Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Night Before All That Is Holy

First: Donna! Hi!

Second: Things I Have Done This Weekend:

2.1. Found, played, and gotten As on four songs of DDR. I am awesome uber-nerd w00t.
2.2. Had coffee. REAL coffee, made with a filter and hot water.
2.3. Funneled +10€ into Starbucks' already hefty pocket (see 2.2).
2.4. Studied for approx. 5 hours.
2.5. Slept for approx. 20 hours.
2.6. Made and eaten chicken and dumplings (it turned out ok for a first try. Cooking Light's recipe was kind of bland, though the rosemary in the dumplings was scrumptious. More pepper next time, maybe?).
2.7. Spent 9€ on, eaten, and gotten sick off of about 11 buñuelos de viento - little spherical pastries, deep-fried and filled with chocolate/cream/coffee cream/lemon/pick one. Oily. Soooooo oily.
2.8. Watched a very good movie in Spanish and understood 85% of it (Mar Adentro - highly suggested. Will make you understand my love affair with Galicia).
2.9. Wandered around for half an hour looking for a bowling alley which has been defunct for two years plus.
2.10. Started and finished Bridget Jones' Diary (in SPANISH!) and started Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (also in Spanish. Really, it's an excellent way to learn slang - ie. how to say "wasted" and "hung over")(Well, what else does Bridget Jones talk about?).
2.11 Outspent my monthly budget by somewhere between 10€-20€ (see 2.3, 2.7, 2.8)
2.12. Realized that I am incapable of speaking English. Issa and me, studying:
Allison: So anyway, in Roman theatre they didn't have a chorus, but they kept the orchestra space because it helped with the - the, umm - *frantic waving hand motions* - you know, that thing.
Issa: Yeah, where the sound - and then it -
Allison: Yeah, the sound travels up through's a word, and it's in English, and I don't remember it because it's a complex thought and I can't do complex thoughts in English anymore.
Issa: Yeah, I know...I think...the word starts with an A.
Allison: Oh, hell. I don't know. Forget it. Let's move on. This is an aqueduct, and...
*10 minutes later*
Issa: Acoustics.
Allison: Crap. Yeah. Those.
2.13. Been very happy that tomorrow is a state holiday, but not so happy that everything will be closed when I have to register at 1pm. Rargh. Thank God Issa's letting me use the wireless he's mooching off his neighbor.
2.14. Been glad Dad hasn't called again to tell me how I shouldn't have voted "unless it [was] for Bush". Honestly, you think a person can't possibly make you any angrier...
2.15 and most recently. Been glad that a little political rant doesn't make my friends think I'm a dope. Even though I am a dope.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ezzam Week

You know what? I had a nice little banal entry written here about soup and midterms and ants on a log, but HEY, who cares about that? - because Osama bin Laden says Bush is an idiot, which means floods of people are going to go vote for Bush just because bin Laden insulted him.

The largest part of me is disgusted by and infuriated with Bush for making 300 million people look like idiots through his own inability to speak English, his refusal to believe that anything he does is wrong, his disregard of an incredibly intelligent and effective person like Colin Powell in favor of Rumsfeld or Ashcroft or any of those other Yes-Men he's got running around behind him.

But the rest of me - I'll just come out and say that it's the elitist part, I have no problem with that - is equally disgusted by a group of 150,000,001 people who want to vote for him in spite of his utter idiocy. Why? Because being inarticulate and probably functionally illiterate is "comforting". It is more important for our president to be an Everyman than a Smartman, an Observantman, or even a Goodman. Now, because bin Laden issued a tape giving Bush a verbal noogie, they're going to rally behind the worst president since Herbert Hoover in the name of pride.

If Bush wins, I don't want to go home. That's not because of the next four years of incompetent governance we'll get (I wonder how much deeper he can drive the national debt?), the prospect of more terrorist attacks, Patriot Act II, or even because there'll be another fundamentalist and assuredly anti-abortionist white man on the Supreme Court. No, I don't want to go home because it will force me to finally confront the fact that the average American is ignorant, evangelical, and hopelessly stupid.

"...Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president...started by challenging me. 'You think he's an idiot, don't you?' I said, no, I didn't. 'No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!''' (Ron Suskind, Without A Doubt, New York Times Magazine, Oct 14 2004).

I'd tell them they could have him, but if they take him they take Duke and Durham and Myrtle Beach, Buffalo and Elma and East Aurora, Pinole Creek and Wilmington and San Pablo...and those are mine.

I hate the majority.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Without A Paddle

I like this article. It shows you exactly how screwed we are.

Please concentrate especially on page 9, 4th and 3rd paragraphs from the bottom.

Meat and Potatoes

Sitting in my fridge up till yesterday: one (1) raw pig foot. Not the leg. Not, say, the hock. Just the foot, and maybe as much of the ankle as Laura Ingalls Wilder would consider scandalous.
Sitting on the counter as of last night: one (1) cooked pig foot. Burnt. Black. Uncovered.
Half of dinner last night: two (2) burgers, which I am assuming were made of turkey. Uncooked. Absolutely pink, inside and out. Still pasty inside.
Sitting in fridge: one (1) raw turkey burger, imperfectly wrapped.
Fridge smells like: don't make me think about it.
I miss: food safety standards.

