Friday, May 30, 2008

He Never Knew What Hit Him

I've decided that few people are easier to surprise than Frenchy. I sat right next to him on the couch and sent an email out to several of his friends with the title: Quentin's Birthday - SHHHH!

I'm sure he looked over my shoulder at my screen on more than one occasion, but still managed to never see those email headers.

Then, on the day of his surprise dinner, I met Tucker at L' Illa to buy his gift: a new tennis racket. After five minutes, Frenchy called me and said, "Hey do you want to meet for lunch at L' Illa?" I would never EVER turn down Frenchy for lunch so, not wanting to appear suspicious, I said, "Sure, I can be there in a few minutes if I leave the office now." Then a voice came over the loudspeaker at the sporting goods shop requesting a price for something... And Frenchy still paid no heed. He's the best! When he arrived, he didn't even think it was weird that I'd randomly bumped into Tucker and Alex, nor that they had a new tennis racket with them....

So I could probably throw him a surprise party every year and he'd still never suspect it! Frenchy rocks.

Tucker, moi, Xandy, Frenchy, Miguel, and Brandon... some of the 30+ attendees:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Post #401: Back from France

So I tried with all my might to leave my annoying illness in France with the Frenchies over the weekend, but alas, it came back to Barcelona with me. And over the course of the weekend, I lost and regained my voice a few times, managed to breathe through my nostrils again and then lose that very unappreciated ability, and develop a rather nasty cough. All while trying to speak French. Whew! No wonder I'm exhausted.

And tonight Frenchy called his parents to say hello and found out that his father has now lost his voice. Whoops. Bad enough I'm American... I had to go around spreading my germs all over Paris! Note to self: bad idea to get your boyfriend's parents sick. Try not to do this again.

In other news, at least the weather was pretty good! Meanwhile, here in Barcelona it apparently rained nonstop. I'm looking forward to summer actually starting...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gay Pareeee

So my cold from Sunday hasn´t gotten much better... au contraire. Now, not only can I not hear anything or breathe through my nose, I can´t speak either! If I had superhuman vision, I´d be okay with losing all my other senses, but unfortunately I´m blind as a bat so that doesn´t really make up for anything.

And meanwhile, the rain in Barcelona stopped for two days and has now returned with a vengeance. The reports say it won´t let up until the end of the month, and that´s as good a reason as any to get outta here. So Frenchy and I are headed to Paris this afternoon. Two of his friends are getting married tomorrow. Yes, that´s Friday. I told my boss the other day, "Only French people would get married on a Friday." And he said, "No Spanish people do too. Otherwise if you have your wedding on the weekend people might miss it because they go out of town." Right.

The forecast for Paris says sun through tomorrow (good for the wedding!) and rain Saturday and Sunday (bad for the weekend!) so at least I can temporarily escape this Barcelona monsoon and pretend to be on holiday somewhere for a day and a half.

Oh and did I mention they´re throwing a transit strike in Paris today? They hold those EVERY day of the week in Paris! :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sick of Spring?

One thing I'll never understand is how getting sick works. I mean, one minute I can be totally fine, and the next I'm sick. Maybe other people - normal people - get sick gradually. Like, "ooh my muscles hurt, must be getting sick!" Not me. You might also think that the changing weather might have affected my health. After all, we had two weeks of beautiful sunny beach weather followed by a three-day monsoon and a week of something in between. But no, I felt fine throughout. So it must be my lifestyle... not enough sleep, etc. So then why do I get sick at the end of the most relaxing, quiet, well-behaved, indeed CULTURAL, weekends I've had in ages???

Let me back up a bit. On Thursday night I went for dinner at Bar Mundial (amazing seafood) with some work colleagues to say farewell to our intern Thomas, who has now headed back to Paris. Rather than staying out very late after dinner, I was very well-behaved and went home to bed afterward. Friday I had a meeting in the morning with some folks from the Superleague Formula and then headed off to work before a late lunch with Paul at Cerveceria Catalana. (In the past few weeks, due to so many people being in town, I've eaten enough tapas to last my entire life.) And then, Friday night, Frenchy and I did absolutely nothing. Which was kind of cool!

