Saturday, December 31, 2011


Right, it's that time of year again when one looks at what the past year has brought, so fasten your seatbelts and off we go!

The bad

I always like to start with the bad stuff first, so that I can get it out of the way and then savour the good stuff. This year was probably the hardest I've ever had, the toughest, the most stressful and the most heart breaking. Still I don't consider it to be a bad thing, quite the contrary, actually, because it made me grow up so much and because it brought along a lot of big changes. And that's good. So the only bad things that come to mind are my uncle's death and me being away from most of the people that I love, living in a place where I have almost no friends yet (key word being yet).

The good

There's a lot to say on this matter. I've started 2011 in a long distance relationship and am glad to report that we're still very much in love and are now living together in our own flat (rented, but you get the point!). I did an internship in a tranlation agency and absolutely loved the entire experience (we even had a week of workshops and training in a château in France). Despite many pitfalls I managed to write my internship report and had an oral examination that I passed with flying colours, thus finishing my masters once and for all (massive hooray there!). I did a Spanish A2 level course. I read 24 books. I ran errands for practically every member of the family (especially my uncle) and took care of all that was left on my mother's side of the family (not that I think this is a good thing per se; I just believe it to be worthy of praise). I saw Spring Awakening and Wicked live. I walked around London all by myself (again, not the greatest of feats, but still note-worthy). I grabbed as much of my belongings as I could and I moved to the UK, living the experience of a lifetime.

All in all this has been a great year and I can only hope that 2012 will grant me such good fortune as I had in 2011.

Leaving and coming back

The UK is the place where I live. Portugal is my home. So far this is where I stand. In the upcoming years it'll slowly change and eventually I will feel like this new place is my real home (or so I hope so). But right now I don't. Not just yet.

I've spent a month in Portugal and now I'm back in the UK. Being back is nice. Leaving Portugal, however, was soul crushing. I dare to say that leaving the second time is worse than leaving the first, because you know it's gonna hurt, you've been through that before and so you know what lies ahead. I don't want to dwell too much on it (or I'll start crying again and I don't think I could take that), so I'll just say I miss the sunshine. And most of all I really miss my family. But as the new year approaches I have to start looking ahead and start planning and living a brand new chapter. A better chapter. My chapter.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 - The readings

  1. António, Maria, Julieta Monginho **
  2. The hammer of God, Arthur C. Clarke ***
  3. Therapy, David Lodge ***
  4. Patagónia Express, Luis Sepúlveda ****
  5. Heart of darkness, Joseph Conrad ***
  6. Shakespeare, Bill Bryson ***
  7. The well of shades, Juliet Marillier *****
  8. The colour of magic, Terry Pratchett **
  9. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows, J. K. Rowling ****
  10. At home, Bill Bryson ***
  11. Charlie and the chocolate factory, Roald Dahl ****
  12. Pena de viver assim, Luigi Pirandello ***
  13. The caves of steel, Isaac Asimov ***
  14. The name of the wind, Patrick Rothfuss *****
  15. Por este mundo acima, Patrícia Reis ****
  16. One day, David Nicholls ****
  17. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer **
  18. Never let me go, Kazuo Ishiguro *****
  19. Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut ****
  20. O mandarim, Eça de Queirós ****
  21. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer **
  22. How to be a Brit, George Mikes ****
  23. The Twits, Roald Dahl ***
  24. Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes *****

Friday, December 23, 2011

Adapt or forever clash

People grow up. People change. If these two facts can be taken for granted, then it's easy to accept that families change too. This Christmas mine is facing a new dinamic. I live far away and I now have a boyfriend and a second family to consider. And it's hard. But that's the way it has to be. And people have to be willing to adapt. If not, if everyone decides to bury their head in the sand, shove their fingers in their ears and keep on with their lives without consulting the rest of the family, then clash is bound to happen. And in our case someone is bound to get hurt. And it would all be so much easier if people just talked it out with each other. I get so frustrated over this! It really enfuriates me... Stupid status quo...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Leaving is bittersweet. For the past three months and change this house has been my home. I'm the one that buys the groceries, that washes the dishes and the one that plans our meals and checks the laundry. And I like it. I've grown accustomed to falling asleep to the sound of his breathing, to kissing him goodbye when he goes to work and to our evening routine. Even though it's just for a month, I'm sure I'll miss it all dearly. Most of all, I'll miss him.

And yet I can't keep myself from looking forward. I'm relieved that I can finally finish the MA (if all goes well, which I pray it will), but most of all I'm happy. I haven't seen my family and my friends for three months. I can't wait to meet them all and tell them all about my new life and all the little adventures I went through and the wonderful people I've met. I miss my things (the tons of books I left behind), my car, I miss the food, the places and I miss strolling around the city without having to think where I'm going. And then there's Christmas. All the little traditions and all the preparations for the holidays.

