Routines for the Summer

The classes I teach begin on August 13. I have 7 days left in Spain before I go to Ireland. I just can’t afford to stay another month, so I need to crash with someone, and Irishman has generously offered to take me in. I could have spent all three months in Spain if I would have budgeted better, maybe bypassed Iceland and went to Ireland first. Actually, hold up! I just checked the flights – apparently from Denver to Dublin is over $12,000 as well. Okay, so actually, it would have been better to go from Iceland directly to Madrid, but honestly, I felt horrible and lost when I arrived in Iceland. It wasn’t even an overnight flight (well, technically it was), but I arrived with my Mom emailing me, saying my phone was off and her and dad were worried, with my phone and laptop needed charge (and at first I could not find chargers that would work, and I actually didn’t have one for my phone), and I was hungry and confused and tired and felt groggy. But pushing through is important. So, yeah, there would be just no easy or cheap way to do it. Oh well. But I probably could have just stayed one night/day.

Maybe if I wouldn’t have bought any clothes or shoes and never really ate out except for a few times.

All I want is coffee right now. I went to bed at 3 in the morning last night, stupidly, and I’ve felt good, but sleepy and didn’t really do anything all day. I went to several markets in the morning to get ingredients, which I ended up making a salad with. So delicious. But it is 21:23, strangely, and I sort of want to go to bed soon, so maybe I’ll just make a vanilla chai tea latte that doesn’t have caffeine and eat a piece of turmeric bread with butter and that will be enough. After my salad, I had 3 rice cakes with sweet orange yogurt candy on them and then walked toward the beach. But I had to pee, so I went to the juice place and got a pineapple/orange juice. When I got back from the beach (I only stayed for about 15-20 minutes, seriously I was restless and sleepy), I just went hungry ghost and had a ginger soda, lots of quinoa kale cheese puffs (although they were a bit salty. . . I think I will finish them now) and then the other 3 rice cakes.

For dinner, I ate another 1/3 of the smoked salmon and an omelet (which I sort of overcooked) and now I’m eating cheese puffs, butter/bread and making tea.

I should really make a daily plan of what I am going to do. I feel I can’t really have a beach day, and I’m kind of over having a tan. I feel like I’m ruining my skin. My nose already has some horrible looking brown/sun spots and a bright red patch that I am not sure I can get rid of, but I will start putting all the essential oils on my nose every day and  night and then wear a hat. I wish I could put oil all over my face, but it makes my hair greasy.

My honey is not sweet. My hair is taking forever to grow. It is thin and flat and my hairstylist in Fort Collins didn’t blend my bangs well. I have been thinking about getting tape-in extensions, but it seems expensive and that it doesn’t last long. I won’t make that much money teaching. I might also hate having extensions in.

My tea was not good, and I don’t think my coffee is good. I will try again tomorrow in the morning without the chai tea. I think my bread is also stale and dry. Nothing is really working out tonight. Maybe what I really want is hot chocolate, but the stores aren’t open now that it is 22:00 and I don’t want to go to a cafe.

So besides looking at pinterest for images of grey hair and extensions, I should focus on making a routine for tomorrow, so I can do good things.

  1. Wake up: shower.
  2. Breakfast: green tea + grapes + peach
  3. Study Spanish at beach library for 2 hours.
  4. Lunch: carrot soup and an omelet with smoked salmon.

I don’t know. I think I will brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Call the Irishman early. I wish that I didn’t feel pain/discomfort any more. It comes and goes, but I’d rather it go.

 

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Bleeding Free

My moon cycle began yesterday, 3 days after the expected day. Even this, I am surprised since my afflictions are with my womb elements. Usually I wear washable menstruation cloths that I have sown to a special set of underwear, but, even as I tried, I could not bear to have anything near my vulva which has been stricken with potential muscle spasms, a UTI, maybe a yeast infection, and who knows what. So I have discovered I can roam the city, go to the market, cook in the kitchen and recline in this chair by the window so that I can feel the cool breezes and listen to the rain start up again without anything to catch the blood.

