In the summer of 2003, I was in Spain for ten days. While the duration of my trip was short, my life changed rapidly and immensely in this short period of time. I decided to major in Spanish once I got to college because of this trip. And I decided that I was no longer a Californian nor American but rather a citizen of the world (which probably would have made Diogenes proud to hear a tenth grader say).
Two things inspired this entry:
- Recently watching Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos). I had missed discussing Spanish films in Spanish class, in Spanish.
- Digging through old pictures on my external drive and coming across ones I took in Spain 7 years ago. Nostalgia ensued.
If you know me well, you know what Spain means to me and how much. I’ve written profusely about it in blogs of yesteryear. If my life were a movie, Spain would be a motif worthy of critical attention (some might say the psychiatric attention, but I digress). Here is another attempt to capture its resonance in my life. This time, I chose a poem as the format.
by Lilian Bui
January 2, 2010
When I’m feeling old and settled
And my dreams begin to strain,
I put my foot back on the pedal
And thrust myself back into Spain.
In Spain, they understand me,
Los castellanos never fail
A Spanish breeze, the rarest candy,
Arouses hunger once curtailed.
It was a plaza in Toledo where
My journey did embark.
Senses fed, indulged, ensnared –
I opened up my heart.
I heard my spirit sing
Through los gitanos‘ whitewashed caves
It soared past tilted windmill wings
Where Quixote fell, upstaged.
The sangria pitcher’s brimming,
So why not pour a glass?
They say results are slimming
For the newly en”light”ened class.
Discover castles off the highway.
Stand and marvel in their shade.
Stand, too, in hallowed temples,
Where promises were made.
Moorish fountains cascade freely
Evoking visions of Paradise.
Send me off, adrift, and easy,
Humming Spanish lullabies.
“Vosotros sois…” y “Vale!“
Pour from the native tongue,
But los cosmopolitanos, they
Don’t care where you came from!
Aboard a train I learned
From a man bound toward Madrid
Where Mind failed with the words,
Picked up and saved, Heart did.
Speak from the heart where you should go.
You will be understood.
You will connect (and at the soul).
You will be changed for good.
Deep down I know I’ll always be
That girl inside the train
Wide eyes out the window
Absorbing Life’s terrain.
Andalusian illusions, gold and sheer,
Will tease a sighing brain.
The biggest fear as departure nears
Is to never be here,
Ever, like this,
When I’m feeling old and settled
And my dreams begin to strain,
I often think of far-off places.
I most often think of Spain.
Ever since I moved into this house, the leather couch in our living room has been my favorite spot in this house. No matter how long the day, how stressful the work, how frustrated the artist, this couch’s cushions absorb your qualms without condition. Despite a rather sedentary weekend, this couch has been able to transport my roommate, friend, and I everywhere we desired by playing host to a spread of Chinese takeout, delivery pizza, movies, music, books, dance parties, and comics. This, my friends, is what you call a perfect weekend.
-Kill Bill Vol. 2
-Singing in the Rain
-Now & Then
-various SNL episodes
-Veggie stir fry
-Banana nutella crepes
-Reese’s Puffs cereal
-Rice Cocoa Krispies
-Ben’s Chili Bowl
I also got a hold of Identity Crisis and Batman: Dark Victory from Barnes & Noble today with my gift card that I got for Christmas from brother Bui.
On Friday night, Nabila and I made it to northern Virginia for a Movits! concert at a place called Iota Club. This Swedish “swing-hop” band hails from Lulea, Sweden, and is currently doing a tour of U.S. cities. The group combines hip-hop beats with swing music. Extremely danceable, as Bila and I discovered first hand (or foot). They play with unfathomable energy and effortlessly charm their audience with accents, cultural anecdotes, and sneakers/blazers/glasses get-up. Catch them in Los Angeles, Californians!
On Saturday night, we went to Almaz on U Street for a show called Sulu Series, a monthly showcase of your local spoken word artists. There, we found a progressive crowd that was largely representative of the Asian Pacific American community in the Capitol region. I’m slowly learning more about the D.C. arts community, and I like the landscape. It’s a great escape from the typical Beltway boomers.
This weekend was the weekend of all weekends, and it’s going to take one helluva getaway to top this one! It was the perfect blend of inside/outside, crowded/intimate, loud/quiet, silly/serious, etc., etc., etc. Looking forward to more adventures soon!