So here I am. I don't want to leave but I can't wait to be back.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Twilight

A few days ago someone wrote an article (that, might I add, I haven't read yet) and that, according to my boyfriend sent the following message: "All right, granted, the Twilight series sucks, but in a world of male heroes, what else is out there for teenage girls? If not Twilight, then what?". And when I then provided a considerable list of strong female characters the reply I got was that nowadays teenagers are lazy, that unless something falls on their lap they won't pick it up. Well, that settles it then! If teenage girls are too lazy to look for books that suit them, if they're that dependant on the media telling them what to read or if they won't pick up a book unless there's loads of publicity about it and a movie being made out of it, then I think they do deserve to be stuck with Bella Swan! And even though the character is not as horrid as most people who never read the books think she is (people seem to be stuck with the "jumping off a cliff" bit even though that's about a dozen pages out of hundreds), personally I'm very happy that I got to grow up with female characters such as Hermione Granger, Elizabeth Bennet or Buffy instead. Actually I'm happy I got to grow up with ALL sorts of characters, good, bad and in between. And that's really what this is about (for me at least).

Mind you, I'm not even against Twilight per se. It's the reading only Twilight that gets to me. Like I usually say (and I say it as an example so please don't extrapolate) I'm not against reading trashy novels - heck I do it from time to time! - but I don't think people should stick to them and not explore further. Actually, there is nothing wrong with you if you only read Stephenie Meyers or Nicholas Sparks or whoever author you decide to read, I just think there's more to life. I would probably nag someone who only reads Tolkien (who is a literary God) almost as much as I would a Twilighter (or whatever they call themselves) to get out of their shell.

Bottom line here is: variety. Read, read a lot and read more than just Twilight. Heck, Stephenie Meyer has a degree in English literature, I'm sure she'd be pleased to see her followers pick up all sorts of books after Twilight. So go, people. Go and discover the world one book at a time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Welcome to the library, young man*

Can anyone remember this movie? As I recall, it's not a great one, but it did struck something deep in my heart. It spoke to me. Basically, it's about a cowardly boy who - in trying to escape some sort of storm or other natural  phenomenom - ends up locked for the night in a library. The boy then is then somehow sucked into some sort magical dimension and has to find the exit with the help of three animated books (Adventure, Horror and Fantasy) whilst living through episodes of a lot of literary classics (Gullivers Travels, Treasure Island, The strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, etc). Oh, and there's a huge dragon (for some people this is a huge selling point). As I said, it's not a great movie. But what makes it so important is that it tells of the wonders of reading. I love books. Always have and hope I always will. Books can take you on such wondrous journeys through space and time, they can enlighten you, brighten up your days and help you turn the most dull moments into perfect little escapades with the help of the voices of some the most ingenious and unique people in the world. And there's so much out there! More than you could ever hope to read in only one lifetime. In fact, I'm gonna stop typing right now and go grab a new one...

*Christopher Lloyd, The Pagemaster

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The life you left behind

When you move to a foreign country, life in your native country goes on. This might sound very obvious (and it is!), but sometimes it still catches you by surprise. The jokes and comments people make start making less and less sense. Because you don't know what's on the news anymore or how the weather is. People talk about all sorts of tv shows you no longer know about. Your friends keep having dinner parties and all you can do is see the pictures they post online. And that's normal, that's what's supposed to happen. But it's still hard to take, especially when your life is still taking off where you are now living. Until you have a proper job, have new friends of your own and learn how to navigate through the new spaces and customs you won't feel like you're truly home. And so sometimes you will look back and feel a bit jealous of what you left behind. Because now you're neither here nor there. You no longer understand your fellow natives at home but you don't feel like a native where you are either. You're a foreigner wherever you are. And so sometimes you wish you were back home. You wish you could go to dinner with your friends (because you miss them and because you crave the company, since you don't have many friends here yet), you wish you could adjust to the Winter here as you did back home (but you can't because this place is still new and your body needs time) and you wish you had the little things you can't find in your new home (like the good old bread from Alentejo, or the smell of roasted chestnuts being sold on the street).

I love my new home. The people are all lovely and nice and overall this country suits me. Plus I have the love of my life by my side every day, which certainly makes things a lot easier and much more pleasant! But still I've gotten to the point where I can't wait to be back home again. To breathe the same air, to know instintively where to go for what without having to stop and think or look at some sign or board. To be with the people I love. And most of all, to finish the MA so that I can come back here, to my new home, and start living my life for good!

Or in my case, chocolate and books

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Traditioooooooooon, tradition!*

I'm a great fan of traditions. From big celebrations (like the way we celebrate Christmas as a family) to the smaller, insignificant ones (like keeping on the family superstition of never throwing eggshells away before we finish baking). Traditions keep us together and, paraphrasing Saint-Exupéry, they give us something to look forward to. And so it is with a giddy heart that I'm thrilled to start our own traditions, the two of us, since this is, for all intents and purposes, our first Christmas living together. Yay!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas*

