Ay, There’s the Rub / De Eso Se Trata

AS HAMLET SAID, “To sleep, perchance to dream.” The sleep he was referring to was the sleep of death, but this is my own take. I’ve never been the greatest sleeper around. It’s a rare night that allows me three consecutive hours of sound sleep, although I do manage most nights to total up enough hours to get by. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a decent night in a few weeks. I rub my post-surgery eye in my sleep, which wakes me up (and adds to recovery time). My sciatica, which was barely a whimper before my surgery, has reared its ugly head (hip?) since I’ve been unable to do the workouts that seemed to be helping. On the best of nights, the last few hours in the morning have been achey (and wakey).

Even when I do sleep, I’m constantly on the move (that’s why it’s called Moving with Mitchell). I sleep on my side with four pillows — two under my head, one between my knees (to stabilize the hip), and another to hug. One or another ends up on the floor a few times during the night. I wake up at least once every night with my head next to the pillows instead of on them.

I sleep with a top sheet. I get it caught in my arms and twisted around my legs. I swing my arms and knock the lamp off the night table.

And then there’s the constant problem of my over-active brain. “Shut up!” I tell it but it doesn’t listen. I wish I had a switch. As you can imagine, I’m not the best of sleeping partners. Then again, neither is San Geraldo — but that’s another story.

Oh, to be our cats. Yes, they take catnaps and seem to be ever-vigilant. But they can sleep (or lounge) for hours at a time.

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COMO DIJO HAMLET: “Dormir, tal vez soñar”. El sueño al que se refería era el sueño de la muerte, pero lo entiendo. Nunca he tenido el mejor sueño. Es una noche rara que me permite tres horas consecutivas de sueño profundo, aunque lo hago casi todas las noches para acumular suficientes horas para pasar. Desafortunadamente, no he tenido una noche decente en unas pocas semanas. Froto mi ojo después de la cirugía mientras duermo, lo que me despierta (y aumenta el tiempo de recuperación). Mi ciática, que apenas era un gemido antes de mi cirugía, ha levantado su fea cabeza (¿cadera?) ya que no he podido hacer los entrenamientos que parecían estar ayudando. En la mejor de las noches, las últimas horas de la mañana han sido dolorosas (y de mal gusto).

Incluso cuando duermo, estoy constantemente en movimiento (es por eso que se llama Moviéndose con Mitchell). Duermo de lado con cuatro almohadas, dos debajo de la cabeza, una entre las rodillas (para estabilizar la cadera), y otra para abrazar. Uno u otro termina en el suelo varias veces durante la noche. Me despierto al menos una vez cada noche con la cabeza al lado de las almohadas en lugar de sobre ellas.

Duermo con una sábana encimera. Lo atrapo en mis brazos y retorcidos alrededor de mis piernas. Balanceo los brazos y apago la lámpara de la mesita de noche.

Y luego está el problema constante de mi cerebro hiperactivo. “¡Cállate!” lo digo pero no escucha. Desearía tener un interruptor. Como puedes imaginar, no soy la mejor pareja para dormir. Por otra parte, tampoco lo es San Geraldo, pero esa es otra historia.

Oh, ¡para ser nuestros gatos! Sí, toman siestas y parecen estar siempre vigilantes. Pero pueden dormir (o descansar) durante horas a la vez.

Dudo.
Moose.
And the bed, the morning after moving with Mitchell.
Y la cama, la mañana después de moviéndose con Mitchell

The Pain Of Childbirth

Our friends Kathleen and Pedro (parents of 16-month-old Luke) were moving furniture out of an old apartment last week when Pedro hurt his back. It was so bad they ended up hiring someone to finish the work. It’s been a few days and, although it’s much better than it was, Pedro’s back is still causing him some pain. We met for dinner last night and immediately noticed that he was moving stiffly.

“It feels like childbirth,” he moaned.

LUKE: “YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT!”

“It’s better than it was,” Pedro had the nerve (balls?) to continue. “At first the pain was so bad I felt like I was giving birth to twins.”

(Click the images to feel Pedro’s pain.)

IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE CHILDBIRTH, DOESN’T IT?
A COUPLE OF WEEKS BEFORE LABOR.
(LUKE’S PHONY CAMERA SMILE.)

So glad, for Kathleen’s sake, it wasn’t Man Flu. I’ve heard that’s even worse than childbirth.

Metropol Parasol and Finding Home

FROM THE MAIN PLAZA BEFORE TAKING THE ELEVATOR UP.

In a recent post, I shared a couple of photos of the new construction at the Plaza de la Encarnacion in the center of Sevilla.  The structure is called Metropol Parasol and it’s the largest wooden structure in the world. The views are amazing and down below are the Antiquarium (the brand new archaeological museum), a restaurant, and Sevilla’s farmers’ market.

LIKE BEING INSIDE A GIANT HONEYCOMB.

Last night before dinner, Jerry and I took the elevator to the top of the structure and strolled the walkways to admire the spectacular views contrasting old and new architecture.  Well, it would be more correct to say that Jerry and I both took the elevator up, but I alone strolled the walkways.

RUN!  A MILDLY PANICKING JERRY TELLING ME HE’S HEADING BACK DOWN.

A VIEW FROM THE BACK. NOTE THE WALKWAY SNAKING TO THE RIGHT.

UNDULATIONS.

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS.

Jerry went out onto the first walkway concerned about the heights only to become more concerned about the vibrations.  So, I continued on and he went back downstairs to check out the Antiquarium (built around the discoveries at the base of the Metropol Parasol).

LA GIRALDA (THE CATHEDRAL BELL TOWER) IN THE BACKGROUND.

