Quarta-feira, 16 de Junho de 2010

My eyes open. As it is usual, it takes about one minute to complete the transition from the dream world to reality. And my hands reach for the cellphone hidden under the pillow to check the current time.

It's still about ten minutes before the alarm sets off. 9 AM, it's the usual time I wake up, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depends of the time I went to bed during the previous night. I burrow my face back into my pillow, and listen to the the familiar sounds coming from the kitchen. Someone else is already awaken and getting ready to go. I tell myself I still have time, and dwell back to my laziness.

The alarm rings. It's a little orchestral melody that brings me back to my senses. I turn the alarm off, and unconsciously fall back into my pillow, thinking I still have just a little bit of time.


I regain my senses 20 minutes later. This happens almost everyday, and I never learn my lesson. Rush time. Bath, followed by stuffing all my equipment inside my bag, including my laptop, and if there's time, do my bed. I may or not have breakfast before going out, depends if I have the available ingredients, which isn't happening today, but this doesn't worry me as I have a backup plan. I check my cellphone again, which doubles as a watch, and confirm the time. 10 minutes to get to the destination with a mid-stop by the bakery.

The old lady who works in the bakery already recognizes me. We don't share much words due to obvious reasons, but smiles are enough. After picking up a bottle of fresh water, I point at one particular bread with fetta cheese melted over it and say "Ena". She nods, and takes one from the stand. I have yet to pronounce correctly the name of this particular pastry, and I think I never will.


After the bakery, it's the kiosk's turn, which happens to be right next to the bus stop. Asklepios street has several kiosks, most of them stay open for 24h per day. They sell a little of everything: newspapers, magazines, bus tickets, candies and chocolates, snacks, cigarettes, drinks, some little plastic toys, and recently they restarted selling ice creams for the summer season. The guy with glasses sitting inside the kiosk all day also recognizes me, and is already picking up the bus tickets as soon he sees me. He knows what I want.

"Dio tickets tefaa, porokalon"

It's a poorly misconstrued phrase in broken Greek, but it gets what I want. He hands me the blue tickets, and soon enough I see the bus turning around the corner. The bus has to stop in the middle of the road because there's no parking space for it, with all the cars parked in front of the bus stop. Other students climb aboard along with the elder folks, who immediately start chatting with the bus driver. I should also say, bus drivers around here treat their bus with special care, hanging little souvenirs in the windows and photos of their kids above them.


20 minutes later, I'm in TEFAA, the sports department isolated in the middle of fields and rural houses. There's nothing but green pasture around the buildings, and the mountains in the distance, a sight worth seeing.

The department where I work is smaller than DeCA, but rather quiet. A favorable condition. And I finally arrive to the office, with my coordinator already inside it. She's been busy with what looks like a basketball e-learning program, recording her speech to tag along the texts and images in the screen. We exchange a few words while I install myself in this desk which isn't even mine, but the original owner has been away. As I turn on the laptop, she wants to see what I have done so far. She likes the work so far, unlike me, who's always thinking "I could have done better".


After that, the first minutes with the laptop on are spent in the series of tubes, consulting my RSS feeds, and then work starts. Adobe Flash and Photoshop are loaded in my desktop, and the fun begins. Events are thrown away between Actionscript 3.0 documents classes, my Greader tabs in Firefox are exchanged for tutorial websites, because there's always a new problem to solve. Photoshop remains open, trolling around my RAM memory until I need to create or update a graphic component. Sometimes Illustrator makes him company, Uncle Macromedia Freehand may perk around the corner. Winamp rocks the house with either orchestral awesomeness or techno epicness until I turn it off because I was distracted by a video, and half hour later, I realize the house has been silent because I forgot to turn Winamp back on.

And of course, as soon I turn on MSN, first person who comes greet me is my mother. If she's not around, she'll leave offline messages for me. Because like any good mother, she wants to know how I am, how's my work going.


Between 13h30 and 14h30, it's lunch time for me. The canteen is next to this building, a simple white block with cozy wood structures in front of it for when it's sunny and people prefer to have lunch outside. On my way, I see some familiar faces. We greet each other, ask how are things, but the conversations don't evolve much more besides that point due to the obvious language barriers.

