The longest month of the year…

That December/January period has become a time which I’m growing less and less fond of – my only resolution for this year is to ensure I put a stop to that this year…whatever it takes. I’m open to suggestions from people who are willing to collaborate/participate in this effort. My first thought is more chocolate, alcohol, books, games and food in December and then double the amount in January seasoned with a new hobby or something. I was going to write more but no-one likes a drama queen.

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What’s it all about?

Doubtless a question we have all asked ourselves from time to time, I can’t profess to have the answer but I can say with earnest that this is a problem I have pondered plenty.

Having recently severed ties with someone I’m feeling somewhat lost, like an un-anchored vessel starting to drift. Needless to say that many aspects of my life are ticking along jolly well without cause for concern, the problem manifests itself in those areas which are not progressing likewise.

Upon speaking with a good friend of mine the other day, a brother if you will, it was brought to my attention by him that we share a trait in that we love the process of overthinking – much to our detriment. I said that I was intending to write more in an effort to purge myself of these ‘overthoughts’ and move back into something more like a state of flow, but I don’t suppose you want to read too much of that.

Many people have had an experience whereby someone has attempted to tell them how they ought to be, who they ought to be almost. I feel that I’m not alone in the sentiment that this is a wholly redundant way of acting towards somebody you don’t know particularly well. If you are getting to know someone and you’re already having a lot of ideas how they could be better then there’s likely a huge matter of incompatibility to be addressed, henceforth ties have been severed.

I’m tired and listening to Burial so I can’t say much more.

dos mil y dieciocho

Uh huh, here we are. I’ve still got pages to fill in my little 2017 book, and we’re nearly 2 weeks into 2018!

What can I say about 2018 so far…this month’s big news stories were Logan Paul and his idiot team finding a dead body in Suicide Forest in Japan (surprisingly!) and the distinct lack of backlash which he/they faced from YouTube in spite of the public outcry. I don’t have anything to say about this, I can’t stand the guy and I despise the type of person his fan-base represents – people with no real sense of real-life consequence.

Second story is a big hoo-hah about H&M publishing an image in their catalogue featuring a little black boy wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle”…wow, just let that sink in for a second. I think I have an inclination as to what they were going for here; youngers are often referred to as monkeys on account of their cheekiness and boundless energy, H&M clearly have a diversity/representation initiative in place and it seems that these two ideas clashed in the worst way. I feel like I don’t need to explain what’s wrong with associating a young, black child with the phrase ‘monkey’ in such a manner. The backlash H&M have faced over this whole story will hopefully force them to reveal their hand and demonstrate to the world that they are in fact a progressive organisation who made a grave error. I’m confident good will come of this story whether that be a dumb company being completely boycotted by everyone, or as I hinted at before they will redeem themselves as much as possible and turn this into an opportunity to highlight a lot of issues regarding representation and cultural sensitivity.

Other great stories include the absolute shit-storm that is British politics and the now long-running ‘Brexit’ special. I must admit I’ve lost track of how many episodes we’ve seen and all I know is how tired I am of being asked about what’s happening. The answer in it’s shortest and simplest form is ‘fuck all’. Nothing has happened except a lot of chat. We’ve heard about the potential of both a ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ Brexit, both of which mean very little in the real-world. Article 50 has been triggered, again nothing has actually happened. It seems that the real underlying plot here has been noticed by a lot of people now, if it wasn’t long ago and that is that the UK government is seeking to somewhat distance itself with the EU (no more than it has to) in favour of allying itself more closely with the USA. For a lot of people the EU represents a formidable NWO kind of political specter, for others it symbolises a progressive organisation interested in ushering in a better time for it’s member states and their citizens. Whatever the case with the EU, the current UK government has shown that they are very keen on strengthening their financial position, whether that be through the sale of weapons to stone-age political forces in the Middle East (and the corresponding ‘campaign support’) or through a newly-strengthened alliance with Trump’s America what is clear to see is that the UK government is more than happy to sell the nation and it’s citizens down the river for a cheeky little something to line their pockets.

Personally I don’t have much to comment on right now, I’m back at work after what felt like an incredibly short Christmas break. Opted to spend the time between Gran Canaria, Barcelona and my home in Valencia. My time in Barcelona was incredible and I am super thankful to the community there for welcoming me with open arms, and a special sloppy kiss to my honey-rum drinking, partner-in-crime for taking me up, picking me up and generally giving me the best couple of days I’ve enjoyed in a long time.Gran Canaria was very much lackluster and I do wonder if I would have been better buying a Nintendo Switch and opening up myself for some Zelda fun but, you live & learn. The time I spent here in VLC was very much a short,sharp dose of Christmas in time for my return to work – food, TV specials and catching up with people.

