Wednesday, 4 December 2013
One of the few things I had left to complain about in my life was the fact that I never see my family as much as I'd like to, living on different continents and all... and then one day, it was decided that my sister Morna would come and live in Barcelona too. She spent 3 weeks on the pull-out couch in my spare room and is now all set up with a job, a flat, and a burgeoning new life... and I have family where I live! My dad is even coming for a visit this week so I feel completely spoiled. In the meantime my sister and I have been going for sunny walks, hot chocolates once the weather turned cold, and enjoying the chance to talk properly, without the looming deadline of leaving that has been a constant in our lives for years!
(Hallowe'en - least imaginative put possibly most gratifying costume idea ever, and also fun to beat all that Movember silliness to the punch).
...later we came across some facepaint and morphed into pirates...
Thank you all for the support on last week's post by the way. It's infuriating to know how many of you have had similar experiences, but good to know I'm not alone in my frustrations.
Friday, 29 November 2013
Photo by Louis Cesteleyn (this photo has nothing to do with the text, but anyway)
It´s a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one part of your life starts to go right, something else will come to bite you, to paraphrase Bridget Jones misquoting Jane Austen. I´ve been amazingly happy lately: perfect new place, perfect home life, my sister moved to Barcelona so I even have family nearby… so obviously I was due a backhanded slap from life. This has come, in all its banality, from work.
The last couple of years I´ve been working as an editor/proofreader/translator/general English speaking person at a publishing company. Since my job was basically “anything and everything in English” from translating contracts to writing 20 page introductions to books on bamboo, I´ve had a chance to do a huge number of things and learn so, so much, all while working flexible hours, with the option of working from home (or from Canada). I guess it was never going to last. Anyway, the publishing industry is in crisis, we´ve got a backlog of books, and me and three other people have been given ambiguous “at some point” marching orders. I´m still employed, but probably not for long.
Luckily, since everything else in my life is going so well, I´m taking it with as much equanimity as can be expected from someone living in a country with 27% unemployment.
But I´m mad as hell, and not with my boss or my company, but with the world of work as I´ve known it.
It took me 8 months of searching, interviews cancelled due to financial crisis reasons, and discarding jobs that required me to work 12 hour days while speaking 5 languages for minimum wage, and being as poor as a church mouse to get this job. I was just in a position where I could start saving.
When I read the newspaper, I hear that my generation suffers from feelings of entitlement, and from “special snowflake syndrome” and that we refuse to work our way up because we feel everything should be handed to us on a plate. My actual experience of working has been that I am chronically either a)underpaid, b)undervalued or c)not accepted for jobs for which I am overqualified on account of not having done the exact same job for 5 years previously. Or d)some combination of the above. In jobs that I have had, I have frequently been paid late, subjected to contracts that leave me unemployed for large swathes of the year, not given contracts at all, and been forced to be freelance when it was blatantly obvious that I was going to the same company to work every day. It´s well established that my generation will not live as well as our parents, and while I don´t think that´s entirely a bad thing (the world could not sustain all of us living like they do), I resent that the alternative should be that I have to live as my grandparent´s grew up, and they grew up in the Great Depression. They also fought years and years to get us some of the advantages (universal healthcare, sick leave, gender equality as such in the workplace) and I see all of these being eroded away before my eyes. Don´t believe me? Example: due to my ridiculous pseudo-freelance status, I won´t qualify for unemployment benefits, and last year the Spanish government tried to pass a law that would have kicked me off the country´s health care system. There was a public outcry and that was shelved, for the moment. Similar things are going on in my home country, and throughout the Western world.
Anyway, if this comes off as whiny… well it´s not whiny to complain about things that genuinely screw you over. I don´t think I suffer from special snowflake system particularly, or if I do, I save it for my hobbies. I know I´m luckier than most. But I know that the things that have plagued my working life in Spain are also present, though less obvious, in Canada and anywhere else I might go. The contract work, the instability, the juggling two or three jobs, the people with masters and doctorate degrees who can´t get jobs because they´re overqualified, the workdays that extend into your personal life.
I´m sure I´ll work something out, but in the meantime, I´m mad, bad, dangerous to know, and definitely my political scientist father´s daughter.
