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9 October 2013
How… to describe… today?
Uneventful and then ridiculous?
I took photos of food I made and other things that I did today, but at the end of the day, no photo is better than this one to demonstrate it.
Well, from the beginning.
I woke up late–I didn’t HAVE to go to the school at all today. I only had one class scheduled, and the teacher told me I didn’t need to come. I still wanted to come anyway, to prepare for the next day and see if any of the teachers needed me for anything… but I wasn’t in any hurry.
I just had breakfast at my place and went to the school after, around 12:15. I made photocopies of the worksheets I need for tomorrow. I was hoping to be able to use the internet at the school, but here’s the thing: THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON IN THE SCHOOL WHO KNOWS THE WIFI PASSWORD. Literally one person, the IT guy, because they don’t want the kids to get the password.
The fun part is, the IT guy is rarely ever in his office. I have yet to encounter him. So, I didn’t have any luck getting on the wifi and instead just worked on organizing things for tomorrow. And made a grocery list.
I’m trying to buy groceries as naturally as possible this month. It’s difficult because I’m worried about money, but I want to have an idea of how much I should expect to spend. I’ve been saving all my receipts, and just at a glance I don’t seem to be doing TOO badly. But I’ve been refraining from buying extra things, like candy or chips or ice cream. That’s a good thing, though–I’m pretty sure I’ve lost weight since I’ve been here, even though I haven’t been running!
So after school I went to Mercadona and bought lots of vegetables to make a nice salad (and to put in salmorejo later), and some other groceries. Last week I bought some gluten-free pasta. I’m not exactly sure if I’m gluten intolerant or not, but I know it doesn’t make me feel good to eat a lot of bread or grains. Some is fine, but if I eat too much in a day I get awful stomach cramps and if I keep eating it for days, I feel so tired and bloated.
I eat bread often here, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get some gluten-free pasta so I don’t overload on grains and feel bad. Also, in general it’s easier to buy healthy food in Spain. In Mercadona, they label EVERYTHING according to whether it’s "sin gluten" or not. And when I went to buy ground beef, I saw that ground chicken and turkey was the same price, so I bought that to use since it’s healthier.
Came home, cooked some pasta and some sauce with the ground chicken/turkey, and made a nice big salad. Unfortunately I never can judge the correct amount to cook, so I always end up with lots of extra food! I need more people to cook for!
Then, I went down to the cafe to use the wifi. New problem: today my phone received a text from Vodafone telling me that I’ve used 90% of my data for the month. I have like, 10 more days to go. I’m not really surprised, since I’ve been using my phone as basically my sole source of internet–for maps, social networks, videos on how to use my washer, etc. I guess tomorrow I’ll have to go to the store and find out if I can load some more data 🙁 What a pain!
So I stayed in the cafe for a while using the wifi. Olivia came for a while to talk with me and have coffee, but I stayed longer there uploading yesterday’s photo and reading articles.
I went back up to my apartment, and as usual, I remembered the things that I’d MEANT to look up on the internet while I was in the cafe, but had forgotten. Today: best way to cook hard-boiled eggs, and tips for using watercolors. I’ve been meaning to paint with watercolors but never seem to have time when it’s light out. And I was going to hard-boil some eggs to put in some salmorejo for dinner.
But laziness and lack of desire to use precious internet on my phone led to me not painting, and eating some of my leftover lunch for dinner instead of messing with the salmorejo. I finished eating and was about to wash the dishes, but I noticed my phone was almost dead. So I walked back to my bedroom to plug it in.
The weather has recently changed in El Ejido, recent as in TODAY. It’s become much colder and VERY VERY windy. I leave windows open in my apartment to enjoy the breeze, but an annoying side effect is that sometimes strong drafts will blow doors shut in the apartment.
I discovered this phenomenon the other day when I came home to an unlocked front door (the only time I’ve ever forgotten to lock it), and a closed bedroom door (I never shut it). I reacted to this strange set of circumstances by opening my bedroom door quickly and brandishing a kitchen knife. No one was in my apartment, but I felt kind of like a badass checking for intruders, nonetheless. I’m also pretty sure this event is what triggered my nightmare about things being moved the other night.
I’ve been trying to put things in front of the door so I don’t have to hear it slamming shut all the time, but when I walked back into my bedroom to plug my phone in, I must have moved the sneaker that was in front of it. As I sat down on my bed and procrastinated going to wash the dishes, a huge breeze blew through and loudly slammed my bedroom door shut. I didn’t really think anything of it, since it’s happened so many times in the past couple days.
