oh, for the greater good…when all I really want is my bed.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): "During his time in the Senate, former U.S. presidential candidate John McCain has been a strong advocate for Native Americans. As chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, he sponsored or co-sponsored seven bills in support of Indian rights. And yet Native Americans voted overwhelmingly for McCain’s opponent, Barack Obama, who has no such track record. When asked why, Native American author Sherman Alexie said that unlike most other groups, Indians don’t vote merely for their own narrow self-interest, but rather for the benefit of all. They felt Obama would be the best president for America. That’s the standard I urge you to use in the coming weeks, Aries. Stretch yourself as you work hard for the greater good, not just your own."

Highly appropriate, Mr. Brezny, considering what’s been on my mind this week. It’s hard to maintain my values here, while adjusting to a new city with different values. For example, to me, recycling is just the baseline. In Barcelona, it’s a weird thing that few people do. I am going to have to approach my roommate and tell her I want to take the recyclables to one of the street recycling depots. There are some big recycling bins around town, but apparently no recycling with apartment trash. There’s recycling at school, which is nice. And bottled water. People here swear the tap water is poison, but I’ve been drinking it and feeling fine. There’s even some old fashioned taps in parks to refill my bottle at. I paid 60 euros for a Brita faucet filter, and am waiting until my roommate seems to trust me a little more (I think she thinks I’m strange, but then, I am) before I spring this frightening concept on her. How do I convince someone in Spanish that filtered tap water is cleaner than bottled water?

I want to be cool, fit in, but I also want to be me. I don’t feel like myself right now, I feel like a total noob. Which is normal, especially considering I’ve spent the past 18 months in the backwoods of North Carolina. OK, so people from the real backwoods of NC might argue that Durham is actually a rather cosmopolitan city, but you know. Compared to Barcelona, it’s hicksville. So I’m glad I’m here, but I’m back to the feeling I had while living in Paris of being an outsider. No matter how fluent I become, I simply can’t express myself fully in a 2nd language. It never feels "real." Which is why I came out of my shell while living in Paris. I had always been afraid to speak my mind (no, really, I swear) and doing so in a foreign language, even if it was just cursing out a shitty waiter, really helped prepare me for New York City.

Tonight was an exercise in frustration around this whole nonsense of being in a "foreign" country. If the world is so small, why does it cost so damn much to make a call to the US on a cell phone? It’s not like we’re using undersea cables anymore. WTF? I have been trying to find a memory foam matress topper because I am a princess who has a swank CA King tempurpedic sitting in a warehouse in Durham. I can sleep on nothing else. Yet a 2" sliver of foam (ok, special foam, the cheap foam is cheap) costs at least 300 euros. It’s $70 at Target. argh. If I at least had a bike… but I’m waiting until it gets a smidge warmer, because well, it’s a good idea to get settled first and because it’s cold as f%&k. 🙂 I have snow-capped mountains. like, hollerin’ distance away.