I'm a sucker for Christmas. I really am. The cold outside, the hot mugs of tea or hot chocolate, the corny Christmas cds, the Christmas trees, wrapping up presents, being with the people you love, baking filhoses (the way grandma used to do), watching Home Alone 1 and 2 again and again, you name it! And I know it's still early to start talking about it (as if we could ignore the stores and the decorations everywhere!), but this year I decided to do it now anyway. I'm going back to Lisbon at the beginning of December and I wanted to still be able to enjoy our Christmas decorations and feel the Christmas spirit here at home. And so here I am, listening to a Bing Crosby cd I bought for 1 pound whilst wearing an elf hat. I got us a 3 feet long tree with lights that I intend to decorate with tiny red decorarions and candy canes as soon as he gets home (I've had a thing for having a tree decorated with candy canes ever since I was a little child, so hooray!!! on that department!). There's some colour changing Santas to light the kitchen and some window decorations I brought from Portugal. All I need now is to find mistletoe and hang it on every door (the more excuses for extra kisses the better! Not that we need it though...). I even dug up some Christmas movies from his humongous dvd collection. And there! I think we're set! Hooray! let's start jingling then!

*Bing Crosby

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon*

So today's the 5th of November and for people living in the UK that means fireworks. A lot of them. I won't bother with the explanation (loads of information on google if you're curious!). Now, as the few people ever to be around me during fireworks can tell, I'm a bit of a hot mess when it comes to loud noises creeping up on me. So you can see that the whole prospect of an entire night (and here night fell at around five) with all sorts of fireworks (most of them purchased in stores and supermarkets) exploding all over the place and most of them being handled by people with no sort of training to do so was kind of petrifying. And so I'm happy to report that - apart from a few scares now and then - the night went on pretty smoothly. We went to his school, he smashed some plates (there was a proper booth for it, he didn't just lose his marbles!), we had some samosas and a hot dog (from a set of booths from where emanated the most delicious smell of meat on hot coals, almost bringing me back to Santos Populares back home), we won some prizes, we stayed for a while, and then headed back home again for a cozy night in, hearing the fireworks in the distance. I loved it. And I guess I've lived through another English experience. Hooray! What's next?

*Fireworks, Katy Perry

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Grandma's food

Today in cooking class we did a chicken and vegetable plait and a pastie. And the whole thing - making the stuffing and spreading and cutting the dough reminded me of her. My grandma. My uncle used to say that my grandma was one of the finest cooks that ever lived. I was a child at the time, and so I simply shrugged my shoulders and kept eating whatever was on my plate. But now, as I recall the flavours, the smells, the taste of it all I must say I agree one hundred per cent. As time passed I grew into a broody teenager and, despite having a more refined palate that could tell how delicious everything she made was, I never said a word. I planned on asking her for some of her recipes, learning from her how to do it and then record it all on a notebook or something. But our relationship wasn't the greastest and I kept dragging it on, not wanting to admit her food was good that she actually had something to teach me. Maybe next year..., I'd say to myself. Time was on my side, or so I thought. And then she died. And I was left with nothing more than regret. That and one recipe. Filhoses (traditional fried dessert for Christmas) that she'd learned from her mum and that she insisted to pass on to me, since I was the only woman left able to carry on making them. That's it. I miss my grandma. I think she'd be really proud of how my life is turning up. But also, I miss what I was too stuborn to ask for. For all I could've learned and shared with her. But I guess that's just something I'll have to learn how to live with.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New series

I hate starting new series. Suddenly there's characters' names and personalities to learn and get used to, and new places and all sorts of things. Oddly enough it pretty much resembles starting to work in a shop around Christmas; everything's at full speed and everyone's too busy to show you the ropes but they all expect you to know where things are, what they look like, what they're called, and how to work the till. But this one seems to be worth the effort. At least judging but all the fuss I should think so.

Happy Hallowe'en, everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The meerkat report # 5

Trouser shopping Or A morning in hell

I don't like to shop for clothes. Well, bottoms (trousers and skirts... and shoes). And no, there's nothing wrong with me, I just happen to be a woman that doesn't like to shop when it comes to the lower half of the wardrobe. Now imagine me having to do it in a foreign country. I was half prepared for it regarding shoeware from a previous experience (when shopping for new trainers the shop clerk asked me what number I was and my mind when blank. I had no idea and so had to guess.) but that was a pretty inocuous experience when compared to... trouser shopping. Because of the jealous fits of our washing machine (long story) and because I couldn't bring a lot of clothes when I moved in, my trousers were almost reduced to ragged shreds (more so than I'd like to admit) and so I simply had no choice but to endure what was a very nerve-wrecking and stressful morning. First, pajama bottoms. That was fairly straight forward as the whole section was categorized in S, M and L. The denim section, on the other hand, was pure hell. I couldn't make heads or tails of it (still can't). I found items marked with letters (S, M and L), and with numbers that varied from the one digit, to 10s, 20s, 30s and 40s. Now, you'd think "wow, that a pretty wide range!". Except it isn't! It's just that some trousers were marked with European sizes, others with American sizes and others with the UK sizes. Except most times it didn't say which was which! So I could fit a whole second person in a 16 but could hardly get a 27 past my knee. Bonkers, isn't it? Oh but it got better! I can't explain why (whether it was something to do with the cut or the fabric), but I couldn't button some 10s and 14s, but ended up buying a 12 that was considerably loose and baggy. What????? I don't get it, I really don't. And right now I'm just relieved that I got out of the shop alive and with all my wits (well....) and I'll just enjoy the fact that I don't have to think about it for a while (unless the washing maching goes mental again) whilst holding on the little hope that next time it'll somehow make some sense.

