Music Makes the World Go Round

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Monday, 28 February 2011 at 15:17

It has been 10 days since my last blog; my last outlet. I feel like this place has become so routine that there is no need to inform people of the goings-on. Lately, however, things have been on the up. I suppose I can't complain too much -- the rent is cheap, the food is alright, and the company is great. I've survived 28 days, so what's there to worry about?

Anyway, back to things being on the up!

While I can't justify going to Belgium anymore -- €140 is my rent, and I'd have to pay that as a minimum for flights; throw in trains and 'having a good time' and this weekend suddenly becomes more than I'd like to pay for. So, sans Belgium, you'd think everything was on the down. But, there are two things I possibly have to look forward to:
1. Pau Vallvé is coming to Lleida. For those unaware, Pau Vallvé is one of the greatest Catalan producers and musicians of the modern era. Without him, we'd lack such acts as Estanislau Verdet, U_mä, Maria Coma, Inspira, and Senyors Tranquil. In short, if I had a musical hero he'd be quickly running to surpass whoever that was -- at only 29 he has released 12 albums (four short of Conor Oberst's track record, but has Conor ever produced and mastered other people's albums, and played 90% of the instruments on his own albums while recording and producing them? Nope...)  Okay -- I'll stop lauding him so much, and just say I am quite excited. For €10, this seems like worth going to!

2. People I live with, or friends I have, are interested in going to Primavera Sound! Huzzah! Admittedly, it's €170 for the five days, and I have just said I didn't want to pay €140+ for two flights. So, perhaps I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here. I'm not even sure if I'd go to all five days, as the acts which interest me most are playing on the Friday and Saturday. Sure, that'd be €130, but at least I know I would be ticking off a massive chunk of my Bands I Must See Live list. Artists playing on these days include: Belle & Sebastian, Sufjan Stevens, Explosions in the Sky, Kode9 & The Space Ape, The National, Burial, Animal Collective, and Mogwai. Others that aren't confirmed for a specific day include: M. Ward, Islet, The Album Leaf, and The Fiery Furnaces (who kickstarted my love of music outside of the metal genre)

Simply put: things are looking up because I will have music. Music! It's actually making me look beyond the stinking cold I have, with some form of optimism. Sure, travel might be expensive (so my travel blog is getting nothing), and my days are empty (so my brain is turning to mush), but on the horizon there is some music to keep me sane! And with that thought, I, and U_mä, bid you adieu:

Sailing through the Doldrums

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 18 February 2011 at 16:21

I'll be the first to admit that on the blogging front I'm a bit thin-on-the-ground this year. I mean, by this time last year I had already written 11 blog posts. In 2011, I'm only up to a measly 7, this one included. I guess it comes down to the fact that there isn't really much to blog about in Lleida. For that reason, I guess I'll start some travelling as of next weekend.

In the past few days, to bring everyone up to speed, I have attended 2 of 2 classes. Literature and Society, which answered the question "What is Literature?" with the answer "Everything, and nothing" -- helpful, right? And English-Spanish translation, which claimed that Be all you can be, the slogan of the US Army, was a play on words, and that the pretty ladies who work in your planes are in fact stewadresses, rather than stewardesses. I wonder if that means I'm guaranteed a pass mark, or if I'll fail for not having the same lexicon as my teacher? I also sat a placement test for the Spanish course yesterday, in which I learned that I have no clue about Spanish idioms whatsoever. Hopefully everyone else is in the same boat...

I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this is that I feel lost. I have a half-and-half grasp of the language, my classes seem to pose questions and never answer them, and I am without glasses -- I believe this happened just after my last blog post: we went on to Fissure, the local hotspot, and I lost my glasses. I am, therefore, impaired visually. I could have asked last night if any had been handed in, but, since I did get an elbow to the face and pushed into a pillar, I'm sure my glasses would have been crushed underfoot before anyone noticed them. My options are now limited to five months sans glasses, heading to the opticians and taking an eye test in Spanish (should they not accept/believe my prescription), or...actually there is no third option. If you have one, let me know! Answers on a postcard!

