May 30, 2010

Make Believe

When I compare my things, my toys, my entertainments, my tasks, my goals - with yours - I feel young, childish. But then I wonder whether we are really so different, whether our mentalities and maturities differ so much, or whether it is merely our settings, our backdrops, that have diverged. Do you realize, 100%, that this isn't make believe? Because I'm not sure I do.

Cooking for Diet Impossible

One of my only 'challenges' in the last few weeks has been cooking for my mom on her new maybe-nonsense, maybe-not diet - no dairy (mk), or gluten, yeast, or soy (ow). It's almost enough for an epic cooking blog... especially with my new camera magically able to make even steaming broccoli look cool. But, she's a bit inconsistent - sometimes allowing a topping of Parmesan or a bit of soy sauce, other times scrutinizing labels and outing anything that contains a drop of vinegar or the tracest amount of soy lecithin.

Still, in a bizarre way, it's kind of fun. I really don't think I'd mind, for example, spending a summer cooking for a vegetarian. I'm even finding that I might be able to spend a summer cooking for a vegan. I could avoid gluten. I could avoid soy. I've learned enough about different cuisines, and about making some things myself, that I'm not even needing to raid the supermarkets tiny gluten-free shelf for pizza crust, going to the health food store for tomato sauce that really is just crushed up tomatoes a few spices, and buying special vegan soy-cheese for a topping that doesn't really melt right. No, I'm just giving up on pizza. :P

Dairy and gluten pretty much rule out western food. Yeast luckily overlaps with gluten a lot, so it's not much of a new restriction. The toughest thing there is vinegar, which I can replace with lemon juice as long as it's not prepackaged into something. Oh, prepackaged food... I thought I sympathized with hatred towards them and their trace amounts of 'beef extract' or 'peanut oil' before... but now I abhor them. I mean, you just want to buy tomato sauce, and it has to have four unpronounceable ingredients in it? How different would the product really be without those?

Soy is a killer. I could happily enough move to eastern food with few restrictions if it wasn't for soy being out.... Dairy unfortunately does snipe most northern Indian dishes, but there's still then Southern Indian, Thai, Chinese, American Chinese, and Japanese food (of those I know something, however small, about preparing.) Oh, but wait. Take out soy, and you take out most Japanese dishes, and many of the Chinese ones as well. Southern Indian food is a bitch to make, especially without any specialized devices like pressure cookers or food processors. So... you guessed it... I've been making a LOT of Thai.

I'm an old hand at red curry, but let's face it - you can only eat so much coconut milk, and I don't want my family to get sick of one of my specialties anyway, so I've tried to mix things up.

I made pad thai one day, which turned out well except at the grocery store, where I finally found rice noodles by ripping up instant soup packets, and because the store didn't carry almost /any/ of the sauce ingredients, I sheepishly bought some pre-made sauce and modified it as I could.

I also made larb, but it didn't go over all that well, despite my using Ju's recipe and thinking it was just as good. Dad said he liked it and I don't think he disliked it, but he didn't eat the leftovers. Mom apologized and said she was sure that it was good, she even thought she liked the flavor, but the whole concept of ground pork was just freaking her out. Shame, really, because she's supposed to OD on lemon juice, and here larb is the healthiest Thai dish I know how to make, doesn't include any of her no-no foods, doesn't require any specialty ingredients*, and has a ton of lemon juice. Grrr...

* - Okay, so technically it doesn't. And I didn't use any. But there is one specialty ingredient it would be quite nice to have, and that's toasted rice powder. You only need a tablespoon, so a bag would last forever, but making it by hand isn't so nice. It took me half an hour, using muscles I've rarely used before, to grind up that tablespoon.

Yeah. I'm starting to feel like I'm on iron chef.

Here's an example of a nice meal I made the other day - mom relented and allowed teriyaki sauce even though it has soy in it:

Grilled salmon with teriyaki glaze
Jasmine rice
Baby carrots with sesame-honey-teriyaki
Steamed broccoli with lemon

May 28, 2010

First SLR Photos...

I got an SLR. It's beautiful. Here it is:

A Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i. I bought two lenses to start with - an 18-55 and a 55-250. I'm also probably going to buy a spare battery because I like to go out for long days when travelling and I may need backup.

I can't wait to learn how to use it properly. Then again, it's not the sort of thing you learn to use, and then move on... no, I think this camera and I have a long journey together ahead of us.

This is the first picture I took with it. It's Tidbit! :) She's a good model - not too eager, so I get a bit of practice coaxing and bothering - but still, not too self conscious. Teehee.

I even took a self-portrait! (Meaning, hold the camera in front of my own face with my arms stretched out). It's not any good, of course, but it's really not that bad, either. Considering what it is.

Oh, Facebook

I love that the world is big and wonderful, that lives are funny tangled things... and that Facebook facilitates that and throws it in your face daily. I posted that I bought a new camera, and so far five people 'liked' that...

An ex-boyfriend from my freshman year, a Mexican studying in Spain.
A good University friend of mine, a Thai graduate student.
My penpal's ex-boyfriend, who I briefly met in Finland.
A guy that went to my church in high school.
A random (awesome) Singaporean guy who I met on a Norwegian language forum.

May 24, 2010

Blah Blah Blah

Today has been a productive day... productive, I mean, compared to the last week. Compared to what I did on a daily basis when school was in session? Bah. But I guess that's how it goes. Mostly what I did was organize my room, but at least I thought about packing a lot! And it's still a bit early to really pack - especially considering that I'll take some things with me on the Liisa roadtrip, and need to come home and wash them in the few days I have before Scotland. I talked to Zahra on webcam for a while today. I was halfway through the conversation when I realized we'd never actually webcammed before (I've webcammed with her before when she talked to her parents, for example), so she showed me her house and I showed her my Florida house. And I started thinking that I at least need a day or two a week of reasonable productivity in order to get basic things done this month... next week for example I need to Skype with Liisa (we have to book our flight to Missouri, and maybe some hotels/campgrounds too), chat with Allan and Lucia (we have one or two hotels and a few trains left to book for this summer...), and probably send Zahra a little package with photos from the last year. So strange to think I can't just give them to her in the fall! Last night we all watched a Brooks and Dunn tribute concert (since they're splitting up after 20 years) and it got me thinking about how I need to spend a solid day burning CDs for this summer - American music, mostly country... for the long drives across Kansas and Nebraska! I guess this post is mostly a note to self that there are a few things that need to get done, and I should start busying myself with them once in a while, because a month is PLENTY of time to do everything, but I can't leave it for the last few days. Oh! And I need to get my travel and study abroad blogs set up. Still trying to decide whether to have just one study abroad blog, or one for Spain only (and then one for Germany only, etc). I'm kind of thinking one for each semester if for no other reason that it'll be easier to have a color scheme and a theme to match! ;)

Post about summer plans coming soon! :D

May 22, 2010

Final Fantasy VII

So, since I've got a lazy month before all of the traveling starts - enough time to be lazy, but not enough time to get a job - I'm mostly cooking and playing video games. Having finally assembled all the components of my PS2 in the same place at the same time, I've started up Final Fantasy VII. I felt like I owed it to myself to play what many of my friends consider the best game ever. Myself, I've always been partial to FFX... but come to think of it, that's also the only one I've ever finished. Still, I thought I'd gotten a reasonable distance... maybe 1/4 - 1/3 of the way in, through VII, VIII, and IX. I was somewhat embaressed to notice that I've only played 3 hours of 7... leaving me in the sewers after the Don Corneo stuff. So yeah. I just decided to restart.

Playing through again, I think... I'm starting to understand. Grant it, I may never be as in love with 7 as those who came to it as their first RPG, their first 3D game, whatever. As much imagination as I'm pouring into it, as much as I'm trying to put it into perspective, I'm still rather underwhelmed by the graphics. It's not just that they're not amazingly beautiful, they're so bad that to me it actually becomes a gameplay issue. I have a hard time walking around and figuring out where to go oftentimes because I can't tell what's supposed to be on the screen. Still, I'm starting to adapt. I get stuck less often. I can usually tell when one of the characters is laughing or crying. And I think I'm starting to understand.

So far, the main character, Cloud, has recently joined a terrorist group called Avalanche, that is trying to destroy giant power generators in the city of Midgar. Midgar is a nasty, dirty place, of which, to be fair, I've really only seen the slums beneath the plate, shielded from the wind and sky. There is a wicked corporation, Shinra, that runs the generators and is sucking out the lifeforce of the planet, which is why Avalanche is against them. Cloud professes not to care, however. He used to be some sort of elite fighter working for Shinra, but not anymore. Cloud's childhood friend, Tifa, is in Avalanche as well, which is how Cloud got dragged into this. The leader is a guy named Barrett, a huge guy who is always shouting and has a gun for an arm. He looks rough. He has an daughter named Marlene who means a lot to him.

