Laughing in a foreign language

Posted by Lori | Posted in | Posted on 5:19 AM


"Ellos van a caer,"* la Abuelita whispers to me.


"Ellos van a caer!" she says a bit louder, gesturing to the men on the ledge outside the kitchen window.

"Oh! No, no, no te preocupes," I attempt to assure her.

She shuffles to the open window and leans out, staring incredulously at the 3 shirtless men who are attempting to make some modifications to the sixth floor exterior. Abuelita shakes her head and returns to her seat. "Locos." She then promptly clasps her hands together and begins to pray, muttering some words of safety for the construction workers.

I smile. My thoughts are not on their falling, but rather where they purchased their harnesses and if they are inexpensive and if they would suit for climbing as well and where I might find one. And about how they woke me this morning as they clamored through the flat, out the window, and began to drill into the wall.

One man pokes his head inside the house. "De donde eres?" he asks me. He and his cowokers had thought I was from Poland.

" de los estados unidos - de carolina del norte."

"De veras? Tengo familia en Chicago - y el tiene familia en Florida."

The other worker chimes in, "Si - soy de Cuba -- claro que tengo familia in Florida."

And we all laugh.

*They are going to fall.
**I'm not going to translate all of the Spanish. It's pretty simple. You're smart.

Feet poetry

Posted by Lori | Posted in | Posted on 2:33 PM


I sit on the floor of my new room. This particular space has been dedicated to the color pink: pink wall, pink bed, pink desk, pink memorabilia. The walls are posted with magazine ads for Bratz, Barbee, and the Power Puff Girls. I sit on the floor in my new room, my hands encircle my knees, and I finally let myself cry.

"What the hell am I doing?" I repeat, some strangely therapeutic chant. So I give myself space to be sad.

I do some yoga, struggling to have proper breathing through my stuffy nose. I distract my mind by concentrating on my body. Downward dog. Breathe. Cat pose. Breathe. Tree pose. Balance. Breathe.

Somewhat composed, I go to explore my city. Maria* walks me to the street and points the way to the Cathedral and old part of town. I stray from her hand-drawn map and let myself get a little lost. "Estoy encantada con esa ciudad," I imagine saying in response to her future questioning about my walk.

I wander into the Cathedral. The stage lights that illuminate the 3-story gilded wooden display - to make it shine - are perhaps the most interesting of all. The lights shift, I'm guessing to illuminate the Christ figure and only him. But they miss their target and succeed only in lighting up his left shoulder and the cherubs who attend him.

Emerging from the Cathedral, my eyes adjust to the light. I notice the little dog whose yaps had echoed inside the building. He doesn't look particularly happy, tied to the iron gate.

I find a park with strange sculptures and a duck pond. A hippie man with bandanna and a giant bubble maker made from two sticks and rope enchants some children.** I notice that Spain has a lot of lovers and lonely old men who all have the same hobby: bench sitting. Both make me sad.

Wandering back to my flat, I pass by a table of two British 20-something gentlemen that I have seen before. Their beautifully-accented English is a relief. I enter my flat and play out the scene if I were to go back. It seems the worst they could say would be nothing at all. So I turn around, approach their table, and stumble through something like "I heard you speaking English and it sounded really nice and it's my first day here and I'm completely overwhelmed."***

They laugh a bit awkwardly and push out a chair. "Have a sit. Join us then. You want a drink?"

And so I do. We exchange stories; the wine and the easy conversation calm me down.

"It's a brave thing you're doing," Tom says. I just shrug my shoulders.

But secretly, his comment frees me. Not entirely - but a bit of the strain and worry of my capability to do this disappears with his affirmation. It is a brave thing. And merely the fact that I had a thought - months ago - that I could do this and that I wanted to do this means that I very well can.

Either because of the affirmation, their humor, or the need for friends, I decide to shove off feelings of jet-lag and exhaustion and agree to go out with them. Brits party hard. And that's all I have to say about that.****

And now I sit on a bench in a little nook on my new campus and watch a woman lift up her dog to drink out of the water fountain. It rivals the sight I had yesterday of a woman holding up her child to pee on a tree in a public square.

I check the time. It's almost the hour I am to return home to try and get the internet configured on my laptop.

Just a few more moments, though.

I look to my left and see very European-looking flats, knowing that just behind them are grassy hills - small mountains - waiting to be explored. Oviedo is comfortably nestled in these mountains' embrace. I like to think about them hugging the city and therefore hugging me. It's a solid hold. It makes me feel secure.

Several hours of skype-contact later, I have cried, laughed, and discovered new wisdom***** from my very wise friends.

The first is this: "After you've confronted the bad of reality, you are able to take the real happiness."

The second is this (a new answer to the question, "Why are you here?"): To write poetry on people's feet.

Both bits stand alone, I think, and require no further explanation. Or perhaps that is my tiredness talking. Either way, they will have to do for now.

And with that, I breathe. I look at the wonderful Memoryfoam pillow that will soon cushion my head****** in my bed in my room in my home. It's time for sleep.

*Host mother
**Weaver Street hula-hoopers, eat your hearts out.
***Later they inform me that I had been a bit manic when introducing myself.
****That was all day one. Moving on to day two.
*****I cannot mention all the wisdom, kind words, and love I recieved. But thanks and shout out to those people who held my hand today.
******Some people in this world understand the importance of a good pillow. Some don't. I very much appreciate that this family does.

Every story has a preface

Posted by Lori | Posted in | Posted on 9:01 PM


I sit and write this very first entry on this very new blog, propped up on my bed in my room in my home. The home that has always been my home. But even though I’ve always had this place as a sort of “base,” I’ve found I can make many other places my home.

Like this summer, for example. I don’t think I can count on my hands and toes the amount of homes I’ve had.*

And this new adventure. I asked a friend of mine for help titling this new literary effort. He asked me to rant about the upcoming year and he would see what he could come up with. “Going home” was his first solution to my titling problem. A name he created in response to my claim that I very much want to make this new place, Oviedo, Spain, my home.

I think it fits; I am in a perpetual state of going home.

So I leave my present (and constant)** home for yet another place. I’ll affix the name of “home” to Oviedo from the start, even though it won’t fit. It will pop off awkwardly from time to time, requiring adjustments, a nail here, some glue there, a bit of stretching to fill the frame. Until one day I’ll wake up and I’ll discover that it has happily nestled into its place.

As for right now, if you asked me if I was feeling ______ and filled in that blank with any emotion in the world, I could probably say yes. So I will leave the emotion-talk at that.***

Oh, and in regards to the adventures part of my title, well, use your imagination for that one.

I think I have some great excitement to come.

*And many thanks to those who gave me a (temporary) home.
**Don’t you dare sell the house while I’m gone, Mom.
***With the exception of mentioning my inexplicable fear that I will exit the plane only to be assaulted by Spaniards armed with tomatoes.