Next week: midterms.
Amount of studying I had done before this week: none.
Abnormality factor of Allison not having studied Art History compulsively for the past two weeks: high.
Amount of pages written for crappy paper: 7.
Was supposed to have achieved by today, amount of pages written for crappy paper: 10.
Likelihood of achieving goal: low.
Irritation at receiving another 4 pages to write for midterm, due by next Monday: considerable.
Research done, hardcore Art History paper: none.
How screwed I am: very.
How procrastinatory I am: see above.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Old Post, Stupid Blogger


From Thursday a week ago:

My Brain Does a Really Good Cartman

was the only thing I could think after waking up this morning.

Is it a serious problem if I can dream up a near-perfect impression of a South Park character? I don't even watch that much South Park. Why couldn't I have gotten some Family Guy?

More random things:

Madrid has a Kiss-franchise radio station. I can't even tell you how sad this makes me. Well - not as sad as the radio station Pilar listens to that likes to use phrases like "power corrupts" to describe Zapatero (Socialist and current president of Spain). Apparently, even the semblance of balanced reporting has been dropped here.

I spent many of my childhood years thinking that magpies were an invention of Aesop. I also called magenta "magneta" and thought lined paper was lioned paper. During my childhood years, I was an idiot.

Because magpies exist, and all. Though the big tails make them look slightly unwieldy when they fly. I wonder what the tails are for, other than Aesop's Fable-writing.

So we're leaving tomorrow to go to Barcelona for the weekend. Barcelona has both a chocolate museum and an erotica museum. I CANNOT TALK PEOPLE INTO GOING TO THEM. WHAT IS WRONG WITH DUKE STUDENTS?

I mean, come on!

Results of the guess-how-much-money-Allison-has-contest are slightly scrambled. I originally had .63€ ($.79), but then I found a penny in the street (.64€, $.80). Puzzle out who wins between yourselves - but I can't send you a postcard because GUESS WHAT I CAN'T AFFORD THE STAMP. Though chances are I have already written it and can hand-deliver it to some point. Maybe. [ed. note: I can afford the stamp now. I just have to get my crap together. Maybe after midterms I will do a mass mailing.]

Speaking of mail, Faye sent me a card! Public shout-out to Faye! It has weiner dogs on it, which makes it better (I was about to write see my dilemma?).

It is 9:45am. I have been up since 6. It's time for me to bow out. Peace, love, and Barcelona vibes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Yes, I Said "When".

Did you know I can't access my own blog because it has too many sentences?

Yep. That's what it says, right there on the screen. This page exceeds the number of permitted sentences.

I hope they choke.

So I have a dilemma: there is a party sponsored by Americans Abroad for Kerry next Tuesday night. It's close, it's cool, it goes all night, there's food (a "victory breakfast", though I'm afraid what it'll turn into when we lose) - and live election updates, which is really what I'm going for. But it goes from 10pm-6am...and I have a midterm at 3:30 that day.

I think I'm gonna go. What? It's an Art History midterm, I'll do fine. I'll just crash out from 7-2:30...and then be nocturnal for the rest of the term.

Hey - if the BoSox fans here can do it, so can I.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Time Flies When You're Having Crises

Today is the midway point of Duke-in-Madrid.

So, instead of giving you the rundown on Barcelona, I am going to do a resumen-type-thing. No, that's not English. No, I don't remember what the word for resumen is in English. Go away.

Things That Are Awesome About Spain

Abundance of fresh, long, crunchy bread.
Churros con chocolate. I just tried them yesterday. It's amazing what happens when you take deepfried and dip it in pure, liquid chocolate.
Oranges, of which I tried my first today. They are a good reason to stay here.
Actually, lots of yummy and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Socialist party in power. heheheheheheh please win Kerry sob sob.
Hey, so THAT'S what the Kyoto Accords are! --funny story-- I was sitting in the Metro a couple of weeks ago watching TV, and it started talking about how the Minister of Industry predicts that reducing emissions because of Kyoto will not affect productivity...and my first thought was "Holy crap, Bush signed KyotoWAIIIIIT wrong country." The fact that the clip was in Spanish apparently didn't mean much to my brain.
There's TV in the Metro. Had I neglected to mention that? It's pretty cool. They keep running the Madrid for 2012 Olympics commercial on loop. Not so cool.
"Let's go to Lisbon for the weekend." "OK!"
I am meeting a lot of nice new Dukies and bonding with them in hardship-type situations, most of which involve being hit on by creepy people.
Public transportation good yes hurray, except for last night, which I will explain later.
No Bush. No Bill O'Reilly.

Things That I Would Kill to Go Home For
I got a tandem letter from Jeannie and Deirdre last night. Do you have any idea how much I miss you guys? How about SO MUCH IT HURTS.
Dryers/ fabric softener.
Express, none of this stupid expensive LaCoste and Longchamp store crap. Express. Gap. Penny's. Clothes I can afford.
Mighty Chicken Fajitas/Cosmic Veggie Quesadillas (they're both fake Mexican, so they go together).
Wings, pizza, Ben&Jerry's, s'mores, and all the little foody things that make parties with EAers so much fun.
Skim milk in a carton.
No exchange rate/having a job/no roaming fees/not having to worry about money all the time.
My compy, my Playstation, and all the pretty little electronic gadgets that give my life meaning.
Semblance of objective news reporting, except for Bill O'Reilly.
Daily Show/Family Guy/The Simpsons.

