Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spinning Angst

A small room oozing a plethora of body odors belonging to middle aged persons attempting to defy death is sporatically decorated with splashes of neon paint upon a black canvas. The saddle of the stationary bikes are being sprayed with toxic and wiped with sandy colored paper towels by the previous riders. Spin class. My newest athletic poison.

Several of my good friends have been attending for awhile and I joined the band wagon. Sixty minutes of intense amount of sweating and crappy techno music that makes my head spin in itself is not normally something that I volunteer for but there is something in this process that is addicting. It very well could be the adrenaline rush but with further contemplation I believe that it is my hatred for the blond bouncy instructor that fills my motivation. Perhaps this seems odd to most individuals but smarmy comments and death stares make the time fly.

Tonight the music was abominable and the instructor an idiot, more so than normally. She raced us through music that if Tipper Gore had her way would have been black listed long ago. Sexual innuendos and satanic sounding voices echoed around the room. The only way to make it through the class was to gazed through the tinted windows across the cardio gym section and attempt to make out the Jeopardy questions. Jeopardy indicates that the hell was at least half way over and when the Final Jeopardy question appeared, I sighed with relief. Only to realize that Miss Bouncy Bike was not on the same time schedule as Alex Trebek. Sprinting towards the proverbial finish line I hated her even more. And the truth is, that I kind of enjoy hating her. I have no idea about her life or her character, but I hate her. And I like it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School

Well, finally I am home. It has been a full week after my last rough flight from JFK (don't get me started) and now school is in session. I might have spent a little too much time gone this summer because I am not sure my cat (who does have hair once again, by the way)recognizes me. Here is the view from the Empire State Building. I choose the one that turned out to be artsy to share the other one is really boring, but I want to be clear that I didn't intend to be artsy, it was really divine intervention with the wind. So I call this, "the gods ny"

I believe that now that I have returned home I will continue with my exploration (rediscovery if you will) of the local fare of St. Petersburg. Just recently we went to the Garden. A fan favorite from our younger years. It has a great outdoor patio and usually has the best jazz around beginning on Thursday nights throughout the weekend. The Garden serves as a restaurant as well as a pub, though in my many years spending time at this location not once have I ever eaten there and there is a rumor that it is has been labeled as a dirty dining location. That aside if you are looking for a laid back evening with the ability to talk to your friends this is a nice place to go. The beers are cold, the drinks are tasty and the service has always been friendly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Empire Penis?

Now we are all aware of the occurrences of the phallic symbol in architecture around the world. The US seems to do this particularly well considering the Washington monument as one of the most significant images. The Chrysler building of course the location of many romantic theatrical moments in New York City, the Empire State building. But I ask one simple question, did we need to have a cookie? Really.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New York City

Ahhh, the honking of morning rush hour wakes me. I slip out of bed and gently push open the curtains, so the smog filled city can enter through the windows. The brightness that isn't muffled by pollution illuminates the room. Rooftops that are part of insignificant buildings across the alley filled with trash bags and ethnic looking workers creates the vision of the real New York. Yesterday's transfer to this city was a little rough because a 4 hour drive turned into an 8 hour one when the bus got a flat tire. We sat on the side of the road for a good chunk of time and waited for someone to bring us a new bus. A side stop of lunch in glorious North Haven and a nutty route to the hotel (the bus driver missed his turn and then decided it was a good idea to back up on the interstate)created a lengthy trip.

There very well may be some sort of trash strike in the city because it stinks. I have never seen it this way. The city usually has some element of mystique for me but today the view from my window makes it look a little depressing and the trash lined streets makes me a bit concerned. The city is so fast and theatrical in nature and when you are feeling no element of either it makes things a little rough.

This morning I will be taking my advanced class to Columbia for a couple of reasons. One, I like the campus a lot. Two, I know how to get there. As for the lesson, I am sure we can figure something out.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Salem and the End of Beantown

For the first time in my life I wonder to myself why do they call it Beantown? Why are there famous Boston bakedbeans? What is this? Someone fill me in.

Today we went on a witch hunt and instead we found a lovely park and gorgeous shore. Salem is a small tourist town which for the most part is for tourists. Some of the French were a little stressed by the local dress, mostly black and spooky attire. After a haunted house, a witch trial museum and an informative video at the tourist office about Salem trade in the 1800s the group returned happily to Boston where many hours flew by at Quincy Market.

A small group of students decided to stick around for the Boston Harbor Sunset cruise which provided a spectacular view of city. We ate some local grub and strolled home. On the way we stop at several locations along the way to appreciate some street dancers, musicians and artisans. We enjoyed a demonstration of a skirt that has over 100 different uses and is reversible to boot. It was awesome and now I am regretting now investing. Below is video I took of a child that couldn't be more than 6 years old dancing.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Harvard Bound

Teaching English to foreign students is a bit of a challenge considering I actually do not have any skills in this area, but it is moving along just fine. Yesterday we to see Hot Rod, which if you have heard nothing about it is a cinema delight. Today Harvard.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Flashback! Spain Team! Love them!