After Avalanche blows up a few of the generators, Shinra traps them and there's an explosion which leads to Cloud falling down into the city while Tifa screams and cries. Cloud hits the roof of a church and falls through onto a bed of flowers - apparently some of the only flowers in all of Midgar. There's a girl there named Aerrith, and some more Shinra people are after her. So you help her escape to her house, which is located in the slums but for some reason has more flowers everywhere, as well as what appear to be waterfalls in the background (again, the graphics make it a bit of a challenge to know for sure).

Cloud and Aerrith then try to get back to the Avalanche group, and find out that Tifa is for some reason on her way to a whorehouse of sorts. Cloud has to crossdress to find out what's going on, so there's an amusing scene where Cloud is actually picked as the most attractive girl, and a big fat mafia guy crouches on a bed (I think... graphics. ;)) and talks dirty to him. Then, Tifa, Aerrith, and Cloud tell him he's been tricked and get information from him - apparently Shinra is after Avalanche, and has found their hideout.

And they're going to crush the entire slum to destroy it. That's right - a neighborhood full of people. Cloud, Tifa, and Aerrith run to the slum just as Shinra is busy destroying the pillar. Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie (other Avalanche members, who have been personified just enough that you care about them) are apparently with Barrett, up high on the pillar, fighting. Down below are some random residents, all listening to the gunfire and watching sparks fly (literally) up above. Wedge falls from up high and hits the ground hard. Tifa asks Aerrith to go get Marlene and take her somewhere safe, and then Cloud and Tifa climb up the pillar, passing mortally wounded Biggs and Jessie along the way to the top.

And you know - I'm really caring out this, I'm nervous and excited and thinking "whoa". I can basically only tell the characters apart by the colour of their clothing, there are no real time facial expressions, no voice overs, etc... but I care and somehow I feel what's going on. The music really sets the mood without it ever drawing attention. Maybe it's a cheap shot on the part of the developers that Barret has a giant gun for an arm. Still, the volatility and rawness of his emotional outbursts really comes through, somehow, when he shoots things up and shouts.

Despite winning a battle up on the top, Avalanche can't stop the pillar from crashing down. They find out that Aerrith has been taken by Shinra, and then they grab a wire and swing out of the way of the plate just before it crashes down and destroys the slum. Barrett freaks out. He runs over to the rubble and is screaming and shooting his arm off at the heap of stones and metal. He screams for Marlene and Jessie and Biggs and Wedge.

Yeah, I think I understand. I don't know how it's harder hitting than FFX, for example. There is destruction in FFX - I remember when Sin destroyed a little seaside village, for example, and a bunch of little kids were killed. It was sad as hell. But somehow it was less realistic - the characters were just sort of gloomy about it - they had all lost relatives, friends, etc, but strangely never on camera (except Tidus, sort of, at the very end). Maybe it's because more is left up to the imagination? But somehow I also feel that the characters in FFVII are more human or something. Isn't that weird? That I care more about this voiceless pile of pixels:

Than about, say, Ashe:

Despite having spent roughly 11x as long playing FFXII?

May 21, 2010

Summer Begins

We got done with Reslife relatively early - 10pm on Saturday. Tina and I ate my last frozen curry meal in the kitchen and she took a black sharpie and wrote my name on her stomach, and then I took it and did the same, using a little mole for the i. And we were sad, a little bit. The whole weekend when I was moving out it was wet and cool for May. I went to the lake with mom and dad and I sorted some of my crap out, helped dad with dry-wall, went on a canoe ride or two, and worked on my papers. On Tuesday I said goodbye to a misty Missouri morning, drove to Columbia, dumped off my last library books and said goodbye to Monica (^^), and then flew into Florida where I instantly became 'a northerner' in my long pants and plaid shirt. Whatever. I've never been tropical and I don't claim or wish to be.

But Florida does have its charms. Dad bought a boat here. It's a small fishing boat and a bit rickety and makes me nervous when we're going at top speed and hit a wake, especially when I'm holding onto Tidbit. I could just go into jetski mentality and hold on and enjoy the ride, but I'm not 100% confident in any part of the boat's construction, and so I have little images going through my head of the entire front seat snapping off when we hit some wave and sending me, Tidbit, and the chair into the water. Still, it's nice to feel the wind on my face. I've always liked boats for that.

It's good to be back home with Tidbit. Mom's always lamenting that Tidbit's growing old, but other than the white face I don't really see if. She's become more of a beggar which can be annoying, thanks to mom feeding her the occasional piece of salmon skin, popcorn, tortilla chip, etc. Mom just wants to spoil her in her old age but I don't necessarily like the effect it's had on her personality. Still, she runs when she wants to, that funny, off-center sort of run she has where her body rolls a little bit with every stride. And her tail seems to always be wagging. I've missed her.

The next month I'll spend cooking, getting ready for Liisa and the road trip, getting ready for Scotland and study abroad. I have bags to pack, cds to burn, airfare and hotels to book, cameras to buy, and a lot of Skyping to do. The next month, though, is mostly lazy - along with a few celebrations in Melissa's behalf. She's graduating from high school, having her party, turning 18, and starting college at the University of South Florida - St. Petersburg. So that'll all be nice.

May 14, 2010

Finals Week

I'm down to the finishing touches of my first round of Germany paperwork and my final (other than housing, etc) round of Spain paperwork. I've been working my skin off for Reslife the last few days. I didn't have any finals on Thursday, so I did extra RICCs Wednesday night and Thursday morning/afternoon. Apparently most of the building left yesterday. The good news about all of this is that I think we're going to be DONE by 11 o'clock tonight. The bad news is that I haven't had time to breathe, much less start packing yet. So I'm thinking tomorrow will be packing day, leaving me Sunday and Monday to do the essays. The essays are everything except written - massive 8 page fleshed out outlines complete with quotes, that I just have to run through, flesh out, and polish. Anyway, I've been doing a lot of RICCs so I'm not going to feel too bad about trying to sneak out later. I'm going to pick mom up from the airport and I think I'll leave an hour early, take my last passport photos and buy two folders at Walgreens, buy a money order at the post office, pick up my recommendation from Monica's office, turn the Germany application (sans essays, which I can write this summer) in at the International Office, and turn the Visa forms in at the J-School.

I said goodbye to Zahra the other day, we ate breakfast together at 7 and she caught the Mo-Ex in the rain. It's hard to believe I won't be seeing her next year, unless she visits me in Florida over Winter Break (she better). I said goodbye to Amanda in the hallway, a quick hug and then she left, carrying a soccer ball casually under one arm. She's doing Vet school at Mizzou, so I'll see her again. Last night I made the not so smart but really emotionally necessary decision to have a girls' night sleepover with Ju and Fangbai. We watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was enjoyable albeit one of the most ridiculous movies I've ever seen. Prite actually stayed and watched that with us, then we were all tired so we slept. I had to get up at 7, though, and Fangbai at 8, so we didn't have quite the wild abandon of a normal sleepover. When my alarm went off I changed in the cold air (the window was open, so it felt snug and nice under the covers but sad to get out of them) and tried not to wake them, but Ju's house betrayed me with every step on the creaking floorboards. I think I'll see Ju this summer or even this weekend, but I can't say for sure when I'll see Fangbai again. I'll miss her a lot.

Mostly, though, I'm too tired for emotions. I'm not even normal head-achey eyes-closing tired, it's manifesting itself more in a sort of nausea and frustration. X( As interesting as it is, I stare at these essays and just want to curl up and sleep instead of typing... typing...

May 13, 2010

More about Andorra

"Here I found a nice animal shed for Hannibal, but if he got no better accomodation there than I did at the inn next door, it must have gone hard with him."

"There, on the hillside, was Andorra City, climbing slightly above the verdant floor of this sunlit garden, the most pathetic, the most miserable capital city of any nation in the world."

- Hannibal Invades Andorra, The Royal Road to Romance

“France and Spain were not letting any cigarettes in, he said, and now that smuggling was out of the question, all of Andorra's tobacco had to be consumed domestically. To be sure, Mr. Gresa continued, a number of shady characters came to his factory every week and bought two or three hundred cartons, but, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, he had to presume that they smoked them. I asked Mr. Gresa how much tobacco had been grown in Andorra that year; he said it was nine hundred metric tons, and I computed that everybody in the country would be smoking eighteen cigarettes at a time morning, afternoon, and night if this were consumed domestically. Mr. Gresa allowed that the rate didn't appear to be anywhere near so high, and, confronted with this evidence, said it wasn't unthinkable that some of the tobacco crop manages to find it's way to foreign markets.”

“Andorra's foreign affairs are run by France, its churches are run by Spain, its law courts are run by France and/or Spain. There are French, Spanish, and Andorrano police, and when the French and Spanish police can't agree, the Andorrano police are in a pickle. There aren't any Andorran schools; all of them are French or Spanish, the former teaching in French instead of Catalan, and the latter teaching in Spanish instead of Catalan, and, since there aren't any Andorran textbooks, either, the children at the former are taught their fatherland is France, while the children at the latter are taught: “My fatherland is Spain. As good Spaniards, we ought to respect, love, and be ready to defend our fatherland. Oh Spain! I love you as a beloved mother. My glorious country! Ever and everywhere may your name be praised.” And several pages further: “As good Spaniards, we ought to love our Leader. ¡Viva Franco! ¡Arriba España!”