...but especially Mighty.

Stupid Mighty.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Still blocked out of registration.

Library people are threatening me for not bringing back a book that was returned weeks ago.

Gigantic cell phone bill is somehow my responsibility even though US cell phone was NOT MY IDEA.

No hostel for Barcelona this weekend.

It's raining.

Say hello to Allison Clarke, the newest RA in Epworth.

And we found a hostel...

...I kind of like the rain.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Puzzling Out My Life

This is more for me than for you all, so feel free to ignore if you would like.

Classes Required, Spanish Major: 10
Classes Completed, Spanish Major: 6
Other Requirements Not Completed, Spanish Major: 2 140+ courses
Classes Required, Art History Major: 10
Classes Completed, Art History Major: 6
Other Requirements Not Completed, Art History Major: 2 200+ courses (296S and one other), 1+ Non-Western course, 1+ Ancient course
Classes Not Completed, C2000: 1 QID, 1 NS, 1 R, 1 W (since when do we need 3 Ws!?)
Other Requirements: German 66, German 100+?
Really Should: at least START French

Definitely Taking This Semester:

ART HISTORY 296S, Methodology of Art History (R, W, CZ), unless they don't give me permission which would piss me off.
ART HISTORY 125A, Archaeology of Athenian Democracy (Ancient, CCI, W, CZ)
GERMAN 66, Intermediate German (who cares)
SPANISH 151, Literature of the Renaissance and Baroque (CCI, FL, 140+ Spanish class)

So. Graduation with Distinction in Art History requires 1 200+ course fall of senior year and the thesis written on the same subject the semester after. That's two credits knocked out. Combined with 296, Archaeology, and my Non-Western, that's 11 credits (unless I decide to have the 200+ be Non-Western...which could happen, I guess).

The question now becomes ¿what should I overload with?

I could take the course to knock out my NS/QID, though I'd rather do it in the fall and take Dino Bio (ahahahehehehehohohohuhuhuhu). I could take my Non-Western Art History, which looks really cool (Chinese Visual Culture) - but then I'd be taking 3 Art Histories, which is by no means a bad thing, but I might get kind of unbalanced. And I don't want to drop Archaelogy because it's with Dillon and she's awesome. I could take a 140+ Spanish course, which would finish my upper-level reqs in Spanish and let me take relatively less ridiculous courses next year, when I'm working on my thesis. But then my Non-Western next fall might be something like Japanese Architecture, which isn't bad, but it's not as cool as Chinese Visual Culture. Or I could start French, which would be useful for grad school but in terms of graduation requirements is worth nothing.

I think the best idea might be to take the much as I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT THAT ART HISTORY CLASS, Spanish 142 would demolish my major requirements there, pretty much, and free me up to take easier Spanish courses my senior year and focus on the thesis. So, if I do that,

Spanish Classes Completed: 8
Art History Classes Completed: 8
Still Needed, Fall Senior Year: Dino Bio or equivalent, Art Hist 200+, 1 Spanish class, Art Hist Non-Western
Still Needed, Spring Senior Year: Art Hist Thesis, French 1, 1 Spanish Class, German something? or PHYSED CLASSES!

Phew. Ok, sorry. Now let's just hope I'll be able to get INTO Spanish 142...because then I would have to do this allll over again.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Just Say No

Reasons NOT to go running screaming back to Leftie to buy the perfectly slightly-off-white fitted waistlength peacoat for 39.90€:

1. Television. Because what's the use of having a slick $20 Playstation if there's nothing to play it on?
2. Flatscreen. As faithfully as Grandpa's 7 year old Packard Bell 15" CRT with the busted backlighting has served me all these years, I think it's time for it to sleep with the fishes.
3. Microsoft Office. The pirated versions give my compies diseases, and they cry.
4. iPod. I am a poser, after all!
5. PS2. It's never enough to be happy with the slick $20, is it, Allison?
6. An immense list of computer games I won't torture you with here.
7. I already have a peacoat.

Phew. I feel better now. I'll just buy a scarf and gloves for 10€ at H&M and be happy with that, I suppose. And maybe some running pants. But the rest is going STRAIGHT to the electronics.

Yay for self...control?

God, I Love Scheduling

Good thing: They cycled the courses in the Art History department!

Other good thing: Now I have a MedRen minor!

Bad thing: Now I want to take them all!

Other bad thing: It won't let me overload!


Friday, October 15, 2004

Random Things

Fall has hit Madrid like a ton of bricks. Sometime in the past week, it decided to go from hitting 80 every day to wavering around 60 like a *something very crude that I just thought of*. But hey, I don't mind, because I'm still eating peaches and tomatoes are still .99€/kilo. Ah. Ha. hahahahha. Be jealous.

The new English teacher is young, energetic, and studied in the US for a year (in Louisiana, of all places). The new kids are in 7th grade and obnoxious. I got put into small groups with them and we talked. Yay for getting to do something I was expecting. Also yay for not having to act like uber-American-evil-student. One of my kids has a 19 year old brother. I was THIS CLOSE to asking her if he was cute, but then I remembered that I could get sued for that or something.

