Day 26. Between the lines #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 26th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is also my daughter’s birthday. I remember with so much longing last year when I was with her, on her 23rd birthday. Love you so much hija!!!

 

Today I participated as a surprise guest in the 2nd Online Thursday of my Spanish friends’ Thursday’s Foam writing workshop meeting (via Whatsapp). Maria, the fantastic person who runs the workshops, receives all the stories ahead of time, and also an audio of each participants reading their story. By 6:30 pm Spanish time, the workshop starts via Whatsapp. Maria sends all the stories in an email and in alphabetical order we read and hear every story. At every time, we comment and Maria makes the most important points and analyses of the story just read/heard through an audio recorded in real time. I am so impressed of her quick grasps of each story, and how she can see (or not) immediately the elements of the homework she had given the group the last week. This time they needed to include 4 elements that drove the actions of the character: Lies-Motivation – Needs – Ghosts.

I spent almost 4 hours listening and reading ten amazing stories, and reading to witty and funny comments that were scrolling fast on my feed.

This morning, at 9 am, I was in the chopping block since I haven’t written in so long in Spanish. The workshop was about to start and my screen page was in blank.  Since my brain can’t write two pieces in one day, let along in different languages, I am going to put here what I wrote in Spanish, and give my best in translating it into English.

Entre líneas

9 am. ¡Mierda! ¡Solo tengo media hora para sacar algo de mi cabeza, escribirlo, grabarlo con mi sexi voz y enviársela a María por whatsapp! Ayer abrí los 1818 mensajes que tenía guardados del chat de la Espuma de los Jueves. Me he pasado siete meses buscando palabras en español. Mentiría si dijera que lo he intentado. La única vez que lo hice fue el  sábado 11 de enero cuando organicé el drive de los jueves. Mientras creaba la carpeta de cada uno de los participantes, y en ella sus relatos, me los fui imaginando en cuerpo presente, cada una de las voces que conocía y la de los nuevos, inventándomelas como si ya las conociera. Me daba tanta envidia que los jueves tuvieran nuevos amores. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite y que mi propia espuma ya no desbordara del tazón.  No ser parte de esas risas, y esos juegos. Que mi piel no sintiera el sol sevillano, ni que pudiera subir la cuesta de Guzmán con 40 grados de calor, o llegar a saludar a Chema y entrar a un aula blanca, austera, fría que solo los días jueves a las seis y media de la tarde se llenaba de ilusiones, donde éramos capaces de matar la soledad y enfrentar a nuestros propios fantasmas. Esa sola vez, miré con envidia los relatos que iba insertando en cada carpeta. Tan buenos, tan prolíficos, tan agobiantes. Cuando creé mi carpeta, me armé de valor y abrí un nuevo documento. Lo titulé Retomando la pluma. Permanecí diez minutos mirando la blancura de la pantalla. No tenía nada que transmitir. Me había convertido en un café expreso amargo.

Al mes siguiente, lo volví a abrir. Esta vez lo titulé Tinta invisible, y de mi teclado solo salió una frase. Si no vez nada, es porque se te han acabado los poderes de leerme entrelíneas.

9:24 am hora de Oregon del jueves 26 de marzo 2020. Cumpleaños de mi hija Matilde. 18:24 en la provincia de Sevilla.

Fe de erratas: Calculé mal la diferencia horaria entre España y Oregon. Me había adelantado una hora. Sin embargo, la presión me ha hecho romper el hielo y escribir. La espuma de los jueves es mi motivación y necesidad.


Between the lines

9 am. Shit! I only have half an hour to get something out of my head, write it down, record it with my sexy voice and send it to Maria via WhatsApp! Yesterday, I opened the 1818 messages I had saved from the Thursday’s Foam chat. I have spent seven months looking for words in Spanish. I would be lying if I said I tried. The only time I did it was on Saturday, January 11, when I organized the drive of the Thursdays’ Writing Workshop. While creating the folder of each of the participants, and placing in it their stories, I imagined them face to face, listening to each one of the voices I knew, and creating the one of the new participants as if I already knew them. I was so envious that on Thursdays they had new lovers. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite and that my own foam no longer overflowed from the bowl. Not being part of those laughs, and those playful days. That my skin did not feel the Sevillian sun, or that I could bike up the Guzmán slope with 40 degrees C of heat, or get to greet Chema and enter to the white, austere, cold classroom that only on Thursdays at six-thirty pm was filled with illusions, where we were able to kill loneliness and face our own ghosts.