Saturday morning the weather was still bad, but by the afternoon it had cleared up enough to take a walk through the Barrio Gotico in the attempt to find a dress for a wedding in Paris this coming weekend. Emphasis on attempt. No such dress, but we did find... tapas! And really tall people.

This one bumped into me and said, "Ay!" I'm not joking.

Then Frenchy dropped his ice cream. Sadness to end all sadness...

Saturday was also "La Nit dels Museus," or Museum Night. A dozen or so major Barcelona museums were open - and free to enter - from 7pm to 1am. After a little rest, Frenchy and I headed down to MACBA, which neither of us had ever visited. It's one of those things you do on a rainy day... and there aren't many of those in Barcelona. (Last weekend, during the torrential downpour that was Saturday, we went to the Museu Maritim - very cool.) After an hour in MACBA, we headed next door to the CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona) and then on to the Photography Museum. We had planned to stop off at La Pedrera on the way home, since it's just behind my apartment building, but the line was still around the block even at midnight, so we called it a night.


Our wet feet at MACBA.

Building stick towers at the CCCB

Sunday morning the sun was actually out, so we went for a run, then chilled out on the terrace in the sunshine reading trashy Spanish magazines (me) and trashy books written by English people living in France (Frenchy) and then headed down to the Aquarium on our bicycles. And it was only upon leaving, around 5pm, that I noticed my throat was hurting. After MORE tapas at Ciudad Condal, it was really hurting and my ears were blocked. By bedtime, I had a full-blown head cold.

So either I'm allergic to tapas and my allergy is only showing symptoms now, in my third year of living in Barcelona, or I'm allergic to culture and healthy living. I think it's the second one. Clearly, I spent too much time learning and seeing things this weekend and not enough time consuming alcohol. Maybe I should do the MBA again...

Or maybe I shouldn't act like a 5 year old and play on giant sea turtle statues that loads of snotty-nosed, probably-sick 5 year olds have climbed around on. Silly me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fred Astaire: Ant Killer

A few weeks ago, I had a minor ant problem. Okay, a major ant problem. I went around stomping them and sweeping them and then Frenchy bought some ant spray and we started spraying them instead. We scared them off for a full week, and they came back with a vengeance. I tried several types of shoes and found my flip flops work best. But I should've just hired the king of all ant killers and his magic cane:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Revenge of the French Press

A couple of weeks ago, Frenchy said gallantly, "Sweetie, I'll make coffee for you this morning!" Which I, of course, thought was fantastic. I got up, showered, and was drying my hair, when I thought... Hmmm coffee should be ready by now...

I went out to the kitchen and, indeed, there was that great coffee smell in the air, and Frenchy was checking his emails, so I figured everything was under control and went back to drying my hair. A few minutes later I thought, geez it never takes this long to make coffee. And this time, when I went to the kitchen, the nice coffee smell had mingled with an awful burning smell.

And at precisely that moment, Frenchy went from complete focus on his laptop to a look of shock as he realized he had put the coffee on far too long ago. We both went to the stove and realized the burning smell was worse than ever, overtaking the whole apartment. While I opened all the windows, Frenchy checked out the coffee maker and finally said, "Um. I forgot to put water in." He showed me what was left of the rubber piece that seals the two parts of the machiatto. "Sorry sweetie, no coffee this morning." Poor Frenchy, he really tried. So I had coffee at work, no big deal. And when I got home, there was a brand new coffee maker in the kitchen. He's a doll.

Last week, another gallant attempt. "I promise I'll put in water this time!" And so he did. And we laughed about it. A few minutes later, the coffee maker was making its familiar gurgling noise, signifying the top should be full off morning crack, I mean coffee, goodness. But every time we lifted the lid, no coffee. Frenchy was puzzled. Steam whistled out of the top of the coffee maker. "It's like the coffee is magically turning into steam!"