- Andorra, Report from Practically Nowhere

May 12, 2010

Ju and Prite :D

To Ju and Prite, two of my best friends...

You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the great times!! :D


Final exams are all finished. I only had three - Catalan, Anthropology, and Spanish. Monica told us Catalan would be easy, but as Shelby said, "she said that about all the others too!" But this final one was easy. Too easy. It was all "introduce yourself!" and "describe your family!" and only worth 12 points, which is scary because it's 20% of the grade or something unreasonable like that. I'm going to accidentally misspell mother or something and drop down to a B. :P Anthropology on the other hand was the toughest test yet, talking to Tina and Troy we all guessed and conjectured about the same though, and Troy has 100% in the class so far and Tina and I aren't far behind, so I'm not super concerned. Still, when I was writing about hedonism for example I tried to just give Palmer what he wanted and I found myself too conflicted... so I gave my own arguments more on this test than on any of the previous ones, which won't help my grade but hopefully won't hurt it too bad. The extra credit questions were insane - I'd never even heard of the people's names. And I kept almost falling asleep while taking the exam. Meh.

I went straight from that into another essay test in Spanish. He gave us surprisingly little space to write our answers, and yet everyone was like, "do we have to use all the space?!?" I used all of it, writing two small lines inside each lined space on the page. The first two questions weren't terrible - I had to talk about how people build their social image and how poems and plays differ (on a deeper level than 'poems are shorter'), but the third one was yikes. Like being back in Smith's class, but worse because there simply weren't any words. No, I'll be fair. There was one. One word. This is a literature class, and they were asking me to write a three page paper about a single word. This is what was on the top of the paper:

Instructions? - Analyze this.

I saw this while looking through and panicked a little bit. Was this a joke? I only had one crappy sentence to write in analysis of this poem: "Esta imagen representa que los poemas pueden ayudarte entender el mundo y la vida, porque las poemas abren la puerta al sabio, como llaves." Great essay, right? Well, great poem too, buster! I calmed down, and repeated to myself, "Do you think this is easier for anyone else in the room? Really? Just relax, you can bullshit your way through this." And it's true. I just have to relax and say one thing, and then here comes another and another. And I had no enthusiasm about it and no real ideas, of course, so each point seemed awfully contrived, just one step from being mockery of the assignment, but I just had to pretend to believe in my points, and for the duration of the exam, I almost forgot I was bullshitting shamelessly. Almost.

Bullshitting, right? So the teacher isn't even giving you a question to work with. So, first make up questions. Then make up answers. What can I say about this?

First. The obvious. Keys are tools. A poem can be a tool that the reader uses to understand something, and a tool that the poet uses to show the reader something.

Time to get more specific. Why poema (poem)? Why not poesia (poetry)? I realized with a start that I was a bit curious about this. Of the points I brainstormed, this was the one I could answer least well - some nonsense about poema being more accessible, less fluffy sounding than poesia, and how it's an individual poem that functions as a tool more than poetry in general... but mostly because i would look stupid at the end of the key. And yes, I did write that last part. Because style is important too.

What else? The poem is short. Only one word. If it was longer it would look ridiculous, too many keys! Why a key for each separate letter, instead of one key that has the whole word poem? BS - Well, when you write a poem, because poems are short, and have to express a message at the same time that they often have to maintain a rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, etc, each word has a high weight and needs to be just the right word. Even the single letters within the poem are chosen specially. That's why each letter has it's own key, because they were chosen that way by the poet.

Okay, come on, I just need one more crappy thing to say... I think I've exhausted the word poema now. What else is in the poem? Uh... the handles of the keys. Good enough. Keys have handles. Handles are what you hold to use keys. So seeing the handles around the letters of poema is interesting. I can see two possible interpretations: One, that to the poet the poem always looks sort of like this, the poet considers the the letters/words of his poem keys to open doors of understanding for the readers. Two, that the handles are hanging there looking all appetizing, begging the reader to pick them up and use the poem and understand.

And yes, somehow I managed to make all of this sound a little bit smarter, except for the last one because I don't know the Spanish word for handle, so that was a fun bit of circumlocution...

I got to turn in the Bernarda Alba essay as well, and knock out some of my study abroad stuff. All that remains now is...

- Staff stuff!!!
- A few more goodbyes...
- Getting mom from the airport on Friday
- More Germany stuff
- A little more Spain VISA stuff
- Packing!!!
- Nihonjinron!!!
- Andorra !!!!

Wa yeah.

My Advisers

I have 10 advisers at Mizzou. No, seriously. Count 'em.

- Journalism Degree Adviser (Jill)
- Arts and Science Degree Adviser (Jessica?)
- Spanish Major Adviser (Molavi)
- International Studies Major Adviser (Cassandra)
- German Minor Adviser (Monika)
- Anthropology Minor Adviser (Deborah?)
- Honors College Adviser (Miranda?)
- Journalism Study Abroad Adviser #1 (John)
- Journalism Study Abroad Adviser #2 (Kip)
- Germany Study Abroad Adviser (Wafa)
- Norway Study Abroad Adviser (Pauliina)

Not to mention that I have to see the financial aid and international admissions offices once in a while too. :D It's jolly fun, let me tell you. Some of them I haven't seen since Freshman year, which I know is naughty, but how much time am I supposed to be spending trying to get to the right place for the right office hours, wait, and chat?

May 11, 2010

Ensayo Formal - La Casa de Bernarda Alba

Martirio – Bernarda la Segunda

En el drama “La casa de Bernarda Alba” por García Lorca, toda la acción pasa dentro de una casa en Andalucía que es muy tradicional y dominada completamente por la mujer Bernarda Alba. Parece una tiranta increíble mientras no permite que sus hijas muestren ni sus lágrimas ni su amargura, y da fuerza a sus mandatos con su bastón. Algunos críticos han comentado que Bernarda es tan rigida y cruel que no parece una persona verdadera. Como explica C.B. Morris, “Her credibility has been challenged by those who regard her as… ‘one-dimensional’ (54, p.111)… yet others contend that she possesses a ‘personalidad… compleja’ (93, p.140), that she is ‘ni una caricature ni un monstruo’ (64, p. 65), that ‘no es unidimensional ni completamente negativa’ (57, p.95).” (66) Porque en la vida real, y tambien en los dramas, solo podemos ver lo que hacen y comunican las personajes, hay mucho en el interior que no podemos entender por seguro. Por eso he tratado de entender Bernarda, no como caricature sino como persona. Exploro el personaje de Bernarda Alba y su hija, Martirio, para desarollar una explanación de las acciones de las dos.

Cuando empezamos hablando de la forma de los dramas, yo recordé de repente que en mi clase de antropología, hablamos de la diferencia entre lo que se comunica, y lo que hay debajo, lo que no expresan ni dicen las personas. Tradicionalmente, el drama es diferente que la prosa y la poesía porque solo se trata de comunicación, lo expresado. Imita el mundo real más que la poesía o la prosa, porque cuando se mira un drama normal solo se puede ver en la escena lo que en realidad es posible ver y oír lo que en realidad es posible oír. Nunca es posible saber por cierto lo que pasaba en los pensamientos de los otros, y a veces las personas mismas no son exactamente seguras de lo que están pensando o sintiendo. Tradicionalmente, los dramas dejan estas posibilidades. Tradicionalmente, no hay interpretación, declaraciones sobre los pensamientos, creencias, ni sentimientos íntimos de los personajes representados por un narrador omnisciente. El drama muestra palabras y acciones elegidas por el dramaturgo, y les deja a los actores primero y después los que miran el drama la responsabilidad de hacer conexiones y entender lo que está pasando. Normalmente las personas interpretan los eventos básicos en una manera más o menos similar, porque como en la vida verdadera hay un nivel de incertidumbre inevitable, pero eso no significa que no hay soluciones malas o estúpidas, solo que no hay ningunas que sean seguramente correctas.

En la clase de antropología, mi profesor siguió hablando de este tema, diciendo que no solo las personas no saben lo que piensan, se sienten, y creen las otras personas, y no les importa. Lo que si les importa es la comunicación. Yo pensaba que ésta era muy interesante con relación al drama “La Casa de Bernarda Alba”. Cuando estaba leyendo el drama, el personaje que me interesaba más era la Bernarda Alba epónima, porque en realidad sus niños, aunque tenían muchos años, habían estado atrapados y ´protegidos´ durante sus vidas enteras y se comportan como niños, pero Bernarda es otra cosa. Pensaba que si ella hubiera sido el personaje central de una novela, habría mostrado más complejidad como personaje. ¿Es posible que cualquier persona sea tan cruel, tan insensible, y tan tiránica que Bernarda Alba parece? Muestra muy pocas señales exteriores que tiene un corazón – por supuesto como ella lo quiere.