I'll have to follow her home.


"As long as you are flexible to RA on West campus if things with Chris don't work out, I would say that you don't need to fill out the housing forms. You will be placed in the spring. Right now, we are just trying to figure out where!"

Ahahaha. One of several problems solved. Now I just have to get registration to work. Preferably correctly.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


From: Allison's Brain
To: Allison's Tastebuds
Cc: Allison's Stomach
Re: Zucchini Bread

Dear Madames,
It has come to my attention recently that slightly more than one half of a 9" cake pan full of calorically-rich zucchini bread has disappeared from the house of Pilar Cerrada in the past two days. Despite the fact that we three are not the only residents of said house, I have reason to believe that you two are culpable for the majority of this loss.
It has been brought to my attention that the zucchini bread (hereafter referenced as "The Biggest and Best Mistake Ever", or TBABME) has been consumed under various pretenses. Among these, I have noted the use of "a rich breakfast will help support a long and tiring day" and "it's only a little piece". I would like to call to your attention that, according to the laws of mathematics dictated by Pythagoras et. al., one diminuitive ("little") piece plus one more diminuitive piece plus one slightly less diminuitive ("normal") piece, consumed within a short period of time, are equivalent to one very large ("honking") piece. According to the chemistry of the human body, consumption of pieces of TBABME of this size cause distinct health hazards, to which I am as vulnerable as yourselves.
Therefore, I provide you with a recommendation as well as pose a query. First, I suggest that you cease and desist immediately the consumption of TBABME until further notice (which may come as soon as 24 hours hence), for our common good. Second, I would like to know: where exactly is the TBABME going? As you are closer to the lines of production than I, you have a better vantage point and I would appreciate your insight.

Allison's Brain

From: Allison's Tastebuds, Allison's Stomach
To: Allison's Brain
Re: Re: Zucchini Bread

Hips. Butt. Thighs. And buzz off, bozo.

From: Allison's Brain
To: Allison's Stomach
Cc: Allison's Tastebuds
Re: Re: Re: Zucchini Bread

You guys suck.

This Is What We Call Distraction

Here are some happy things I was thinking about as I took my walk last night. I am going to tell them to you so that I can not think about the absolutely horrible experience that was teaching this morning. Then I will tell you about said experience. Jeannie, I left fish comments on the last post. lol.

I really would like to have stayed in Lisbon for a bit longer, but not just to see the museums and touristy crap. I mean, touristy crap is great in context, but there was something about the atmosphere of the city that really made me seemed to be a place with a lot more contrast than Spain. For all they keep drilling into our heads here that "Spain is not like America, Spain is nothing like America, Spain has completely different problems than those of America", Portugal is, well, less like. I don't know. This isn't coming out right. It had something to do with standing inside H&M and looking out the spotless plateglass window onto the crumbling apartment façade opposite, or seeing a near-empty McDonald's while people were crowding into the falafel restaurant across the street. The people didn't seem to have the chaotic, self-flagellating desire to Americanize that I've seen in Spain, though if you ask a Spaniard they'd deny their McDonaldses to the death. Portugal seems to be the reed to the Spanish oak tree.

Also good about Portugal - diversity yay! And it seemed like something that was completely natural, whereas in Spain we've had a lot of discussions about racism (both intentional and un-) and just the fact that people stare at you in the street if you are blatantly not Spanish. There no one seemed to care. It was great not to be an object of language-barrierized discussion, if only for a few days. (Also, no Germans pointed and laughed about my shoes on the subway. That was good.)

I am seriously spending multiple hours fantasizing about Indian food now. I can't get it, because - wait, let's have a game. Can someone guess how much cash I have? It's less than twenty dollars.

It's less than ten dollars.

It's less than five dollars.

It's less than one dollar.

Closest guess - in either Euros or dollar equivalent - gets a postcard at some point.

Ok. Now I will tell you about today's horrendous teaching experience and why I switched classes. Vale?

I showed up to the school to meet my new group of kids, and let me tell you that they are ADORABLE. 4th graders, all super-super-cute. They sang me a song about a circus in English as I came in, and my heart almost melted.

After the circus song, the first thing we did was say the Our Father. That was ok by me, since it's a Catholic school and all, and I didn't have to say it (wouldn't know how in Spanish anyway). Then they started talking about the fact that they have their first Communion this year, and that was really cute, because I was imagining little white dresses with frilly lace. And then the teacher asked me if I was Catholic.

"Umm, no, I'm not."
"Oh. Well, then what are you?"
*Probably wouldn't be a good idea to have to explain agnosticism, atheism, or anything of the non-sectual sort to a classful of impressionable 9 year olds.* "My father's Greek Orthodox, so let's say I'm half Greek Orthodox."

I got a weird, weird look for that one.

Then the teacher had to leave the room to get something and I was placed in front of the class (maybe 30 kids). "Ask her questions, tell her about what you study, and do it in English if you can." That actually went much better than I was expecting - of course the kids in the back were talking, but what can you expect? I'd just stepped in, they don't know me, I'm not a teacher. A couple of kids asked about the Statue of Liberty, and they all listened to me explain how you can't climb up to the torch. They were really quite adorable.

Then the teacher came back.