That one time, I looked enviously at the stories I was inserting into each folder. So good, so prolific, so overwhelming. When I created my folder, I plucked up my courage and opened a new document. I titled it Taking Up the Pen again. I spent ten minutes looking at the whiteness of the screen. I had nothing to convey. It had turned me into a bitter espresso.

The following month, I reopened it. This time I titled it Invisible Ink, and only one sentence came out of my keyboard. If you don’t see anything, it’s because you have run out of powers to read me between the lines.

9:24 am Oregon time, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. My daughter Matilde’s birthday. 18:24 in the province of Seville.

Errata: I miscalculated the time difference between Spain and Oregon. I was an hour ahead of time. However, the pressure made me break the ice and write. The Foam on Thursdays is my motivation and need.

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Thursday’s Foam – My Spanish Writing Workshop Chat

 

Day 16. Dead but with my hair done #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 16th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Today, I talked in the morning with two of my friends in Spain via video Whatsapp. Maria, my former writing workshop leader was confined in her house with her children 14 and 18. She lives in a town of 7,500 inhabitants located 15 miles northwest of Sevilla. We brainstormed of having one of her Thursday writing workshops via Zoom or Google Hangout. We tried both, but we were worried that some members were not going to be able to quickly figure out how to connect with these tools. Whatsapp is one app that everybody masters in Spain. Probably, we will be end up sending audios with our stories read by ourselves in our group chat. People will listen to them at their leisure. They also have a drive folder where we can upload the stories.

We talked about the situation of the covid19 here and Spain and what we were up to. We even gave each other a tour of our houses. We laughed since we sounded like real estate agents trying to convince the other to buy their home. We even showed each other our bathrooms! That was the maximum expression of confinement boredom. On the other hand it was so nice to be have the time to do that. No rush, no sorry I can´t answer, I have to go, I have to work.   

I was impressed about how strict was the confinement in Spain. Police could fine people if they didn´t have a real excuse to be on the street. Andaluces are gregarious people. I can imagine that´s very difficult for them to be isolated, and unable to go to their favorite family restaurant for breakfast.

She told me that to go outside they have to do it alone. Forget the buddy system. The only exception is if they were helping a disable person. They can only go outside if they need to go to the supermarket, the tobacco store (Spaniards are heavy smokers, and not having cigarettes might be very unnerving during confinement), the pharmacy, taking somebody to the health center or going to the hairdresser. Yes, you read correctly, the hairdresser!

After María, I talked for two hours to my  Chilean friend, José. We videochat via Whatsapp also. I caught him at my noon, his 9 pm. He was having supper all alone in a house with ten rooms and six bathrooms in the middle of downtown Sevilla. It´s an old house whose owners rent to scholars and college students. Since all the other tenants were Americans who flee home, the house was empty. José is a PhD student at the Scuola Normale Superiore, one of the most prestigious universities in Pisa, Italy. He is in Sevilla doing some research at the General Archives of the Indies. His chances of going home are very slim, so he is hanging there tight. We talked for 2.5 hours! Both were very surprised of how time flew. When I asked him what´s up with the Spaniards that can´t go to walk to a park but go to the hair dresser, he laugh and told me: it`s very Spanish: Dead but with my hair done. 

Later, I read Spaniards themselves laughed about this exemption profusely. Social media was inundated with memes and jokes about it. Today the government decided that probably hair salons and barbershops needed to close also.

Spain confinement

Semana Santa in Sevilla was cancelled. Processions are VERY important for sevillanos. This is a cartoon joking about that.

Police 1: Could you all explain me where are you going?
Nazareno 1: I am going to the supermarket
Nazareno 2: I am going to the pharmacy
Nazareno 3: I am going to the tobacco store
Police 2: And the Virgin Mary?
Nazareno 4: It´s not the Virgin Mary, it´s my mother. I am taking her to the Health Center.

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Here are a couple of memes that shows signs of barbershops and hair dressers with a menu of sandwiches and beer, a man holding a sign saying he has a hairdresser appointment and another with a complain that the government is closing every store but not hairdressers.