Cuando hay conflicto, ella se preocupa primero con lo que van a oír o decir los vecinos. Las referencias muy pequeñas y sutiles que sí tiene o entiende las emociones vienen en los avisos estrictos que les da a sus hijas para guardar las apariencias – que no deben llorar por su padre, no deben llorar por Adela, no deben mostrar el amor que sea indecoroso… pero ella permite, admite que no puede controlar las emociones ni los pensamientos. Para mi, ésta es extraño y sorprendemente intuitivo. No solo admite que no puede controlar estas cosas, pero también no parecen importarla. Si, las personas van a tener emociones, pero no deben mostrarlas ni reconocerlas, y es probablemente mejor olvidar estas cosas inútiles, pero esta última no le importa mucho a ella. Lo importante no es lo que piensan o se sienten sus hijas, sino cómo se comportan. Hablando del control que tiene Bernarda sobre sus hijas, Morris dice, ““Other writers have protested, directly and subjectively, at this control of children’s minds and emotions.” (75), pero creo que en realidad Bernarda no puede y no quiere controlar los pensamientos ni los sentimientos de sus hijas, solo sus acciones.

Por ejemplo, cuando Angustias habla sobre el retrato que le había robado Martirio, ella dice que todos saben que Martirio ama a Pepe, y es a causa de esto que le robó el retrato. Bernarda dice que Martirio había dicho que fue una broma, y esto es el fin – dijo que fue una broma, entonces, lo demás no les importa. Enfoca solo en la comunicación. Dice, “Cada uno sabe lo que piensa por adentro. Yo no me meto en los corazones, pero quiero buena fachada y armonía familiar. ¿Lo entiendes?” (Acto 3, 1047) Otro ejemplo de este reconocimiento de la separación entre los corazones y la comunicación viene al final del drama, en que Adela se mata a ella misma. Bernarda da un grito – eso me parece interesante - tiene sorpresa y también parece estar infeliz sobre la muerte de su hija. Por supuesto, pero hablamos de Bernarda Alba, la tiranta. ¿No es posible que necesite gritar para guardar la apariencia? Creo que no, porque inmediatamente después de gritar, manda que las otras se callen. Por eso me parece que sí tiene un corazón, pero está escondido tan bien que solo se muestra cuando su hija menor se suicidó. Inmediatamente después, regresa a la Bernarda insensible, tiránica. Dice “No quiero llantos.” (Acto 3, 1347) Pero también me había dado cuento que dice, “Las lagrimas cuando estés sola!” (Acto 3, 1348)

Hay pocas pistas que Bernarda nos da sobre ella misma, y de lo que está pensando y creyendo adentro. No sé si ella sabe que es tan cruel, aunque hay poca evidencia a contraria. Ramsden describe algunas de estas pistas que vienen como contradicciones en lo que dice Bernarda. Por ejemplo, que ella no es tan segura de ella misma y arrogante como quiere mostrar, porque tiene malos sueños y es, en una manera, también victima (Ramsden, xl), a veces está descrito como desolada, y ella misma refiere a su propia desolación, pensando en su obligación de controlar a sus hijas (Ramsden, xli), y que ella tiene un aspecto sádico y una necesidad casi patética de saber todo sobre el pueblo y los vecinos (Ramsden, xli). “Is her rigorous mortality then, that of the outsider anxious to be, as Spaniards say, 'más papista que el papa', with the consequent suppression and deformation of her own being?" (Ramsden, xli) Pero si sus pensamientos interiores son tan diferentes de todo lo que expresa, tiene que tener dominio muy fuerte sobre su misma para mantener su foco y no revela nada sobre el interior. Estas son las cosas que demanda de sus hijas también. Dice “Silencio, silencio.” dos veces en el drama – es la primera cosa que dice y la última. ¿Porque es así? Solo le parece importa lo que dicen los vecinos – está tan obsesiva que quiere que la Poncia espie a los vecinos y decirle todo. Solo piensa en la propiedad, en como lo hicieron su padre y el padre de su padre. Es probable que en su infancia había algo de esta misma represión que ahora le inflija a sus hijas, pero en realidad no sabemos casi nada sobre su vida antes del drama.

Morris explica que el drama no nos da mucho información sobre la historia personal de Bernarda Alba. Esto puede ser un problema con el caractarizacion por Lorca, o podría reflejar la constricción de la educación y las experiencias de Bernarda. “If the sayings and axioms she utters tell us that she quotes from a script, we see that she has no training to handle unpredictable situations and impromptu performances that depart from that text. The little we know about her is enough to tell us that the way of life she enforces is the one that was enforced on her, that the values she defends and instills are the ones that were inculcated in her.” (Morris, 66)

Pero, mientras es claro que está repitiendo unas tradiciones de sus padres, no estoy segura que Bernarda era tratada exactamente como ella trata a sus hijas. Maria Josefa, por ejemplo, parece alguien bastante diferente que Bernarda, aunque ella es loca ahora y es difícil imaginarla sana y como madre. Pero ella viene de la costa, “la orilla del mar” (Acto 1, 460) donde quiere regresar, y parece tener opiniones y sentimientos más abiertos que las personas en el pueblo. Y es difícil saber si Bernarda tiene esta influencia de la mar también, porque, como explica Ramsden, “it is she who curses this maldito pueblo sin rio, pueblo de pozos." (xli) Como he dicho antes, Bernarda parece saber que todas las personas tienen sus pensamientos interiores en sus corazones, pero no le importan mucho a ella. Las apariencias y lo que es comunicado es mucho más importante, al punto que parece internalizar esta filosofía y prescindir de pensamientos completamente. Muchas veces dice que es mejor no pensar, y que ella prefiere no pensar, etc. Una vez dice, “No pienso. Hay cosas que no se pueden ni se deben pensar. Yo ordeno." – como si hubieran dos alternativas, y dos tipos de personas – puede pensar o puede ordenar, no es necesario y tal vez no es posible hacer los dos a la vez. “As she appears in Lorca’s play,” explica Baker en su análisis psicológico del personaje, “it is clear that Bernarda Alba is a woman who is preoccupied by the established values of her community and that her thinking function is repressed, while her feelings are predominant.” (1)

Ramsden usa las expresiones distintas de Bernarda para probar que ella ha heredado su sistema completa de moralidad y superioridad.

“Bernarda Alba inherited from her father much more than the house… she inherited words spoken and customs perpetuated in it, habits of mind and dress and attitudes to people and possessions. Bernarda has a supply of sayings, particularly ones applicable to women, which she can utter at any juncture, and always from the angle of her own convenience or self-righteousness… There is no surprise in such saying; it would be surprising if a woman so entrenched in the past did not resort to them, for they are after all a substitute for experience and original thought and repeat what she herself was told. To hear them on her lips is to detect in her mind a great echo-chamber, where we can hear her versions of admonitions and rules of good conduct…” (Morris, 60-1)

Tal vez podemos ver y entender un aspecto de la crianza y educación de Bernarda por la de sus hijas, en particular Martirio. Baker dice que Martirio, de las cinco hermanas, ha sido más afectado por Bernarda. "This type of negative animus opinion is especially evident in Martirio who has been more strongly affected than her sisters by her mother’s rejection of men. (5) Muestra la capacidad por ser como Bernarda con su hipocresía y contradicciones, por ejemplo cuando dice que no puede sentir el calor, y después queja sobre ello mismo, o cuando dice que tiene solo miedo de los hombres, pero admite que quiere a Pepe… su crueldad vindicativa, y su sentido de rectitud, por ejemplo cuando engaña intencionalmente a Adela y dice que “se acabo Pepe el Romano”… por eso Adela se mata, pero Martirio no piensa después que tenga la culpa por decir eso. Sobre Martirio dice Morris,

“Although typical of the exaggerations recurring throughout the play, the indictments of her as ‘maldita’ by La Poncia and as ‘Endemoniada!’ by Magdalena (Act 3, 1065) suggest a complex temperament, a disturbed psychology, which has led one critic to describe her as ‘the most complex’ and ‘the most passionate’ character (27, pp.89, 90) and another as ‘the only psychologically complex character of the tragedy’ (82, p.88). Other critics have commented on her envy and hypocrisy (71, pp.xxxix, xl), her inferiority complex (87, p.8), her ‘fiebre sexual’ (20, p.90), and her similarity to her mother (62, p.260)... The dark thoughts revolving so obsessively in her head that she has the honesty to confess to Adela: ‘tengo el corazón lleno de una fuerza tan mala, que, sin quererlo o, a mi misma me ahoga’ (Act 3, 1062).” (Morris, 54)

Por supuesto, Martirio no es ya exactamente Bernarda – no ha aprendido esconder sus sentimientos ni olvidar sus pasiones - pero es capaz de llegar a ser como ella, y Bernarda está tratando de reproducir su personalidad y morales en sus hijas. “With a few predictable words like respetar and decencia, Bernarda transfers to her daughters her own indoctrination, which was a form of malnutrition; of her we could say, in the words of Adrienne Rich, ‘Like the traditional foot-bound Chinese woman, she passes on her own affliction.’ She bequeaths simple standards that depend on suppressing information… on purveying misinformation… or on composing a brittle surface out of words that are misused. A major casualty of her demand for ‘buena fachada y armonía familiar’ (Act 3, 1046) is truth; another casualty is spiritual integrity…” (Morris, 67)

Martirio ya ha desarrollado algunas características que me hace pensar en Bernarda. Por ejemplo, le gusta espiar en su hermana Adela. Según Morris, la protesta de Adela - “Adela’s “Durmiendo o velando, no tienes por qué meterte en lo mío!” (Acto 2, 1012) – muestra que Martirio es como una sombra que siempre está mirando a su hermana. En Acto 3, ella mira “hacia la puerta del corral” (1051) y sigue Adela mientras Adela “desaparece por la puerta del corral” (1057); “her confession in Act 2 – ‘He visto como te abrazaba!’ (1038). This role, in itself sinister, is made all the more insidious by the way she uses her knowledge, by her style of malevolent obliqueness, which fuels tensions and increases suspicions.” (Morris 53)

En el comentario por Morris veo también la semejanza entre la propensión de madre e hija responder a muchas situaciones con las mismas ideas y proverbios no originales.