When running in 27 degree weather, make sure to pack plenty of Hall & Oates, Fratellis, and Priscilla Ahn. If it weren’t for these guys amd girl, I don’t think I would have gotten through my 1.5 mile run in the cold without curling into fetal position and waiting for a good samaritan to pick me up from alongside the road.
I’m pretty sure my lungs were filled with frost.
Since moving out to D.C., I’ve missed running. Because of the L.A. Marathon, I was used to running at least 5 miles a week total and wanted to keep up with it once I moved to the east coast. To my discontent, the thick, humid summer left something to be desired in terms of running conditions. I still remember my attempt to run to and from the Lincoln Memorial from the UCDC Center one evening in July. Let’s just say my encounter with a swarming mass of mosquitoes by the reflection pool traumatized me never to do it again, despite the glorious view from the top of the memorial steps. I resorted to the UCDC center’s “gym,” which consisted of three treadmills and some weights. Not a fan of sterile exercising environments, I would often imagine myself running in hilly Irvine instead of in a 14 ft. x 14 ft. room with fluorescent lighting.
Once I moved to Maryland, I went running when fall came around. Crunchy leaves became the guiltiest of my simple pleasures. However, winter has been less than cooperative. Snow and freezing temperatures have caused a backlog in my running plans. Yesterday, after having stared longingly out my window at the snow for a month or so, I told myself, “That’s it,” and put on my running gear, which, in the winter includes a beanie, gloves, and thick leggings. What I failed to do was check the temperature before I left the house, but at that point it probably would have been dismissible, given my overwhelming desire to just run. Some may say it was a bad idea. Others might say it was a VERY bad idea.
I wish I had a camera for every WTF look a driver gave me as I ran past them. The good news, though, is that my sweat glands froze over, so I finished feeling invincible not having broken a sweat the entire length of my run.
Who am I kidding? Going home was the most fun I’ve had in a while, with no discredit to Maryland. The California girl in me was just itching for some sunlight. Once my melanin levels get too low, I start to get cranky.
For two weeks, I meandered around southern California catching up with friends and family. Thanks to brother Kevin, I had a car to drive every once in a while to get around. Thank you, everyone, for taking time out of their schedules to spend time with this Lily!
If I was a sum of my actions, then that would make me a full-fledged fast-food-smoothie, Vietna-Mexican restaurant. You could almost say that I most looked forward to eating, eating, eating! I had to take advantage of the food to which I am not privy on the east coast. This includes (but is not necessarily restricted to) the following: In-N-Out, pho, carne asada fries, banh cuon, mi xao, Albertacos, Jamba Juice, boba, Mimi’s Cafe, Champagne’s chicken pesto sandwich, YogurtLand, and Brodard. I certainly got my fix. Not going to lie – the thought of all this could move me to tears in a few months after I’ve been deprived of it long enough.
We got my mom a laptop for Christmas. New running shoes for Dad. Moolah for brother Kevin. Cousins, brother, and I stopped by grandma’s senior center to sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” And I got tons of books, music, and movies. What more could you ask for?
I saw Avatar, Nine, Princess and the Frog, The Road, Invictus, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Sherlock Holmes, and Up in the Air over the holidays. Not bad. Not bad at all. I wasn’t expecting to watch so many movies, but why would I ever complain about something like that?
Also, to continue the Dead Poets & Writers Tour of America, I was able to visit Louis L’Amour’s grave! I can’t say I am a huge fan of his work, but he authored over 105 novels, which were all published by the time of his death. Quite an achievement.
The original plan was to spend the bulk of my two weeks home recording music, but I got a case of the flu three days in and had to push that plan back until I recovered. Which I haven’t yet, not fully. However, I did manage to pick up the ukulele! This is exciting news! I love how bright the uke sounds compared to the guitar. I’ve broadened my musical capacity with the addition of another string instrument to my get-up, and hopefully I don’t lose momentum with it. My ukulele made it back to Maryland with me, so I’ll keep playing it so long as there are songs to learn and write. More recently, I considered purchasing a tenor ukulele. This is still to be decided.
I also practiced the piano for the first time in 6 months, and my hands were depressingly stiff. The “Theme from Howl’s Moving Castle” has sounded much better played by the hands of others, but I hope to find a place in Maryland where I can practice more frequently.
I purchased tickets to see Tegan & Sara in February, Norah Jones in April, and possibly Vampire Weekend in April. As much as I dislike having pickles for dinner, music is a worthy sacrifice!
Well, let’s just say ❤ for now. Thanks for keeping up with me, guys. I guarantee more misadventures to come soon!