Damn right! ;)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It is a new world indeed!

Today in Asda there was a huge cardboard box with the caption "Prepare for Winter". I went to see what was inside. The answer is snow shovels. Loads of them. I'm living in a place where there will be snow soon(-ish). Snow! Ha!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The parts left out

You can never be/have/do everything you want. Not at once, at least. Despite your best efforts 24 hours simply won't be enough, either that or the money won't stretch as far as you want it to. It's usually one or the other. Right now I miss singing and dancing like a part of me has been chopped off. I miss the challenge of a new choreography and all the steps to master a song and - eventually - a character. It's like something (deeply cherished) in me has died. And, oddly enough, that's alright. Because I traded it for something better. I chose to concentrate on finishing my studies and moving to a foreign country. In the process I met the man I believe to be the love of my life and we're now sharing a house. Our house (well, it's rented, but you get the point!). And one day, once things settle, who knows? I'll have some of those things back. I don't believe for real that I'm actually done with the stage. Now it's just not the time. Not because I don't want to, but because I choose it to be so by focusing on other things. Things that also matter. And such is life...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A year

A year ago this saturday I took a leap. I got on a plane alone for the first time in my life and then on a coach to Birmingham. And it was on that coach station that, as night began to fall, we had our first kiss, me holding a half eaten sandwich in my hand. It was the beginning of something wonderful and it's hard to believe that a full year has gone by. I was an amazing year, but it was also the hardest I've ever had. Having a long distance relationship. The death of a loved one. The part-time job. The internship. The report. Saying goodbye to friends and family. And now the loneliness of living in a foreign country. But it was also wonderful. Being loved by someone that means the world to me. Being accepted with open arms into a new family. Meeting new people. The part-time job. The internship. Finally being able to stretch my wings. Having our own place...

Now every morning when I wake up and see him lying next to me it's hard to realise that it hasn't really been a full year. That we haven't always watched tv on the couch after dinner or that we haven't always read our books in bed side by side... Wow... it's been a year... 365 days on saturday. And yet it feels new and exciting. And yet it feels like it has always been this way. It feels cozy and comfortable. And I just want there to be many, many more years. Together. Just like this.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Human nature

In love there is no greater fallasy than telling someone you will never hurt them. Because despite your best efforts eventually it will happen. And that's alright, it's just human nature. From time to time no matter how hard we try to prevent it, we will disappoint, sadden or hurt someone we deeply love. The key, the really important bit is what comes after. How we handle it. It's communicating, listening to the other person and making sure that the same mistake isn't made twice. The secret of healthy relationships isn't a lack of problems or rows, it's the learning how to deal with all the small issues and misunderstandings that might arise along the road.

What's life without a tapioca festival now and then?

Foreign Views

And/Or Whatever happened to Project 365?

I'm pretty sure we can all agree that starting another Project 365 was a mistake. The fact that my last attempt ended way before it was even halfway through should've been a strong enough indicator. The thing is even though I like posting pictures on the blog I hate the way they look here. They should be in a blog with no sidebar and a nice but unassuming template so that they can be focus of the blog itself. But since I like this place the general way it is and I'm all too fond of my sidebar, I decided to create another blog just for my occasional and amateur pictures. The title may change (I'm open to suggestions), but the general premises are pretty much set. A blog for pictures, trying to shed some light into aspects of living in a foreign country. Or just for my own personal enjoyment (hey, why not?). So without further ado here's the link:

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The floating pear

Right now my life feels a bit... uneventful. What am I doing? Not much, to be honest. I know it's not my fault, it's just the way things are at the moment. There are loose ends that need to be taken care of before I can embrace and live my new life to the fullest. And right now it's out of my hands. I'm waiting for a call. Literally. And I've made my peace with it. But still there's some little voice around saying I should be accomplishing more. And then I think of something like someone asking my dad about me and him answering "Oh, Jo's living with her boyfriend in the UK." And sounds grand, doesn't it? Not too shabby for someone who feels she hasn't accomplished much, huh? And then I realise just how silly I'm being. I'm living in a foreign country, for Christ's sake! Even if I'm not going much, that still counts! Even the simplest things took some effort and loads of concentration at first. Loads of them still do. And I'm doing fine, even despite the looming sense of utter boredom. So yeah, I decided to be more positive about it, even if it goes against my nature. I will be a floating pear of positivity! Hurrah!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm loosing my cool too here...

24 # 365

cinnamon men for my man on our 11th monthversary

Thursday, September 15, 2011

23 # 365

found a Costa nearby

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The meerkat report # 4

The ingredients.

When you move to a foreign country you're pretty much prepared for your life to be different. Still there are a lot of familiar things that you take for granted and it never, ever!, crosses your mind that they might not exist in your adopted country. And so you begin a quest to find the simplest things that you never thought you'd miss.