“From the beginning her voice is heard as the bleakest, lamenting first her status as an automaton – ‘Yo hago las cosas sin fe, pero como un reloj’ – and contending, on the evidence of her eyes: ‘Y veo que todo es una terrible repetición’ (Act 1, 992, 993). Such complains are not original, nor does Lorca mean them to be: they echo what so many other women have said, expressing a common resentment…” (Morris, 53)

Últimamente, estoy de acuerdo con C.B. Morris cuando dijo que Bernarda no era “ni una caricatura ni un monstruo.” Creo que las acciones de Bernarda Alba son la resulta trágica de un tipo de crianza y unas circunstancias en un tipo de personalidad especifica, y tal vez esta combinación repetirá en su hija, Martirio.

Obras Citadas:

Baker, Armand. "Lorca's La casa de Bernarda Alba and the Lack of Psychic Integration" 2006. May 11th, 2010.

Departamento de Lengua C. y Literatura. “La casa de Bernarda Alba.” IES La Aldea de San Nicolás May 11th, 2010.

Morris, C. B. Critical Guides to Spanish Texts: La casa de Bernarda Alba. London: Grant & Cutler, 1990.

Ramsden, H. La casa de Bernarda Alba, Volume 1983, Part 2. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983.

Seybolt, Richard. “Characterization in CBA: the case of Martirio .” Garcia Lorca Review. 8 (1980): 82-90

Lorca, Garcia . "La Casa de Bernarda Alba." Aproximaciones. 'Ed'. Mike Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

Come Again Another Day

As I sit inside, all pale and vampiric like, and type a line of words that grows and grows to be 10,000 words, then 20,000... outside I see the sun shining through leaves and grass and the blue sky above...

And as I rush around to get paperwork signed and apply for my VISA and pack my bags, I've been asked out five times in the last month. Even counting high school stalkers, that's my new record for a year, much less a month.

The moral is that good things come when you want them least. :P

May 10, 2010

Ni Una Lagrima

Porque no supiste entender a mi corazon,
lo que habia en el.
porque no tuviste el valor de ver quien soy
porque no escuchas lo que esta tan cerca de ti,
solo el ruido de afuera, y yo
que estoy a un lado desaparesco de ti.

no voy a llorar y decir
que no merezco esto
es probable que lo merezco,
pero no lo quiero,
por eso
me voy,

que lastima pero adios,
me despido de ti...

Me Voy, Julieta Venegas

Facebook Statuses I Can't Have...

... because I'm not that kind of girl.

Okay, sure, this is a public blog. But if you come here and read it, that's your choice, and I'm not responsible. I wasn't advertising. :P

Miranda: just figured out that the secret to getting guys is not wanting them.

Miranda: sometimes wonders where, exactly, the line between strength and heartlessness is.

Miranda: wishes people could just agree to be honest or agree to be two cheerfully two faced. One or the other - it's the intersections that seem to be the problem.

May 09, 2010

Reflections about Catalan Readings

“The conservatism began to cut in as the conversation developed, this silver-haired elder statesman emphasising the primacy of two things only in Catalonia's history Christianity and democracy. He claimed that the Muslim influence in Catalonia had been insignificant, and that the influence of ,Judaism had always been confined to the ghetto, both of which views will be challenged later in this book.”

This reminded me of research I’ve been doing recently into Japan and the cultural phenomenon of Nihonjinron. Defining a nation as a homogenous unit in at least some respects serves a purpose in differentiating it from the other. If a definition of anything is too broad, it loses its effectiveness. However, when it comes to real concepts, like the identity of nations, such definitions can easily become too narrow and exclude important elements of diversity. In Japan, for example, there is a strong tendency to call Japan a perfect nation state, a clear cut geographic area in which a distinct and homogenous group of people speaking a distinct and homogenous language and sharing a distinct and homogenous culture fit. This definition ignores huge dialectal differences in regional Japanese, significant minority groups such as the Koreans, as well as the Ainu, who have their own language and culture.

“She recognised her hairy son by the fact that he had hair on a part of his body where it should not have been.”

O.o His nose, or???

"For the two hundred years from 800-1000, the Muslims generally had a more sophisticated culture, more advanced farming methods (especially irrigation) and more advanced systems of government than their Christian neighbours."

"the Vall de Boi. This is one of Catalonia's best-kept secrets, and even in midsummer its camp-sites, hotels and national park facilities seem almost exclusively populated by Catalans and Valencians. It is a land of rushing water, oak and pine woods, high pastures and limestone outcrops."

"At Barcelona, you see the image itself, without the setting, without the wonders of creation; at Taull you have the wonders of creation, but a mere copy of the image. It is an unhappy divorce: God not quite at one with creation."

This is interesting, Greece is always pissed at the UK for taking it’s treasures, and it’s certainly not the only one, but dissent about where these things should be within their own countries seems rarer. Of course, everyone is mad that things are away in museums, but don’t museums do good too?

"To the north lies little Llan~a, where the railway from Barcelona reaches the sea, and the tiny coves up beyond Portbou into France."

These are the two villages that I have been reading about, that serve to compare Spanish and French Catalunya. Oddly this makes me think about how old and finite Europe seems to me as an American. I would never think of how many towns there are in Missouri, for example. None of them are old enough to be interesting, not really, and they change fast enough, and if one disappeared it would hardly be a tragedy, and when new ones appear it’s also not really surprising. But in Europe I feel that it’s somehow different – this is Llanca and this is Portbou, they are two of ‘the’ Catalan towns… of which there is a reasonably large but ultimately finite number.

Some Catalans take great pride in the fact that people in the Sardinian town of Alghero (l'Alguer in

Catalan) still speak a Catalan dialect. This is only so because Pere III executed or drove into exile the original inhabitants and replaced them with Catalan settlers.

An interesting issue both specifically and in more general terms. I did my presentation on L’Alguer and noticed that the Italian Wikipedia was actually more supportive of the Catalan community in Alghero than the Catalan Wikipedia, which in fact emphasized this “cultural genocide”.

And I always think that empires, even any change of power, is an interesting and difficult topic. When considering those days, that year, even the generations effected, what the Catalonians did was wrong. But in the big context of history, it’s not unique and it’s not even unusual. I doubt that the then-residents of Alghero, who the Catalonians pushed out, had been the first and original settlers at that spot, even if they may (or may not) have been less forceful in removing the previous occupants. Most places, especially in highly populated areas like the Mediterranean, have hosted multiple empires over time, and the exchanges of power are rarely bloodless.

"'We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws - but if not, not.'"

This kicks ass.

“His first book, written in Arabic, which was a language he knew better than Latin, was supposed to have been one million words long.”

Seriously?!?! That’s 20 times longer than the average novel!

"The fact that the Catalan words for love and death sound identical with the addition of the definite article l'amor and la mort gave endless scope for word play."

That’s awesome.

"Catalan literature came of age not on the mainland but in the rich diversity of the island of Majorca. Here Christian, Jewish and Muslim ideas and influences inter· twined."

Development always seems to happen at crossroads. <3

"The sea is part of the Catalan consciousness, as it is for the English. As with English, the language betrays the importance of the sea to the Catalans."

The language betrays – clever way to put it, since it’s not really right to make judgements on a culture based solely on the language, but it can be evidence.

Miranda: The Reporter

This was my first real Journalism project. Sadie, Amanda and I had to do a few interviews, do some research, and ultimately put together a website with three articles and other bits of multimedia about a topic with local significance. We chose texting while driving. Screenshots:

Proof that you're alive

"After you're dead and buried and floating around whatever place we go to, what's going to be your best memory of earth? What one moment for you defines what it's like to be alive on this planet. What's your takeaway? Fake yuppie experiences that you had to spend money on, like white water rafting or elephant rides in Thailand don't count. I want to hear some small moment from your life that proves you're really alive."

— Douglas Coupland (Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture)


You looked at each thing I handed you for so long, as if it could save you from drowning, from speaking.

In the end I got exactly what I wanted, so why am I... less than thrilled? Maybe it's because I wish it had been my decision, my initiative, maybe I feel a bit dragged about.