"Today we are going to do a skit. Here, take this red pen. Follow me and put a NOT FINISHED on the paper of anyone who did not do their homework."

Can you pronounce an ellipsis? I'm pronouncing an ellipsis. DOT DOT FREAKING DOT.

That is not my job. That is the teacher's job, it is not my job, and luckily I got away with just following her as she did it and not putting pen to paper.

Then the skits started. The kids were supposed to have memorized all the lines for all the parts (given, they were small) and be able to recite any one when asked to do so. These are in English, mind you. So the first group comes up, and they can't get past the first couple of lines, and I'm trying to shoot them encouraging smiles when the teacher cuts in.

"This is very, very bad. I can see that none of you, not one, has studied."
"I did, I swear I did study, but -"
"Obviously, you did not study enough. You are putting on a very bad show for Allison. Allison, what do you say to this kind of performance?"


"I say...that it's very hard to memorize a bunch of lines like that - I'm twenty years old, and I still can't manage to do it sometimes." I try again with the encouraging smile, especially to the little kid who was supposed to go first. This is when I get shot evil look #2 - a look that says "you are not playing the role I have called upon you to play".
"But the other class did it perfectly. Alejandro, go call in four kids from the other class."
The other class comes in and performs the skit without missing a beat.
"Now, Allison, you see what REAL studying looks like."

Skip forward in time a little bit, and once again it rolls around that we must check homework. I am again summoned to take a red pen and start chastising these poor kids that I haven't even formally met. I hope to escape the same way I did last time - smile and nod, follow quietly - until the teacher takes Alejandro's workbook and shoves it towards me.

"There. Write Not Done in red and put the date."
I can't. I just can't. This isn't what I was put here to do, and I say quickly, "I'm sorry, I'm just really not comfortable doing that."
"¿Ah no?" Evil look #3. She passes through the room quickly, shooting occasional unkind comments to her kids as I lean back on the desk and try to avoid bursting into tears of shame.

Needless to say, I got out of there as quickly as possible.

I've changed teachers and dates.

I feel bad for the kids I've abandoned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Spreading This Stuff Like Peanut Butter


Hi Allison-

Thank you for the message. I am referring your request to Dean Nicole Manley who manages the RA selection and placement process. Her email is copied above so that you can get in touch with her.

The good news is that if you left the position in good standing, then you are guaranteed rehire as long as we have a corresponding position (need for female RA, etc).

Take care,
LB :)

1. This woman may end up being my boss, and she signs her name with a smiley. AWESOME.
2. They have need! I know they have need! They have need in East 1! East 1, with Terry and Jeannie and continuity and I won't be in Bassett but it's close enough, right?
3. One of my jobs back!
4. Now to work on going back to Trinity...
5. I must be insane.

Famous Last Words, Or Something

We left Madrid at 12pm on Friday. It was sunny and beautiful, of course, because it hasn't rained the entire time we've been in Madrid. I started whistling "Ride of the Valkyries".

In Lisbon, Portugal, at 7pm Friday, it was pouring.

Of course.

"Oh, come on, you guys. I mean, have you ever LOOKED at Portuguese? It's like the same language! We'll be able to speak it just by looking at it. I'm not worried. Besides, I bet they know a lot of Spanish there just because they get tons of Spanish tourism. We'll be fine."

Portuguese looks like Spanish. It sounds like Russian.

I don't speak Russian.

Of course.

I kid, really. Lisbon was fantastic, and I could write down for you now the number of Portuguese words I know. Most of them are fruit. You'd be amazed how far you can get knowing "please", "thank you", and fruit words. Also "tea" and "coffee". (Psst. If you get bored, skip down. The trip summary's going to be pretty dry, but I'll try to put the interesting (and I-can-writey) type stuff at the end).

Trip Summary

We rolled into Lisboa Friday evening and found our hostel, which was conveniently located up several flights of stairs unplagued by the bother of an elevator. The hostelier, however, made the walk worth it. I thought Spanish guys were hot, but Portuguese guys are STUNNING. Holy crap.

We decided to go to a fado bar for dinner (see? SEE? You didn't think I'd do it, did you?). We found one in the Bairro Alto, which is (appropriately enough) very alto and takes many stairs to get to. Winding through the maze of little streets (and getting lost at every turn, might I add), we stumbled upon the club the Let's Go called "a way to see fado without breaking the bank". Minimum purchase 7€. As we walked up to the door, an older man heard us speaking in English and stopped us to say "Come here! Very good food! Good cook!" We all laughed amiably, which made me decide that Lisboa was a better place to vacation than Paris or someplace English-leery.

It was called the Cristal. We found out why when we walked in and discovered the entirety of the walls consisted of concrete with mirror-shard insets, and the lamps were multicolored cut glass.


Nah, it was pretty good. I got arroz com polvo, which is NOT rice with dust, though that was my first thought. It is rice with otopus - more specifically, rice with octopus in a tomato-based stew with ample amounts of cilantro on top. It was all right, I suppose. Overly salty. Not really a thrilling introduction to Portuguese food, unfortunately.

After that, we wandered around the city for a bit. Then bed.