In terms of what’s next I have a friend from the UK in the city at the moment, I think for a kind of reconnaissance-based short-trip, whom I’ll be very happy to see and catch up with. The dawning realisation that I’ve well and truly left my old life behind to start a new one has really started to settle in, in a very profound sense. I suppose that will continue to develop as time goes on.

As always, and in spite of any air of pessimism or sarcasm or bitterness present in my tone I am wholly and totally in love with life and it’s numerous challenges which afford us the chance to feel and be frustrated, to vent and eventually overcome. I don’t want for much and everything which needs to be done is completely within myself. I am not looking for some external force to come along and complete me.

Get in touch if you have anything to share and have a lovely day x

Friday – el noche de San Juan esta noche!

I walked over to the entrance way to collect my first student who’d have just completed her listening assignment. ‘Celia!’ I called out, and a lovely looking lady turned round in her chair and smiled at me as she started to gather her possessions.

Having read through her profile I knew something about this woman and from the tone of her writing she struck me as being someone who was fairly kind-hearted (you can tell a lot about the way someone writes if they’re doing so without agenda). She instantly reminded me of Nicholetta Braschi (the female lead in La Vita è Belle – Life is Beautiful) and I felt very comfortable. The lesson went well and I was left with a warm glow afterwards.

Day to day lessons were perfectly fine, mostly enjoyable and generally rewarding. I’m having my second Spanish lesson today which is going to be absolutely vital as I am meeting someone for horchata on Saturday and she does not speak English. It will most certainly be fascinating to see how that unfolds.

So much has happened but I don’t have a clue what to write about, there isn’t anyone I can really dish dirt on right now sadly but I have to give a big shout out to The Croatian Creations who have been absolutely amazing to hang around with since I’ve been at school. My counterparts, colleagues and pretty much siblings I think. That feeling you get when you meet someone new and they remind you of someone really familiar to you…I don’t think it’s that they are necessarily similar to that person, more so that you’re bypassing the whole ‘getting to know you’ part. I definitely had a bit of growing pains with these guys as they were not very supportive of my amateur attempts to speak Spanish and would not stop laughing at me, my sensitivity about the whole thing didn’t help at all. I do remember one Wednesday night when I said bye to everyone and then as I walked round the corner some hot chick was staring at me and walked into my path, “where are you going?” she said and I suddenly realised it was my colleague and took her invitation to go out with them. That night we went to a botellón – which is essentially a mini piss-up in some public square or park or similar.

From the point I met Lucija, me her & Dea went to some American guys flat – he was a pretty cool guy and we started talking (started) about mixing and music and that kind of thing based on the Traktor sticker on his laptop. His two mates showed up, one French guy whose name was definitely Korean but pronounced in a really french accent. The other guy was named Alajandro and he was a really cool guy who liked to smoke out of apple/carrot pipes. From there we went to Deborah’s flat, she was a really cool, I think, Mexican girl who was maybe studying in VLC. In the flat was her and her two mates, one with dark hair and one blonde both wearing shorts which seemed incredibly small and both very easy on the eye (as was everyone everywhere at all times). We played some beer pong and listened to a Fugees album in it’s entirety, sat on the balcony speaking different languages and then strolled on down to the botellón. When we arrived I immediately got the general vibe of the place, it was strange but somehow cool and not threatening or anything. I mingled for a long time and met people from all over Europe and one girl from Morocco (if you learned a language at school just say you don’t speak that language, it’s way better if you speak a tiny bit as a surprise rather than the shockingly small amount of a language you speak being the surprise).

We were at the square/plaza/place until the very fragile hours of the morning and I dragged myself back to the flat after grabbing some piece with Dea, which was a lovely experience.

Valencia

What an amazing place so far! Yeah I’ve some had some dicey moments but overall it’s been incredible.

The culture – very much a sociable and bustling place, you’ll always find people chilling outside restaurants and cafeterias sat around tables. ‘Cafe culture’ is something I definitely enjoyed a LOT in my first week. Parking myself outside a little place and enjoying coffee or a small beer. The interaction with the waitress is usually amazing, often consisting of nothing more than:

“hello”

“hello”

“tell me”

“give me one beer”

“okay”

This interaction could be read as quite flat, maybe even rude but I can assure you it’s anything but. Just the phrase ‘hola’ has such power to it.

So yeah I frequented the same places quite a few times in my first week, namely for convenience’s sake (wi-fi networks). Went out to somewhere called 100 Montaditos (little sandwiches made from ‘petit pain’) and ended up getting drunk and having a quality night with this guy Jerrell from TX, USA. We got talking (I figured he guessed I was english because of my terrible Spanish accent) and shared a few drinks at this place and then went back to his host apartment and then spoke in Spanish with his Mexican host, one chica or maybe señora in her 40s who was really hot and had a real bad-ass kind of vibe to her but also a kindness. She asked me about my country, my city, my family and my life in general with real intent and a very keen ear. I loved speaking to her and in retrospect I am incredibly grateful to Jerrell for really taking me under his wing that night and being so hospitable.

