far too much writing, far too many photos

runswithscissors


Thursday, November 27, 2003

Two evenings ago -- Tuesday, right about this time (late afternoon/early evening) -- the weather in Madrid took a sudden turn. From fresh w/a cool edge, to brisk. Then cold. Then colder still, a stiff breeze springing up, forcing everyone to pull coats closed, walk faster, hunch shoulders. The change didn't register for me until I was in the middle of a long walk to meet a Spanish friend, dusk settling in, me wearing the same clothing I'd had on earlier in the day -- light pants and shirt, jacket over that. At some point, I realized my hands were getting stiff with cold. Then I realized my nipples were getting stiff with cold and were not happy about it. (That may be more information than you wanted, I admit. But there it is.)

The kind of weather that gives the simple act of walking into a heated building an extra kick of pleasure.

The friend is named Daniel -- technically, it's more of an intercambio than a friendship (intercambio: when an English speaker and a Spanish speaker get together for conversation, talking half the time in English, the other half in Spanish), though one that seems to be leaning comfortably toward something friendly, relaxed. Part of my ongoing Spanish studies. Which also include classes three nights a week.

The instructor I had for classes this last spring was a 30-year-old named Jesús -- a good guy, extremely bright, knows how to teach Spanish. My current class is presided over by a young woman named Fátima. Genuinely nice, but newer to teaching, and at times it's shown.

Currently in class with me: Tracey, a bright, enjoyable 30-something from California, in Madrid for a few months to experience life in another country and study Spanish. Brian, a 30ish fella from Ireland -- relatively quiet, not revealing much, at least in the classroom, and as soon as class is over he vanishes; there's clearly stuff going on in there, but so far he's mostly kept it to himself. This last Monday evening, a young Japanese woman named San joined the group. Diminutive, very sweet, lives in Germany.

So. Monday. Fátima decides to inflict the indirect style on us -- el estilo indirecto. When one talks about things that have already happened or been said -- "Go to hell" becomes "He told me to go to hell." Or, in Castellano, "Vete al infierno" becomes "Me dijo que fuera al infierno." Or "Cuando salgas, ven a verme" becomes "Ella me pidió que cuando saliera, viniese a verla." I think. It's complicated, with bunches of possible verb changes, including instances of the subjunctive verb form, an element of the Spanish language possibly created during an especially nasty phase of the Inquisition. Enough to get one feeling fairly incompetent, all of this.

From the moment we began work on that bugger of a usage the evening became a messy downhill slide, compounded by Fátima being less prepared than she should have been. San, thrust into it all with little apparent prep., had a particularly hard time. When 9 o'clock arrived, we all bolted, everyone appearing a bit stunned at the class's implosion. Except Brian, who disappeared instantaneously as usual, so that there was no knowing what was up with him.

As class ended, I asked Fátima for exercises to do at home, she had none to give us. I tried going over the material on my own on Tuesday or Wed., not succeeding in generating anything but dread at the prospect of another class on the topic, which Wed. would surely bring.

And it did. And Fátima was far more prepared, actually had a handle on the class. As did little San, who clearly had hit the books and found enlightenment. The rest of us were a bit more fifty-fifty. I understood some of it, remained clueless around other parts, didn't seem to be getting any clearer. And could not get there by peering at the explanation sheet Fátima had given us, though I had the growing feeling there was a mathematical simplicity behind it all, so that my inability to get it resulted in rapidly-inflating frustration.

Not a happy boy, me. And when it seemed like everyone else but me had gotten it, when it might have been better to back off, let it go for the night, I could not take my teeth out of it, and got Fátima to make one more attempt at clearing it up. Which, in keeping with the other attempts, did not get through to me. (Not the fault of her explanations, believe me.)

At this point, I'd reached an intense enough emotional state that the rest of the students grew quiet, seeming to lean away from me. Or at least Tracey and Brian seemed to. San began nodding her head in agreement with Fátima's explanations, a happy smile on her face. Which made me, feeling thicker by the moment, mighty unhappy. Until San -- wanting nothing more than to be helpful -- extended her little hand to my copy of the explanation sheet, pointing out to me something she thought might make things clearer. Which pushed me right over the edge for a moment, me letting San know clearly and sharply that her help was not helping and not wanted. She pulled immediately back, Fátima asked what had just happened, I said, "Nada, nada, nada," we finished out the last remaining minutes of the class. My frustration now compounded by guilt, embarassment, humiliation.