So, the plan for today, having got in at 4.30, bed at 5am, lain in bed staring at the ceiling from 1pm til 2.30 when I finally got up... is to do sweet F-A. I see an evening of 30 Rock, or maybe The Big Bang Theory, to keep me sane. Perhaps I'll get around to planning out some proper voyages for these long weekends, unless by some miracle I end up in the Spanish group that has classes on a Thursday evening! If not, with a 4 day weekend, I can see a lot of money being poured into visiting far-flung places. No wonder we were told about that guy who went to Russia during his Easter break -- frankly, I don't blame him. Perhaps the next time we speak I will have good news...and will have finally got around to enrolling on courses!


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 13 February 2011 at 21:38

Hey blog. How're you doing, buddy? Haven't seen you in what seems like forever. I wanted to wait until I'd started all my classes before writing something up, but, I'm just itching to write these days.

So, we're now a flat of five -- two Polish girls, a German girl, an Italian guy, and me. The dueña is rather sweet, like your grandmother if she was playing that role that Michael Caine did in The Cider House Rules. I want her to be like Buenas noches a vosotros, príncipes de Maine, reyes de New England, but right now that's a dream, right? Beyond that, it's all good in the hood. It's a 20minute walk to the University, I have discovered, so that means leaving at 9 for my classes in Literature & Society, History of the Spanish Language, and Translation. Colloquial Spanish is at 8am, so eff that ess, eh? The walk is quite nice too -- either I take Prat de la Riba and watch the shops open, or I walk along Camp de Marts alongside the Seu Vella. Not too shabby.

Getting back on track -- i.e. blogging -- yesterday saw us, (well, two flatmates and a friend) head down to Tarragona. Ignorant as we are to the way the trains work in Spain, we ventured out in the early morning fog, and hopped on the AVANT for the city by the sea. Little did we know that the AVANT stops at Camp de Tarragona, a station 12km outside the city designed for the Alta Velocidad lines that RENFE run. So, one bus ride later finds us in the middle of Tarragona, a city that is mostly undergoing renovations -- if it's not broken, it's in the course of being repaired. The Cathedral was lovely, but was being worked on. The walls probably were nice, but being worked on. On the plus side, they make a lovely ensaïmada, and serve up delicious patates braves and xoriçets en sidra. (The first one is a Catalan pastry, the second is a dish of potatoes with a spicy sauce, and the third is little sausages in a cider-based sauce). So, rather than bore you to death with the intricacies of it all, let's just say it was a good day out, having left the house at 8am and got back at 8pm, which was closely followed by a trip to Fissure, the local hotspot, where I got very, very drunk, stumbled home alone, and passed out til 4pm. All in all, fun is being had.

Time to sum up! What with classes starting tomorrow, and having four day weekends, I'm balancing on a knife edge between the good and the bad. I'll have too much free time, and probably a not a lot of work to do. We'll see how that goes. As for now, it's time to sleep.

New Beginnings

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 4 February 2011 at 18:34

Let me bring you up to speed. The last time we talked -- or you read this -- I was sitting in a fancy-shmansey, just built, top-of-the-line residenza in Italy. Now, I'm sat in a standard Spanish house, 2nd floor, balcony, sofa, general fun-and-games. I don't seem to be able to grasp Spanish, or Catalan, as much as I should when speaking. It seems to come out more like Spanalan, or Catish. In short: people understand me, but it's not the best way to be speaking to them.

Back to the present: I'm now in a house. A little house. Five minutes from the station, so I'm praying to God that the translation module is only on a Thursday or something, because it'll mean having days off. And I like days off. It means I can go places. Places I've never been to before. On the list thus far are Barcelona (been there, just want to test out my camera), Bilbao, Zaragoza, and Perpignon (or Perpinyà in Catalan). I don't much care for the places in Spain, but I'll make do. If there was a cheap enough train, I'd probably hot foot it to Asturias or Galicia, as I hear one does great cider and the other does amazing seafood.

There isn't really much other news to give you, so I'll make do with telling you about the new tumblr I've started. It's punningly good. Or at least the name is. Find it over at the Peregrine Nation. Get it? Peregrine Nation, a nation of pilgrims; peregrination, the vague urge to wander? No? Just me. Oh well, same old, same old.

I guess now it's time to settle in, get comfy and drink a cup of té verde. Speak soon!