Or maybe it's just normal wear and tear. I think you're feeling it too. Maybe more than I am. And... it's okay. It's for the best. Absolutely.

May 08, 2010


Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Das Wort alleine konnte jeden historischen
Zeitraum referieren, aber in Deutschland referiert es normalerweise
zum Holocaust und manchmal zum DDR. Beide waren schwierig für viele
Deutschen und auch andere. Im Rückblick fühlen wir, dass die
Regierung, das Militär und die Polizei der Zeit schlecht waren. Auch
heute vertrauen die Deutsche in seine Regierung nicht so viel wie die
Leute von viele andere Ländern. Und Deutschland war nicht immer der
Angreifer. In der Luftangriffe auf Dresden, zum Beispiel, wurden viele
Deutschen getötet. Der Kampf von Deutschland,
Vergangenheitsbewältigung zu finden, wird oft in seiner Kunst und
Architektur reflektiert. Zwei sehr verschiedene Beispiele dieser
Reflexion sind der Bundeswehrmuseum und die Frauenkirche in Dresden.

Es ist nicht leicht, ein Museum über dem Bundeswehr zu machen. Das
Ziel ist, das moderne Militär, und, wenn möglich, das Militär der
Geschichte, zu ehren. Aber wegen der Geschichte von Deutschland,
können sie und müssen sie nicht das Militär und das Krieg
glorifizieren. Das Museum ist in Dresden, folglich ist ein Museum, das
Krieg glorifiziert, besonders nicht angebracht. Die empfindliche und
problematische Art des Themas wird im Entwurf des Gebäudes
reflektiert. Die meisten des Gebäudes ist normal und altmodisch, aber
es gibt auch einen enormen Glaskeil, der die Symmetrie und die Art des
Gebäudes stört. Der Architekt, Daniel Libeskind, hat gesagt, "I
thought, why should the military building be hidden? Germany is a
modern democratic country. Germans have to accept their past and
understand the military history museum as something positive. That's
why I decided to insert a glass wedge through the front of the

Libeskind will, dass der Glaskeil wie Blitz schockt, die
Unzuverlässigkeit des Welt zu zeigen. Der Glaskeil macht ein Sieg V,
und er zeigt auf die Mitte der Bombardierung in die Stadt. Das Gebäude
ist nicht hübsch. Es kombiniert zwei verschiedene Arten schlecht, aber
das ist doch die Ziel. Möglicherweise sollten nicht alle Gebäude
schocken. Wenn alle Gebäude schocken, können die Städte ihre Identität
verlieren. Und normalerweise mag ich nicht historische Gebäude ändern.
Aber in der Situation des Museums, wenn das Thema so wichtig und so
umstritten ist, kann die Meinung veilleicht den Schock rechtfertigen.
Der Glaskeil stört die originale Gebäude. Als Tipp, dass der Inhalt
des Museums bricht Tradition der Militärmuseen als Anzeigen der
glorifizierten Kraft und der Waffen.

Man muss sagen, dass der Architekt des Museums jüdisch ist, und dass
viele seiner Projekte jüdische Denkmäler gewesen sind. Anscheinend
gibt es ein Vorbild der jüdischen Architekten, die sehr steifen,
modernen und oft strengen Holocaustdenkmäler in Deutschland entwerfen.
Auf dem Internet fand ich eine interessante obgleich antisemitische
Debatte über dieses Vorbild. Diese Denkmäler sollten eine Art von
vergangenheitsbewältigung sein, aber für wem? Einige Deutsche fragen
ruhig, ob der Schatten des Holocaust sollte so allgegenwärtig, so
steif, so immer vorstehend sein.

Ein Beispiel, ist das Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas. Dieses
Denkmal ist traurig und verwirrend. Es soll so sein. Es soll nicht
schön sein. Aber es ist in der Mitte von Berlin, sehr nah zum
Reichstag. Kann es zu viel vergangenheitsbewältigung geben? Wie viel
sollte es die Landschaft und die Identität eines Landes dauerhaft
ändern? Die meisten diesen Denkmälern werden von den Juden entworfen
und finanziert von der deutschen Regierung. Versuchen sie, die
Vergangenheit der gewöhnlichen deutschen Leute zu verstehen? Oder ist
es teils (oder sogar meistens) über die Schuld der Regierung und den
Verlust der Juden? Ich fand eine Diskussion über dieses Denkmal auf
einer Web site, die kann sehr antisemitic sein. Noch waren die
Antworten interessante.

Ein Mitglied, das Dan Dare genannt wurde, sagte, "How could a
once-proud people have been brought to such a degrading level of
supine self-abasement that they would not only permit the erection of
this structure in the centre of their new capital city, just a couple
of hundred meters from the national parliament, but also
finance its construction?"

Ein anderes Mitglied, Dasein, sagte, "What is the message that it
conveys? Spite. You people destroyed this (Ein Bild von die Alte Synagoge von
Dresden)? Watch us take an architectural dump on your city."

Ich bin nicht mit diesen Aussagen oder anderen auf dieser Web site
einverstanden. Jedoch finde ich sie interessante. Manchmal entspricht
der Zorn einiger Radikale mit einem weniger extremen Gefühl in der
breiten Bevölkerung. Ich frage mich, ob die Bewohner von Berlin sicher
über das Denkmal sind. Möglicherweise glauben einige von ihnen, dass
das Denkmal als Anzeige für immer stehen sollte. Aber möglicherweise
haben andere einen geheimen Wunsch, zum des Schattens der einer
Vergangenheit, die sie selbst nicht Teilnehmer innen waren, zu

Es ist schwierig, das Frauenkirche und das neue Bundeswehr-Museum zu
vergleichen. In einem Fall waren die Deutschen Angreifer, und im
anderen, waren sie Opfer. Der Wiederaufbau des Frauenkirche war total
verschiedlich als der des Bundeswehrmuseum. Es gab eine lange
Kontroverse über, ob die Kirche umgebaut werden sollte, und in welcher
Art. Im Ende bauten sie die Kirche wieder auf, und sie sieht wie die
alte Kirche aus. Dieses ist nicht historisch merkwürdig. Viele alten
Kirchen sind wiederaufgebaut worden, und einige sind mehrmals
wiederaufgebaut worden. Als Testament zur Zerstörung der Kirche in der
Bombardierung, wurden einige Ziegelsteine von den Ruinen im
Wiederaufbau benutzt. Ich finde das toll. Heute, denn diese
Ziegelsteine alter sind, kann man leicht sie sehen. Sie sind eine
Anzeige der Vergangenheit, die nicht zu subtil und nicht zu deutlich
ist. In der Zeit wird die neue Kirche alt, und die älteren
Ziegelsteine stehen heraus immer weniger. Ebenso wird die
Vergangenheit schließlich ein entferntes Gedächtnis.

Im Allgemeinen bevorzuge ich diese Art von vergangenheitsbewältigung.
Es ehrt die Vergangenheit, aber es ist nicht über es besessen. Die
Leute, die in der Stadt leben, und die Leute, die besuchen, haben die
persönliche Wahl, diese Kirche als Denkmal zur Zerstörung und zur
Tragödie sehen oder als schöne Kirche und zentrales Teil der alten
Stadt von Dresden zu sehen, wie die Stadt weitergeht und wiederlebt.,,2109440,00.html

May 06, 2010


I got out of Catalan class yesterday at 2, and with that, the regular semester was over. Now I've just got finals ahead of me... and my two honors papers. Nihonjinron has but to be written - I have the research, I have the outline - I can knock it out in a day of good, solid work. In fact, that's the bulk of my agenda for Saturday.

The Andorra one is an entirely different matter. I read Peter Cameron's entire book Andorra, before reaching almost the end, becoming suspicious of an ocean in a landlocked country, and realizing that other than the name and the location between Spain and France, Cameron's Andorra was pure fiction. Lovely. Because, you know, I really have that much time to waste right now. And Ellis in it's infinite wisdom had the book cataloged under Andorra - Social Customs. There is another famous literary work called Andorra, but I didn't even bother looking that one up, because Max Frisch's Andorra isn't even near Spain. If you're going to make up a country, fine, but at least make up a name to go along with it! Watch Princess Diaries if you don't know how!

Where could I go next? Let me start by introducing Andorra for those not in the know. It's a very small country, considered a microstate, but not in the sort of pocket-sized sense of Monaco or the Vatican. It's got just over 80,000 people and just under 500 square kilometers. (About the size of Prague. Luxembourg, for comparison, is 2,500 square kilometers, and the Vatican is 0.44 kilometers.)

Andorra is physically squished between France and Spain, landlocked high in the Pyrenees Mountains. Especially until recently, many aspects of Andorra's economy, governance, and cultural make-up would have been best illustrated by a Venn Diagram between France and Spain. Even today, Andorra is governed by two co-princes, the president of France and the bishop of Urgell, Spain. The official language of Andorra is Catalan, a romance language spoken by some 9 million people, mostly as a minority language within Spain.

Oh! And one time, a Russian adventurer named Boris Skossyreff showed up, called himself the Prince of Andorra, and declared war on the bishop of Urgell. Spain arrested him about 8 days later.

