So why do I sign up for them? It isn't anything to do with finding the inner me or releasing the dancer inside - they are cheap,I have the time, and because its good to try something new. It has occurred to me that it is me that is the freak in all these classes.
Today I tried to sign up for Modern Jazz dancing (not a joke), but when I arrived I was horrified to find the course full. It seems that I am not alone after all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Painful Truth.

When in doubt, blame your parents. I have inherited from my father the tendency for 'dodgy mincers' (particularly developing non-serious but unslightly eye infections, styes etc). When I lived in the UK, I had to have one surgically removed. When the hospital appointment eventually came through I had moved house, but had to travel out to leafy Windsor to have my eye "done" (an inadequate catch-all verb that masked the horrors that awaited me). My parents had gone on holiday and the alarm bells should have probably started ringing when my dad told me "oh yes, I've had that done, it's not very pleasant". All the hospital told me was that I wouldn't be able to drive afterwards, which seeing as I didn't have a car didn't seem like a big problem. Long story short, after having 4 separate doctors and hospital staff berate me for coming alone ("Don't you have ANYONE to look after you??"), I ended up, post-op, setting off the burglar alarm at my parent's house, so then having to climb over the fence with an eye patch and feeling like I had been punched repeatedly in the face to sit in the garden wondering how I was going to get home.
I eventually made it back to London where my flatmate enjoyed singing Gabrielle songs to me the rest of the day. By then I was able to see the funny side and even crack a few pirate jokes....
I had to have the same thing done yesterday here in Barcelona. This time I made sure to ask if I needed to bring someone with me, and exactly what I could expect. I was told I would be able to go about my business "without interruption" afterwards. What actually happened was I was lying on a table, tears running down my face into the terrorist style hood that they made me wear with two surgeons bellowing "Why are you crying???". I couldn't quite pinpoint whether it was that the needle they had just stuck in my eye was smarting a little bit, or the ridiculous surgical shower cap they had made me wear, or just the constant references to the "little knife" they were about to use on me which was bringing tears to my eyes.....I am a wimp, but I think most people might be a little bit distressed in similar circumstances.
Then came the "Of course you can't work for a few days, look at the state of you!" comment, (so not exactly 'without interruption' then??) and I noticed that the surgeon didn't come out to tell everyone in the waiting room how brave I had been, like he had with the previous patient. I felt sorry for the old woman who was going in after me.
So after suffering the same chien andaluz type experience twice, I can confidently say, if they tell you it's going to hurt a bit, you must always assume it's going to hurt A LOT.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Harder Better Stronger Faster

It's the last day of my twenties. Until today I was very nonchalant and "it's just numbers" about it, but suddenly the thought crossed my mind today "I will never be a twenty something again" and I felt like it was actually a bit momentous.
This led to me finding a "Things to do before you're 30" website. It said things like: Go travelling (check), Try new foods (check), read such and such books (check check check), Get on the property ladder (errrr...), Spend more than 50 quid on a bottle of wine (nope), Buy a convertible (??).
Then I realised those kinds of lists are just ridiculous and made to make people feel smug/bad.
And idiotic-ness knows no age.
And apparently, 30 is the new 20 anyway...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This call may be recorded...

When you are a little bit angry about something and you have to phone up a customer service phone line, and then be told " your call is important to us, please hold the line", and then you have to press a series of buttons or worse still, say one word answers into the phone as if you are schizophrenic to get through to the right department ("I´m sorry, I didn´t understand that. If you want to speak to a customer service agent, please say ´banana´") these are some of the thoughts that go through my head:

If my call is sooooo important to you, why don´t you just answer it?
Why are you making me key in or say all this information, when I know that when I eventually get through to someone (probably in a foreign country getting paid a miserable hourly rate to save your company money) they are going to ask me to repeat it all anyway?
Why are you playing ´Oh Happy Day!´ on a loop in a thinly veiled attempt to brighten my mood and make me forget that you are charging me premium rate for this call?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Farewell to Summer

Catalunya's national day (also the anniversary of Chile's 1973 coup and that other incident in America) is over for another year. Notable in Barcelona for stalls selling nationalist t-shirts and people with bad dreadlocks wrapping themselves in flags. (And yes I am aware there is a bit more to it than that, but to the untrained eye..) Everyone is heading back to school, and it's safe to say summer is nearly over.

Highlights were meeting my new nephew and finally understandng why everyone goes so silly when a baby is born. If they are even slightly related to you, you automatically think they are the greatest person you've ever met (even though they spend their entire time eating, sleeping and pooing). I also went to Slovenia which was full of beautiful scenery, nice people and food, and ageing Thai ladyboys...(well just the one, but it was still a surprise). I also worked in Venice, which was good fun. Once again I was baffled as to why people always bang on about 'Italian style'. It is possibly the least stylish nation I've ever been to bar Australia, unless you consider pastel jeans, cropped leapord print leather jackets and masks cool.

I've also decided (again) to give up air travel as much as I can after a bad experience involving my luggage going missing (still not recovered). After causing a scene at Venice airport, we were allowed into a giant room to look at the hundreds of other lost bags (it smelt quite bad, God knows what was festering in there), including one marked' bridal gown'. So next time you are being frisked and asked to remove your shoes in a 3 hour security queue at Gatwick, don't let it make you feel any safer. As one woman admitted to us 'most of the staff don't know what they are doing'. Anyway, losing your luggage is a good way to streamline your wardrobe, and saves you a trip to the charity shop.

Oh yeh, and one of my teeth had to be taken out. It was a baby tooth, and seeing as it's been the last summer of my 20s, I'm taking it as a sign that my childhood really has come to an end. I have a gap in my teeth at the moment which is making me lisp like a real spaniard.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Flip flop and you don't stop

August in Barcelona is a different kettle of fish. Most people get away for as long as possible, but if you stick around, and you are 'on holiday' (or unemployed in my case), you can take time to do all the stuff you never normally do. Here are some of the ways I've been entertaining myself in the last couple of days:
Playing 'spot the catalan' (this is a challenge as most locals are away at 'their village')
Playing 'guess the nationality' (not so challenging -Italians: easy to spot cos you can hear them from about 2 kms away, French: cool and unimpressed by Barcelona, Brits: overweight and pink like a chipolata, Americans: fanny packs and stetsons...)
Casual racism
Going to free museums
Lying in bed
Facebook (AKA pointless timewaster and jackpot for stalkers)
Trying to resist wobbling my loose baby tooth
Going for a spin on a bicing bike and getting one whenever I want and there being NO traffic.
Getting a seat in bars .

Staying put is the new going on holiday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Maybe tomorrow I'll wanna settle down...

I'm surrounded by boxes nicked from the local Condis (they weren't too forthcoming in giving them away), full of all my stuff, which actually isn't that much but is still too much. Tomorrow I'm moving house (again), to Poble sec, the slightly seedier end of town, with less catalanismo and perro-flautas, but more pissy smelling rubbish bins and drunk mentalists wandering the streets.I'm hiring a man with a van to help move my accumulated rubbish and if he's any good, I might keep his number for next time - I calculated this is the tenth flat in ten years that I have lived in, so chances are it won't be so long til I'm packing it all up again.

(cheers for the reminder)