I just let it run down my legs. Menstruation blood is on the edge of viscous and so it catches on cloth and dries on its way down. Here is how to do it:

  1. Choose some comfy, loose pants. Mine are flowy, organic cotton yoga pants that are slightly too big for me. You will get these stained, so you might benefit from selecting some that you find in a second-hand shop, poshmark, or that you just wear for pajamas or don’t really wear out in public.
  2. Wear one of those pants and place a flowy skirt over it. The skirt will provide a covering so that you don’t see the blood on the pants. Of course your flow could cut through the skirt, but so far, it is not a problem for me.
  3. You also might want to cinch the cuffs of the pants with a hair tie around your ankles to catch the final drippings of blood.

I find that I don’t mind free flowing. I don’t risk sitting in a cafe. But it is fine for walks and then I’ll just sit on some comfy beach towels when I get home or a chair that can be cleaned.

As women, we need to take care of ourselves. A little indulgence and self care and comfy retreat are what we can give ourselves when we are not feeling quite well. I love that, even traveling, I’ve brought the clothes to do this. I don’t mind “ruining” some clothes because we spend 25% of our month menstruating, and so it is not that crazy to have clothes that we wear during this time to make us feel better. This is a good chunk of our lives.

Book Review: Alan Watts: Become What You Are

I find it quite delicious to be able to do whatever I want, to have an absence of plans, and to have everything I need. I am still afflicted with illness, exacerbated by the intrusion of a test I never probably needed (mí culpa), but I’ve resigned with knowing this might be with me for some time, that I will have hours where I feel practically fine and then the pain or discomfort at least will return. I am trying to breathe and invite thoughts of affection and love. Many times this helps. I just have to keep from feeling angry, or rather, be compassionate for my anger.

Finally, I finished the Alan Watts book. I was hesitant to complete it because the last few chapters had a sort of psuedo-intelletual analysis on the branches of Buddhism and the possibilities of Christian symbolism, and really I felt they were awkwardly included. I don’t like leaving books unfinished, but I needed to be in the right frame of mind and have some patience and determination. I wonder if Alan Watts or some editor made the decision.

One of my students mentioned he read Alan Watts over the holiday, and I could not remember if I had come across him, although the name is obviously very familiar. I had in fact read Wayne Dyer, or rather listened to him on audiobook, and had them mixed up.

Even the title, Become What you Are, is revelatory. I found myself agreeing with most of what he wrote, although I felt that perhaps he was not as practiced at nuance or playing with the possibilities, but that is perhaps the fun of engaging with philosophy sometimes. I love what he says on pg. 9, that our feelings are “not in conflict” with what is happening, but a “harmonious and intelligent response”. So often I feel critical and condemning of how I react, so this really comforts me. Growing up in Christianity, I always felt I needed to tame and train my reactions, feeling they were base or hindering or unevolved. I love and quote to myself and others often an incredible piece of wisdom that another student said to me: Feeling awkward is simply a sign that something new is happening. I also like what he says on pg. 13, that we should let “life take its course without attempting to interfere.” I am trying that will my illness; I mean, all I feel I can do now is try to love my body and have compassion for my feelings. I love talking to the Irishman because he is so compassionate. Two nights ago, my pain was excruciating because I had earlier had the swab-insertion test, and he talked to me for 5 hours, telling me stories until I was soothed by his voice and fell asleep. And the next day, I had class, and I was still feeling pain, and my instructor’s ability to relate and listen (as I tried to explain in Spanish) helped shed the layers of discomfort and pain to some extent. I can’t do it always myself; its hard not to hate that I might have been getting better and then did something to make it worse. But I think it is getting better again. We will see. I will have so much gratitude when I am eventually without health problems. Feeling anger, resentment, and fear dries me up writing-wise. It is even hard to discuss my physical ailments here because thinking about them and accepting them hurts me emotionally.