A good start, right? Well, that's all I had for a long time, and it came mostly from the Wikipedia article. I had that and Peter Cameron's book and Max Frisch's play, both of which seemed to serve mainly to clog up Google results, which weren't all that extensive and helpful to start with. I was frankly stunned by how difficult the research was proving. I decided I could probably find more information about Columbia, Missouri than I could find about the entire country of Andorra and it's thousand years of history. And I'm no amateur when it comes to research, and I have a large research library practically in my backyard! There had to be more!

I started by lowering my expectations. I started admitting books about micro-states in general, hoping for several lines or maybe even a chapter on Andorra. I came away with Fragmentation and the International Relations of Micro-States, by Duursma, and Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe, by Eccardt. Both were surprisingly helpful - amazing what seems like a generous amount of information after looking for a while. The Eccardt title is far more accessible, with the kinder writing style, slightly less dense form, and occasional picture almost reminding me of those little explore the country books for kids, or a very well done Wikipedia article. In addition, the Duursma text had extra information about.. well.. the fragmentation and international relations of Andorra, and the Eccardt text was useful for the cross-comparisons with the other microstates.

Congratulations, I thought to myself. You now have enough to... make a basic, middle-school level project. With the cute poster and fun facts and everything. Brilliant.

Except for the small matter of... this is supposed to be a 25 page research paper, with, you know, a thesis, an argument, the works.

I started to get very, very nervous.

I spent hours on Google, with precious little to show other than copies of the Wikipedia page, an occasional blurb about dear Prince Boris, and a few sparse travel articles about how much fun it was to go skiing and get drunk in Andorra. In Peter Cameron's book, the main character said that he had travelled to Andorra because of a book he had once read, called Crewe Train. Now, this seemed a strange title to be invented, so I looked up the book myself. Surprisingly, it not only exists, but - I'm cautious, and not devoting a lot of time to it - the Andorra depicted in its pages seems at least more realistic than Cameron's Andorra... it is landlocked, for example. This is, I suppose, the point and the joke behind the two or three pages devoted to Crewe Train within Cameron's book, wherein the main character remarks on how different the real Andorra seems, and another character laughs and says that the author of Crewe Train had never even been to Andorra. So funny.

Ah yes, this brings me up to yesterday evening. A week before due date, and all I had to show for my efforts were a fiction novel about a highly fictionalized Andorra, a fiction novel about a questionable Andorra, two chapters about the real Andorra, and a Wikipedia article. Oh, and Llibre D'Andorra. I'd ordered it at the very beginning, hoping against hope that it would be in English. Jokes on me, it's actually in Catalan, and in my desperation I opened the book and started reading. I knew I couldn't get through the whole book. And even if I did, what could I write about it? That's the scary thing about reading in a foreign language, especially a very foreign one - it's somehow frightening, like reading through a tunnel. You can't easily flip through or skip ahead and understand the work as a whole - maybe the dust jacket helps. My copy doesn't have a dust jacket. So I start at the beginning, and read, and hope that this Andorra isn't fiction, that it will give me some ideas, that it isn't 100% useless just because it was written 50 years ago when Andorra was almost unrecognizable compared to what it has become today.

I think fate respected my efforts, because things got easier. Just a little easier, just enough. I started feeling a tiny bit of hope, I felt that if nothing else I might have enough information to compare and contrast the influence of Spain and France in the culture/economy/politics etc of Andorra. It wasn't a good enough topic, but it was a topic. I could write that paper and turn it in and Monica probably wouldn't even say she was disappointed, she just wouldn't be too excited. I'd get my credit. I'd prefer to do better, but at least I now had a plan, and some security. With renewed hope, I threw myself at the project all day today, basically wading through Llibre D'Andorra and looking up all the proper nouns I found. City names, mostly. With these came snippets of more information, and one thing led to another. I tried every source I could think of for information. If it worked, I saved URLs and quotes. If it didn't, I kept moving. I looked for information about Andorra during the World Wars, Andorra during the Franco years. Andorra's current relationship with Catalunya, their shared linguistic heritage. I didn't find any one motherlode of data as much as a bit here, and bit there. When I say bits, I mean it. Sometimes only a single useable sentence would come from a URL. Often, there wouldn't even be that. Most useful of all were the sites that would reference a book and its reference to Andorra, however big or small. I went onto Ellis and found that many of these books were in the reserve, and ordered them. They should arrive by Monday, a nice little booster once I've started. While searching for some of these books, Ellis also showed me a few articles from periodicals. Periodicals!?! Why hadn't I thought of that? So there was another avenue.

I went to Dobbs with no books and just a sheet of paper and a pen. And I wrote down everything. All the sources and types of information that were available. It wasn't a lot, but it was something. There had to be some paper I could write using that information that would say something, that would be interesting. I still wasn't sure.

I went back home and did more research. And I think I figured it out. It's still a bit hazy. Tomorrow, after I turn in the German portfolio, I'll write it into a clear thesis. Right now I'm going to give it a little more time to ferment.

Basically this - Andorra. How it's changed. Brief historical overview since forever, till now. Mainly contrasting the Andorra of 100 years ago - the hidden mountain kingdom, mysterious, remote, reachable only by mule and in which only adult males without living fathers could vote - and the Andorra of today - tax haven, shopping scene, good skiing and cheap booze, world's longest life expectancy... more importantly, how the public perception and, if possible, the self identity of the Andorrans, fits in with this. How is Andorra represented in media and literature today, and how has it been in the past? In regards to France, Spain, other Catalan speaking areas, and the influence of public perception, where is Andorra culturally?

Let's see if I can pull it off...

May 04, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull and Clapping X(

Two things that bother me:

1.) People freaking out about the name of the volcano in Iceland.

It's Eyjafjallajökull, people. It is a foreign language, and I suppose all the j's and the ö make it look exotic if you're not used to that sort of thing. And yes, it's long, because it's a compound word and an extremely simple one at that. Lots of languages put words together and a long word comes out which looks scary if you don't know the smaller words inside.

The 'freaking out' thing I'm referring too are all the masses of unoriginal people saying, "Haha, looks like a cat walked on the keyboard". That's the sort of thing I expect from a few mindless twitter users, but I've even seen it on semi-legit blogs and even a few news stories. Unacceptable. Yes, it looks like random letters to you. Does Popocatépetl look any better? What about Puxsutawny? How do you think a name like Knightsbridge would look to someone with no knowledge of English phonetics? Think about it.

In this case, Eyja - Island, Fjalla - Mountain, Jökull - Glacier. Island-Mountain-Glacier, see? And if you go for some somewhat obscure cognates, it becomes even less foreign. Eyja - Eyot (another word for Island), Fjalla - Fell (Mountain), Jökull - Icle (like Icicle). So, Eyjafjallajökull could be translated as Eyotfellicle. :)

If you want to say, "Ah, what's it called, I can't spell/say the name..." okay. I understand. It's a long word and it's a foreign one. But then, just call it "that volcano in Iceland" or whatever. Just don't pretend that it's a joke, or illegitimate, just because it happens not to be the same nomenclature you're used to.

2.) People clapping after they give an order.

I can understand clapping first, to get people's attentions or whatever. But maybe my ears are just tender, because I don't find it very pleasant, and so when people clap /after/ they say whatever they need to say, it just annoys/angers me.

I mean, why? It must either be because they can, to show that they can make annoying/loud noises if they want to because they are in control... or else because they somehow like the feeling that they have some power that allows them to affect change merely by clapping their hands.

"Stay on topic, guys!" *clap* - People are quiet for a second, then go back on topic. Magic! Except they probably would have if you omitted the clap, too, and now you've gone and hurt the ears of innocent bystanders.

Finals Week

Yikes yikes. I need to not freak out - I can get it all done if I don't waste time. I did the Catalan presentation and the rough draft of the Spanish paper, and I'm not worried about those exams. So I put in an hour to spruce up the paper and I'm covered in those classes. In German I have a paper due tomorrow but it's nothing exceptional, so I'll knock it out tonight with no trouble. Even the profile isn't too bad, just gotta get down to business. It's due Friday at 3. I just finished all my News stuff, and that's a big weight off my shoulders - profile and convergence projects vanquished as of fifteen minutes ago! I'm not much worried about the Anthro final either, and there's no German final or News final.

So, basically, I have a week to do my VISA paperwork and write two research papers. The papers aren't supposed to be all that long and they wouldn't even have to be perfect, except that my teacher's expectations are crushing me. I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to do for the Catalan paper and I'm worried that a certain percentage of it is going to be bullshit, that I'm not going to be 100% proud of the result. But maybe I'll surprise myself if I just dig in up to my elbows and focus. The Nihonjinron paper I'm more confident about, but I still hope I can give it what it deserves. Both of the teachers are excited to see it and are even talking about trying to get it published, and I haven't even written the papers yet!! O.O It's a lot to live up to, I wish they'd keep their mouths shut and afterward either say, "okay, it's adequate" or "sorry, I can't give you credit", or, if it at that point warrants the praise, "this is brilliant Miranda, let's publish".

