Monday, October 14, 2013

25 and I Still Have Not a Clue

First off. The important facts. Birthdays abroad are hard. The first birthday you ever spend without any family member can be a blow to the moral. Combine those two and you have my 25th in Jaen, Jaen. BUT thanks to my lovely and always optimistic roomies and our American buds across the hall, that was not an option- seriously, they refused to accept a frown or pout. In return they secretly baked a brownie cake, oh my, while I was out for Tapas and then surprised me with it when I returned. They even broke the law and stole some butter in order to get the job done. Thanks, guys, I appreciate the time and thought more than I could ever express (no really, expressing emotion is my downfall and comedic genius)!
The lighting was a little strong, but such great folks!

Now on to the typical post about aging, getting older, wiser and just generally better like a delicious stinky cheese. Only, the truth is that honestly I still have no clue what I'm doing- hello quitting my J.O.B and moving to Spain.

Which is why I am not about to bore or fabricate a post about 25 things I've learned and instead will be discussing a few things that perplex me, the thoughts that my brain insist upon dissecting at 3a after I've fretted over my lesson plan and why I do not call my grandparents, parents, great-grandmother and little sister in five-minute increments to simply say I love you. Honestly, even just a few is a stretch since 25 years of life is just the beginning, at 50 maybe I’ll be able to muster the equivalent to my age. Feel free to solve the dilemma if you have an answer or just add your own life conundrums.

Warning: This is a long, wordy list . . .


1.) Why when people put you on the spot to speak, your mind refuses to respond. This happens often. In class, at work with your boss, when parents approach expecting wonderful news about their precious child that you teach and in any romantic situation where events are not going as planned.

2.) Why I have to remind myself quickly that the person talking on the phone to the person in the bathroom stall next to me has no clue who I am and may not even hear me handling my personal business. Cell phones everywhere, it’s a horrible intrusion upon others who have no desire to become listening participants of a complete stranger’s conversation.

3.) Why people believe it is okay to take Western ideas and throw them in the face of cultures that have existed longer than the years of the democracy of the United States doubled and then say they are saving these countries. I know so many people who travel and find work in communities all over the world without ever once believing or stating that they are there to help people who cannot help themselves. Instead they focus on their relationships, the community that has so kindly welcomed them and the life they intend to build while respectfully intersecting with that community. Yet still blogs, books, and memoirs continue to be published with people professing how much "good" they have done for a limited amount of time until their real life called them home. Righteousness ain't cute and Africa is a continent not a country. 

4.) Why politically correct lies are more acceptable than the truth. I like to know where others stand. I believe others like to know where I stand. More importantly language is the key to survival for a wolf in a sheepskin and can be the death of others in so many situations. Tell the truth, always.

5.) Why people use the phrase, “Do it while you can”. Wait, there’s an expiration date on accomplishing certain items in your life. Just because something is hard does not mean it is impossible, which is what my parents raised me to believe and leads to confusion when people state the previous phrase.

6.) Why guys become so offended when a girl says she has her own drinks covered. In this day and age with all the craziness of strangers my alcohol is not to be toyed with by anyone. So, " No, Johnny Boy who I don't know from the homeless man on the street corner you will not be buying me a drink or having a conversation with more possibilities with me because you threw major shade when I polity declined your offer". Now excuse me while I clutch my drink tightly, always keeping an eye on the clinking ice in the glass and dutifully watching the bartender prepare every drop.

7.) Why some men in business environments still think it is okay to pinch a woman's cheeks- either set. We attend the same universities, we’re working the same hours (actually I'm probably working longer hours because I have to work twice as hard), and we know the same necessary information (actually I probably know more because of those extra hours I'm working). So please know the next time you pinch my cheeks, blame my words on my Menstrual Cycle or tell me I can't hang with the boys you will learn my left hook is just as capable of breaking your nose as your frat bro from way back.

8.) Why some women do not trust, have friendships with, like or any other state of being that references their negative relationships with other women. Woman to Woman, I am your biggest ally. I know you because our basic life experiences are mapped out the same. I understand you’ve met and dealt with a few Crazy Caroline type ladies from around the way more times than a soul can handle. And that they maybe decided to go off wall on you for simply sharing your honest opinion. Also, just like you are not “Crazy Caroline” neither are so many other women, that’s the joy of female friendships: different personalities coming together for a great bond that only gets better with time.

9.) Why people confidently utter the statement, “I don’t read”. Shut. The. Front. Door. Better yet, stand there stock still while I hit you over the head with my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Then I will bury you in a location suitable to the taste of Edward Abbey and mark the spot with an “X”. I’d give you the option of a crafty headstone quote, but “I don’t read” is not acceptable.

