Monday 1st January 2018

Sometimes your best intentions are completely misinterpreted and all you can do is accept that and move on. I sent **** a message to say thank you for recommending a book to me. I returned a recommendation by suggesting she watch Nola Darling because a scene in it reminded me of her shouting at a passing car. Nola Darling showed me something I hadn’t recognised before and I felt there were similarities to ****’s behaviour in that. Her actions didn’t inspire me or make me feel like a good feminist or anything of the kind. For me, feminism is about equality and it is difficult to relate to the challenges women face on a daily basis. So, when a TV show (or anything else) can force me to reevaluate my perceptions, I’m grateful for that.

What can I do to be more understanding? How can I possibly begin to relate without understanding? **** told me to take a step back and humble myself in my approach to feminism. Everyday I attempt to do that. I try to listen first and speak only when I have something meaningful to say. I was confused as to why anyone would react with venom and anger to something that’s driving away. I was confused as to why venom and anger is a reaction for anyone, but my perception changed watching Nola Darling and I felt I could empathise.

Empathise in that I can see your point of view – from my privileged position – of that incident. Not that I condone it. Or belittle it. Not with any intention of being condescending. I’m trying to live a life of empathy, love and compassion. Sometimes I should just keep that to myself.

Why is it so strange to message someone you have been intimate with? Any time I share my bed with someone, I share myself and my vulnerabilities. I relish my own struggles too much to make anyone else’s my focus; my muse. Although, I find the suggestion amusing (can’t do anything other than laugh). Is it not condescending to suggest my attempts at understanding are merely for my own benefit? Why bother?

Why bother trying to relate to women’s problems? Bother, because men, woman and children are equal. Bother, because you want to live in a world that doesn’t consider empathy condescending. That’s your world, Adam. Your intentions are clear in your head. There’s not much you can do to prevent others misinterpreting our words. Get your message straight from the outset. There was nothing condescending in my head when I sent **** that message. Not even trying to be friendly. Not wanting anything. Just trying to say happy new year, thank you for a lovely night together and trying to start the year off on my terms. Trying to understand what it means to be connected in 2018. I’m curious about what makes people do what they do. I guess that’s going to lead to a few misunderstandings. Put it down to experience and move on. Probably a good idea to stop sending super intense messages on WhatsApp. It’s OK to be an intense person but do it in person.

Talk to ***** about this. Talk to her about a man’s role in feminism. You’re doing great. You’re learning and you’re humble enough to crave more learning. Don’t let that go because of one persons interpretation of your intent. Find your muse within yourself, as you have done in the past. My interpretation of shared experience is mine alone. Indulge in that because nobody can take that from you. A kind word, antagonistically misunderstood. Creating anger from within, it simmers to the surface. Your empathy is condescending. Correct the definition. Life is never filled with clarity, but your intentions can be. Treat everyone with love and compassion. Even those who wrong you. Your sensitivities don’t earn you privileges. You were born with them between your legs. It’s not for you to apologise for that. Take your privileged position and use it as a platform. To scream, shout and echo the words of those who have been wronged. To kick up a fuss. A full-on riot if needs be. Try; fail; learn; grow. Forget the tensions and the ill feelings. Hold on dearly to the lessons.

Momentos: 21st enero a 3rd febrero

Domingo 21st – Always feel inspired after speaking to Dermy. Even when I’m in a mood. He is always open to listening and taking advice, which I feel eternally driven to give. Working on knowing when to just listen, instead of providing solutions, but often silence says more than words are capable off.


Lunes 22nd – Found out that Denis turned pro today. Couldn’t be more proud of him. I have so much love and admiration for him, even in the face of our stark differences. He’s done it though! I hope I can achieve my goals with a fraction of the style and self-honesty Denis has. The day began with a long message from Jamie, fairly bemoaning his suffering at the hands of Denis. Being ignored is painful. Both guilty of and fell victim to.


Martes 23rd – Chicos, please! Behave yourselves. Have some respect when your classmates are talking. If you keep talking, you will have to eat lunch with me for the rest of the week. You don’t want that do you? “I don’t mind. It might be fun.” Damnit! That’s supposed to be a punishment.


Miercoles 24th – A French movie with Spanish subtitles with a woman who speaks four languages. The imagery capturing all the vulnerability I couldn’t comprehend from words alone. AIDs activists, losing hope as their clocks tick on relentlessly towards D day. As I began to feel emotional, I reached for Saray’s hand and found it waiting for me. Holding each other in our fingertips as we silently wept.


