Friday, May 30, 2008

A Few Little Happies :)

It's important to celebrate the little things in life, and when you're living alone in a foreign country, a simple visit to the grocery store can bring you down ("One tomato there a smaller chicken? The smallest one you have. Yes, I do live alone...") so you have to find something to celebrate each day.

Here are some of my recent little excitements:

1) I found out that through iTunes radio I can listen to 98.7 KLUV any time of the day! Growing up, if my dad was within hearing distance of the radio, it had to be on KLUV - it wasn't up for discussion. The greatest hits from the 50's, 60's, and 70's that my dad grew up on became the music with which he raised my siblings and I, but here in Europe, I sometimes wonder if anybody even knows who The Animals, Neil Sedaka, The Turtles, Chubby Checker, Dusty Springfield, Leslie Gore and various other music greats are. Instead, the majority of the American music I hear is either cheesy classics from the 80's and 90's (yesterday I heard "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in the bakery. Panda knows that made me happy) or else club music ("Please don't stop the music..." ad infinitum). KLUV satisfies that need in my life for the music of my youth (or rather, my father's youth imposed upon me), and each song triggers a memory, a smell, a flash of East Texas winding roads, and the image of my Dad in a plaid, button-down, short sleeved shirt. :)

2) H&M - It's like the Gap/Old Navy of Europe, and what's even better: they actually have sizes that fit me! It's not easy being a 6'0 tall female in a land of tiny petites. But even more exciting than just H&M in general is that today I discovered a new location! This is HUGE because the only 2 that I knew of nearby are in a very touristy district, and always crowded, noisy, with a picked-over selection and you have to wait in line for ages to get into a fitting room, only to find out that you need another size and have to leave the room to get another (no customer service in this country - do it yourself!), wait in the seemingly never-ending line again to try on the new size, and then move to another slow-moving check out line. It's not enjoyable. But this new location I've found is easy to get to and NOT in the tourist center of town. There's a better selection and no crowds! I can finally shop in peace! Yes, I am such a girl. :)

3) Ranch - you can't find it here. But recently somebody gave me a box of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packets. So yesterday I made parmesan (spelling?) ranch chicken YUM and today I added a little tabasco sauce to the parmesean and ranch and YUM again! I'm going to invite some friends over for dinner next week so they can experience the greatness that is Hidden Valley Ranch.

4) In just TWO MONTHS I get to go to the Dentist!!! Call me a freak, but I LOVE the Dentist. Or rather, I love the dental hygenist. I love the feeling of getting all the junk off your teeth: the scratching of the little metal pick, the whirring sound of the electric toothbrush, the slurping sound of that little spit sucker they put in your mouth, and best of all, walking out feeling so fresh and so clean. But sadly, I haven't been to the dentist in a LONG time (I won't tell you how long so you won't be tempted to judge me..) partly due to laziness in my attempts to find a new dentist after moving from Dallas, and partly due to a lack of dental insurance. But come August, I'll have dental insurance, and by golly I'm getting my teeth cleaned! I can hardly wait!

That's enough of my happies for today. :) What are your happies of the day?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

La Palabra de Dios (The Word of God)


La Palabra de Dios es viva y poderosa,

y más cortante

que cualquier

espada de dos filas.

Penetra hasta lo más profundo

del alma

y del espíritu,


la médula de los huesos

y juzga

los pensamientos

y las intenciones

del corazón.


cosa creada

escapa a la vista

de Dios.


está al descubierto,


a los ojos

de aquel a quien

hemos de rendir cuentas.

Hebreos 4:12-13

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thank you Julie!!

A week ago I walked into my apartment to see this sitting in front of my bedroom door:

What could it be? It was long, round, and slightly heavy, but not too heavy to pick up. It came from the U.S. but the return address was not one I was familiar with.

Attached was a card from Julie. When I opened the package up, I found this:

It's a TEXAS A&M rug!! What could be better!?!

I am SO humbled - Julie has gone above and beyond - giving unselfishly to me, going out of her way to encourage me and dote on me in the midst of a very difficult time in her life. I can't even begin to describe how much it means to me.