Thursday, 21 November 2013
Some photos from the opening night of Víctor´s exhibition, at which actually I wasn´t exhibitionist at all, being the photographer. Someone did grab the shot above of me though, taking a break and catching up with a friend. Anyway, enough about me. Apart from being well thought out and fun, and apart from the amazing food our friend Rosa whipped up after all all nighter, I found the fact that this was pulled together on two weeks notice, making use of free space and developing an idea (Manipulation of information, Public memory) that´s exceptionally topical in Barcelona at the moment.
I´m running on not enough sleep and explaining myself badly BUT, it was an important reminder to me that we don´t need money, or contracts, or much of anything really to work towards creating things and diffusing ideas that can be important, and that one thing can lead to another (the curator from a series of works at the Fundació Miró stopped by), and that Barcelona´s an amazing place where people are doing things, talking about things, and living things.
Photos from Feixisme pùblic
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
I recently moved into a cozy little flat, which I'm bursting at the seems to show off, but biding my time until I make it that extra little bit more homey. The first few weeks after I signed the lease were spent moving in at the leisurely pace; actually, largely spent camping out on the floor before the furniture arrived, eating pizza and drinking wine by candlelight, enjoying not having internet, and plotting the future. These photos were taken a while ago, but yes, the weather was this hot until pretty much the end of October, punctuated by some spectacular storms.
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
My boyfriend, Víctor, recently decided to mount a small exhibition when he found himself paying rent in two places for a month. He converted his old flat into a gallery, and put together an artistic exhibition about history, manipulation, public memory, and politics, with a healthy dose of fiction.
A few of us went the day before to put it all up, and the light in the suddenly empty space was so magical that I wanted to share the pictures.
Blouse by Family Affairs
Sunday, 27 October 2013
I generally try to avoid making excuses for why I haven't blogged but I'm just going to say: moving. no internet. computer passed out (again). followed by a nice round of hysterical cyber-bullying. Anyway, I'm back.
A birthday in three parts: the first, a heavenly dinner with enough wine that I didn't notice the clock ticking me into a new decade.
The second: a birthday picnic in my new apartment before we brought the furniture in. I'll give you a proper tour when the last box has been broken down. On this occasion, we put blankets on the floor and I enjoyed no fewer than FOUR birthday cakes.
Alicia, who made me a wonderful little wooden birdhouse necklace!
The guest book!
The third: a quiet home-made dinner with two close friends who couldn't make the party, with chocolate brioche and warmth and laughter and yes, very red light!
I was worried I'd feel sad being away from my family but really, it's just another birthday, and I couldn't have felt more loved in the home I'm building in my adopted city.
Saturday, 12 October 2013
One minute I´m posting up a storm, and the next thing I know work, birthdays, moving and the general chaos of life have taken over. I hope to share my birthday party and my new flat (pre and post move) with you as soon as possible, and none of the work part!
In the meantime, I turned 30 last week, and here I am bleary-eyed but happy on my birthday morning.
And a Happy Thanksgiving to the Canadians out there!
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Do you ever have that feeling when you walk into a cathedral, and you're a bit awestruck, but you know it's just architecture, but you wonder how you might have felt about it walking in 600 years ago, with the ideas and prevailing beliefs of the day? How the vaults soaring above your head really would have seemed to be reaching to heaven, and how the air would be heavy and cold with mysticism?
When the parade of giants came through Barcelona during the La Mercè city festivals, I couldn't help but wonder how the people hundreds of years ago must have felt watching them, and the giant eagles and underworld monsters that are also part of the festivities, go by.
People still turn out in force, from children sitting on their fathers' shoulders, to grandmothers watching from their balconies...
gratuitous shot of me drinking coffee to show off my hair
Thursday, 26 September 2013
And just like that, I was back in Barcelona, where it is still summer, my old haunts are the same as ever, and I'm back to my working/writing/vermouth imbibing ways, borrowing hats and coming home much too late on weeknights. Anyway, this was one of those nights, and I'm loving that I have the chance to still wear my summer dresses a while longer (since my summer to winter wardrobe ration must be about 5:1)
The last few months before leaving I was living with some people I shared a flat with a couple of years ago -- some of you may remember Fraggle, who has since transformed into a skeletal puking machine, he's getting old. For that and other reasons I've been flat-hunting, which has been as ridiculously stressful as it always is but, fingers crossed, I may have something to show you in the next couple of posts!
Photos by Víctor