Volver

La idea de volver a escribir en el blog ha siempre me ha acompañado a lo largo de estos meses. Sin embargo, también sigo sintiendo la misma pesadez, desazón, que cuando empecé a escribir en esta nueva plataforma.

Quiero escribir, sí. Pero quiero escribir porque me apetezca, porque es una actividad que me relaja, porque disfruto hablando de las cosas que me apasionan. No sé si esto le pasa a más gente pero durante mucho tiempo sentí que escribir una entrada, o una reseña, era más bien una obligación. De hecho, incluso empecé a enfocar mis lecturas hacia el blog, por ejemplo, aumentando el ritmo de lecturas. Pasar una semana sin publicar algo era una tragedia. Y, aunque estuve así durante bastante tiempo, poco a poco me invadió la sensación de haberme convertido en una fábrica de reseñas.

Esto también hizo plantearme el por qué de todo esto. Honestamente, aún no tengo sentimientos muy claros sobre que mis reseñas estén en Internet, ni que le sirva de algo a nadie. Ni que tampoco ese tenga que ser el objetivo. Pero entonces, ¿por qué? Está GoodReads en el que hay una base de libros muy amplia y sigo a gente en cuyo gusto en literatura confío, y hablar con ellos es bastante fácil. Además, tengo una libreta en la que escribo un párrafo o dos sobre cada libro que leo, además de mis citas preferidas.

Parece pues que tener un blog sea algo completamente redundante. Y sin embargo una parte de mí se niega a abandonar la posibilidad de volver. Ahora mismo, en mi escritorio, me doy cuenta de que el simple ejercicio de redactar este artículo me ha ayudado a formular con más precisión lo que me pasa por la cabeza. Quizás esta sea una razón, de la misma forma que escribir un diario siempre me ha resultado muy terapeutico.

Tampoco puedo negar que una de las variables sea la respuesta de los (posibles) lectores. Como ya he señalado no estoy totalmente cómoda con que mis opiniones de amateur campen por sus anchas en Internet. A pesar de esto, ya que me pongo a escribir en abierto, el feedback es una gran alegría, y una de las razones por las cuáles seguramente seguí con el formato anterior. A la vez soy muy consciente de que no puedo reciprocar este comportamiento. Me resulta imposible combinar mis estudios de doctorado, seguir leyendo, dar clase, escribir por aquí de vez en cuando, y tener algo de tiempo libre para socializar, con leer blogs con la misma asiduidad que hace unos años.

Aún estoy reflexionando como quiero que sea el blog, o si lo quiero mantener. No tengo ni idea como puedo resolver todas estas dudas. Pero tengo todas las vacaciones por delante para averiguarlo.

¿Vosotros/as qué opináis?

Settling in

It has been almost a week since I arrived to NYC and I still have another one until the craziness starts.

During these days I’ve been going around submitting files, signing papers (my first apartment lease, I almost feel like an adult!), and general administrative stuff.

I also had to move in to my new apartment, which I share with someone else. My room is larger than the one in Barcelona, it also has a window facing Broadway. Besides a desk, chair, bed, and drawer, my room was completely empty. So I went three times to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (the US equivalent to IKEA I guess) to buy all sorts of stuff.

I admit, three times may sound like two more than a normal person should need, but for me it was the first time I moved into somewhere new. For my whole life I had been living in the same apartment (with my parents) so there were a lot of things like rubbing alcohol, dishes, kitchen paper, trash bins and trash bags, that were simply there, in apparently endless supply.

Therefore, it was a gradual process for me to realise what was missing or what I needed.

During these days I’ve also had the time to familiarise myself with the neighbourhood I live in. It is certainly not such a frantic and exciting environment as in Downtown but I actually don’t mind much!

See? They even have a green top like zucchinis!

There are two bookshops five minute from where I live and the most-admired New York Public Library (I plan to become a member really soon). On the practical side, there are also several supermarkets.

But then there are the huuuuuuge supermarkets where you can find everything. I’m still in awe of the 10-meter corridor full of all the types of milk you could ever imagine. They even had Downton tea! I did not even see it when I was in the UK! Despite having a much wider variety of pretty much everything in the US, there is one aspect where I’m sure to miss Spain: meat and fish. In big supermarkets you can, of course, find fresh meat and fish, but most of the time it is already sliced (never trust already sliced fish!) or frozen. Also, there is certainly less variety, especially for fish. I’m sure I’ll manage to survive and I’m looking forward to the new types of food I’ll discover!

But there is nothing like a good Spanish jamón.

Just a short note, I’ve just seen a video where someone claims they can make sushi filled with chips. NO. I’m all for trying new things in the kitchen but this is a sacrilege akin to butter-fried oysters.