So I looked around. Clearly he had put water in. But there was no sign of coffee anywhere on the counter... But what WAS on the counter was the little funnel where you're supposed to put the coffee in the coffee maker. Frenchy said, "I think I need a coffee before I can make coffee."

I spent Monday night in London to take some meetings early Tuesday. Tuesday morning I received an email on my blackberry titled "Unbelievable!" Frenchy had remembered to put both the coffee AND the water in the coffee maker! And turned on the stove. So I guess the problem is me...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Donna Martin Graduates!!!

Wait... that's soooo 90210. And we're over here in 08017, so I guess it's a bit off. Nonetheless...

FRENCHY GRADUATES! Er, graduated. He did it!

Unfortunately, after two or three absolutely beautiful sunny weeks here in Barcelona, a torrential downpour started early Friday morning and didn't let up until Sunday, by which time the IESE graduation festivities were over and most peoples' visiting families had headed back home.

Friday I had an all-day strategy meeting, but fortunately my office is near Calatrava and Frenchy was kind enough to bring my dress there so I could stop by after work and do a Superman without needing a telephone booth. I raced up there on my moto in the driving rain, thankful that I'd stashed a hairdryer in the bag with my dress. Ditched the bike, ran into the apartment, and flicked on the lights.... Uhhh no power. And just as I was saying, "What the..." out loud, the girlfriends of two of Frenchy's roommates appeared. I hadn't even realized anyone was home, and of course they thought some sort of crazy person had been launched into the apartment.

So we resigned ourselves to looking like drowned rats, did the best we could with our hair and makeup, and dashed back out to find a taxi. Calling cab companies was futile - after waiting on hold for several minutes, you'd finally just get a click and a dial tone. So we stood outside in the rain, strategically placed around a major intersection, and finally found a taxi. AFTER AN HOUR. Fortunately, no photos exist to document how I looked at that point.

I was just so happy to finally be in a taxi on my way to IESE because around that time I was seriously starting to worry that I'd miss graduation altogether. But after making it through a massive traffic jam (Barcelona residents are worse than Southern Californians when it comes to driving in the rain: "OH. MY. GOD. THERE IS WATER COMING OUT OF THE SKYYYYY!") I found Frenchy's family and their excellent seats and dripped water all over them. I was just so happy to be inside.

And then I was so happy to see Frenchy happily strolling down the aisle with the rest of the class of 2008, all dressed like priests just as we were last year. Then his mother leaned over to me and said in French, "He's turning into an American! Look! He's chewing gum!" I was initially crestfallen. Indeed, Frenchy was just so happy to be there with all his friends in the midst of that celebration he was chewing his gum quite ferociously... But hey I didn't teach him that. I DID, however, teach him how to say "dude" like a proper Californian, in three to four syllables: du-u-u-uuuuude! And that's something I'll proudly take credit for!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Back to the Scene of the Crime

One year later, 100 or so IESE 2007 grads and their partners converged on Barcelona for a weekend of fun, sun, wine, party, and catch-up. We started with some beach time for those who were able to arrive during the day on Thursday, and then the old Calatrava gang and friends got together for dinner at Vinateria del Call in the barrio gotico.

Friday we had a lunchtime paella at Barceloneta and caught up with IESE-ans all along the beachfront en route to Bogatell. After a quick nap, it was time for a sushi dinner and a party at Universal, an old IESE haunt. Saturday morning after Universal is always a little rough, so we got ourselves back on track with some tapas in Gracia and headed up to IESE for catch buses that took us to the Roqueta vineyard. It's always good to have someone in your class who has a vineyard so you can plan cool dinners there. After a great tour of the vineyard and an even greater dinner (we were all starving by the time dinner arrived) we headed back to Barcelona and off to Opium and Sutton... once our home away from home.

Barcelona is a great town, but it's not the same with everyone scattered all over the globe. It was so great to be able to walk around town and bump into friends all over the place, just like our IESE days. But as with everything, there's always an end point and Sunday came all too soon. Monday morning found me a little worse for the wear as I got ready for work, and definitely missing my friends. Back to reality. But at least summer is on it's way and that means time to travel!