It is hard to enact the play that Watts writes about when I have something wrong with me because it’s as if I am embarrassed. I’m not my best self to present to the world and ready to be desired and wanted. I’m broken and feel out of place with the joy that is around me. Of course, every experience of suffering helps me connect with humanity, and I’m not really that badly off.

Watts says that “self-consciousness is an inhibitor of creative action” (21). I think that is a good reminder when I am writing. I try not to censor myself. I have 75 pages in my chapbook. I know it is not finished yet. I have more to write. I think it will be 100 or 120 pages. I am anxious to finish it, but then I am not really that anxious. I am just enjoying what I am writing. But if we also want every moment in our life to be creative, then perhaps we need to never be self-conscious. Maybe my favorite sentiment in Watts that I read today in my Spanish coffee shop where somehow all the Americans go is this directive: “You must not be artful. Be your ordinary self” (143). I love that. Let that be my mantra for all of today.

There are many other ideas in Watts that I could reference and unpack, but I think it’s time to move on to another kind of writing and perhaps start my final book I bought that is in English: Marcus Aurelius “Meditations.” I’m gathering quite a library. I think it will take me all month to read that one, I’m quite glad. And I think I might return to Watts again and again because all the universe and all the books are contained within one atom and one book. Still I want to read them all (well, all the good ones).

Falling Sick in Spain

I find myself in a lyrical, whimsical place, my favorite, Kafe Botanika, for breakfast because I just can’t burrow inside my bed and believe the sickness. I am not sure what it was, but I swam in the sea and shortly after I acquired a UTI and, while on antibiotics, I developed chills and aches all over, just for about an hour or two each day. My experience with a médico in España was just lovely. My clinic is a breezy place across from a quaint cafe and my physician is female and rational. Even when I came practically storming into her office this morning with my worried uncertainty whether or not I might be getting worse, she was calm and even prescribed me the random antibiotics I demanded as I wait for my test results, which won’t come in for five days. I ended up calling my pharmacist friend in the States (even though it was 1 in the morning there), and he calmed my fears. But I never take antibiotics and even this moderate first-call has left my gut in a bad way, the only way I know is because of my breath. So I am taking pro-biotics and back on my supplements (which I hope don’t make everything worse). I love the music in this cafe – first the Shins and now Tori Amos. I am just embarrassed by my dank breath. But I was feeling chills in my apartment, and I’m generally fine outside of it.

I am truly happy right now even though I will hide myself away. Irishman came to visit and I discovered quite a bit about myself. We had two very therapeutic conversations, reminded me what it was to feel passion and connection. I was reminded mainly that I can find a middle way with people, being more communicative and not hiding away. I don’t know if I want to be in a great love right now, but I am in a good place. It is overcast today, which is comforting to my emotional landscape. I had to miss my class for Spanish when my friend was here, and not much studying has gone on. The British guy is here at the cafe but it wasn’t too bad. He just came over to chat for a second, and I do not feel nervous. I need to embody my space and not cower to avoid men because I am afraid they will latch on or be attached or invade in some psychological way. But it is difficult when it isn’t a world of women. Sometimes I pretend that it is, when I am at the sea and I situate myself in a circle of sunbathing women, some young and some old, with varying states of clothing. If I could have a Charlotte Perkins Gilman or Virginia Woolf. Actually if  I might have a crew, it would be them (if you feel Gilman might be too conservative or soft, just recall her Herland), along with Silvia Plath, Olga Broumas, and Adrienne Rich. How should I be so bold to include myself in that compendium of female richness and greatness, why I feel quite literary. And although the words are halted in my fingers and I do not even attempt to go to a page, indeed I am just waiting, watching, unable to read or study or write, I know the fabric of my constitution, and this would be my crew.

I’m not sure how women find other women, or are found. I cannot easily unlearn my non-human habits with men, but with women it is possible, and that is where the fullness of my humanity is found.