That's the point where I'm at. All the recipes I know require ingredients easily found in Portugal but here it takes a little bit of digging to find them. Mind you, it's more a matter of learning how to navigate inside a supermarket rather than whether or not the ingredient exists. Because at home that's something so natural that you don't even have to think about it because there's a sort of system behind it. Well, here the system might - and at times is - quite different. For example, in Portugal soy single cream can usually be found next to soy milk or next to regular cream. Here, after quite a few long strolls in Asda, I found it next to baking products. It would never have occurred to me to look for it there, because in my mind that's something I'd use for cooking, never for baking. Yet there it was (probably because it had a picture of strawberries on the box).

Then there are things that simply aren't sold in your new country. There are a lot of types of instant soup here, but instant onion soup - that I use so much for seasoning - I just can't find anywhere. You see a lot of familiar brands that in some cases a) sell exactly the same products, b) sell some products you don't find at home, or c) don't sell some products that are quite common in the country where you're from. I see a lot of familiar Kellogs Special K cereals, but the one I used to have (with dark chocolate) I can't find.

And so you adjust. You learn recipes from natives, you try new things, new products, new flavours. And you keep looking for bits and pieces of home. And every time you find something familiar that you've been searching for a long time you feel that you've found a good old friend. Yesterday I had the biggest smile on my face for hours because I found breadcrumbs, bay leaves and condensed milk, which means that I've found the final ingredient for some of my recipes.

Paraphrasing Bill Bryson, living in a foreign country is like being five years old again. "[...] you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can't even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses."

22 # 365

"Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day..."*

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

21 # 365

eeeeerm... ups...?

Monday, September 12, 2011

20 # 365

brand new and already running

Sunday, September 11, 2011

19 # 365

just a regular sunday

Saturday, September 10, 2011

18 # 365

dinner for four and other treats

Friday, September 09, 2011

The meerkat report # 3

or How Waterstone's will lead me to bankruptcy.

One thing that is very hard to get used to as a Portuguese woman living in the UK is the books. In Portugal books are expensive. They're big, heavy not really user-friendly when it comes to carrying them around. Here they're a lot smaller, stupendously lighter and so, so much cheaper. But what I really can't get over with are the promotions. In Portugal you pretty much have the book fair and that's it! Books sold in little stalls with a 20% discount. And the whole things lasts about two weeks. Here it never goes away. I get butterflies in my stomach everytime I enter Waterstone's because of the whole "3 for 2 mix and match". I just want to start grabbing books left and right in groups of three. And they all look so harmless with their pricetags with only one digit that you can't help taking at least three of them home with you. And of course, book stores are everywhere. And if it's not a book store, it's your local supermarket, like Asda with their "take 2 for 7 pounds". There's no way of escaping. So either I get a job soon or I'll just go under with all the book bills.

17 # 365

that's new! the washing machine mutilated my sock

Thursday, September 08, 2011

16 # 365

making the best of my time alone

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

14 # 365

Autumn paving its way

Monday, September 05, 2011

13 # 365

a delicious treat on another sunny day

Timelord technology wanted for domestic purposes

On the top of my priority list today was making soup. The question is where am I going to store it once it's made since the fridge is completely full as is?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

12 # 365

having lunch outdoors

Saturday, September 03, 2011

11 # 365

shopping spree number two.

Friday, September 02, 2011

10 # 365

reading spot with a garden view

Thursday, September 01, 2011

9 # 365

and that's not even HALF of our collection.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

8 # 365

we have an office!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

7 # 365

home. And kitchen done.

Monday, August 29, 2011

6 # 365

I say it's a sign. It's the UK saying "Welcome!"

The meerkat report # 2

Sixth day in the UK. Today's cloudy and sunny (it kinda changes back and forth every twenty minutes or so). Am loving the experience so far. Me and the wolf are still in the process of making this house ours. Bathroom and bedroom are done and perfect for us. Today, if all goes well, we'll start and finish the kitchen. Since we only have one more week before he goes back to work, we'll start taking care of red tape matters really soon too. ...

It just occurred to me that these reports so far must look incredibly dull and "housewife-y" to most people. But you see, to me this is all fascinating. It's the first time I have a house of my own (or the closest thing to it), and so it's a complete new adventure. So keep calm and enjoy the ride or, as it was recently said in one of my favourites shows around here, "shut up [...] and get in the cupboard!"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

5 # 365

years of dreaming, and I finally have a yellow lamp. Hurrah!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

4 # 365

... and then there was colour where once a white wall had been...