I’ve mostly eaten at home but yesterday some friends invited me to have brunch where I had some amazing lemon-ricotta pancakes. Yes, I know two lines above I was criticising American cuisine but… this is completely different! Right? It’s not as if I’d go for pancakes or french toasts (which I must admit are far superior to the Spanish torrijas) every morning but it’s certainly something I’d treat myself to if I wanted to celebrate anything.

Anyway, today I’ll be (almost) done with all the productive stuff I had to do so hopefully I’ll be able to explore a little bit more of the city.

Living Alone and the Culture Shock: An Ex-ante Approach

In less than 48 hours I will leave my hometown – the city where I’ve lived ever since I was born – and move to NYC.

I’ve spent those last two days packing for the journey. This made me realise how much stuff I have. Not only clothes but also… things, gadgets, random objects accumulated over the years. And yet it was tough to decide what to leave behind. 2015-06-27 17.48.33

I’m only carrying a handful of books:

  • Poeta en Nueva York by Federico García Lorca, the set of poems the writer composed while studying at Columbia University and while traveling around the area.
  • Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, my favourite book of poems.

Also, a general guide to New York, a guide to the “literary” New York, and a couple of novels. And half a dozen of textbooks! (Unfortunately, those are expensive worldwide.)

All in all I’ve managed to fill three suitcases and probably one medium bagpack. Believe it or not sweaters take up a lot of space.

I’ll be back for Christmas so if there’s anything crucial that I’ve forgotten I only need to wait five months but it still feels different. I’m about to become an independent adult. Which is exciting but also rather frightening. It means being completely responsible for what I do, for my own well-being. It means being left out if I ever forget or lose my keys – which already happens way too often in Barcelona. It means deciding to go to the doctor if I’m not feeling well, or fixing things in the apartment.

Incidentally, I will also need to learn to live with someone else, someone I haven’t met yet, and from a different country. Hopefully, everything will go smooth.

On top of that I guess I’ll go through the so-called culture shock. I learned about it days after I was admitted at CU. Apparently every person that starts living in another country goes through four phases of adaptation to the cultural landscape:

  1. Feel completely in awe of the new place you are living in. Well, given that I’ll be living in New York, it will happen for sure. I mean, it’s pretty much the centre of the world in cultural terms, among others. For instance, one of my favourite living authors, David Mitchell, will give a lecture in Novemeber. This would be unthinkable in Barcelona.
  2. Honeymoon period ends and, together with the routine, you start realising that things are different, and this annoys you. Even in US and Spanish culture are relatively similar, I still think there’ll be some tensions. Maybe I’ll see life differently, maybe I’ll be not so respectful with personal space (we Spaniards greet each other by giving a kiss on each cheek), but there’ll be something. Also, I’m already scared about how pricey everything will be, especially food. I’m used to buy very cheap fresh vegetables and fruit… More importantly, the weather. In Barcelona we never ever go below 5ºC (41ºF), I cannot imagine how I’ll be able to cope with the cold!
  3. You eventually learn how to solve your problems and go through daily life without feeling that fried oreos are something very close to heresy. In other words, you just get used to your new life.
  4. According to Wikipedia there’s another stage, mastery, where apparently you’re in full control of the situation. Seems like step 3 to me.
Surprise, surprise: I’m a Whovian.

Well, tomorrow will be a busy day full of last-minute errands and trying to fit everything into the suitcases. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to bring my favourite mug without my father noticing it.

A trip through (a part of) the United Kingdom: York and its whereabouts

This is the last post on my trip to England with littlemily.

We stayed in York for almost five days, devoting the first two to visit this town. It has a very pretty historic centre, although rather small. The Yorkminster is certainly something worth 13 pounds, including the visit to the top of the tower. Other than that, walking around the city and beside the river is quite enjoyable. The narrow streets full of colourful shops and tea rooms and not as crowded as I expected. York also has a couple of nice parks in case the weather surprises you with a sunny day.

2015-07-19 18.00.09
York’s shortest street. I’ll let you find out the meaning of its name!

There aren’t many museums aimed at the adult public only. I went to the Yorkshire Museum because there was a temporary exhibition on Richard II. Sadly, I was very disappointed when I saw that this exhibition consisted of two small rooms and a few facts on the last Plantagenet. For families, the Yorshire Museum can be a fun visit, as well as the York Castle Museum. Similarly, York has a good handful of “experiences” such as the Richard III experience, the Henry VII experience, or the Ghost Walk. Again, the targets of such an entertainment are for families and kids, but not quite a thrill for me.

2015-07-19 19.54.00 HDR
One of the many sights in York’s Museum Gardens.

However, the unbelievable amount of bookshops (new and second hand) together with the glorious (although slightly over-priced) afternoon tea I had at Betty’s certainly compensates the lack of interesting things to visit.

