The One Where the Novio Carved a Pumpkin

When I made my little trip to Spain four years ago, I was determined to do what any expat does – immerse myself in the culture. Eat, breath and sleep flamenco, siestas and tapas.

Then I realized I am just too American for that. Who says you can’t live in Spain and have your hot dog-flavored cake, and eat it, too?

I don’t necessarily have to redeem myself when it comes to exhibiting my Americanism with pride with the Novio, as he is ten times more Spanish than I am guiri. He eats, breathes, sleeps cerveza, Betis and juerga. But one really beautiful part of a bilingual, bicultural relationship is being able to share another culture with someone. Had I not met Kike, there’s a lot that would remain a mystery to me, and a lot of places I would never know.

So, in my opinion, it’s only natural I’d try to do the same. since Halloween is my second favorite holiday, second only to Fourth of July (for the beer and fireworks, not the patriotism!), and this is the first time he’s actually been in Seville for Halloween since we met, it was high time I taught him about All Hallow’s Eve.

Turns out, he’s too Spanish for his own good.

My friend Kelly hosts a pumpkin carving party yearly, but I missed out this year to go to Madrid. Last Tuesday, I finished work and, feeling in the spirit of Halloween on the first cold and blustery day of the Fall, went to Lidl to buy spider webs for my classroom and a pumpkin for the Novio and I. Lidl is the German equivalent of Aldi – mega cheap, charges you for bags like most places in Spain, has carts of random crap in the aisles. But Aldi has a rotating international week, meaning I can get cranberry juice and marshmallows during American week, Croque Monsseiur during semaine francaise, and beer brats and Haribo gummis any given. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, witches hats and packaged candy fangs adorn the aisle displays next to the register. I snagged the last two pumpkins, paid for two bags and took them home.

Since the pumpkins came with stickered-on faces, The Novio perched them on the mantle above the TV, laughing in a spooky voice. “Sunday,” I announced, “¡Al ataque!”

The weekend drew to a close and I dropped Hayley off at the taxi stand and went to make chicken stock and wait for Kike to come home from having lunch with friends. Three hours later, he arrives home. I told him I wanted to do Halloween stuff, like carve our pumpkins. He walked into the kitchen, took out a knife, and I had to lunge forward and yell NOOOOOOOOOOO, because he assumed I wanted him to cut it up so we could make a crema, a type of thick soup, out of it. He asked the purpose of carving it before All Hallow’s Eve, as today is merely the 30th.

I told him I was giving up, not really willing to fight about a tradition he knows very little about. Venga, he coaxed, we’re already doing Halloween things! He made a scary face and tried to pop out at me from behind the open fridge door. I took out the carving knife and commenced slicing off the head of his pumpkin, scooping out the goopy innards and placing them in a glass bowl.

As I tried to peel off the sticker, the Novio protested, saying he didn’t know how to make a scary face. I gave up. He did, too.

Replacing the top, he snickered and put the jack o’lantern back on the mantle. Within ten minutes, the time it took for me to carve my pumpkin and place the seeds pn a baking sheet, he was out cold.

There’s always Thanksgiving, Novio. Who doesn’t like a holiday based around food and sports?

Adventures in babysitting

So, I like to think of my job as glorified babysitting. I have kids as young as 11 who have no concept of discipline. They’re a bit like monkeys sometimes. Because most of the kids aren’t encouraged by their parents, most don’t want to learn and prefer to talk or sleep. Despite this, I’ve had some really good discussions (like about Physician Assisted Suicide) or kids who are really interested in what they’re learning.

**After I showed kids pictures of Chicago, one of my younger students went out and bought a Chicago Bulls backpack. I smile everytime I see him toting it through the hall.

**We planted trees in one of my classes, and the students invited me along. I got to be the pne who held the tree in the ground as two other students covered it in dirt, and the tree will apparently have my name associated with it. That’s pretty kick ass.

**On Valentine’s Day, I was talking about conversation hearts and the kids had to come up with their own in English. On the board, I wrote “xoxo” meaning hugs and kisses. Apparently that shorthand means “pus$y” Well done.

Hard to believe they let me be alone with young minds, eh?

Just My Luck

Well, I’ve managed to do it again. Two years ago, on our first day in Valladolid, I locked Emily, Madre and myself out on our balcony. Emily climbed through the bathroom window and let us in. Apparently Spanish terraces lock from the inside.

This morning, I was cleaning off the terrace while Eva was having a smoke and I closed the door so that I could wipe down the windows. Eva said, “A few weeks ago, before you arrived, I locked myself out here. It took me 20 minutes to get in.” and I said, “You silly girl! How did you get in? Did someone come?” And she said, “No, but now we must find a way in since we have locked the door.” DUH. I stayed calm, thinking, Melissa won’t be home for a few days, but I at least have a sheet out here so we can keep warm and we could really scrub down the balcony. Eva can light one of her stubs when she wants a nicotine fix. Eva tried to use the broom to pry the door open, and I considered taking the door off the hinge. I didn’t find any hinges.

Then, I got an idea. I knew my keys were on the desk where I’m writing from. It’s right next to the window. I figured I could stand on the outside of the terrace’s wrought iron gate and grab them, after I’d maneuvered them to the side of the desk next to the window. I would have climbed through the window, but there are bars on them. My plan was successful. As Eva held me around the waist, I grabbed the keys and climbed back onto the terrace.

So now we had keys, and I was considering jumping from the first floor down to the street and walking in and retrieving my roommate. She wouldn’t let me. I flagged down a lady walking with some grocery bags, son in hand. I kind of explained to her what happened then threw my keys to her. She came and got us and told us to lay off the bottle. I just said, “Uh huh, ok!” But we were inside!!

Other than that mishap, things are fine. I met the Sevilla team for a drink and to discuss the semester’s work. One of them is from Chicago, so we got along immediately and have since gone and eaten together. I like teaching a lot, too. When I leave, the students will stand by the door and wave their hand and say, “Goodbye American teacher!” The other teachers in the school are all very nice, too. One of them invited me to a horse race this weekend, or out to a movie. Too bad he is about 60. Oh Raf.

If I’ve got one complaint, it’s that I haven’t made a ton of friends. I wanted to go out last night and experience the nightlife, but no one was going out. Well, except Kelly, but she didn’t call me until 2 am and I was already sleeping. I need to suck it up and go out on a school night and just sleep during the day!

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