Friday, August 26, 2011

3 # 365

some nice little shopping spree in Brum

Today's heroes

The meerkat report

It's raining outside on my third morning here. So far life has been amazing. There's been loads of sunshine, squirrels and Indian food and life together has been close to perfect. Yesterday, after a delightful day of rest, we started cleaning the house top to bottom. The bathroom is now spotless and suits both our needs. It's our bathroom. Today's the kitchen. Might not be such a peaceful event, but we'll keep our fingers crossed and talk it over when we start to clash. Haven't been much exposed to life outside yet, but I'll come to that soon enough. Right now I can't wait for this place to become our place. And, one room at a time, it will. Time to put the yellow rubber gloves on and start today's quest. Stay tuned, kids! I'll keep you posted :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2 # 365

bathroom with room for everyone, humans and daleks alike

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1 # 365

I can already feel I'm somewhere special :)

The ressurection of project 365

Yes, I'm giving it another go. Since I'm starting a new chapter in my life, I thought it'd be a neat idea to try and post a new picture every day for a year. Ready? Here we go then!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So long, farewell*

Leaving is a deeply emotional business. People with whom you have different kinds of bonds come up to you and hug you, wish you luck and tell you they'll miss you. And even though I was expecting it, the extent to which is has happened took me completely by surprise. I feel so blessed. For the people, the words, the hugs, the smiles, the memories. I leave in peace with a smile and a bittersweet tear on my face. Thank you all. I'll keep you all posted on my meerkat adventures in a (not so) far away place. And to most of you, we'll meet again soon :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A fresh new life awaits

Starting now it's gonna be my turn*

Time feels like sand between my fingers. It keeps slipping away faster than I can catch it. People keep asking me whether it has already fully dawned on me that I'm actually moving to another country. Yes and no. I've been so focused on all the red tape-like issues that I've had little time to myself and what small breaks I have I use them to relax and enjoy the city and be with family and friends. I think that only when I wake up the next day after arriving will I realise Oh my gosh! I've made it this far! I'm finally here! At the same time, yes, I'm thrilled about it and I feel completely ready for this next chapter. It's been such a tough year, filled to the brim with new experiences and also with a few trips to help me prepare for this that now I don't feel scared at all. It saddens me a bit that there's so much I won't be able to do, so many people I won't have time to say goodbye to, but at the same time I can't wait to finish packing, to get on the plane, get home (truly, home... our home) and start fresh and on my own. And isn't that a great reason to smile?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

House arrest

These days are not fair. I have been indoors for months now, seldom ever leaving and only for a couple of hours. It's summer. It's hot and sunny. And I'm leaving in less than two weeks. For almost a month now I have been on babysitter-duty (the duty bit still a bit foggy in my brain, but that's a whole different story) for the tenth year in a row. I'm tired. I need air. I want to go outside, be with people, say goodbye, laugh a bit and talk a lot. I want to swim in the sea, to stroll around the city and go out to dinner. I'd love to enjoy a week of holidays, with time for myself. To relax and enjoy the city once again. Alas that's not to be. With only one week of freedom, I'll be huffing and puffing, running around like a headless chicken, trying to make as much as I can. And honestly, I deserved better.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Wisdom in a nutshell

Another celebration

We're reaching "one year since..." a lot now. Last week it was the dinner party where everything started to change. Today it's the first and only sort of date we had (we're that good). It was a saturday, we were going to a Star Wars exhibition thingy with friends, but decided to meet a few hours earlier, just the two of us, just to talk. A few hours afterwards we were walking hand in hand for the first time, strolling down Parque Eduardo VII. We said goodbye at the entrance of the underground, we hugged, we nearly kissed. And I arrived home with the biggest smile on my face and a glimpse of a great future. It's hard to believe that year has passed since that day. And what a year it has been :)

Monday, August 01, 2011

D month

This is it! A full year has gone by and it's time to start thinking about packing and saying my goodbyes for the next few months. Only 22 days to go! Yaaaaay!!! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Here's to a new chapter!

525 600 minutes and many conquests

A year ago I was sad. I had flunked Translation Studies and would have the next school year to try and make it up. And afterwards... who knows?, staying at my dad's and get a job. No big deal, just random steps in a general direction into adulthood. And then - at more or less this precise hour - I went to dinner with friends and somewhat of a stranger. And my life changed. Something in me suddenly wanted to leap, for real. Huge plans started emerging in my head, bolder than anything I've attempted before. And this time I didn't settle for just planning; I acted on it.

A year has passed and here I am. I've accomplished more than I've ever did in a year. In just one week I crammed my brain out and got a great mark on Translation Studies. I worked in a sort of bookshop. I did an internship. I wrote my internship report. I did a Spanish A2 course. I ran so many errands for my uncle and my family. My uncle died. I took care of his belongings and the house. I travelled abroad alone. I went to France. I went to the UK three times. I watched a musical all by myself. I got stuck in London Bridge in the dead of night and still managed to get home safe and not freak out. I scrimped and saved enough money for the first few months in a new home in a new country. I fell in love and am happily planning my life with someone by my side.

I learned a lot. And God knows it wasn't easy. I had to let go of so many things I love. Dancing, acting, being on stage. Going out with friends, or even alone. Books, movies, running - I didn't have time for any of it. But I don't regret it one bit. Cuz I gained so much more in return. And more than ever I can say I am my own person. And I can't put a price on that. And so here's to a new chapter, just about to get started.

Something started a year ago...