Jueves 25th – Rang Dermy as I began walking. He was distracted when he answered. Completely mirroring the feelings I hadn’t acknowledged. Here I was walking home a different way. With a spring still in my legs after bounding up the escaleras with humour on my mind. With two headphones in trying to do it all. So I shut up. So did Dermy. I didn’t notice the call dropping out. There was no apology needed from either party. No apology even offered. A simple “try again” accepting everything that came before.


Viernes 26th – “Do you want me to draw you?” Hector throwing down the gauntlet for himself. A turbulent five minutes – emotions riding high. One moment revelling in being the centre of attention, the next questioning every ego driven decision I’ve ever made. It felt intense to be drawn… and I couldn’t help but smile. I would like to be a nude art model, in a pleasantly heated room (to appease my ego). Next time don’t break eye contact. Don’t even try.


Sabado 27th – We had been together all day – doing one thing or another. Walking around our city; our home; our playground. Meeting Thierno and Beltza, no need to seek approval for a friend from my friend. We meandered back to Saray’s house for some lunch, on Spanish time. Lying down in silence afterwards. Silently exploring, slowly removing clothes but not all.

Domingo 28th – Coming down the mountain. Running here and there. Tssh, tsssh, tsssshhhh, tttssssssshhhhhiing as we go. Thierno and I; stride for stride. Sun shining from the sky and our hearts as we roll down the hill. Jumping on and spinning off any ledges we can find. Even taking a slam as i try to move my body in new shapes and ways.


Lunes 29th – Cooking with Kristina. She had all the answers behind her noisy mind. A mind that says “I don’t know! LET’S PANIC!” Took some photos I’m really proud to share. Captured all the attitude in one glance. Dinner was delicious, albeit rather late. None of us too bothered by that little turn of fate.


Martes 30th – An unexpected phonecall from Robin as I stood outside Baobo. Such a pleasant surprise and a potential rule to follow. If they’re online as you type, just call your friends.


Miercoles 31st – The most mysterious present I have received in a while. The wrapping paper threw me completely. Gave me lots of reasons to smile. A book about the words not spoken. Read what between the lines and languages as you attempt to understand. What a beautiful message for an inspiring poet.


Jueves 1st – More sketching today. A tranquil little challenge of love and self-acceptance. Each line is perfect. Release your expectations. Let go of your inhibitions. Sitting in the laundromat, as my clothes dry off. Barely noticing the world around as perfection leads from my hand.


Viernes 2nd – Ever used lube, George? “No, I don’t find it necessary.” Fair, but are dildos necessary? “More than lube.” It’s a real joy with lube though. I can lend you some if you like? “Have you got a few?” Two. One normal. One premium. “Oh, I see.” Wonderful to be able to talk so openly about this, don’t you think?


Sabado 3rd – After packing away my shopping, I headed over to San Francisco for the street market. So far this month my spending has been tidy enough to afford the lavish purchase of a beautiful black cruiser; The Flying Dutchman. A tiny little bike compared to my disproportional height but she is a cracker. Designed to be cycled around like a gentleman through the streets of Bilbao. A welcome change to my usual frenzy.

Momentos: 7th enero a 20th enero

Domingo 7th – It took a lot longer than expected but finally made it home. Huge thanks to Javier who basically held my hand through the night and kept me company. Walking off the bus I felt like I was coming home. To a city I love. To a piso that feels like my own. To the challenges and joys I am happy to be a part of. Saw Kristina and got a huge hug. Spoke to my mum, dad, Robin, Ilenia and Colin – family and friends all over the world. Plenty of energy from Thierno and a warm embrace from my amigo Darragh. Excited to get back to school tomorrow. Back to the wonderful challenge of teaching.


Lunes 8th – Aupa hombre! Tienes un recomendacion para de musique clasical? Tu gusta clasical? Es unusual para persona tienes trienta anos tu gusta clasical. Trienta!? Yo tengo viente cuatro anos! This stranger made his recommendations – Bach – and we parted ways. Music that has the quality to span decades. That’s immortality. Or as close as we’ll ever get.


Martes 9th – Found it quite surprising to read more boys than girls with questions or expectations concerning their bodies, aged twelve and thirteen. Boys that have barely begun to grow, wishing their bodies were bigger, slimmer, stronger or just less skinny. Who is speaking out for these young men, under the pressure of a patriarchy they didn’t ask for.