And furthermore, the timing of the rug was perfect. She didn't tell me to be expecting anything so it was a COMPLETE SURPRISE. I was shocked. I almost cried out of joy, excitement, and feeling so thankful for such an amazing friend. And it arrived on the first day of one of the most challenging (physically, spiritually, mentally) weeks I've experienced during my 7 months here. It was such a blessing and truly, truly touched me far deeper than my Aggie Spirit could ever go (and that's pretty deep!).


Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Weekend of Fun!

This weekend I hung out with some friends in the "pijo" part of town. "Pijo" is a way of saying, preppy, stuck up, rich,'s the neighborhood where Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham) and David Beckham used to live, if that gives you some kind of idea.

The best part about pijo terriotory? Tony Roma's!! I've never eaten at a Tony Roma's in my entire life - I've seen them all over Texas, but never once eaten there.

So I had my first experience eating Tony Roma's famous babyback ribs, and I must say that they were DE-LICIOUS. I will most definitely be doing that again someday. Why did I never eat there back in Texas??

My new little friend enjoyed some corn on the cob:

Quick awesome story:

I mentioned in a room full of people that I have played the violin since I was about 11 years old, but that I haven't played it consistently for the past 4-5 years, but I really missed it. Somebody listening came up to me later and said, "we have a violin hanging out in our closet. My mom bought it for my daughter but she decided she didn't want to play anymore. Do you want it?"

So now I get to play the violin again! How awesome is that? I practiced a little bit this afternoon - I can't wait to get some sheet music and be able to play for real!

Then today I got a super big happy. I went to Starbucks (always a happy) and my friend Luis was working. He always makes me smile. Normally we just chat but today he stepped out from behind the bar to give me the two kisses, so that means we're officially friends!!

AND when he handed me my drink, it looked like this:

In case you can't read that very well, it says, "con amor para la más guapa" which roughly means "with love for the most pretty." And on the other side is my name and lots of little hearts. Don't worry, he's not in love with me. But he does love me!

Please note that in this picture I am wearing a long sleeved cardigan with a long sleeved shirt underneath. Today is May 18th. And I was cold. I am certainly not in Texas anymore.

I've got a busy week ahead of me, so don't be surprised if I don't update for a while.

Have a great week!


Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Never Would Have Thought...

Recently I've been having a clothing crisis. Really, I think my whole life has been a clothing crisis. Never knowing what was in fashion, how to dress my body, gaining a lot of weight my senior year of high school and then losing it all and more my sophomore year of college, learning from "What Not to Wear" but not having the budget, nor the patience, to do it right...

Now I'm in another crisis. Blue jeans. Europe really only does two types of jeans: skinny jeans and weird jeans (or the weird-skinny jean combo). And by weird jeans I mean all kinds of weird - super wide legs, or weird zippers and buttons that serve no purpose, back pockets half-way down the thigh...all kinds of randomness. So I bought some jeans in the US, and my sister sent me some for Christmas, and everything was great, until...

I lost a few pounds. Not a lot, just 8ish, but it's enough that since I was already between sizes, and we don't have a dryer so the jeans never shrink back, all my jeans except for the one pair that is a smaller size are now baggy. What's a girl to do? I really like the jeans I have, it's just that they're baggy, so I'm hoping find a tailor who could take them in, assuming it would be worth the cost.

But today, not intending to buy any jeans, I went shopping with my friend Vittoria, the Italian. I was really only planning on buying a tshirt or two now that the weather is warming up and I've got drawers full of sweaters. But on a whim, I decided to try on a pair of....

Skinny jeans.

And...I liked them. They weren't SOO skinny, more like these in the picture that are skinny but not painted on and tapered.

And they were only 20 Euros.

And Vittoria is really good at flattering me with compliments.

So I decided to give them a shot.

And THEN we went back to Vittoria's apartment to be girls and try on various outfits to find "the perfect outfit" for her friend's birthday party tomorrow, and she remembered that her old roommate left a pair of jeans under the bed and they've just been sitting there for months, and she's not planning on coming back for them.

They just so happened to be my size.

And skinny jeans.

So today, I came home with not one, but TWO pairs of skinny jeans.

I hope Denise doesn't disown me as her friend.

If you had told me a few weeks ago that I would soon own two pairs of skinny jeans, I would have called you a liar.