What a ball, huh? As soon as class ended, San and I turned to each other, she started to apologize. I assured her she'd done nothing wrong, she had nothing to be sorry for, I was the one who needed to apologize. She showed me a flashcard she'd made, laying out the various elements of el estilo indirecto in reasonably simple style. I -- making flashcards at home this last week for vocabulary -- had thought about doing just what she did for this usage, but didn't get around to it. Leaving me feeling particularly stupid.

Oh, the drama.

So. The good part of it all: I did apologize right away, I let San know she was without blame, got all that over with immediately instead of letting the moment pass by. And I'm aware that my strong reaction to the whole sitch indicates that it matters to me, that the learning-Spanish thing is important to me. And after class, I walked with Tracey and San for a bit. Then came home, made something to eat, watched the second half of a Champion's League game, with some pretty dynamic fútbol being played between Real Madrid and Marseilles.

It all passed, today I'm my usual brilliant self.

And frankly, this being Thanksgiving, I give thanks for being alive in the middle of all this, for being conscious, awake and fully human, for putting myself out there, making the occasional mess, and cleaning it up as best I can afterwards. I give thanks that I'm where I am, doing what I'm doing. I give thanks that I care, that some things matter to me with particular urgency. I give thanks for it all.

There's been a strange distance to the whole idea of Thanksgiving for me this year. (Logical, me being some distance from the place where I've observed Thanksgiving so many times.) I would have had no sense of the American version of the day if not for contact with friends Stateside in the throes of holiday prep. One of the things I like the most about Thanksgiving Day is how the world settles down, how quiet the streets become. How little traffic, how little activity outdoors. Life here goes on in normal fashion, and I like that, too, the life here being something I enjoy being surrounded by.

They both feel good to me. I hope wherever you are is feeling fine to you, and that the abundance of this life is apparent to you on this day of giving thanks.

*****************

Today, dusk, near the Bilbao traffic circle in the Chamartín district of Madrid:







(Thanksgiving Day in the States, just another Thursday here in Spain.)

rws 1:18 PM [+]

Links to this post:

<\$BlogItemBacklinkCreate\$>

BLATHERINGS

August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


MORE FOCUSED BLATHERINGS


Travels:
London '01
Pamplona
Italy '03
U.K. '03
Sevilla
Casablanca
Stoke-on-Trent
Barcelona
Québec/Ottawa
Boston/Lisbon/Madrid
Italy '04
Montréal
La Sierra

Events:
Madrid -- arrival
9/11
Emergency Room I
Holidays 2001
Holidays 2002
Holidays 2003
Holidays 2004
Holidays 2005
A neighbor's passing
Madrid -- March 11 bombings
  and aftermath
Emergency Room II
Israeli friend/Madrid Marathon
Madrid -- Royal Wedding
The DELE exam

GONE, a novel:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

THE BASTARD CHILDREN OF
JOE ROCCO, a novella:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3

BURBANK SHRUGGED,
a screenplay:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3
-- Part 4

Short stories:
Murphy's Wife
Another Autumn
La Queja de Una
  Hermanastra Muy Conocida

Autobiography
-- Personal History
-- Hormones On Parade
-- Accidents, Random Mishaps,
    Personal Problems

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


OTHER SOURCES OF WHOLESOME ENTERTAINMENT

People/Weblogs:
dooce
foxvox
fudge it
fear not
rebekka
bookslut
802online
idle words
madhaiku
wockerjabby
grow-a-brain
rebel market
letting me be
out and about
kung fu grippe
fanatical apathy
baghdad burning
wfuv's music blog
kexp's music blog
mimi smartypants
between the miles
just a hippie gypsy
the impossible cool
tomato can brushes
vermont homestead
sugar mountain farm

Good Clean Fun:
gizmodo
futurismic
postsecret
dave barry
human clock
mcsweeney's
spaceweather
book-a-minute
internet archive
self-portrait day
my cat hates you
out of context quotes
surrealist compliment
  generator
strindberg and helium

Makin' Musical Whoopee:
last fm
stereo8
pandora
soma fm

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


ABOUT RWS/CONTACT





This page and all its contents copyright © 2001-2011 by runswithscissors unless otherwise noted.


runswithscissors would like to thank everyone who's ever lived for everything they've ever done.



Syndicate This Site


Blogarama

BlogCatalog

Bloggapedia, Blog Directory - Find It!



technorati profile

Subscribe with Bloglines

www.flickr.com
runswithscissors' photos More of runswithscissors' photos