sunset 9:12Here I am, sitting in the dining room of a small Spanish grandmother, looking at a silver plaque of “La Ultima Cena de Jesus” (The Last Supper) whilst a cool breeze blows across my shoulders. It’s bright out — surprisingly less humid than the past four days — and I can hear the neighbors chatting over the lazy sounds of the occasional car passing by. Concha (who, judging by the many many many depictions of Jesus around here, is Catholic) is in Jerez visiting her sister and has left us her home for the next few weeks. Here. In Cadiz, Spain.

It still doesn’t feel real, honestly, that I’ll be in this city for another two weeks before heading up to Barcelona, then to Brussels. My mediocre Spanish skills, however, are very real. I studied the language until I was 20, but that was four years ago, and it’s disappointing how little of it stuck. But every moment I spend here, with my brother-in-law’s family, I improve. It’s out of necessity, really, since their English skills are worse than my Spanish ones. It’s like everyone says: I understand much more Spanish than I can speak, which results in me understanding entire conversations but being able to add very little. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the only words I know are “sí” and “me gusta.”

I’ve spent two of the past four days at the beach. Or, more accurately, floating in the ocean for as long as I can until the sun sets and I get cold. I’m so used to the frigid waters of Pacific Ocean on the Oregon and Washington coasts, so actually getting in the ocean is such a treat, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste it. It tastes sooo salty (fun fact: I got some up my nose and it hurt like hell but suddenly my sinuses were very clear, so there’s an upside to everything) but all that extra salt makes me buoyant, and I’m getting a kick out of watching the sun set over the Atlantic whilst I prop my feet up over the salt water. The sunsets here, y’all. The sunsets.

So much has happened, so here’s a synopsis: eggs, potatoes, smoked paprika, white fish, gelato, humidity, a store called la cucaracha, tinto de verano, mediocre (and shy) Spanish, broken English, beach, sunset, more beach, boats, more sunset, mangoes, more mangoes (fun fact: the mangoes they sell here are almost as good as the ones we bought off the street in India, but I think these come from Brazil), and just a touch of jet lag.

I’d forgotten how exhausting it can be to live in another country for a while, but I think my Spanish is improving daily and I’m honestly enjoying not really knowing what’s going on anyway. This entire world is catching fire (both literally and figuratively) lately, so I’m allowing myself to ignore all of that at least a little bit and just enjoy my time abroad.

And now, I head to the beach once more. ¡Adios!


The Many Faces of “Excuse Me”

Last weekend, I went on a vacation that involved a resort, a lake, and a lot of amazing food.

My dad and I rode 26 miles on our bikes to get there, and it occurred to me that the best memories I have with him are on two wheels. We race each other, check that the other is hydrated, joke and tell stories, and argue much less than when we’re on the ground. And when it got to be 100 degrees (at least) with that heat radiating back from the blacktop into our faces, we both plunged our faces into a rest stop drinking fountain and ended up with sweat in our eyes. I laughed. I can’t remember if he did. He might’ve smiled, but as I said…I was basically blind.

We went on the vacation for a convention for my dad’s work. A bunch of awesome, smart, hardworking lawyers gathering to continue to learn about their profession…we go every year, and every year I leave that place wanting to be a lawyer. For about 3 days, that is, until I remember how difficult and stressful their jobs are (albeit rewarding). Anyway, there are a lot of dinner receptions every year, and we eat really nice food and dance like nerds and I explain that my name isn’t Cathy or Pappy (yeah, that happened this year).

But what I ended up marveling at is what I would like to call “The Many Faces of Excuse Me.” People are really passive, especially on the west side of the country where I live, and we can get really angry but apparently don’t want anyone else to know it (?) so we say excuse me. A snooty woman practically flattened me in a restroom and I asked for her forgiveness. A bellman (bellboy, for he was nothing but an ignorant teenage boy) practically broke my body in half by thundering into an elevator with a large cart before my sister and I could even think about getting out. Excuse me. Rude.

So here they are. There are probably more, so feel free to list them in the comments section. Excuse me for not thinking of them all.

1. Excuse me is the normal way to ask for forgiveness when you have accidentally trodden on someone’s foot or elbowed their baby or thrown their food on the ground.

2. EXCUSE ME! is the semi passive way of saying “I am in the right spot but you, you bumbling oaf, have stepped into my personal bubble and should know better. However, since you seem to lack every social grace ever, I will instead blame this whole incident on myself.”

3. Excuuuuuuuse meeee! is the sassy way of saying “I am smarter than you, and I just laid a truth bomb out for you, but you can’t take it, so I’m gonna pretend I feel bad for hurting your feelings. Spoiler: I don’t feel bad.” Basically, this one is what sorority girls would call “sorry-not-sorry.”

4. Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeeeeeeeeee… Steve Martin being ridiculous.

5.  Excuse you! “B#*#&@&*##(@*!**#(&#*@(*# you #*$*I@#**#$I@ my toe #*$**@# blood everywhere ###$U(*(@*@*@*@@@ OH HELL NO.”

And that, my friends, is how to survive at a resort in the Pacific Northwest. Cheers, best of luck, and…wait, you didn’t like this post?

Well, excuse me.