Well, I found a cheaper email connection, so I'm able to write again. I'm sorry to respond to you en masse, it's just pretty dang expensive to write individual emails from here. But I've got a little more time so I can answer some of those burning questions I've been getting from you all.
1) Hey Tim, how are you spending your days out there?
Well, really, my main purpose right now is learning Spanish, or Castellano rather. They do speak Catalan here, a lot more than you'd think. Although Franco tried to squash the Catalan language, everyone kept speaking it. The end result is that everyone over 50 seems to be illiterate in Catalan, but speak it all the time. Something new to learn. All the signs are in Catalan.
But anyway, I just rented a place around the corner from Sagrada Familia (the really weird, beautiful church designed by Gaudi). The process was arduous. I had to go through three different agencies to find it, and there was a lot of standing around, finding out that the agent had no keys. It was an excellent opportunity to practice the language, though. Now I'm all depressed cuz I found out how much a bed costs here (too much). However, there is an IKEA here(!), so I'm going to go check that out.
Other than that, I've been busking a lot out on La Rambla (Busking: vi, Playing street music for money). I've met some of the other musicians here, who seem to be living on the 1000 pesetas they get each day, I don't know how. I made friends with some Bill Wilson fans, too, and am hanging out with them a lot.
2) How do I contact you?
Email remains the best way. I have an address now, but I'm not certain how that works, since I don't even have the keys yet. I don't have a phone yet. I promise to update all of this for you all.
4) Are you writing?
YES! finally, after months of nothing, I started up the novel again. I'm changing some of my old characters, but the storyline is still basically the same (Seinfeld style: no storyline) There's a lot of great material here.
5) How's work?
Well, I'm still waiting for the Permiso de Trabajo, so no work yet. But I did meet my sponsor here, the other OLAP programmer who seems to be the guy I'll be working with most. I went to the offices, which was cool. They have better laptops here than we had at Oracle US! And everone smokes. It was like, Hi my name's Juan, do ju want a cigarette? Lots of big ashtrays on the desks. Everyone has a mobile phone. No one has a car.
6) Are you running?
Funny you should ask. I've been running a lot, there's a great hill here overlooking the whole city. The return route runs through the Guadi museum, which is kind of like running through the set of "Yellow Submarine". I just signed up for "La 21ª Cursa El Corte Ingles", which is a 12km run here at the beginning of June. 12km... I'm assured a PR, cuz I've never run that distance before.
7) Are you getting news there?
Not all that much US news. No one really seems to talk about the shootings in Denver. There is plenty of anti-OTAN sentiment about the situation in Kosovo. But people don't sit around yacking about the US a whole lot, which surprised me. I would have thought that everyone would spit when they said "USA". But no.
Oh man, I saw a pretty bad accident between a motorcycle and a taxi, though. I think everyone walked away from it, but it was a little scary there for a bit. A day later, I found out about the big tornado in Kansas. On the whole, the motorcycle accident made a much bigger impact on me, if that's any indication of how things are news-wise for me.
8) Would you like some more email?
Yes. Sí. Ja. Anio. All that. I'm checking my email every other day or so. If you're trying to ICQ me, forget it until I get my own connection.
Well, anyway, that's how things are in a nutshell for right now. I really miss you all. The homesickness is wearing off some, though. And yesterday was a really good day for some reason, like, I suddenly realized that I could understand Spanish. It was like someone had just stuck a babel fish in my ear (if you don't know, don't ask). Which is cool. I'm still going to look into school here, but at least I'm not going to starve to death. It's getting warm. There are many Italians here now. I miss you all. -Tim
Wednesday, May 5, 1999