10.) Why Passive Aggressive behavior exist and what exactly the behavior consist of, honestly. I have no clue. Are these your real emotions? Wait, what exactly is happening? How do I respond? A sticky note, seriously, a note? Well thanks for the long winded e-mail that sucked entirely too many minutes out of my life, didn’t I just talk to you in the corridor for thirty minutes- I thought we were cool?

11.) Why is hair so important? Seriously, the amount of time and effort, oh and money I and others put into our hair is ridiculous. I’m not the only one though, I know people who have standing appointments and get real cray-cray when their stylist goes on vacation. The debate that occurs when considering a change- the anxiety, stress and endless hours over photos. The extreme ties we contribute to hair when rating the beauty of others baffles me when you take into account the likelihood that all these efforts are still leading to receding lines, bald spots and extreme hair loss during old age. Why can’t I just shave it all off again, but this time everyone keep their comments trapped deep inside that dark place where all the other unuttered truths sleep.

12.) Why do we as humans continue to treat are bodies with such disregard? We are perishable. Humans do not last forever and personally I have no desire to last forever, but while I’m here I need to be at my best. “My body is a temple” should be the motto and everything placed inside of this capsule should be done with only the best intentions.

13.) Why are people so impolite these days? No “Excuse me” or “Pardon”, no “Thank you for your time, effort or consideration”. It baffles me, a little kindness and care goes along way. And youth of the world, Elderly always get the seat, have the right-away, are offered to cut in line and generally deserve every ounce of kindness your wee little body can expend because they’ve earned that right.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tu Hablas Espanol?

No. No I do not, but I understand pretty well so be careful when you go to comment on my lack of language skills. Honestly, the comments are usually very helpful, feedback and smiles of understanding that I will learn. Smiles explaining that it's not a big deal since they've maybe learned a new language and understand how difficult it can be to be a language student. I've only had one bad reaction and honestly that in no form can out weigh the kindness of all the others.
Spanish Classmates
But why move to Spain if you don't speak Spanish? Welp, why not. I've done six years of sitting at a desk attempting to learn a language that so many surrounding me in Texas speak and understand, but when I arrived in Spain I couldn't tell the taxi driver the address in Spanish. What the Frog is that, serious time and money wasted for sure. When I look back on those classes, almost ten years ago some folk were still of the mind frame that learning Spanish was not a necessary. Those folks are now jobless. Replaced by Spanish teachers whose native tongue is Spanish and who hold a desire for the language of their people to be taught so that a person can move upward and develop relationships in a Spanish speaking world.
It is hard. Very hard, but I've come along way and I plan to go even further. While basic conversations with the people I must interact with daily have definitely aided me (i.e. bus driver, parents of students, students, the waiter and sometime neighbors) they are not providing me with the nitty gritty, just the basics.
For the whole get down I started with taking two weeks of Spanish classes at the beginner level in Spain from the Language Academy, CLIC located in Sevilla. The classes were not playtime, we had homework, test and the teacher refused to speak in English or bump her pace down to a snails pace. That definitely helped as did the language book which in every chapter provides at least two section dissections that graphic organize everything the information taught.
Now that I'm in Jaen and my schedule does not permit an extra 3-4hrs, I have to get in were I fit in- thank goodness for Intercambio. The basic definition of Intercambio is speaking conversational Spanish for an allotted time then switching to English for the same amount of time.
However, because my Intercambio partners are actually teachers I have received two work books ( one grammar the other just language related) and a novel to read, all of which are written in Spanish. During my sessions there is plenty of note taking and question asking.
Also, in my back pocket there are a few web resources I plan to put to use next semester when Graduate school is not a time requirement. More on those later. Just now I've made some baby steps since arriving her a little over a month ago and I look forward on looking back at the end of this adventure.
My biggest struggle or roadblock is myself. In the beginning I was so fearful of my Texas accent devouring my Spanish accent, which it does from time to time. This irrational fear stems from two seeds. 1.) Spanish class in High School when my teacher hated my accent so much she refused to allow me to speak and only assigned me reading and writing for language practice. 2.) Hearing the amazing accents of other Americans who have studied abroad before teaching abroad or who have Spanish majors is a little intimidating definitely.
 But then I got over those issues with a big gulp of "who cares" and little confidence boost from the many Spanish folk who've I've spoken to that like to compliment the fact that they understand me so well compared to other Americans (Thanks Mom and Dad for all the books, etiquette classes, and theatre participation). Now, I just speak, pause for correction and say "gracias". No big deal.
Here's to learning Spanish and having fun, Until next time . . . Adios, Hasta Pronto, and Be Blessed