To do: (not in order, except for #1)

1.) Figure out what I need from mom and dad for the VISA, send them the information for that. (est. 1 hour)
2.) Write the Nihonjinron paper (est. 6 hours)
3.) Organize Catalan ideas (est. 6 hours)
4.) Write the Catalan paper (est. 6 hours)
5.) Do work stuff like being on call, etc (est. 45 hours)
6.) Put in a bit of time studying for Anthropology (est. 2 hours)
7.) Put in a bit of time studying for Spanish (est. 2 hours)
8.) Revise Spanish paper (est. 1 hour)
9.) Do my paperwork for the VISA (est. 2 hours)
10.) Random commitments like EI, banquets, mom, saying goodbye to friends, packing??? (est. ???)

I say I have a week. I actually have almost two. The goal is to get everything done by next Thursday, but I have the next weekend if I absolutely need it. I've also talked to Palmer, at least, about how I'll probably turn in a rough draft and make edits over the summer. Maybe Monica will accept that too?

May 03, 2010

Catalan Final Presentation

This is it - the absolute best I can do in Catalan. We were instructed to write a ten minute skit using 'everything we'd learned in class' - and this is what my group came up with. We co-wrote the airport and taxi scenes (Scene 1 and 2 - check out my awesome jokes... lol), and then we split up the different section and I wrote the restaurant scene (Scene 4).

Here's a section in translation so you can understand the suburb linguistic level and tone of the piece:

Ryan- And your husband?

(Mother and Anna look at each other)

Ryan- Um... I have a brother. His name is Spike. And I have a dog too. He is a judge, and a supermodel...

(Awkward silence)

Mare- ... Your brother? Spike? Your dog? A judge?

Ryan- Um... Where are the kids?

Anna- They are with Jesus.

(Awkward silence)

Ryan- ... I'm... sorry...

Mare- Why? Oh look! We're home!

(P.S. - Jesus is her boyfriend)

Els Personatges
Pilot- Miranda
Ryan- Shelby
Anna- Emily
Mare- Miranda
Jesús- Miranda

Escenari 1

Pilot- Benvingut a Mallorca. Jo som el pilot, Joan. A Mallorca són les
tres de la tarda. La temperatura és agradable avui.

Ryan- Mallorca per fi! On és Anna, la meva amica mallorquina?

Anna- Uep!

Mare- Aquesta és la teva amica, no?

Anna- Sí, ella és una estudiant dels Estats Units

Ryan- Hola, bona tarda! Molt de gust de conèixer-te. Sóc la Ryan. Sóc
dels Estats Units

Mare- Jo som na Maria, la mare de l’Anna. Cuants anys tens?

Ryan- Tinc vint anys.

Anna- Què jova? Tinc vint i set anys.

Ryan- Què farem avui?

Anna- Ara, anam a la nostra casa.

Mare- Taxi!

Escenari 2

Mare- Ryan, com és la teva familia?

Ryan- Jo tinc una germana. Ella té vint i dos anys. La meva mare té
cuaranta i cinc anys. Ella és una fútbolista. El meu pare és un metje
i té cincuanta anys. I usted Maria, què fa?

Mare- Jo som una ballarina exòtica

(silenci incòmode)

Anna- Jo som una peixatera. El meu pare és director d’orquestra. Jo
tinc dos fills. Són bessons i tenen dos anys.

Ryan- I el teu marit?

(Mare i Anna es miren)

Ryan- Um... Jo tinc un germà. Es diu Spike. Tinc un gos també. El és
un jutge i un super model.

(silenci icòmode)

Mare- El teu germà? Spike? El teu gos? Un jutge?

Ryan- Um... On estàn els seus fills?

Anna- Estàn amb Jesús.

(silenci icòmode)

Ryan- ... Ho sento...

Mare- Per què? ... Oh! La nostra casa!

Escenari 3

Jesús- Hola! Jo som Jesús!

Ryan- OH! Vostè és Jesús!

Jesús- Sí... Jo som el nuvi de Anna. Els nens estàn al parc amb la seva
avia, Maria.

Anna- Aquesta és la nostra casa! Aquí és la cuina. Hi ha una taula,
una nevera i una aigüera.

Ryan- I aquest és el menjador?

Jesús- Sí, tenim la taula de menjador i les cadires.

Anna- Aquest és el teu dormitori!

Ryan - Molt bé. Un llit, una taula de nit i moletes llibres també!

Jesús - La nostra sala d’estar està a la dreta. Té un televisor, una
sofá i una catifa blava.

Anna- El bany està aquí. Aquestes són les tevas tovalloles. Aquí, pots
rentar els dents i dutxarte.

Ryan- M’agrada cantar i dutxarme del matí.

Jesús- Tens gana?

Ryan- Sí, no vaig menjar avui.

Anna- Anam al restaurant.

Escenari 4

Mare- En aquest restaurant hi ha menjar mallorquí tradicional. Vol menjar aquí?

Ryan- Sí. Què és un exemple de menjar mallorquí?

Anna- Hi ha frit mallorquí, sopes mallorquines, sobressada, llom amb
col, etcétera…

Ryan- Hi ha ensaïmada? Algú em deia que ensaïmada és deliciós.

Mare- Ensaïmada és deliciós, però el mengem per esmorzar, no per sopar.

Ryan - Què hi ha en frit mallorquí?

Anna - Hi ha molta verdura, com cebes, patates, i pebrots. Hi ha també menuts.

Ryan - Menuts? Que vol dir menuts?

Mare - Fetge, intestins, ronyons... coses així.

Anna - Fastigós! No m'agraden els menuts.

Mare- M´agraden molt. Cambrer! M'agradaria una copa de vi.

Anna- M’agradaria un refresc, per favor. Què vols, Ryan?

Ryan- Hi ha suc de taronja?

Anna- Sí.

Ryan- Suc de taronja, per favor.

Anna- Com t’agrada el suc de taronja? Molt dolç?

Ryan- Sí.

Mare- I per sopar, m’agradaria frit, per favor. Amb molts menuts.

Anna - M'agradaria llom amb col, per favor.

Ryan- No m’agrada gaire la carn, i no m’agrada gens els menuts.
M’agradaria el llenguado al forn.

Anna- Molt bé. Preguntaré pel menjar.


Ryan - Tot era deliciós. Gràcies!

Mare- De res. Voleu postres?

Anna- Per què no. Ryan, vols maduixes amb nata, o gelat?

Ryan- M’agraden molt les maduixes.

Mare- Jo també.

Escenari 5

Anna- Ara, som a la Seu!

Ryan- La Seu?

Mare- Sí, la Seu

Ryan- Què es la Seu? (looks around)

Anna- La gran catedral que és devant de nosaltres…

Ryan- Ah! Yo entinc.

Mare- Sí, ens diem «la Seu» però es diu la Catedral de Santa Maria de
Palma de Mallorca.

Ryan- Què bonica!

Anna- És veritat.

Mare- Va construir durant l’edat miga. Té molt arquitectura bonica.

Ryan- Mira a tantas finestras bellas!

Anna- Sí, m’agrada molt que és devant l’oceà!

Ryan- Es millor que el Notre Dame.

Mare- Sí, estic d’acord. Molta bonica.

Ryan- Yo també. (Mira amunt) Són ocells?

Mare- Sí, sí, hi ha molts ocells aquí. Som prop el mar.

Anna- Bé, anam a passejar-nos a traves de la ciutat.

Mare- Jo vull anar al club! Per toda la nit! Fins a la sortida del sol!

Ryan- On es el club?

Anna- Hi ha molts clubs al Paseo Maritimo. Un bon temps realment.

Ryan.- Bé. Anam a passejar al club.

Mare- Mira a tants edificis!

Anna- Sí. Aquest edifici és el peixateria, on jo traballo.

Mare- Al costat de la peixateria es l’ajuntament i els jutjats.

Anna- Allí és un bon resaurant de menjar italià, devant la piscina, a la dreta.

Mare- Sí, jo tinc gana.

Ryan- Jo també.

Anna- Quina hora és?

Ryan- Són les set i mitja del vespre.

Mare- el club no estarà ple a vessar fins a la mitjanit.

Anna- Podem continuar i buscar una tenda oberta.

Ryan- M’agrada molt el pastís…Podem trobar un forn.

Mare- Bé. Ara, yo m’agraden unes postres més que el sopar. Estàs d’acord?

Ryan- Sí. Bona idea. Per tant, primer, nosaltres menjarem. Segon,
anirem al club.

Mare- Com?

Ryan- Amb autobús? Amb taxi?

Anna- Amb nostres peus. Podem passejar.

Ryan- Entesos!

Mare- Bé...

Anna- Molt bé!

Escenari Final

Ryan- Estic triste perquè sortiré avui. Gràcies per tot, Anna!

Anna- De res, amica! Pots visitar Mallorca qualsevol moment.

Ryan- No vull anar a casa. Vull quedar-me aquí!

Anna- Està bé. Yo pot visitar els Estats Units aquest hivern.

Ryan- Bé. Adeu Anna.

Anna- Adeu!