Feria meme

This is a tweet saying that they found a way of not cancelling April´s Fair in Seville, by putting signs of Tobacco Store, Hairdresser and Dry Cleaner on the “casetas” where people gathered tight during this Fair.

Day 6. Since last March…#SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individualI “borrowed” this form from Rita DiCarne, who”borrowed” it from Elisabeth Ellington who “borrowed” it from Fran McVeigh who based hers on Erin Baker‘s post. Whew. I thought I was not going to find the end of the thread. As a librarian, I am very pleased that people were giving credits to who they borrowed the form from.

Here I am now, joining the thread

Since last March

Since last March I have biked more than 1,500 miles. Thank you Strava for the approximate data.

Since last March I have biked around the cities of Richmond, Portland, Amsterdam, Sevilla, and Santiago, and many odds towns in Spain, Oregon and Florida.

Since last March I have biked in the Andes mountains, the Smith Rock State Park and the Apopka Park in Florida.

Since last March I have biked to work, to drama practice, to my writing club, to my chiropractor, and to one of my book clubs.

SInce last March I have biked in 107ºF and 19ºF.

Since last March I got my first and probably last tattoo (unless my son wants one also) to celebrate my daughter’s graduation.

Since last March I have seen my children more often than in the last five years.

Since last March I packed my entire house of ten years in cardboard boxes, and hosted the fifth moving sale of my life.

Since last March I attended a wedding in Chile and no funerals.

Since last March I was with my children in the most beautiful snow storm ever.

Since last March I participated in a play, two library conferences, three writing workshops, and four different book clubs.

Since last March I sent my resume in Central Oregon like Harry Potter letters in the sky. I declined an offer and accepted another.

Since last March I said goodbyes to too many friends from Spain, and said hello to many more that I haven’t seen in ten years.

Since last March I was in airplanes for 24 hours and crossed the Atlantic ocean with my running buddy.

Since last March my heart has been divided in three countries forever.

snowstorm
Snow storm at the Steelhead Falls of the Deschutes river  in Central Oregon

 

 

 

Toy stories 7 to the last #SOL Tuesday

While on the plane to Frankfurt I am tweaking my last Instagram toy stories. Hopefully I can publish this slice during SOL Tuesday before I board my plane to Oregon. This is it. Today I am starting a new chapter of my life. Excited to see how it will evolve.

#Toystory7

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Even though technically this is not a toy but a wedding present given to us almost 26 years ago by our dear family friend, Omar , this fish mobile is the winner of the wedding present—toy combo survivor category.

While I was cleaning all the big and little fish, I remembered all the stories behind the hanging, unhanging, packings and unpackings of this mobile. When we got it my husband looked at it and said: “I love these fish. There are so colorful. I can picture them in our future home. This mobile will follow us wherever we go.” Little he knew that literally these fish have crossed two big oceans and a sea a couple of times. Little Omar knew his present was going to be part of the fabric of our family. At each house we had the ceremony of unpacking the mobile, untangle and balance the pieces together. Then it was followed by a brief discussion lead by Steve with his hammer on hand of where we were going to hang it. Finally the place was sealed until the next move.
Our kids as babies enjoyed the movement of the mobile. When they were unsettled we walked next to the mobile and observed it together for a while. When the fish touched each other, the wood made a crisp sound. Almost always it did the trick of distracting the baby in our hands and switched their pain on an awe. Later, the discussion of where to hang the fish were made together as a family. Here in Spain, it took us a while to decide the perfect place, since the house was a little bit darker and with no open spaces like in the other houses. But the mobile found its place in a corner of the living room. It gathered for ten years a bunch of dust and spider webs for being up high and never touched but by the morning wind. Eventually I took it down this week, cleaned it real good, and placed carefully all its pieces wrapped on paper inside box number 78.
I wonder if this mobile made an impact on my children as it did, does on me. I wonder what part of it they remember or if they even know what I’m talking about.

#Toystory8

There are some things that you have to let go but take a photo of them to remind you of some moments of your children’s life. When Matilde was probably 14 or 15 she asked us to get her a mirror for her room. We told her she didn’t need one. She had the mirror of the bathroom next door. She insisted and we fought back. It was out of the question. One day Matilde arrived home with a beaten up mirror she found who knows where. She cleaned it and painted it, and asked her dad to secure it on one wall in her room. And Steve did. There, our daughter got her mirror.

