Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adiós Dos Mil Ocho

Did you ever feel like you can't say everything you want to say... even if you want to say it? Maybe for fear of jinxing a situation or hurting someones feelings or maybe you don't want EVERYONE to know everything about you. Sometimes this makes it difficult to blog.

I will say this though, I had a lovely Christmas here on this side of the pond, the second in a row if you can believe that. I am looking forward to a New's Years Eve celebration which apparently includes the eating of grapes... ok.. I like grapes and I do try to participate in the Spanish culture (contrario a la creencia de alguno). I will try to post some pics soon. I finally have the next week off from work which will be a good opportunity to get some things done that I have been wanting to do.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This mornings sunrise taken with my crappy camera.

It's 8:05 AM and I have been awake for nearly three hours. Wide awake and not really feeling like doing much which sucks because I have a lot to do. I haven't sent out my Christmas presents yet, which means they will never get there by Christmas. Nor have I bought any presents for my friends here, which also sucks. I used to love to go out and buy things for people and now I feel kind of resentful that I feel like I have to. This is not the first year I felt like that, in fact every year for the past 5 years or so the feeling has become stronger and stronger. I am not even Christian so why should I feel obligated to celebrate a holiday that I believe has become twisted and turned into an abundance of mass consumerism... oh yeah, the crisis. I guess I should do my part by buying everything in the stores I can get my hands on. Perhaps I too should trample someone to death in an attempt to get the best deal possible or does that only happen in Walmart? There are no Walmarts here, except the French version called Carrefour.

I am tired and I hate Wednesdays because of my class schedule. I had to cancel my private lesson with Belen because I have progress reports due today and haven't been able to finish them due to the fact that I have to write them in Spanish. On top of that my boss is taking all of us out for a 5 course lunch today to celebrate the holidays. I hope people aren't exchanging gifts because no one told me and I have nothing. I used to keep things in the basement on the "regfting" shelf. I'm a firm believer in regifting because if I can find someone that likes something I don't than I have done a good deed. One year my... get this... ex-step-grandmother gave Ken and I the strangest little statue of a cat laying on it's back holding a glass bowl. Though I appreciated her generosity, it wasn't at all something I would display in my home, so we gave it to Ken's mom who loved it! See what I mean, what else should I have done with it?

It's almost time for my alarm clock to ring. Three solid hours after I woke up. I guess I will hit the showers early and try to get some shopping done before the crowds get in and I have to catch my 11:00 metro.

Of course instead I fell asleep and slept straight through to 10:15 and now I'm rushing like mad to catch my bus... gotta go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A piece of fall.

Last week while on the bus coming home from work I was studying Spanish, well specifically words with tildas and where to place the accents when there are no tildas. This is a difficult thing to study alone but I was practicing for a lesson so I was reading quietly aloud and trying to ignore the fact that people around me might think I am nuts. Well, as it turned out, the man behind me was amused at my attempts and so he asked me if I spoke English... in English. The man had to be well into his seventies and had a beautiful smile, but he irked me because he kept speaking to me in English even though I continuously attempted to steer back to Spanish. This happens to me frequently, people here like to practice languages so when they have the opportunity they jump on it. Although the man was nice, I was annoyed by his not wanting to converse in Spanish.

I saw him again on the bus tonight and chose a seat next to his so that we could try again. We spoke for nearly 30 minutes.. ok so it was Spanglish but I tried real hard to stay in Spanish even when I was at a loss for words. I think it was the first time I had a conversation that was remotely interesting. Ironically, his name is Daniel and he is a retired teacher.

It's weird to be learning a second language now, at this stage of life. It brings up strange feelings. For example the other night I was saying good night to a friend in Spanish and when it was over, I felt like I didn't give a proper good-bye. At first, meaning the first couple of months, I noticed I was repeating everything I said in Spanish in English but I made myself stop doing that... mostly, at least I try. I am taking two private lessons a week, and I finally found a workbook I enjoy using and think is useful. Additionally, I get to learn new vocabulary everyday I teach which is great. My students LOVE teaching me bits and pieces of their language and enjoy watching me struggle with the pronunciation.

It's hard though. Today, for example, my boss invited a friend to the house for lunch. They spoke to each other in Spanish the whole time while I listened for one hour of them talking about their kids, work, the weather, Christmas. Occasionally I added a little something, but listening and comprehending (I think I got about 70%) takes so much effort for me .To put together a sentence on top of that AND to make it come out of my mouth causes a type of headache I have NEVER had before... seriously. It's similar to the one you get when driving in a heavy rain or snow storm for too long, but it's not exactly the same. I seriously feel my brain being used in a new way and it's exhausting.