Miercoles 10th – Her hand went up to her mouth and it caught my attention. Before the motion had finished I snapped my fingers and shouted “EH!” for dramatic effect. Elsa said she wanted to stop biting her nails in 2018. She’s not the only one. More oranges will keep them coming up strong. In the meantime, I’ll shout everytime she puts her hand near her mouth.


Jueves 11th – Natasha sent me the most incredible birthday message. It removed the issue of age, which has overshadowed previous celebrations. Thirteen, sixteen, eighteen. Twenty-one. All of these proclaimed milestones. Natasha told me to celebrate the goodness of me. Celebrate the kind, caring person I am today. I already do that every day and it was amazing to share it with so many beautiful people today.


Viernes 12th – “Iker, why haven’t you done your homework?” I whispered from the chair behind. On a level basis. Just two human beings making eye contact. “I was at the hospital. My brother’s memory is gone.” We worked our way to a solid translation but the initial message was clear. ‘You’re a wonderful brother, being there for him.” “I don’t think I am.” “Iker, you are perfect. You are an amazing human.” “Thanks, Adam” he replied as he let out a hint of a smile.


Sabado 13th – Let’s meditate. OK let me message Darragh first. No. Why? Because it can wait five minutes. Why though? Take five minutes for yourself. I took her phone off her. Angry at the importance she was placing on it. We were already well past the intended meeting time. What difference would another five minutes make? I pressed play on the five-minute miracle and began to breathe deeply. Kristina sat, legs folded, thumbs rolling and eyes darting around the room to avoid my gaze. I don’t know what she did for those five minutes, but my imagination wasn’t concerned.


Domingo 14th – Seasons stay the same but relationships change. My relationship with Kristina is changing. We are leaving behind the novel acceptance of one another’s flaws. It’s easy to point fingers and make accusations but ultimately any resistance is futile. Instead, I am trying to accept. Accept my flaws. Accept her flaws. Embrace the change.


Lunes 15th – “Aupa! Savan*?” I cried out as I entered the Tabac in Casco Viejo. Near the library. A bit of family activity planning fresh in my mind from teatro Arriaga. Dos stampas para cartas irlanda y uno para unidos reinados. Not much eye contact, so not much conversation. No holding back on my way out though. “Eskerrik asko! Ego arte! Agurr!” I saw a grin appear on his face and it grew mine even wider.


Martes 16th – You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t please everybody all the time. Living this in school as relationships change. As if I’m moving on. Content with the manner of my actions. Would be cool to listen to some more grime. But just put the work into anything and forget about being cool. Just be concerned with understanding what you’re teaching.


Miercoles 17th – “Adam, esta la cena de Vasco!” “Si! Es importante!” Tonight I shared some food with three beautiful people; Monis, Ibone and Manu. Mucho conversacion en espanol. Es dificil pero es muy agradisoso. Muy bueno. There will be many more occasions like it. Of that, I have no doubt. Look forward to spending time with Manu. Eres un guapo y muy interesante.


Jueves 18th – Bouncing around the classroom feeling filled with energy. Literally running around. Half in the clouds as they are consumed by colour, half in the room. Surrounded by wonderful young men and women who look at me with respect and admiration It’s what they see staring back at them; love, respect and admiration.


Viernes 19th – Lots of give and take with Artiz today. One of the nicest teachers, lots of respect and admiration for him. Today we spoke at length about veganism. Gave each other plenty to think about. After school, we practised a little Tai Chi. Circular motions, wide squat, blocking a punch and swiping away a kick. Clearing the fog from the mountains. A patient teacher and an attentive learner.


Sabado 20th – If there’s no DJ in five minutes I’m going home. My watch confirming that intention as it chimes 2:15am. As I pulled my sleeve down the volume went up a notch or four. Booming jazz. Swinging me to my feet. Body, happily obliging. First man on the dancefloor. Quickly followed by a beautiful crowd.

Sunday 22nd October 2017

Meander over to three incredible men. Intelligent, compassionate and faithful. Greeted like family. As always. High fives, fist bumps and hugs. “Aupa Jim!” “Que tal?” “Muy bien.” “How are you?” A beautiful sound carries these caring words. Gabon sounds like an incredible place. Green. Full of bicycles. Until I get there, I’ll spend time with her children in Bilbao.