The other day we were showing one of our handlebar bike basket that we used in the Camino de Santiago to one of Vincent’s friend. He said “look, there is something inside” I said “I bet this was Vincent’s basket.” When we saw what was inside I said: “THIS was Vincent’s basket for sure” while holding in my hands the almost fossilized piece of cow’s set of teeth.

#Toystory9

It seems that handarbeiten are not my forte. I started this embroidery when Matilde was born more than 23 years ago. I think I got into dinosaur one and left it probably because I couldn’t stay still. I continued with Vincent, 21 one years ago and got into dinosaur number two. Probably I didn’t finish the design because I was packing.
Anyway, another survivor. I feel very proud of it. It maintains its colors and the white hasn’t turned yellow. Needless to say that it was shipped to Oregon.

#Toystory10

This is it. Today I left behind the biggest toys of all, our home in la Matilla. Yesterday, I spent 12 hours cleaning its walls, doors, closets and floors. I enjoyed it. It was as if I was cleansing all the mistakes I committed here. It was also soothing. I could say goodbye to every single corner of it while I was caressing them with water, detergent and chlorine. While listening to the Beatles and the sound of the cloth splashing, I remember moments of happiness, of sadness, of amazement and sometimes of despair and frustration. We had a great time in this house with its ups and downs as life itself. We owned every moment and that’s what’s I call happiness.
This drawing was made by my dear cousin Maria Isidora who came with her husband Keno a couple of years ago and enjoyed the charm of our home and the great cooking of Steve. I don’t know what has the house but every person that stopped by got trapped by its enchantments. To me, my kids, the doggies, the cats, and Steve were the pillars of this charm. Without them, this house is just a dilapidated place.
Time to start finding the enchantments of another home. I’m getting ready my broom for the long ride.

#Lasttoystory

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I found this little figure of St. James in Vincent’s room. It made sense. Vincent’s middle name is James, in honor and memory of grandpa McCann. I didn’t have the fortune of meeting Jim but I have known him vicariously through the stories of his children, especially Steve and Laura, one of my sisters-in-law. Jim was a great man and I’m glad my son has his name.
Today Buck and I are embarking in our plane to Oregon. Last Thursday we sent all our belongings on a truck. Steve will join me later with Clyde and hopefully the cats, Lola and Ralph. We will definitely need the protection of St. James who protected us in El Camino de Santiago. Now he will be taking care of us in our new Camino. And the spirit of grandpa Jim will prevail in our home.

 

Day 14. No elegant words coming to my head #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 14th:

Writer’s block again? Yeap, no muses, no elegant words coming to my head, just the emergency room, band-aid writing is up for a visit. That is what happen when you don’t have a plan, when you think that just by sitting in front of the computer, ideas will come together and the perfect slice will be born. Instead, ideas are swirling on my head, traveling through my veins and muscles and eventually arriving to the tip of my index fingers (I never learned to typewrite), and emerging on the white screen like a mush.

I feel sorry for my welcome wagon commentators who faithfully visit my blog every day and endure reading it. Sometimes it’s hard to write for a captive audience that probably is banging their heads while they read.  I guess, I got tired of thinking of what the rest of the world is going to like, or how many comments I will get today, or how many countries my blog will reach. I really don’t care. I write because I like challenges, because it stretches my mind, and force me to think in new ways. It’s also humbling; maybe not very good for my self-esteem when I see how beautiful other people write, knowing that I will never get to that level, at least in English. I write because is ingrained in my skeleton, it’s a need. Just to scribble a couple of ideas, feeling, thoughts. I am thinking seriously on hiring a translator.

Just kidding.

If I, as a grown-up feels this way, I am wondering how a kid whose language is not English might feel. This challenge have made me think about my own kids when we arrived in Spain almost ten years ago. They were 11 and 13 and it was exciting but hard. However, only by doing this challenge I realized how intense was the hard part. They were asked not only to speak, but to write in Spanish

every

single

day.

Not for one class or one hour, but for eight hours five days a week. No wonder my daughter told me one day that she wanted to go to the States for college. Speaking in Spanish makes me feel stupid. Those were her words. They stung, they still sting.

Sevilla September 11 2009 (Small)
Arriving at Sevilla’s Airport, Sep. 11, 2009