I am just not confident of my body’s ability. But I’ve been on the cusp of ill health ever since I’ve traveled in Spain: the strange discharge from my eyes, cured by no longer washing them with water and organic manuka soap, and then that sore throat that very much felt like it was turning into strep but then disappeared the next day (maybe once I slept more), and then a blister wound that has taken awhile to heal, maybe because I keep embedding sand into it. My friend helped me realize I need better limits with others in order to be around them. I need to take up space. I need to feel more entitled. And also less entitled. And I need to be grateful that I don’t feel horrible, that mostly its just a detection of being unwell and a greater anxiety that impending death is on the cusp. But I am left alone and have a big, four-room flat with big kitchen all to myself, with my Spanish abuelos flowing in and out like olas. One afternoon, I came home to find the grandfather asleep on a recliner with the television on. They speak no English at all, which I should really take advantage for my practice. Wanting that quiet, comfortable, knowing circle of women around me. But the more I seek it, the more probably I inhibit it from coming.

Do I believe in a universal guide or force that rewards me with love when I am good? My new reading from my new cards said that there is a sweet prize, an offering of tropical healing, and something else, I cannot remember. But it was all positive. And how would I have not chanced to swim in the ocean? Of course it could also be something else, or the combination of it. I just can’t say. But I feel and I want, and luckily I have the perfect book for that: Piel de Letra.

Book #1: Outline by Rachel Cusk

My random selection from the bookstore in Donostia was perfect. Cusk’s Outline is a book about a creative writing professor who is divorced and goes to Greece for a few days to teach a workshop on writing. The cover of the book is a conch shell on the sand, so it is perfect for beach reading. I related to it because the main character is a woman around 40 who is a writing professor going overseas, and that is a lot like me. Actually, I felt that I could have written this book in five years and that my older self sent it through the universe back in time to me right now.

I thought it was not quite literary level, but the story and perspective was compelling. It covers the moments in the plane, flying to Greece (from England, I think), to the day she is about to leave/return home. You get to know a small relationship between her and the person she sits by on the plane, between her and her students, and her and her colleagues. There are sentiments of truth and wisdom, and the story has a subtle humor and understanding of life while still in a moment of seeking and semi-longing. It is quite reflective, and the characters are interesting. I don’t know if the bookstore will have the other two books in the series, but I would love to give them a try because I am sad the story has ended for me.

I would have liked, and found it curious in its lack, for the book to expand on the time in Greece. There were only two classes that were discussed, and she never developed any relationships with the students. I thought the book did a nice job of setting everything up, but then it ended before really getting into much of what I would consider the actual story. The book was basically too short and skipped over its potential. But maybe that is also the genius of it because isn’t a good book one that gets you wanting more? Perhaps readers sometimes don’t know what we really want even when we think we do. There is something about an “annihilated perspective” that others have articulated that I think describes the speaker of the novel quite nicely and seems like a technique I might like to try one day. It certainly aligns with my Buddhist philosophic understanding of “no-self.”

Well, even if the bookstore has it, I have three other books to read first. So onto Marcus Aurelius. Actually, now on to hiking a little, after the bathroom gets freed up. Why does it seem that whenever one really has to go, that is exactly when the bathroom is occupied for a puzzling eternity?

 

I am Definitely Not Disciplined

Apparently I this petite girl can’t handle 1.5 beers on an empty stomach. I abandoned my companion early, if only really because of the language barrier – but 20:00-23:00 is a fine period of time to spend. But the alcohol gave me a horrible headache and nausea and I so I was on the phone until 3 a.m. with Irishman until I could fall asleep, and then it was only for about three hours. In my defense, I just wasn’t hungry yesterday, and now I know I am a one-drink sort of gal. I’ve plans with other people tonight. I may be taking a nap. I also look like an oompa-loompa because I got a little too excited that ayer hacía mucho sol finalmente and most of me is very red even though my tetas are somehow still very pale and ghostly despite my strategic angling them toward the goddess of the sun. But tomato-hued piel + flaxen hair = oompa loompa.