The next day, we got up and took the tram (oooh, trainy) to the Mosterio San Jeronimo, which is this old Gothic monastery on the outish ends of the city. We wandered around the cloisters and the cathedral attached to them, which holds the (metaphorical) sarcophagus of Vasco da Gama. We did that, then got falafel for lunch. What? It was THERE! And do you know the last time I had falafel?

After lunch and the monastery, we decided to go to the mall.

The mall.


It was the biggest mall in two countries and all, but...not my idea...and *sigh* I went to another country and went to the mall. It was a cool mall. There was a rollercoaster in it, and a bowling alley, and everything you could ever want (including bettas) except DDR. I am not happy with this European anti-DDR fetish. It also had gigantic, gourmet-dining-style Pizza Huts and KFCs and McDonalds, which we did NOT go to. Thank god.

What we did decide to do for dinner was Indian, which was not only ridiculously cheap but very, very, very good. I could have died happy that night, with stuffed nan and chana masala and mango lhassi in my stomach. Unfortunately, I had to wake up the next morning with the inevitable stomachache that results from the combination of me and Indian, which basically made all Sunday a living hell.

This is sad, because Sunday could have been quite cool. We went to the Museum of Ancient Art, which had some really awesome Eastern art (of course, they have the kind I know nothing about) and then the Gulbenkian Museum, which used to be a private collection (of Mr. Gulbenkian, of course). They had a GREAT ancient Greek coin collection, all exquisitely preserved, and a Manet and some Monets and a Degas and a Renoir, but I was wandering around in too much of a haze of pain to appreciate them. Similarly, we were going to climb to the top of the city to see the 5th century Visigoth fort cum 9th century Arab castle, but I almost died, so we went home and took a nap. Dinner was salad bar at a Brazilian bbq place. (Why did we go to Portugal and eat NO Portuguese food? 1. Food there, any kind of food, was madly cheap - and Indian food in Madrid is exorbitant. 2. Portuguese food consists mainly of salted cod, and while I was up for that, I was traveling with vegetarians. 3. We had pastries for breakfast, and those were not only Portuguese but VERY, VERY GOOD. We had our fill that way).

Monday we spent all day on the bus.

My butt still hurts.

Ok, Here's the Interesting Part Now aka. Vignettes

It's Friday night. After having eaten our fill of octopus and other things, we are winding our way back down to the hostel aka. streets with lights. We are speaking English, of course. Suddenly, a man breaks off from a group headed in the other direction, situates himself between me and Issa (Kori was behind us), and starts to talk in a Cockney accent worthy of Uriah Heep. You'll have to imagine it, because I can't type it (well, though I might try just for entertainment value).

Uriah: Hoi.
Allison and Issa: Um...hi.
Uriah: Hey, listern, can oi borrow a Euro, just for sumfin to oeat? Just a Euro, man, an ey, don't tell me yoo aven't go any FUCKIN choiange. Tell me anyfin yoo wan, yoo can tell moi to fuck off if yoo wan, but don't tell me yoo aven't go choiange, cuz that really PISSES moi off, ya know?
Issa: Sorry, man. I can't help you.
Uriah: *grumble grumble fuckin grumble*

Uriah backs off, and we continue down the road...until we hear behind us a series of low and irascible fucks, undeniably growing closer.

Issa: He's following us.
Allison: Shit, yeah, I know. Just don't say anything.

Uriah reappears between us.

Uriah: Yoo know, tha really PISSES me off, man. I can' believe...yoo fuckin people. Whoi'd yoo ave to ge' an attitude loike tha with me, man? Whoi'd yoo ave to go an do a thing loike tha?
Issa: I didn't get an attitude with you, sir.
Uriah: Yes, yoo certainly fuckin did, yoo ad a fuckin attitude.
Issa: Well, that wasn't my intent. I'm sorry, but I can't help you.
Allison: *thinking* Oh crap, Issa, you used the word intent and now he's going to think we're the bourgoisie and kill us all.
Uriah: Yoo fuckin people. I can' believe yoo fuckin people. I ate people loike yoo, yoo know tha? *recedes once again, still cursing more profusely than I ever have in my life*

And then, my friends, after checking to make sure that he did not see where we were going, we scampered away from that Uriah like frogs from a stork wearing a backpack that could have had a broken bottle in it.


Still Friday night, still wandering around the city. We came upon a plaza - a giant obelisk-type monument in the middle, fakely bronze green fountains flanking. They were skillfully lit, like all European fountains, so that the spots played on the water. The prettiness was postcardily palpable (yay for alliteration), but it was not what drew our attention.

What drew our attention was the huge circle of people near the obelisk, and we ran to join them with Kori and Issa screaming something about an impromptu drum circle. We got closer and I started to fall back as I realized that all of these people were dressed identically in black. With cloaks. And berets.

Great. We found a cult.

There were probably 15 of them or so playing music and singing to a group of perhaps twice that many. Some of the non-players were also dressed in black, but the majority were seated on milk crates. All wore clear plastic ponchos and had their faces painted (very badly). Allison's reaction?


Which is, in fact, what it was.

Apparently part of Spanish (and presumably Portuguese) university tradition is that musical groups called tunas dominate specific regions of social life (making them SO unlike the Art House at Duke, haha just kidding don't paint me to death). They dress in black, sing, dance, and have a wicked hazing process that involves drinking spicy things, generally making an ass of yourself, and (in this case) taking an involuntary dip in those pretty little fake-bronze fountains.