The lunch's contents vary according the day of the week, they serve macaroni on Monday or Thursday, there's beans for Wednesday, and fish for either Thursday or Friday. Sometimes there's cake or a special kind of salad. We're served in metallic plates with various forms to fit in a selection of ingredients, and I have always to be careful to not let them overload my plate with food like they do with the other athlete students, because I do not require as much food as they do. Unless I get to sit besides someone familiar, my lunch time is brief.

Back to the office, and back to the Flash mess, who joins Photoshop in making troll faces at me. My coordinator usually leaves earlier than me: she has two adorable kids at home demanding her attention and care, whose photos hang in the wall in front of her desk.


Sometimes, I'll take a break. And I go to the other department across this one. It's in this particular computer room that I find one of the most friendly Greek students I have meet around, working alone on his PhD project. He's also the one who got me addicted to frappes, the reason why I went to that computer room in the first place. There's a fridge, a coffee machine and a drink mixer in the corner, and I even brought my own tall glass for the homemade frappes. The students and teachers are the ones who bring in sugar, coffee and milk whenever it's necessary, and yes, I have contributed for it as well. The frappe addiction was strong enough to tempt me into buying a portable drink mixer, which will soon be taken to Portugal, and I have hopes I'll spread the frappe plague across DeCA.

18h30. I decide whatever or not I should go for dinner, or take the next bus to town. The dinner served in the canteen is not as fulfilling as the lunch usually is, but sometimes they make pizza. On the other hand, catching the last bus of the day also means having to deal with a large group of obnoxious student girls who do not know how to be quiet, lowering my patience levels and increasing the urge of shouting Portuguese obscenities at them. For today, I take the early bus. It's another 20 minute trip back to the center of Trikala.


Back in town, I walk down Asklepios street looking for a place to meet. If it's Tuesday or Thursday, most shops are already closed, but the pubs and restaurants remain open. Like Jimmy's, a fast food restaurant which stays open for 24h per day, much convenient. They have pitas, burritos, sandwiches, good cheap food and healthier than most fast food chains. Luckily for me, most of the fine folks working there know some words in English, making it easier for me to ask for ingredients.

I do not always have my dinner inside fast food restaurants, sometimes I cook at home, but it depends in my mood and my budget. I began trying some fun simple recipes like rice with some sort of stir-fried vegetables, or omurice (rice with a egg omelette and ketchup). Simple stuff, because I'm a dangerous disaster inside kitchens. Seriously.


After dinner, I return "home". It's weird to call it "home", because certain events corrupted the already apathetic environment inside the apartment. My bedroom, however, once white and depressing, is more colorful and has junk everywhere. A recently acquired plastic table is being used has my desk, because the other table was too small for my papers and gadgets. The laptop is turned on and connected to a wifi cantenna built outside in the balcony, which received the odd glaring from the neighbors everyday, but it gets its job done. There are at least about 15 networks around the zone and most of them are protected. It's a gamble, you don't know to which network you're going to connect today. Or you could go for the fun path, and play with WEP decryption.


Unless I'm distracted by the events occurring in the series of tubes, I try to work for a little longer. Mostly drawings, there are scenarios to be completed. Character drawings too. But you see, I'm a bit too perfectionist at times, my art style isn't the same as the grand artist's from major video game companies, yet I attempt to give a polished look to the game art, especially the characters. The same can't be said about scenarios.

Meanwhile, I chat with my family once more. My mom continues to keep me updated about the latest events, and how the pets have been doing, especially Hades, my Siamese cat who's water tolerant and enjoys stealing from the kitchen. And when I less notice, the clock hits midnight, or 1 a.m.. It's time to go sleep and bid them a good night as well. Or not. Because sometimes I need to sacrifice my sleep time in order to guide one out of four survivors across a city infected with zombies.




This has been my routine for the past four months.


And it ends today. Tomorrow I'm going to Athens, and Tuesday I'm taking the airplane back to Portugal.


I didn't end up writing as many posts as I wanted. Did I make a good project at least? In all honesty? I don't know. There's still much to be done when I return to Portugal. Some events delayed the progress of this project, but that is a rant for another time.

 I'll leave that decision to the judges during the next semester.




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