After a few minutes, I finally got up to go to the kitchen, and went to open the door. The handle turned, but it didn’t work to open the door. I thought it might be stuck, so I jiggled the handle more insistently and pulled on the door a little harder. It didn’t seem to be engaging correctly inside the door.
I started wrenching the handle up and down and pulling hard on the door. BUT IT WOULDN’T OPEN!
I guess this might be a good time to mention that I’m slightly claustrophobic. Not INCREDIBLY claustrophobic, but I don’t like small enclosed spaces like elevators or the window seats on airplanes, and I’ve had a lifelong fear of being locked in places. Once when we were little, my brother and I got locked out on the enclosed balcony in my house (probably for less than an hour, but as a child it felt like AGES), and for a while after that, I didn’t like closing doors at all. It’s not a big deal, but I still get nervous thinking about being trapped somewhere.
Needless to say, I started to get a little panicky. I tried the door again. I pulled and shook the handle, rattled the heavy door against the frame. No dice. I would take a break and sit down on the bed to try to think of another strategy. I examined the hinges–not easily removed, and I had no tools. I tried moving the handle slowly, pulling at each degree. I tried jiggling it quickly.
I kept at this desperate fight for 20 minutes until my hands got red and sore, but nothing worked.
I figured Isabel and Joaquin probably had an extra key, but I felt embarrassed calling them about something so odd. I wanted to make sure I DEFINITELY couldn’t open it on my own. After a couple last ditch efforts, I swallowed my pride and called Isabel. She was understanding, and told me Joaquin would come over shortly and help me out, since he had the key.
I thought that maybe the door just needed to be opened from the other side, or fiddled with by someone stronger than I am, so when Joaquin arrived, I expected to be outside quickly. But he tried the door, and it didn’t open for him, either. We tried everything with the handle, then tried sliding a piece of plastic between the door and the frame. We tried the same things over and over, but after about an hour, I was still imprisoned.
We called Isabel, who called a specialist. Well, first we tried a carpenter but there was no answer, and then finally someone who deals with security in buildings and has the right tools. Maybe I should mention that I was the only one with the phone, on the other side of the door. So I was telling Joaquin what Isabel said, then Isabel what Joaquin said, passing phone numbers back and forth… all in Spanish. What a situation!
While waiting, I couldn’t help but reflect on how ridiculous it all was. How stupid, and weird, and uncomfortable! In a way, it was also hilarious because, I mean, WHAT ARE THE ODDS THAT THIS WOULD HAPPEN? So insane.
Eventually the specialist came. I heard him using all sorts of tools. I would hear loud drilling sounds on the door, and then he would try to push it open. And then more drilling sounds. And then other strange sounds. But he was having just about as much trouble as we’d had. At one point, Joaquin passed me a screwdriver through my window by swinging it out to me on a piece of fabric from an adjacent window. I used it to remove the door handle on my side. But I was still there for a looong time after.
Finally, close to midnight, the specialist drilled and took the door’s mechanism completely apart and ALAS, the door opened and I was free! But then I could see the extent of what he’d had to do to open the door… including taking a frame off and removing the entire handle’s mechanism. Apparently the part that fits into the frame to keep the door shut had become somehow impossibly stuck. I’m not sure if it was from the force of the wind slamming it, or some weird fluke, but… at least I know it wasn’t just me having some silly trouble with it. It was a real problem!
Actually, I’m really lucky that my phone was in the room with me. Otherwise… I have no idea what I would have done. I know now that there was literally NO WAY I could have opened the door by myself, and Isabel and Joaquin are the only people who could have gotten into my apartment, since they have the extra key. And there was no reason why they would have just come over, if I hadn’t called. I imagine I would have had to yell out the window (top floor, not facing a major street). If any people heard me, they probably would have called the cops or something. It could have been a huge awful mess. It still was a mess, but I really have to be thankful that it wasn’t much, much worse.
I didn’t get to bed until very late, after washing the dishes and taking a shower. Jeez, what an absurd thing to happen!!
It’s silly, but sometimes when bad things happen to me, I pretend that my life is like The Truman Show. I know it’s a strange and narcissistic thing to do, but if I can say "well, I guess we need some dramatic conflict to keep the viewers interested!" I can have a sense of humor about even the worst situations and step outside myself to look at things. I suppose it’s a coping mechanism that allows me to detach from my emotions and see things less seriously. It’s a very strange coping mechanism, but it works.
But sometimes things happen in my life that are so ridiculous and uncanny that if someone were to tell me "your life really is just scripted to keep people entertained!" I would probably believe them. This was one of those things.
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