Good afternoon and not goodbye: Thoughts on my summer in Barcelona

Last evening here in Barcelona. It’s 5:36 p.m. and I’m struggling to rouse myself so that I might do a bit of work. Later, we’re heading to El Born Barrio with our friendly Catalan landlord to enjoy a final meal out, and, most likely, a few glasses of cava. We told him we had to be home by 11 p.m. on account of our early flight and I could just about hear him laughing at us over text message.

“That’s a prudent hour,” he texted us in his formal Spanish. But doth I detect a hint of good-natured sneering?

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Tilting at Castles: On writing, risks and unintended time travel

As I may have mentioned one or a thousand times since I arrived in Spain back in early June, our terrace has a front-and-center view of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

This sprawling, Roman Catholic Basilica is a work in progress, to put it mildly. Construction kicked off in 1882. It’s supposed to be finished by 2026, on the centenary of Gaudi’s death. (Tragically, ironically, unbelievably, he was struck by a tram while crossing a street near the church, headed to another day at his life’s great work. I can just picture him, starry-eyed, gazing up at the unfinished spires, and BAM! Poor guy.)

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Photo Gallery – Running of the Bulls; Pamplona, Spain

Almost on an afterthought, E and I decided to head to Pamplona a few days ago to catch some of the Festival de San Fermin. The weeklong Basque festival kicks off each morning with a ceremonial running of the bulls made famous – for us Americans, at least – by the late, great Ernest Hemingway. It is an event attended to by Spaniards with great pride and emotion – a way for men young and old to prove their salt.

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Tapas, Xampanyet; Barcelona, Spain - Erin J. Bernard

Photo Gallery – Barcelona, Spain

We’ve been here in Spain roughly three weeks. I’ve lately been rather enamored of Instagram (find me there: @erinjbernard; you can also check out my latest Instagram photos by navigating to the homepage of this website and scrolling to the bottom lefthand corner. You’re welcome!)and have been uploading photos daily there. I like the simplicity of shooting and sharing photos by iPhone, but of course, there’s no comparison between a cell phone pic and an SLR one. Thusly, a few shots taken recently with my Canon 5d.

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Good work, career crap factors, and the “Is-ness” of it all: Thoughts on finding meaning in a creative profession

Two full weeks here in Barcelona and I’m finally settling down to the primary task I’ve set for myself during our time in Spain: rejiggering my worklife, and rethinking entirely what I want out of my career as a writer.Yes. So. What do I want? It’s such a huge, bloated, amorphous, nebulous, terrifying, wonderful, impossible, fascinating and inevitable question, isn’t it?

So grand, and yet so essential, to put one’s wants – not one’s needs – at the center of things, to shout them out to the huge, busy, noisy universe and confidently, cosmically await a reply. Just who do you think you are, asking for all that happy, being that you are so very tiny, and in case you didn’t notice, this is the Milky Way, not the Hilton, thank you very much; you knew that long before your birth and you chose this galaxy anyway and just what do you expect the gods to do about any of your carbon-based woes?

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Cava, queso, and that red-wine-macaroni sea

Last night I dreamed that I was drowning in a soupy sea of red wine and macaroni noodles, and it’s really no surprise.

We landed in Barcelona almost a week ago, after dark, with the sky awash in thunder and lightning, and  a few long, deranging days in, it’s already pretty clear that the Spaniards, and perhaps Western Europeans in general, have a certain zest for pleasure that’s conspicuously lacking in daily American life.

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My kingdom for a book!

Books - Erin J. Bernard

Books – Erin J. Bernard

It’s 8:56. In 24 hours’ time, we’ll have passed through four countries and landed in Barcelona. I hope the future Erin and Emiliano are enjoying a drink and not suffering too mightily from kinky neck. I’m sure they’ll let us know.

Our ride to the airport will be here in approximately 139 minutes (Hi, Em!). I need to make the beds, finalize packing, take a shower and hopefully do a few minutes of yoga. And get dressed. And call my grandmother. But there’s always time for a little writing. Speaking of that …

Some big changes are on the horizon for me … Man, I feel like I say that a lot. I feel like I feel that a lot. Change, change and more change. But what’s ahead is more about slowing down than speeding up. I am pondering a radical reorganization of my weeks that would carve out fully half of my work hours for personal writing projects. For my essays. It’s time to get serious about them. I’ve been so caught up these past two-and-a-half years in the cycle of writing-and-editing-for-money. I am thrilled that I’ve had success with my little freelance business, and the fact that I get to shoot photos on the side for extra cash is like the sweet little syrupy cherry on top of it all. But I can’t help but feel there’s something I’m forgetting. Why I started all of this in the first place: to send my essays out into the world. I love helping others become better writers. I love helping them tell their stories. But my stories end up on the back burner way way way too often.

This summer in Spain, I am determined to change my workaholic ways. I’ve vowed to work only half-time in Barcelona, and to spend some serious time pondering and clarifying my goals as a writer. I’ve been threatening to make a book for a long time, now, and maybe it’s time. This little website has been my touchstone for more than a decade. It’s held me up when I could barely move, let alone stand. Having a place to land my fears and hopes and successes and failures has kept me sane through some pretty bad crazy stuff. I think I’ll always write here. But lately, when I post essays, I find myself despairing that they disappear into the void. If I’m lucky they’ll get 200 views. I appreciate every single one of those views and wonder immensely who out there is reading my writing. But it doesn’t feel like enough. I want a book to hold in my hands. I want a book you can hold in your hands and pass on to a friend when you are done.

So, yes. I’m saying it here. Book! Time. Now. Good.

Stay tuned.