Boston is beautiful. We went on the famous Duck Tour today which was a lovely way to see the city. The students are mostly French which helps me work on my French skills a bit but hopefully they will learn more English, than I do French. Tonight we are on our way to a Harbor Cruise.

More soon with pictures!

Friday, August 3, 2007


Well I am finally on US soil. The trip was great and fairly quick over the lush Atlantic. Naps, food and Shrek 3 made time fly. There was tearful good-bye from really one of the greatest groups of students in summer history.

JFK itself is a cluster fuck. I arrived at the Delta terminal to find a line in an unairconditioned hall way for the elevator that leads you to the real cluster of check in. From the kiosk to find out that my flight was delayed, to the line to check in my baggage to then the other line to drop off my baggage, to then security and finally the last gate. After waiting for an hour, the gate was changed from 29 to 2 to 21.

Hopefully, Gil made it to Atlanta and did a little matchmaking for me with an attractive chatty fellow that we met as we waited together.

At this moment I am minutes from boarding my flight to Tampa, so I can catch a tram to the baggage claim then meet friends that are taking me home. Home what a lovely relaxing thought at the moment.

It is now 9:28PM and I am still at the airport. After another series of delays, they announced that some thingamagig on the plane is broken. It is something that makes the aircraft turn and without it the plane will only be able to go straight ahead. Now I am not a pilot or anything and there is a level of delirium at play at this point but I just need to go straight. I mean I can draw a fairly straight line from New York to Tampa on a map, so what is the problem? It seems like they will find us a new plane but in the meantime I need to find something to poke my eyes out with since the airport is blaring the Cranberries full album over the loud speaker.

Well it is 4:41 AM and I just got home. A new plane was found at 10, we boarded at 10:30, we were suppose to take off at 11. Instead, we sat on the runway until 1:30 and then took off. But don't worry the gave us a granola bar so all is good. Sigh.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Series of Unfortunate Events

Last time I committed a series of unfortunate mistakes that, now leads me to believe that sometimes I am a really flighty person. I returned to my hotel room and I decided to run a bath. While the bath was filling I decided to sign up for 24hour internet service in my room. I filled out the appropriate form and hit send, as one would and nothing happened. I did it again. Nothing. I closed everything out and reopened it. Then it listed 2 purchases for online service totaling almost $35. As I picked up my phone I noticed that the bathroom was becoming my own private pool. I ran in and unplugged the tub. Desperately grabbing a million towels in order to prevent the entire room from being underwater.

After a long while of twisting soaking wet towels back into the tub, I hung all the towels up and got back on the phone with the internet people. I called and selected 2 for English, believing that it would be easier to explain my technological issues with the most akin vocabulary. The customer service person answered, "Hola, Buenas Noche." So I attempted to explain my predicament: card charged and no service. He asked me for a pin number which I didn't have. He asked me for a purchase number which I didn't have. Then he asked me if I had check my email. I explained that I couldn't check my email since I didn't actually have internet service in order to provide a way to check my email. he then referred me to another number. I called it. The hours of operation are from 10-12, 6-10 Monday thru Friday.

Leaving me with little choice, I dialed the first number again. My cell phone told me that I had no money left on my prepaid. Sigh. I went down the hall to borrow one from one of my colleagues (who were nice enough to help out during the flooding scenario) and then my room door shut, leaving me locked out. I went down stairs without shoes to ask for another key and asked the hotel receptionist for help with the internet issue. She then sold me a prepaid card that allowed me to access the appropriate service.

I learned that whatever I had done previously did not charge my credit card and that I was good to go. Exhausting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

End Times

Granada is filled with Morracans and their goods. The streets are lined with itty bitty alleys that have venders hiding within them. When in doubt of what country you are in, you may look up towards the mountain and see the Alhambra which is breath taking but that still isn´t much help since it was built by the Moors. Every corner has a tea shop or a kebab place. Of course in order to claim ownership Isabel and Fernanad are buried here in the Cathedral, so when in doubt remember that the imperialist Catholics are right around haunting the city creating a mixture of Spainish and Arab culture that is such a cool feel.

August has arrived and one of my students had us hold hands in a circle, look up into the dark sky to say goodbye to July last night at 12:05. I have officially been gone for 40 days and 40 nights, not sure if I am Noah in a flood or Moses in a desert, but either way it will be nice to get home for a bit. Even if will only be for bit. I arrive Friday night at midnight to Tampa and leave Monday morning at 11AM for the Boston/NY trip.

I am looking forward to having a couple of pints among kindred spirits in the ol´stomping grounds.