... and it's made me the happiest meerkat alive. Thank you for an amazing year and let us have many many more ahead of us. Together.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meet the übercautious

I grew up in a family of übercautious people. People that don't take a step before preparing for whatever might come. And I think it got to me too. A little at least. I prepare, I plan, I make lists, I make sure I can cope with whatever bad things might arise as a result of my actions. And at some point you just have to say enough! Have some faith and take a leap. If things go wrong we'll find a way to fix it. Cuz if you don't you'll spend most of your days planning your life instead of living it.

And now I'm moving to a different country, taking the biggest leap into the unknown ever attempted by people that share my DNA. And I'm excited, thrilled and scared. And I think it scares them too. The thought of me doing something so big. The thought of leaving them behind, of it all exploding in my face when I'm all alone somewhere so far from home. But the thing is I'm not alone. And I will be home. A new home. And I'm so thrilled about it that I don't really feel the fear.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The end of an era

(No spoilers, so feel free to keep reading!)

And so it ended. I watched the movie this evening and absolutely loved it. And yes, it does feel like the end of an era. I started the first book when I was only twelve (I'm twenty five now) and it changed me. I sorta grew up with Harry Potter. I was just a lonely kid with her nose stuck in a book, carrying the books around like mates, just for company's sake. And now that the end has come it is with a smile on my face that I say farewell to an old friend. Because as I've read somewhere in the blogosphere, the boy who lived will never die. Each time a new reader opens one of the books the magic starts all over again. And that's nice, isn't it? That all this legacy will continue to live on. And so farewell, old mate, and thank you for everything.

The thrill of a new chapter

Work to be done and the sun calling outside

The sun is shining outside. Time is flying. Only about a month until I depart for a new adventure. A new life. I'd love to enjoy every single one of them to the fullest. But there just so much to do be done. There's still 2/5 of the report to be written. There's papers to take care of. Loose ends that must be dealt with. In the end I'll have less than a handful of days to enjoy. To say goodbye for the longest period ever. To friends and family, to the sun, to my own name. I can't wait to go. To start this new chapter. But also I'd like to say goodbye properly. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Might be getting myself into quite a pickle

There is a risk of becoming linguistically schizophrenic. Because your brain is so fluent in both languages, it is fooled into thinking that the structure you have put together in the target language is correct merely because it is correct in the source language.

Target language deprivation is one of the problems experienced by translators working in their adopted country. They become so totally immersed in the language and culture that they lose their linguistic edge - they begin to think like a native.

A Practical Guide for Translators, Geoffrey Samuelsson-Brown

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Soon, so soon...

Are we fast-fowarding?

It's July already?? I don't know whether I should be happy this part of my life is almost over and a thrilling new one is just around the corner or whether I should panic that there's so much to do and so little time to do it in.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eyes on the prize

Summer is here. Time is flying by fast, speeding up like a train leaving the station. Summer is here and I don't get to enjoy it as I used to. But it's for a good cause. I'm preparing to leave. To have a life of my own. And however tough and different it might be I know I won't be alone and I know I can manage. And for the first time I will have a say when it comes to how far am I willing to sacrifice for others. Mind you, I'm not saying I won't do it ever again. But it'll be my choice. And you can't put a price on that.

That's how I feel right now...

Luckily in about 40 days I won't have to ever again :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Conquering cultural references

- I feel like my whole life I've been traveling on the B417 when I could have been on the M6.
- What do you want to go to Birmingham for?*

I got 50% of that reference even before the punch line. Yay for me!

*My Family, Season 1

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Shapes of times to come

Last thrusday a bit before dinner I arrived in Walsall once again. The wolf had the week off and so we had ourselves a three-day weekend. And gosh did I need one! Anyhoot, yesterday was the first time ever we spent a work day together, on both sides. And even though we weren't at full speed, it was quite an experience. Getting up at seven, then he off at work and me working from my laptop at home. Me finding my own way around this house and this country. He coming home and we fitting your schedules and routines together. And I have to say that even though it wasn't perfect, for a first time we did amazingly well. But then again, we always do ;)

And now that the second day is coming to an end I have only one thought in my mind: I like where this is going and I can't wait to have more of this. Like every single day :)

Come to the whimsical side...

... life is so much sunnier here. Especially if you have a wolf to share your life with <3

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


If you have a kid that tiny person becomes your responsibility. If you screw up - whatever the situation - you deal with the consequences. In life as you go along you gain responsibilities for your actions and because that's part of growing up - getting your own set of responsibilities.

And it sickens me that such a chunk of my responsibilities are not really my own. They get passed on because there's no one else. It's not my kid that I spend days looking after. It wasn't a husband or a boss that I kept running errands for when I was supposed to be focusing on this final phase.

And what's more infuriating is that I don't get to deal with my own responsibilities - I'm expected to delay or ignore them - to tend to other people's business. People, might I add, that although they had a responsibility towards me decided to do nothing. On so many occasions I was supposed to be protected, loved and heard but instead they stood watching. Motionless. And I was just a child. And I grew up and I never asked for anything from any of them. So why, pray tell, should I put myself on the line for them? For people who are dead and never once stood my by side? Because of blood for blood's sake?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

How do you leave the past behind when it keeps finding ways to get to your heart?*

This is probably a good idea-bad idea post. Meaning that it makes total sense today and tomorrow I'll probably regret having pressed publish.