And you all wonder why I didn't rush. Though it was kind of funny to see them put their heads in the water. Silly freshmen.


Yesterday was el Día de la Hispanidad aka LEGAL HOLIDAY!, and as such there was no school. It was also my señora's Saint Day. It was great - I got to sit around and sip champagne with her family and friends, all of whom were very nice people but none of whom's conversations involved me, being fast and in Spanish and all. So really, it was like any party at home. ahaahaha. No, they were nice and talked to me. We talked about Texas. And I ate mini-eclairs.

Also, I made the most amazing butt-kicking incredible zucchini bread ever on Earth. I think it's because vanilla here comes powdered.

It's soooooooo good!

I'll have to think up more interesting things to say later, but until then...buh bye.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

More Things that Make Me Mad

(Sorry, but I'm sitting here and I've 45 minutes till the lab closes, so I have to waste the time somehow).

1. I have to figure out next semester housing. Already. I don't even know what I want to DO for housing, because despite my desire to RA again that's not guaranteed. Do I want oncampus? Should I apply for the offcampus lottery? Is there any way at all I can get my own apartment? Will I have to wait till the last minute to hear back from RLHS about RA spots?

2. Spring semester registration starts next week, and I have a block on my account. Between the people at financial aid and Dad, this happens EVERY SEMESTER. I am really, really sick of having to stress out until the last minute about whether I'll get the classes I want.

3. The spring classes in the Art History department don't cycle, ever. So the courses they're offering this spring are the same courses they offered last spring and the spring before that and the spring before that...which means that I've taken a lot of them, or at least the ones that will actually help me progress in the department. I need to take the classes offered in the FALL, but surprise! I can't! which means that I'll be taking 3 or 4 Art History courses next fall instead of distributing them evenly. This is worse because the requirement classes aren't distributed right either (ie. I need a class to fulfill my Ancient requirement, but there aren't any offered in the spring. At all.)

4. Ditto #3, all language departments. If I want to take beginning Chinese (or Arabic or whatever), why do I have to do it in the fall? Why can't I start in the spring? I can't even take the intensive course (which I would, I don't care).

5. The Art History DUS won't get back to me about what courses I'm taking here count for what requirements. Can we just sum it up and say that I hate the Art History Department? I loooove Art History, but I HATE the department.

6. I have to start planning my thesis. Will I do one? (yes, almost definitely.) What will it be on? When am I gonna carve out the time to take care of it? *sob*

7. Hemorrhaging money. Of course. I miss my job(s). I hope I will get them back later. And on top of this, he (Dad) wants me to get a CAR? Who does he think he's kidding?

8. Library open VERY inconvenient hours. Pissed off.

If There's a Bright Center to the Universe, This Is the (Primary School) It's Farthest From

I just had my very first ever teaching experience.


It wasn't the fault of the kids. No, I got a room full of fifth graders, and they were rambunctious and talky, but I was expecting it and they were also all very friendly. There were the obligatory suckups, a small altercation involving cheating ("he looked in the book! I saw him!"), but hey, ya know?

The teacher is a rampaging harridan.

I ran - ran, flat out, a lot of the way - straight from my 8am class. I got lost on the way I don't even know how many times, despite having made the walk at least twice before. I showed up, you know, 7ish minutes late, and that was bad, so I was expecting her to be mad at me. That's not a big deal, although she acted like she wasn't mad. She was just evil to the kids. They went around introducing themselves ("My name's is Maria, I live in Madrid, I have one sister and two brother"), and the second kid to come around didn't know any more than My Name Is Alejandro. So she turns to me and says, very loudly and in English AND Spanish so everyone can hear,

"Now you will see who studies and who doesn't study."

That's great. Just great. Rather than using the American kid with no teaching experience to do, I don't know, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, let's use her to SHAME everybody. GREAT idea. They'll LOVE her that way.

Then we did incredibly boring memorizationy-type stuff the rest of the time ("What year was the first Superman movie made?" "Nine...nineteen...eytythree?").

I don't know about you guys, but if I were a teacher and had a native speaker in a language class of little kids, I think I would use her to do things that were unique to that culture or at least fun. I think Head Shoulders etc etc or Simon Says would be great, because you get body parts (or commands, actions, whatever), it's interactive, and it's not going to make the kids hate me. This is just my thought. By high school, it'd get old, but I think ten year olds are at the right age to spend an hour jumping around in their seats learning stuff. Of course, I don't have a teaching degree, and I bet Becky is gonna come in here right now and lay the smackdown on me, but...

...I got mad that I was scapegoated against my will.

Especially since, for all intents and purposes, I'm closer to being one of them than a teacher. My Spanish sucks. I know what they're going through.

(By the way, I think my Spanish is better than her English. And then she lectured me because I translated something badly. Ha rumph.)

I'll go back. I have to go back. But maybe next time I will stand up for myself.


In my own defense, that was not ALL she did. That was just the way it started. Then she started singling out kids to pick on (I know you have to do that sometimes, but she was not nice about it) and made some not-very-nice comments about their learning habits. I don't like her. :(

In other news, the Chinese place had amazing dumplings.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Portugal, ¡Sí!