Another good things is that there are many day-trips you can do from York. On our first day we took a two hour bus to Whitby, since we both longed to see the Yorkshire coast. Whitby is a small town by the sea that I found quite different to the inland villages I had visited so far. Its center is rather small but is full of quaint and nice little shops the moment you get out of the main street that goes along the river. That street is full of restaurants specialised in fish and chips. Since I already had had some fish and chips at the beginning of the trip (and my stomach did not feel up to digesting that much fried oil again), I went for crab, which was delicious as well (and far more healthy). One thing that may be helpful to remember is that there’s a huge gap in prices between seating-in and take-away, probably in the order of 4-5 pounds.

2015-07-21 13.47.48

After lunch we went to visit the ruins of the abbey, which were quite impressive. Fun fact: it inspired Bram Stoker while writing Dracula, so in the gift shop you can find all the nice editions of the novel you could possibly imagine.

Next day was Harrogate, which was a bit of a fiasco. Harrogate became a health spa in the late 18th – early 19th century so it is a pretty town with broad avenues. We only managed to visit the Royal Pump Room where we got to smell the water and believe that, despite its awful stench, it had medicinal properties. We didn’t do much else in the town. It started raining soon after we arrived and all other potential places to visit were closed, except a cosy art gallery next to the Pump Room. We even tried to find the huge parks that are supposed to be in the middle of Harrogate, but it was to no avail. Summary: I didn’t take a single picture of the town.

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That’s only a tiny part of the abbey!

On our last day we went to visit Fountains Abbey, a huge, enormous, abbey in ruins next to an 18th century water garden (because apparently people in that time were not impressed by ruins). There’s not much I can say other that we had a very nice time visiting the abbey and its whereabouts. It is also a very good spot to go for a picnic!

All in all, it was a great trip. I will certainly come back to Yorkshire and visit some of its houses (aka. palaces), the National Park, and, as I said before, the Peak District.

Aparté: What did I bring from my trip?2015-07-22 19.21.34

Besides discovering 40958039584 new books I need to read, I treated myself to:

– Pure by Andrew Miller. The French Revolution is one of my favourite historical events, and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book since it wa
s published.

– A Brief Introduction to Life in the Middle Ages by Martyn Whittock. I’ve recently started to by interested in NF History books and, after my trip to England, my curiosity for the Medieval Ages 2015-07-20 20.41.42has
greatly increased

– Yorkshire Tea: That’s pretty much the only tea I had in the last five days (I drank something between 6 to 8 cups per day hahahaha).

– Marks & Spencer’s Extra Strong Tea: since a friend of mine gave me a pack that I’ve become completely addicted to it!

– A York mini-flag and pin. The War of the Roses is also one of my favourite events, and I happen to support the House of York. So there was no way I’d visit Yorkshire and not bring back a couple of items with the white rose.

– Four nail polishers… In my defense, my flight back home was delayed for almost two hours!FullSizeRender

A trip through (a part of) the United Kingdom: Peak District

Nottingham ➡️ Chesterfield ➡️ Eyam

And from there walking (with a heavy and inconvenient carry-on) to the Youth Hostel, which is located sufficiently far from the town.


I had a supposedly light and nice lunch at the Eyam Tea Rooms, followed by a nice cup of Yorkshire tea. During this journey there is not a day where I am not surprised by English cooking. It seems that the only veggies used here are onions and button mushrooms. Oh wait, I think potato is also considered a vegetable. And fruit only comes in the form of jam or in cakes. A light lunch is a salad, not half a sandwich. This does not mean that I dislike English cooking, I like it, but I seriously doubt my body could take more than 10 days of it without becoming diabetic.


Anyway, Eyam is in the middle of several footpaths that go to other equally tiny and cute villages. However, the routes are not well signalled and we did not get any map at the hostel. By chance we took a lovely path that, through fields and pastures, took us to Stoney Middleton. We decided to try and follow another route, and ended up walking on a side of the road with cars speeding by.


It was a wonderful tour, the landscape was beautiful, and I even managed to see some sheep!
The day after we went to Grindelford (sounds like a name from Harry Potter), took the train to Chinley, and then walked to Hayfield. This is the town where part of The Village is filmed. I did recognise a couple of buildings thanks to a lovely man at a local shop. Hayfield is an enchanting little town and the road to it has some great views. It also has several footpaths that surround the area with some breath-taking views.


I had a very nice lunch followed by cream tea. I cannot believe I have been able to function for so long without having tasted scones. And clotted cream. I also had one at Eyam, but in this one the clotted cream was heavenly. The texture was soft and fluffy, a great treat after a couple of hours of intense walking.

  

On our last day in Peak District… It rained until 10am. However, given the amazing sites we had in the last two days we decided to set for yet another walk.the person at the hostel very kindly indicated a route that according to her what date is about two hours.