The silver lining is that I am up earlier as I always wanted to be. Sleeping 10 hours is wonderful, but it means I wake at 11 or sometimes 13:00, and that is not my usual method of life, which is fine, I guess. I hope I can go out with said people for two hours tonight and then go home to get ready for bed. I am trying to drink lots of water, and when my clothes are finished washing, I will take them to the lavandaría down the street and dry them and then put coffee in this body. Possibly breakfast, but mostly and maybe just coffee.

I would like to say that the Moon Juice supplements I brought with me, although I love, do not dissolve easily in café con leche. I am not sure what to do, but I hate the last sip of my magic dream libation causing a sour grimace on my face that I am sure everyone around me wonders about because coffee is delicious and that makes it look like torture.

I am not sure how this day will go. But the street sweeper and trash machines are hard at work with their repeated rotations through San Jeronimo Calle this morning. I guess I will study Spanish for 43 minutes while my clothes finish washing.

Wherin I try to be disciplined on Vacaciones

So I was a bit tired/sleepy even though I woke up at noon because I didn’t go to bed until 3 am for no good reason. Well, I went for coffee and got zumo and I journaled and studied Spanish the smallest bit. I also went to the market and bought a skillet and a zucchini and made lunch. By the time I reached the pescadería, it was siesta hours, so my lunch was veggie + an egg. Then I had plans for a drink with a new friend, so I wandered around the town center for a bit while it slightly rained and happened upon a kimono I am wearing now and will probably live in. After said new friend rescheduled for tomorrow (which I was uber thankful for because I was feeling cold and sleepy and unwell, just wanting to curl up in a coffee shop somewhere and make up for the reading I don’t think I did today), I went to curl up in the coffee shop and read. Oh how canceled plans make a Libra’s evening. I completely use Google Translate to talk to him, so he is going to be in for quite a surprise when I only speak in present tense to him, and not that well either.

I have decided, now that I am home, that I will not use the late night hours of pintxos bars to distract my boredom. I already feel bloated and pudgy from probably my eating habits, lack of working out, and moon flow. It’s also just that I hate the night to end. I want to party until I crash. But I could also use this time to study Spanish, and that is what I am going to do. I just love every day so much that I don’t want to sleep. But I will try to sleep at midnight. I think that is reasonable. That would have been crazy late in the States, but here in San Sebastián, it seems a little crazy early. I love the people here so much. I love the everything so much. Study Spanish. Yes. Even though I always think it isn’t helping.

Tomorrow, I guess I will wake up and get the café con leche while reading and journaling and then go to the pescadería to get fish and come home and cook. I spoke to my French roommate today a little more and rather like him. He seems calm. I also will need to buy some kind of veggie. I hope the fish will be delicious. Then I will try to walk along the beach a great deal and read. I hope it will be sunny and warm to sunbathe a little. I will get zumo de naranja and try to eat/cook again. Then I have a dinner engagement. I think he upped it to dinner because he had to bail on drinks the moment I thought he would meet me. I don’t care, though, because like I said, I didn’t really want to go and also it means he works, so good job. I want to eat all the time. And I can. Except last night it made me sad and kept me up and I don’t want to get fat, so I’ll just wait to eat all the food when the Irishman gets here.

 