I've already bought a pair of leggings to wear under skirts. What's next? Leg warmers? Stonewashed? Those Aladdin pants??? I shudder to think of it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hug Me

I've never read the Love Languages book, but I'm sure that if I did it would tell me that physical touch is mine. I need touch. Holding hands, a hand around the shoulders, a gentle pat, and especially hugs.

I love hugs. Big hugs. Long hugs. Short hugs. Strong hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

I love the giddy, squealing hug when you haven't seen somebody for a long time.

I love the happily humming hug of a good friend, inspired by nothing but the fact you're in a hugging mood.

I love the warm, strong, lingering hug that says you really care.

I love hugs.

But lately I haven't had so many hugs. This just isn't a hugging culture, but rather, a kissing culture. A kiss on each cheek is all you get. A kiss on the cheek can be affectionate, provided it's a real kiss. But often times it's nothing but a light brush of the cheek and a kissing noise. When it is a real kiss, as good as it may be, it's too brief. Occasionally you might be blessed by a kiss/hug combo. Those are the best, but very, very rare.

I realize that for my American friends the idea of kissing your friends may seem weird (tee hee, but for some of you maybe not so much - you know who you are), but I've learned to appreciate it. Yet I still long for the physical contact of a hug, for a friend to cuddle up with on the couch, to be able to walk arm and arm with my girlfriends...

I'm sure there's a very important lesson to be learned from all of this with plenty of spiritual applications about satisfying myself in the Lord and all that lovely goodness, and I hope that I'm the model pupil, but when the bell rings for passing period, can I please get a hug???

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Recent Happenings

Let me begin by saying that I can currently look out of my window and see a party on the roof of a building across the street, and I would very much like to be there. It looks like they're having a blast. But I'm about to go have a blast sleeping in my bed, and I'm thinking that I'll have a lot more fun there than I would at any party tonight.

The past week or so has been super busy. I went to Portugal last weekend and spent several days working hard on my tan (and if you know me well, you know I don't tan, so I really do have to work hard on it!) lying on the beach and reading Jane Austen's Emma. My first novel in English since November. (sidenote to anybody who has sent me books to read: I WILL read them, but since I'm on a mostly no-English book diet, it will take me a while to get around to them. But feel free to send me more. Or send Spanish books)

I was there with some friends and we spent some time each day singing songs praising our Father and reading the Word, and then lying on the beach, swimming in the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean, lying by the pool, drinking iced coffee, eating Indian good.

I also spent a day in Sevilla, Spain and went to a Flamenco show. I would highly recommend it to anybody who might be traveling through. I was amazed at the speed and dexterity of the guitar player's fingers, and since I am currently taking flamenco guitar lessons, I have a new appreciation for just how ridiculously difficult it is. And the dancers were WOW, in all caps, of course. Their faces were so intense and the way their feet moved so fast was almost as unnatural as Vera-Ellen (who plays Judy Haynes) in the movie White Christmas with her super skinny thighs and lightening speed toe tapping. It was amazing.

I also went to the Alcázar, an old Arabic palace from when the Moors had control of Southern Spain (the Islamic kingdom in Spain lasted around 700 years). The Alcázar is of a similar style to the Alhambra (where I went in Granada and lost all the pictures), and while it is far less impressive, it is still very nice and worth a visit if you happen to be in town.

Now that I'm back I've been busy studying, hanging out with friends, running around to government offices to ask for legal residency (that's a work in progress...), painting an apartment for some new friends that just moved into town, picking up said friends from the airport, doing laundry from my time in Portugal...I've been on my toes, that's for sure!

And, our new friends have a little baby girl who is just the cutest little peanut. I think I like her. =)

Speaking of toes, my big toe has been in a lot of pain all day, and I can't think of why except that I was on my feet a lot yesterday (and quite literally, all night) so maybe it's just telling me that next time I salsa all night long I should have a seat every now and then. I'm still not quite entirely adjusted to this "night culture" where people eat dinner at 10pm and their kids don't go to bed until after midnight and it's perfectly normal to stay out until the sunrise on a weekend. And not just the young whippersnappers like myself, either. I've seen old people walking through the city center with their canes at 3am. In the US, that would be unheard of, but here, it's perfectly natural. It really is a different world.