 Unfortunately we are not used to walking around the moors and seen unbelievably beautiful panoramas. So it took us quite longer than that. It was certainly worth it, although at some point I thought I was in the European equivalent of a jungle, and I most graciously slipped and fell in the mud. To be fair to the YH people, one of the employees was very kind and drove us to the bus station. They also accepted to serve us dinner half an hour later, at 7:30pm.

So-called footpaths where you have to climb this type of “stairs” and go through fields and with sheep or cows all around!

But I walked in an open field with a flock of sheep, saw a 360 view of Hope Valley, … It is hard to describe the beauty of what I have seen these last days. The only word that comes to me is awesome, in it’s British sense, i.e. I was filled with awe when walking through the fields and moors.


Final stop: York!

A trip through (a part of) the United Kingdom: Nottingham and its whereabouts

In the next week or so I’ll be posting updates on my journey with LittleEmily!

Two days ago we arrived at Gatwick airport and from there we took a train to Nottingham. Its historical centre is very nice to walk through. Most of the houses are built with dark orange bricks and with this particular pe of industrial-victorian facades that I love, especially in the rare moments when the sun is shining.

There is a castle in Nottingham, but it was built in the XVIIth century, and its not much of a thrill (sorry, touristic information office, it really isn’t. There I had my first ever fish and chips! It was good, but I don’t think my stomach will be able to take this amount of fried food again.

St Margaret’s church, not where Richard III’s tumb is.

It is a very nice town, but you can pretty much visit everything in a day. So we’ve also been to Leicester. I became a Richard III fan when I read The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman last summer and since then I’ve been trying to learn as much as possible about The War of the Roses. In case you did not know, Richard III’s corpse was found not so long ago buried in a parking in Leicester, so I went to see his tumb at the cathedral, which probably has the weirdest structure I have ever seen in a church.

Leicester’s historical centre is quite lovely, and has maintained its medieval ambience and charm. There I had my first ever steak and ale pie, which I never thought I’d like. It appears to be that English food is not so bad after all!

Then we walked to Abbey Park, a huge park in the outskirts of the city (which are not very pretty) that is completely worth the time. Not only it has very nice gardens and rivers crossing it, but also the ruins of a frmer abbey. To be fair, there’s just a bunch of stones tracing the structure of the building.

By the way, this is where Cardinal Thomas Wolsey died. There is a commemorative statue but I suspect it was Anne Boleyn who ordered it as it is placed just in front of the café, surrounded by tables full of families and children and large plastic parasols.

Victorian ladies that look like Cardinal Wolsey, or is it the other way around?

On our last day in the region we visited the town of Lincoln. After failing to avoid second hand bookshops, we struggled our way through Steep Street, which has a very appropriate name. The climb does not prevent one from admiring the cute two-story houses with quaint and fashionable shops.

Interior of Lincoln’s cathedral

After this we had lunch and there I tried the apple pie with custard. I’ve usually had apple pie with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream. Custard was a perfect combination for a thin and crispy crust and savoury apple bites.

Finally we set on to do some serious tourist information activities. First, the cathedral, it is huge! However, I am not sure if it is worth almost £7. You can always get in and have a glimpse from the entrance.

On the other hand, visiting the castle was a good thing to do. Well, they call it castle but in fact you see the prison and walk around the castle wall. There is a very interesting and interactive exposition at the gaol on the prisoners’ living conditions.

After that we had no time to visit the Museum of Lincolnshire Life but we did see the Mill. Surprise surprise, it was a plain mill, nothing extraordinary.

Detail at the entrance of the castle.

Next stop: the Peak District!

Untranslatable Words: Postureo

Many years ago I learned the value of a good translation. It was during my last year in high school, when our Spanish teacher gave us a poem by Lorca that had already been translated to French and asked us to translate it back to Spanish. Even if I had been at the Lycée Français for 15 years and was about to pass the Baccalauréat, I found this to be a painstaking and almost impossible task.

Once it was done she gave us the original poem for us to compare and realise how different in meaning and feeling the three versions were.

I enjoy learning new languages. Not only because then I can read more books in their “original” form, but also because it enriches by vocabulary. There are words in every language that are untranslatable.

Postureo-onOne example is postureo. Postureo is when a person does something, or pretends to like it, because he or she believes she will then be considered cool.

I recently went to a music festival in Bilbao, which was a fine occasion to witness several examples.

When I was at the main stage waiting for Muse four people – two men and two women  –decided to stand in front of us, despite of arriving later than my group. The two guys were super tall and it was obvious they went to the gym. So, of course it was very difficult for everyone behind to see anything.

On top of that, when the concert started, the two guys pulled out their expensive mobile phones and recorded the whole concert. But the worst part is that none of them knew the songs, they did not even jump or dance, or appear to enjoy the concert. But going to a festival is cool, showing to your friends that you did or on Instagram is cool. 

And postureo is a not very nice way to define this attitude or people who do such. 

Well, I’m off to the UK, I will try to write about my journey.

See you!