Not Every Day Is Perfect, But It’s Still Pretty Magical

I definitely had a good day today. Although I didn’t sleep well (my fault – coffee after 5 pm and then cramps/bloating), I woke up for my 11:00 class and it was amazing with the most adorable teacher. Then, the most amazing thing of all, Fnac did let me return my phone! I cannot believe it. I love them so much. Good review coming up if I figure out how to do that. Then I had a delicious and inexpensive lunch at Kafe Botanika and a nice, middle-aged British man introduced himself to me, which made me sort of nervous, but that is fine. Then I did all my Spanish homework already at Koa Toh coffee shop and then got a DELICIOSA zumo de naranja from a little place I will certainly visit every single day.  Then I had a lovely beach day because it actually got warm. I was in my boots and jeans, but took off my boots and just wore my jeans and yoga bra and walked along the sea line and read my book (Outline). I bought toilet paper because I had to. Then my evening sort of crashed because said British guy called and I really decided I didn’t want to go out with him. I took a shower and then just went out by myself, which made me feel horrible. I ended up stuffing myself and now my stomach feels gross and it is 2 a.m., but I guess I will just sleep and tell my self tomorrow is a new day, even though it seems like it will actually be overcast (apparently temperature predictions are moot). I definitely do not want to let my body go while I’m in Spain, so I need to think about working out. I also posted a message on couchsurfing about meeting people for pintxos so I wouldn’t have to go out alone anymore. I love that I have 15 more days in this flat. It feels so extended. I really want to dedicate a good expanse of time to studying Spanish, and I think I’m going to focus on Ir, Estar, Ser, Tener, and Hacer this weekend and try to write down 100 new vocabulary words, maybe 33-34 each day. I mean, it could turn into beach weather again tomorrow.

I’ll try to get coffee really early in the morning. I keep reading about Sakona Coffee Roasters that is on the other side of the river, and so I guess I will go there and take my book to read and study Spanish. Then maybe I will put my book up and walk along the beach even though it will be overcast. I will definitely make it my goal to go grocery shopping and buy a skillet and some fish and a veggie. I will try to make lunch at home. I think I may already have a few people who will want to meet. All men of course, but perhaps the ladies will come eventualmente. Or maybe I will wake up and take my shower and walk along the beach first. Get the workout in first thing. I like that idea.

Moon time in España

Oh moontime, you’ve finally arrived. I guess my body has finally felt calmer and settled after all that traveling and preparing to travel. I don’t really feel a lot of stress lately, not consciously, which I wonder if it is because I have been practicing mindfulness since discovering it in 2014. But I think that my body subconsciously feels negative emotions. Even though this could seem like a problem, I really believe it is improvement because my mind is not perpetuating it, at least superficially. Of course, this means I need to start on the deeper work of dealing with residual or habitual energies. I know I can do this by incorporating yoga and meditation and chanting in my life once again. Also, once the weather improves, I can commune with nature, which I technically could have done in Colorado, but just never did. Here, my nature is within walking distance. And Europe is just so beautiful.

Of course moontime means I’ve just given myself full reign to indulge in whatever foods I want, which means chocolate croissants, hot chocolate, café con leche, chocolate galletas and juices. The first half of my day was much healthier because I had a superfood smoothie and quinoa bowl. They were tasty. I also did my second half load of laundry and so I feel like a queen with all my clothes clean. I have just refused to buy clothes here because I only want to add items that I really love. I’m still sort of thinking about going out for pintxos and wine, but it is 22:37 already and I am really gassy. Oh the greatness of moontime. It happens. Just keeping it real.

I’m so glad I have my Spanish class tomorrow because that means I actually studied for a few hours tonight. I don’t really think I will finish all the homework, although technically I don’t think my worksheets are homework. They are just unfinished from class. I think twice a week is pretty good.

I LOVE hearing Spanish everywhere. I am loving every moment of this life. I just hope my money lasts. I haven’t even been in Europe half a month and, well, I think I have spent $2000 already, at least. I hate that and feel embarrassed, but Iceland really set me back. I should have just gone to Ireland and stayed with my friend for a week until España, but it’s all water under the bridge, I guess. I am sure that I will make friends soon. And I will get into a routine with cooking. I have to admit that the French guy who is left in this flat is kind of a dormant asshole. He hasn’t done anything necessarily, but he’s generally short with me and unhelpful and he’s not very considerate about leaving my stuff alone or being considerate in general. And I think he’s snuck one of his friends to live here. I can’t remember if he or the American leaves in 5 days, but I really hope that it’s him. I just try to keep my stuff in my room and keep out of the kitchen. It’s possible he just hates Americans, and if so, that’s an uneducated and ignorant stance to generalize.

I have to take my non-iPhone back to the store. I really hope I can return it. I don’t know if I can. . . .

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