It is official! Kori Jones, Issa Hanna and I will be visiting Lisboa, Portugal from Friday till Monday. I am excited, not least of all because Portugal is much, much cheaper than Spain. Cheap food! Ocean locale! It couldn't get better!

A Short Dialogue
Allison, to Issa and Kori while booking tickets: Hey guys, while we're in Portugal we should go check out a fado club.
Issa: What's fado?
Allison: It's a singing style, typically Southern Portuguese - you go to bars and listen to it.
Kori: Sounds cool, why do you want to do that?
Allison: Partially because it sounds neat...and partially because my uncle threatened me with bodily harm if I don't.

(got 10 minutes, this will be quick)

What I like to call The Boy Problem

I am a smiley person, usually. When I see people on the street or BC walkway or something, I like to smile at them and make their day better. However, I can't really do that here, because I never know if the next guy I smile at is going to start up with "oye, chica, chica guapa, te quiero, cásate conmigo y tendremos hijos". So today I took a risk and smiled at a guy, and he was really nice and smiled back and I seemed to make his day better...

...then, two minutes later, I passed a group of guys and made eye contact with none of them, upon which one grabbed my arm and tried to wrench me over to him.

The karate skills are coming in HANDY-DANDY, my friends.

More...after Portugal, maybe!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Small Developments

Asked and received: Permission to use the kitchen of one Pilar Cerrada to make fantastic things. What these fantastic things will be, I don't know. I have this unholy desire to try my hand at spaghetti sauce, but feel that it might be better postponed until I'm at home, where everyone expects me to make crappy food. Am seriously considering zucchini bread, and if I don't have it by next week I might go postal.

Received this morning: Letter from RLHS telling me to get my act together and figure out where I'm living next year. Ahahahaha. I don't have even a bit of a clue on that one. Jeannie! Is the other Brownie showing signs of an imminent breakdown, or do I need to formulate a backup plan?

Portugal this weekend? I would know, except no one showed up this morning when we were supposed to go check on bus tickets. one except me. Sigh.

Ongoing: Mommer hostel search. It's hard. It takes phone calls and time and Spanish. Sigh.

Not going on: Weather change. It's hot.

Gone: Absentee ballot. Yay!

Tomorrow's highlight is going to be lunch at the Rong Xin Chinese restaurant...I hope. It doesn't look like a sketchy place - but the only thing worse than sketchy Chinese is sketchy foreign Chinese (well, unless you're in China, I guess). Chinese Tapas. Yeeks. They have dumplings. :D

Yay, dumplings! Yay, zucchini bread (and maybe banana bread, and maybe spaghetti sauce and garlic bread)! Yay, pipe dreams of being independent business owner and waking up at 3am every day to bake pastries! Yay, the pressure of a high-cost education!

Monday, October 04, 2004


However, I feel that I should mark it down for posterity: this is what all that fancy education is coming to.

Allison: of course there are issues, there are always issues
Allison: but it's trinity
Allison: also, my fallback plan if no one likes me after college is to open a coffee shop
Allison: so I should stay there
Aaron: yeah, I actually had the same fall back plan
Aaron: I'm leaning more and more toward making that a legitimate option
Allison: you're kidding
Allison: AHAHA
Allison: we should either open shops that directly compete or become business partners
Allison: if I opened a coffee shop it would be part bakery and I would bake
Allison: it would be fantastic
Aaron: shit, I'd do the non-cooking stuff
Aaron: the money, making drinks
Aaron: stuff like that
Allison: I could make drinks
Allison: too
Allison: but I would like to be General Director in Charge of Foodstuffs
Allison: which would let me do ordering, too
Aaron: is that an official title now?
Allison: I made it up
Allison: do you like it?
Aaron: it's catchy
Allison: that's it
Allison: we're pulling jeannie out of medschool
Allison: and will run the bestest coffee shop ever
Allison: until we kill each other
Aaron: lol

No, I am dead serious. Trinity: Reloaded.

And I get to buy a black pleather trenchcoat.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Reading List

I ran out of Fam Guy quotes for you guys. Maybe next month I will start again.

So I've noticed that there is maybe a little too much reading going on in the old House of Allison('s Señora):

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo. Approx. 1127pp. English. Finished.
What can I say? It's a classic and I love it.

Insomnia, Stephen King. Approx. 850pp. Spanish. Finished.
Stephen King is funny in English, but in Spanish he's HILARIOUS.

Las Orquideas Rojas de Shanghai, Juliette Morissot (?). Approx 350pp. Spanish, originally in French. Finished.
This book is terrible. It isn't often that I dismiss a novel offhand (I mean, unless it's Danielle Steele or something, but at least then you know what you're getting yourself into), but this is a mix of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Diary of Anne Frank without the charm of either. It's just badly written, brittle, and poorly mapped. Bad. Uck.

The Darwin Awards, Wendy Northcutt. 327pp. English. In Progress.
Classic - thanks, Billy!

The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien. 480pp. English. In Progress.
The problem with The Silmarillion is that you can't leave it and come back. You have to be able to sit down and devour it over the space of a few days, or you start forgetting names and places. Of course, I tried to leave it and come back, and now I have to start over. Bah.

I don't remember the other ones...but I need more books.