Do I sound like I'm complaining? Well, for the record I'm not, not really anyway. I remain frustrated, but determined. I enjoy the challenges 90% of the time. Now, I'm tired and my brain is on overload. I thought I might study a bit but I think I will only examine my eyelids.


I think about life, the past, the future and the present. All of these things help make the person I was, I am and I will be. Sometimes life seems so beautiful and interesting and other times it is scary and confusing. I have come to understand that I am a person who needs both stability and excitement. Without these factors I become lost and crave more.

I sometimes wonder, but try not to dwell on, what will be next...

Monday, December 15, 2008

This weekend I:
  • wrote and wrote and wrote
  • spent hours on the phone talking and laughing
  • studied Castellano
  • saw a movie
  • looked at pics
  • yelled at me lawyer (long story)
  • did laundry
  • shopped a bit
  • helped decorate the flat with a bit of Christmas spirit
  • prepared packages to send to family
  • cleaned some
  • missed my peops
  • went out with my fabulous amigas on Thursday
  • said happy birthday to my darling, good fun at parties, excellent cook, pain in the ass friend, Chris!
On another note... Thursday I walked to the beach on my lunch break and took a bunch of funny pictures (see above). I was in such a silly, creative, punchy mood that I lost my phone... I guess one doesn't always have to have to do with the other... but, in my case it often does. I was on another planet and not paying attention to things... so I lost it and was very angry at myself... I was a bit manic... up, up, up at the beach then I crashed hard... I do that I a lot more than I ever realized.


The other theory is that when I put the phone into my pocket it jumped out of my pocket possibly because it wanted to stay at the beach longer or maybe it was tired of hearing me talk. It's possible it didn't realize how hungry I was or maybe it just didn't care.
I can't be sure. It is a very dear little, pink Motorala so it could have a mind of it's own no? Who should I blame for this, me or the phone? I am willing to accept either explanation, but, in fact, I think it is best not to blame either of us and just move on. The phone has since been returned by an incredibly sweet couple, but it is very broken and sick, I will have to replace it... again. Hopefully the next one will be more obedient or I might have to "let it fall under a car" too.

On yet another note...

Rubes... we gotta talk soon! Tell me, is there a Happy Hour, Christmas celebration on Friday?...Can I call and say hi to a few of my fabulous BOCES peops?... I miss you guys. Shhh don't tell but sometimes I really miss my job... but mostly the people: staff and kids... and not all of them heeheheheheheeeee... besos for you all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just another day...

Oh what a long day I had yesterday. Wednesdays are always the worst. I have 5 hours of teaching and two consecutive classes from hell. One are full of ornery preadolescents and the other are just 'littles' aged at an average of 6. I have a whole new respect for elementary school teachers, and I respected them a lot before. The good news is tomorrow is jueves which in translates to Friday for me but it is really Thursday. Plus there was no work Monday. As I understand it, Monday's holiday was due to the celebration of the immaculate conception of baby Jesus... but I really don't understand how that could be since Monday was the 8th and he was allegedly born on the 25th... any takers on this one?

I have to say though, it was a really interesting day. Even though the early bus I was trying to catch whizzed right passed me this morning completely neglecting to stop for me.... I managed to make at least part of my private Spanish lesson with my new teacher, Belen, a colleague, a Special Education teacher and una amiga. Sometime I will get into what I have learned about Special Ed. in Spain... there isn't much to tell because it is all but non-existent, but I will speak of it. Back to the point... Belen drilled me this morning, making me repeat verbs, conjugate, repeat orally, with my eyes open, then closed. She had me write, create small dull sentences and repeat it all over again... OMG it was just what I needed. A basic understanding and usage of how to make the verbs work for me. My vocabulary isn't bad at this point... not bad at all for a beginner, but I can't seem to get out of the present tense and pretty much only about yo... For those who don't know.. .that's me... I. So I can talk about me, here and now but that makes for very dull conversation after the first few lines. So today I learned how to memorize what I need to to talk about others in the present tense too. Too bad I didn't learn this sooner. I can't tell you how bad I hope it helps.
At lunchtime, Ramona and I had a deep conversation about Spanish, learning languages and then about our home countries. We spoke of how we are sometimes both proud and ashamed of the things our homelands have done and/or do. We talked about how sometimes it's hard to be proud of where you are from if you know the trouble the country has caused. She from Spain, me from the US both having similar feelings of love and shame for our own countries as well as each others. More and more I enjoy our lunch time together and her company.

It's really cold here this week. I am a bit tired of it already and winter hasn't even officially started... hehe, but I heard it snowed in NY already. I won't see snow this year unless I head for the mountains (which I would like to do) but I definitely won't be shoveling. May this day end soon so I can hit my new little version of happy hour con mí amigos... in the meantime I will try to enjoy.