Good things that happened today: I quit my job.
Bad things that happened today: I quit my job.
I left my job with Christian (and the little kids) and am starting full-time at Academia Ultreya, the place I really like. The other English professor got a scholarship and is moving away, so I am taking over all her hours. This change comes at an opportune time (I really need it!), and this also means that I will now be the only English professor at the Academy. I guess that’s kind of a distinction, right? Anyway, I feel bad about leaving Christian like this to have to find a replacement so soon, but it had to be done, and this is the time to do it.
Also, I am going out to lunch tomorrow, and there’s just one week left until a) my mom arrives and b) it is my birthday!. Things are looking up!
Yesterday Verena and I climbed to the top of Monte Pedroso. When she first described the mountain to me, I thought it sounded a lot like the hill on which Christian (my boss) lives, and where I go to work every day. She swore it was a different place, but as we neared my familiar path and the familiar incline that kills me every time I walk up that hill, I realized it was indeed the same mountain. She looked incredulously at me, panting, “You walk up here every day?!” To be fair, I only walk halfway up it, but still…it’s a trek.
I like walking to Christian’s house because it is still within the Santiago city limits, but it’s like entering another world. The bustling noise of the city centre and the rush of car traffic is left behind. The multistory apartment buildings give way to small homes, farmhouses, with chickens and dogs running around in poorly-fenced-in yards. The sound of running water can be heard from the rocky brook, and then, farther up the hill, from the large faucet and pool that are still used for outdoor communal clothes-washing. The water comes straight from the top of the mountain. Usually there is a smell of chimneys.
It took us forever to get to the top of the hill on rocky winding paths through the pine and birch forest. But once we got up there, the view was well worth the belabored breathing; we arrived at the perfect time in the late afternoon to watch the sun bathe the whole city in a golden light, and then to watch as it sank over the waves of blue hills into distant Galicia, turning the sky a pink, then orange, then deep red hue that changed with every passing moment.
When we came back down, it was already dusk, and the cathedral was lit up against the blackening sky. When we arrived back into the centre of town, it was already busy with the buzz of Saturday night. The mountain was not far away, but it was far enough to escape for a day from Santiago without going anywhere at all.
A Day Out in Santiago: Pictures of Monte Pedroso and more…
So, I have this ice cube tray. It’s the alphabet one Verena got for me when I started school. I love it. Anyway, I whenever I make ice, I am careful to fill all the sections and put it carefully in the freezer. Yet, whenever I pull it out, one of the letters is always missing – the M. At first I thought that someone was borrowing my ice, but it seemed strange that it was always only when I first made fresh ice, and it was always the M. Then I started to suspect that I was just being clumsy and accidentally leaving the M section empty when I filled the tray. But after a few careful watchings of the ice process, the M was still consistently missing. This has been going on for months, and has continually mystified me. Tonight I pulled my fresh ice tray out of the freezer and sure enough – the M was missing. Baffled, I went to show Verena, who said, “Maybe there’s a hole in it.”
I’m not sure why that had never occurred to me. In my defense, the hole was so small as to be barely visible, and not large enough to drip a noticeable amount of water on the way from the sink to the freezer. But still. Sometimes I wonder how I make it through the world.
This week was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad week.
But the weekend made up for it.
Last night was a truly international experience. Jill and I had doner kebap for dinner (kebab, in Spain, is always spelled kebap, and I always think it’s funny). Doner kebap is basically Turkish gyros, and it is sooooo delicious. I was looking forward to that all week. Then we went with three of my French friends to see Salif Keita, a French-African singer who I like a lot. I picked up his CD by chance one day at Borders, and it is still one of the best ones I own. I was very excited too, because he doesn’t tour in the US, and even in Spain there were only two concerts – one in Barcelona and one here in Santiago. The show was absolutely excellent. He made everyone stand up and dance, but unlike typical American crowds, Spaniards really get into it. People were clapping, dancing in the aisles, singing along, and cheering like mad. At the end, he invited all the people in the front on stage and everyone danced. And all my friends, who had never heard of him before, really enjoyed the show. Afterwards we went and had a drink at a tiny little hole-in-the-wall, and then met up with Verena and the German girls to go Latin dancing at a club near our house. It was a good time and I met some new people and discovered some new places, which always makes me happy.
All day the battle raged between man and storm. Surrounded by rain, man brought out his best ally, the umbrella. But the rain was tricky. It slid in sideways and up underneath the umbrella and crept into man’s shoes and socks. Rain’s ally, wind, sent surprise gusts tearing around corners to render all umbrellas useless and defeat even the bravest of men.
At the end of the day, the outcome was clear. Dead umbrellas lay everywhere, the city a graveyard of martyrs. They hung out of trash cans, dismembered, blown inside out, their nylon skins torn away from metal bones, their joints bent in uncomfortable directions. Sometimes just parts of them were found, scattered on the ground in the parks, thrown into corners on the streets, wet and muddy.
In the stores the backup troops stand at the ready, new and shiny and strong. Sometimes the injured can even recover and be put back into the field again, taped up and sewn up though still with the scars of battle. But the victor could not be denied; today in Santiago, the score was rain: 1, man: 0. Even so, this was just a battle, not the war, and as they say in these kinds of things, this is only the beginning.
* * *
It was a miserable day.