That was my first wild night.

Ewen took me into town that weekend I believe. We visited Carrefour on the way which is like a supermarket on steroids, I took a photo of a 3kg box of Nesquik and they were selling giant €150 wheels of cheese. Over the street from this monster-size shop is Umbracle, which I thought was like the indoor Winter Garden in Sheffield – a huge semi-indoor complex with loads of tropical looking palm trees and such. Turns out that it’s an outdoor club. Needless to say this fact blew my little mind.

Fast forward to the weekend after and I went to Mar I Jazz (a jazz festival in a park in El Cabanyal) – what a blast! I had arranged to meet someone I’d matched on Tinder who seemed really lovely and friendly. Her bio said something to the extent of ‘let’s make friends, let’s not pretend we don’t want to just make friends sometimes’ and I really digged her philosophy. We had a short walk on the beach and then went into the park and met her friends. I was a little intimidated at first having just met these new people, everyone switching between Spanish & English a lot, and the fact that the girl and her curly-haired & freckled Canadian friend were really attractive. The music was a little far-out so we split and headed over the other side of the park for some more traditional jazz. I got speaking to Mitchell, a guy from the states and Kush, a guy from India. The guy Kush really made me laugh, the momentary pause while he searched for a word or retort made his jokes hit the mark. One thing I have found with non-native speakers is that they can’t take English for granted, they can’t be lazy and just throw a load of words out and let you figure it out.

Another girl came who was half-Mexican and half-German and cool as fuck. We sat around talking a little and got onto the conversation of meeting people online, someone slated Tinder and my match started defending it and saying how she’d been meeting people online for a long time and she had online friends whom she’d never met. It was really pleasant to hear someone speak so openly and freely and I could really relate to what she was saying. I told them of an evening I’d had with Fiona and Flora back in the UK one night where we (mostly I) were (or was) looking through girls profiles in quite some detail and speculating as to why they’d selected certain photos and what they were trying to convey about themselves. My match got her phone out and started showing round her snapshots of Tinder magic. Eventually the conversation started up and someone randomly piped up like, “yeah I mean I bet you guys met on Tinder!” I’d felt a little hot and uncomfortable the whole time this discussion was going on, that sense you have when the secret is going to get out. I felt really red and like I was going to explode when the guy said this. but immediately we laughed and admitted it and then everyone was really nice. “That’s a beautiful story!”

My match actually left at this point to meet friends and it was agreed that I was cool to chill with everyone else. I sat speaking to the half-German girl for a while and she told me a lot about herself, sadly I was a little buzzed at this point off the beer and some weed I’d smoked but I remember the way I felt listening to her. It was like she was bathing me in the hot glow of her heart. She spoke of challenges and experiences with such grace and was able to articulate her feelings to such a wonderful degree. I think I nearly cried but just said thank you and beamed her back the biggest and brightest smile I could, a natural sign of gratitude for her offering.

The two girls wanted to get dinner at the ones house nearby to the park we were in, I probably could have gone with them but I was a little spellbound by the Canadian girl so I think there was that awful mix of being slightly anxious but also trying to play it cool so I just walked back to Nazaret. She told me to get a bus but the bus seemed to go the opposite was. The walk home was pretty intense in parts and I followed a train-track on the wrong side and was suddenly at a stream which was a bit too deep to cross safely, and it was about 22:00 at this point.

Managed to download Cabify to get a taxi (think Uber). I asked if he spoke English and we chatted a little in English, he asked if I spoke Spanish and then he proceeded to speak at what seemed like an incredible pace. I led the conversation (tip: always lead if you’re the least skilled in something) and asked about Valencia and his opinions. I picked out some of what he said and explained the situation in England with regards to the Conservative acting in the interests of the wealthy and not the people.

When I got to the park it was really dark (no shit right) and it had got so much more crowded that it was earlier in the day. It seemed like I would never find these guys (she made a real effort to make an arrangement when we parted ways over where we would meet, I should have DEFINITELY got her number at this point as it would have made perfect sense) and so I stopped walking around like I was lost and just sat on a wall. They walked by within a few minutes and we carried on where we’d left off. I quickly realised how utterly ruined I was and how difficult everything was on account of this. The night ended up in a shady club which I really enjoyed eventually after being initially absolutely terrified of (dark crowded room playing strange music and everyone speaking a different language to your own). I was awkward drunk and not that carefree drunk where you just cut loose. No regrets, I had an amazing time with those guys. My Tinder match was an absolute babe and just wanted me to have fun with her friends (I called her the Social Alchemist) and the Canadian girl was beautiful and smiley and kind and a joy to be around. Maybe I’ll see them again.

All for now.