I am very proud of the choices I've made this past year. It has taken a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work to get to this point. But right now that means zero. I'm hungry for the stage. For dancing and singing and having classes together with old mates. I miss it and I feel there's this massive gap in my heart that cannot be otherwise fulfilled.

It's incredible to see friends accomplish so much on stage. To conquer an entire musical. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that part of me squirms with envy.

I'm not that much of a child to say O alas! That door has closed! O poor me! I know that somewhere along the (hopefully very long) road that is my life new opportunities will present themselves. But right now it pains me so very much that I can't have that. And there's nothing for me to do but carry on and hope for the best.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Born to save a life

A lot of times I feel like a child that was born to save a sibling from leukaemia or something. I was born with a purpose - to safe a life. Actually, more than one. And I was never asked. It was automatically expected of me, as if it was my whole raison d'être. It's a heavy burden and it's keeping me from treading my own path. And people don't see it; I'm here, so - obviously - I must be part of the solution and bam! there goes my life. So I'm going to leave this place. Make them perceive reality without me in it. Make them come up with different solutions. And I'll journey far, far away. Enough so I can save another life - my own.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A journey with no landscape

I feel like my life is funneling up. I'm keeping the bare minimum while striving to meet my goals. In a sense I have put part of me on hold. No more dance classes, no trips to the movies, no going out with friends, no personal readings. I can't afford to spend time with people. The report and the internship are too important. Then I have the... "family obligations". I feel drained, stretched to the limit and it seems each week I have to let go of something else. And I know the final stretch is supposed to be like this but right now I'm on the verge of tears over the smallest thing. And I don't like to be that person.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Say hello

It's not going to replace the lost toys,
but at least it'll keep me company and help me remember them

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodbye old friends

Me and L did some serious cleaning last week. The kind where only about a third of your stuff survives the cuts. There was a lot of junk in there. Stuff I had grown out of love of, piles of old papers and things that no longer had a purpose in my life. And in the middle of all that were my childhood toys. I've had a very rocky childhood and most of my time I spent alone with my toys. They were my anchor, my sounding board, my playmates, my buddies. Of course they weren't all in one box; those were just the ones I wanted to keep for sentimental reasons. In the middle of that small memory bundle were the stuffed dog I slept with for years and the doll my mother gave me on my last birthday before she died.

That box that I specifically said "to keep!" was mistakenly thrown away. It might seem like the smallest thing (especially if you consider all that's been going on in my life in the past few months), but it was enough to get me sobbing for over an hour. I've been under open fire on so many fronts and I've been doing all the right things, despite how hard and hurtful it all is. And this was probably the last straw. So I collapsed. I want my old toys back and sadly that's not going to happen. Ever. The wolf says to think of it as a new beginning. Like shedding my skin and starting afresh. To think of all the new memories we'll build and all the new stuff we'll gather through the years. I get his point, I really do. But today I kinda have to mourn my loss. Even if it wasn't human to start with.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Love as the perfect currency

Things where I grew up in are taken care of based on duty as currency. You do it because you have to, because family is family and no matter what the other person has said or done in the past it's your duty to help. Of course this sounds very sane and christian-like. But in practical terms it's like being a Corleone. And there are no verbal or physical displays of affection. You are to assume that people love you (after all you're family) and that's that. But enough about this side of things.

For the past eight months I have gotten closer to people that operate in quite a different manner. People that walk through life goofing around with a broad smile on their faces. People that say they love each other without it being called for. Just because. People that celebrate life on good times and get themselves to the other side of a tunnel on bad times. Together and without interracting like a pack of wolves (with a strong hierarchy going from the strongest alpha to the bullied omega). A family where people are cherished and cared for. Always. I have seen it happen on quite a number of occasions. Love as the perfect currency. When people are loved more love grows from that. And things are done on a basis of love and with an open heart. Because people truly want to help. It's not a matter whether or not it is our duty to help, but rather that when things are done this way you never get to a point where duty is called for. You do it because you want to. And don't you think that has a lot more value?

Celebrating life today

Monday, May 09, 2011

I heart mondays

Or at least this one. So far it's been one great start into what I hope will be a very nice (and incredibly hard working) week. Happy monday to all!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

On silliness

Growing up requires some silliness. The ability to do silly things just because and learn to laugh at yourself. To make animal noises, jump on puddles or do funny looking dances when you're happy. I never got to do that without being immediately told off. Cut it out, people around me would say, Stop being silly and behave like a normal person. If you ask me, it does wonders to chop your self-esteem to pieces. So I stopped. I became as mainstream as I could. And now I feel extremely thankful to the wolf. Because he accepts me for the person I am outside and the silly girl that I keep inside. And every day, even though he doesn't always say it (he doesn't need to), I feel it's alright to let her out. And it feels great, learning how to truly be myself.

The joys of having neighbours

I always thought it was nice to have young people living in my building. But then they grew up and formed a band. Not so thrilled any more...