The museum was closed (Sunday night at 9), but you can still see quite a bit through the glass and it was beautiful and fascinating. We’ll have to get back to really explore the ancient history (ruins going as far back as 1 A.D.).

LOOKING AT SEVILLA THROUGH A ROSE-COLORED PALACIO.

REALLY CLOSE TO HOME

We take possession August 1 of our apartment on Calle Cuna. We are elated.  The apartment shares the top floor of a three-story former private palace in the heart of old Sevilla.  Our “palacio” is on a pedestrianized street and is simply 10 apartments built in the shell of a former palace.  It’s only two bedrooms, but it’s grander (in style and quality) than we expected to find.  It’s light and airy, and quiet; with large windows opening onto a charming and large interior courtyard and other windows looking out back.  And the location is incredible.  For those of you who know the city, we are across the street from the Palace of Lebrija, a fully restored private palace that is now a private museum.  We are just a few minutes walk from Metropol Parasol, El Corte Inglés, and all the other shopping, dining, and people-watching you could possibly desire (and about 10-minutes away from that antique store that’s selling my Parachute Jump, which would look so great in our new apartment).

Erin Schwab at Hells Kitchen

We are leaving Minneapolis in the morning (Saturday).  We were supposed to leave this morning (Friday) but earlier in the week we found out that Erin Schwab was performing tonight at Hell’s Kitchen. We couldn’t possibly leave without seeing and hearing her one more time.

A TENDER MOMENT.  SHE’S GOT IT ALL.

The last time we saw Erin perform live was way too long ago (nearly 10 years) but, if anything, she’s gotten better.  The crowd tonight was international.  The performance was out of this world.  So, this is just a quick post to tell you that Erin alone is worth a trip to The Twin Cities (that’s Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota).

LOOK CLOSELY AT WHAT HANGS FROM THE CHANDELIER. 
THEY TAKE THE THEME SERIOUSLY.

To top it off, we had an amazing meal at Hell’s Kitchen (where they — justifiably — claim to have “damn good food”). 

ERIN, CAUGHT AFTER THE SHOW.

Why Move? Why Leave? Why Spain?

To the first and second “why” questions, there are so many answers.  But, the easiest responses are, because we can and because we want to (or vice versa).  We have talked for years about living in Europe.

I thought of moving to England in the late ’70s.

Jerry and I considered the Netherlands in the ’90s (those “Bush the First” years).  Coming from San Diego at the time, we decided we could if we had to, but the weather would be an adjustment.

Then in the “George Jr.” years, we considered Ireland (a job prospect in Dublin for Jerry) but again decided the weather would be an adjustment, along with some social/political/religious issues.  Not to mention the fact that we weren’t a legally recognized couple and I, therefore, would have no legal right to go/stay with him.

Our next thought during the George Jr. years was Norway.  Specifically Bergen.  We thought, well, we love Seattle.  And Bergen reminds us in so many ways of Seattle.  We figured, we can tolerate the weather in Seattle (well, no, we really can’t), so how difficult could Bergen be?  Our family in Bergen loved the idea of having us as neighbors (no, really, they did).  But they thought we were nuts if we believed we could tolerate the weather.

We then did some research and learned that Seattle gets 37 inches of precipitation a year.  The total isn’t significant except that it’s continual drizzles.  (Seattle Rain Festival: January 1-December 31).  But, Bergen, hold onto your hats, gets EIGHTY-NINE INCHES OF PRECIPITATION a year.  And it’s almost all rain.  And the rain falls sideways. There’s no escaping it.

Southern Spain is a popular and easy-to-reach tourist destination for Norwegians.  So, we thought we could spend half the year in Bergen and half in Southern Spain.  But that still meant at least, unscientifically speaking, 45 inches of rain.  And, as I just mentioned, in Bergen it rains sideways.

So, we’re still here.

Until we had our hotel in Palm Springs from 2000-2003 (that requires another post), we had talked a lot about retiring there.  And when we returned to Southern California from Vegas last year, that was back as the top possibility.

But the problem was that Palm Springs, although beautiful, just didn’t excite us anymore.  There isn’t anything new for us.  So, we bought “Retirement Places Rated” for the U.S. and studied.  And we still couldn’t find that spark.

A few months passed and we started to talk about Europe again.  We decided to list out our requirements in order of priority and then narrow down to regions, countries, and cities based on those factors.

The top priority (I’ll admit to being a bit shallow on this one):
THE WEATHER.
We realized a pleasant climate — a la San Diego — was what we required.  That knocked off a whole bunch of countries.

The second priority was political/social climate:
Admittedly this went hand in hand with weather.  Cuba’s sunshine and ocean breezes can be quite charming, but we’re not rushing off to live there.

Other requirements (and no longer in order of priority) were:
An interesting culture and history; a population that welcomes outsiders; safe and secure living conditions; a language we could learn; national/nature parks; good healthcare; good public transportation–local, regional, and national; easy/cheap access to other parts of Europe; and I can’t remember what else right now.

That led us to Southern Spain–Andalucia.  But we didn’t want to end up in an expat community surrounded only by other non-Spaniards (and Andalucia has a number of beautiful communities filled with expats).  So, we did more research, talked to more people, and finally narrowed down to Sevilla.  After deciding on Sevilla, we re-opened the discussion (we re-open discussions a lot) and decided to look in the outlying area for smaller cities where we could more easily relax (and where our money would go further).  We decided to follow the train line down from Sevilla to Cadiz.  And there it was, Jerez de la Frontera.  Home to sherry, the horse, and the flamenco.  Also  home to the Motorcycle Grand Prix (not really on our list of interests).