Disco dancing in Kremlin. What a fantastic place. Dancefloor big enough for a 198cm stretch. Hands up to the sky. Dancing like there’s nobody watching. Anyone noticed gets a huge grin flashed back. This is fun. Dancing is wonderful.

The local continues to blow me away. Robert. The owner and bar man. Karate master. Aged 53. Poco a poco. Wrote over 100 goals today. Left enough room for translations. Without words I have to ask different questions. Robert is a crossword man. He will relish the challenge. Hopefully the kids will feel the same.

Finished a poem I wrote about Ilenia. She loved it. It was a therapeutic process. A joyful experience without worrying about the result. Have drafts for several more. Planning to hire someone to gather feedback online. Want to identify and enter competitions. Possibly even outsource production. If the focus moves to living the moment then the editing can be outsourced and continue the moment. Each attempt only having one take.

Live the movie you want to watch. Darragh had some wonderful goals. Watch a new movie every week. We are going to make music, films, poetry and much more together. Renaissance men. Surrounded by renaissance women. In our revolution. Plugged into the world we live in. Conscious. Contento.

Met the local drunk. “He is crazy!” they all said. We shared the only moment of silence in the bar tonight. Both stretching peacefully as we sat in our chairs. Watching the world unfold in front of us. We should all be a little crazy if this is the result.

Monday 9th October

Went to my first ever metal gig last night. Can definitely understand the hype. Been listening to old punk songs. Dancing around the flat naked, headphones in. Putting on my best accent:  “Teenage dreams so hard to beat!” Definitely think I could sing lead vocals. Imagine having the confidence to believe that. Es normal. Next karaoke song will be punk. For sure.

Jon’s brother died yesterday. Pretty mental. Sent him my condolences and my sympathy. Can’t imagine what he is going through. Must be quite an awakening. From the bits and pieces I could pick up it seemed like he was involved in Basque independence. Hoping that it wasn’t related. Enough lives have been lost over borders.

Got a couple of students dreaming about their futures. What will your day look like in ten years time? Grateful that I can ask that question. And they respect it! I think it should be a long term project. We can investigate different industries, happiness journals and thought leaders. I want all the kids to believe anything is possible. It also keeps me honest. I need to be ahead of them in terms of resources. If I do that, we will all grow.

Met Ignacio last night at the gig. He has his own events business. Similar thoughts on marketing and entrepreneurship. He mentioned that people walk the camino when they want to make a change. My intentions are more to cement change. If you set out to walk 1000km. You have changed. When you finish, you will be change.

The weather today was difficult to prepare for. 9oC this morning. Felt the sharpness of the cold on my cheeks. A sweltering 22oC on the walk home. Layers.

Sunday 8th October

Blessed to be surrounded and immersed with new cultures here.

Thierno, the Rastafarian. Follower of Jah. Another beautiful way of living. Full of love and compassion. We have a good relationship. The silence can be enjoyed without the need to try and explain it. Poco a poco.

Committing to walking to school everyday. It is a wonderful challenge. Every morning I will climb the mountain. Accidentally bought ten lift passes trying to buy a metro card. So have that to fall back on if my legs give out on me.

Adapting to the slowness of life very well. Mañana. No strict time. Meet at uno. Meet at dos. Meet at tres. Bien. Vale.

A Nigerian guy offered me drugs last night walking through Casco Vieja. He spoke amazing English. Wonderful accent and amazing dialogue. As I explained how easy it had been for me to apply and become a teacher here, his expression changed. It felt like an option appeared for him. Reminded me of something Kamal Ravikant said “If I only did things I was qualified for, I’d be pushing a broom somewhere.” Different kinds of pusher men.

There is a bar on Santutxu kalea called Crema Cafe. Right beside my flat. My local. Olli and I were stopped last night by the mafia. “You IRA, we are the same!” He had obviously seen a lot of the Sopranos. His accent was wonderfully modelled on Tony. The aggression and sarcasm perfectly apparent. After attempting to explain the rules of bullshit, my mafioso amigo pulled an Irish good bye. No doubt we will meet again. Blessed to live beside a Basque bar that opens till 4am.

Met Nissa again yesterday. Chance encounters are normal in Bilbao. There is an awful lot to learn about flirting through language barriers. Start with a couple of kisses on the cheek. Es normal.