October 27, 2010

Like B said, enormous love and hug to everyone at home.  We love it here but we miss you.

Retiro Park is like Central Park. Landscaped, some bodies of water, lovers, street performers. It’s a nice place with lots of trees where people go to scrape the urban off.

But there are some differences. Parents are more liberal in the park (and in general) with their children. Little Juan Miguel- a wildly popular name- is left to his own devices, allowed to play with grass or bite a stranger’s leg. The whole country embraces the Montesorri ideal. Thus, the young ones here are more independent- more lonely even- and when they do act out, it’s deflating because I realize how much more advanced their vocabulary is then mine and B’s. In the US, when a kid cries, I think, oh man, poor kid but knock it off already. Here I think, ‘Wait, scream slower. Did you say you want to choke your brother, or eat him?  Give me more gestures!’

I’ve run at Retiro a few times. Humbling experience. There are not nearly as many leisure runners as Chicago, so the ones who do run tend to be incredibly fast.  I used to pride myself on passing one or two people (usually senior citizens) when I went for a jog. You cannot stop me, I say to myself, passing the man battling lung cancer. I am strong-willed.

No such luck here. I was lapped by this one dude the other day. He was doing five-minute miles while smoking a cigarette. Self-esteem check: an 8 on the ‘damaged ego’ scale.

Speaking of cigarettes, every single human here smokes.  At least 92% of Spanish men guys grow beards. There’s a wide range: scraggly, manicured, and my personal favorite, savagely unkempt (hoop fans, think Pau Gasol). 87% of the women are dressed beautifully in places like the supermarket or the metro. A full 100% are dressed beautifully in any formal setting, regardless of age.

And the cafes, guys.  Dag. Feel like I’m part of some underground revolutionary groundswell.  Pockets of like twelve people arguing over philosophical giants like John Locke and Damon Lindelof.  It’s great stuff: all the smoke and urgency and palpable mistrust of authority.  Having always been susceptible to the interests of peer groups, I want to quote passages from polemic political literature or obscure Spanish philosophy.  But I still can’t remember how to say things like ‘society’ or even ‘some.’  I did learn how to say peach though.

Baby steps to learn the language.  To those who have (Gib Diggy, Em-inem-ily, KT, Sonia Q, etc.), wow.  I think I could live here for 100 years and not really know what’s going on.  There is one word though.




October 25, 2010

The blog entries have slowed down… obviously. Our lack of internet continues to be the problem but life continues. We visited the historic town of Toledo a few weekends ago on a long weekend. It was a really special place. Work has been shaping up pretty well too. I have 20 hours a week and Sean has that as well, more or less. We have many interesting students and we had a bar get-together with some of them on Friday night (as a morale booster for the academy we work for). My students who were there were all adults in the intermediate class. They talked with me for awhile and I appreciated the effort because I am sure it wasn’t easy to try to understand in a bar environment. I am planning a halloween lesson for Thursday- not sure if I will use the Adam’s Family theme song or a part of the peanuts halloween special… Both are awesome in my opinion!

Yesterday we went to our friends James’ house in the suburbs. It was nice to see the outskirts of the city. His house is huge, with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and basketball hoop. I beat Sean in a game of ping pong but let him win during a one-on-one basketball match. James has three dogs and I wanted to take one of them home with me, Tinky. I don’t think dogs are allowed in my building but he really would jazz up the place… after a bath (the dogs pretty much live outdoors). James’ family use to have a few goats as pets too. They gave them to a farm last year. I wish I hadn’t missed them.

Courtney is visiting on Friday! We’re heading to Granada one weekend and Barcelona the next.  Excited, excited, excited.  -b

my heart is with my family

October 19, 2010

I would like to send my family members in RI a big hug. I am sorry I am so far away right now. You are all in my thoughts during this time.

the good life

October 9, 2010

This week we starting working like Sean mentioned. I teach a bigwig of a company (boss of 3000 people) but he is really nice. I was a bit nervous before meeting him. I even wore a suit. My work schedule is not much to complain about- Monday and Wednesday from 1:30-3 pm ONLY; Tuesday and Thursday from 7:45-10:15, 2:30-4, and 6-9 pm; Friday, Saturday, Sunday no work! this is indeed the good life. there is actually a national holiday on Tuesday so, of course, the companies are also shut down on Monday. Guess we will have a two day work week next week.

We started our Spanish classes and I tested into the beginner level (what’s up with that? I’m on Rosetta Stone level 3! I know the conditional tense for “I want” for heaven’s sake!). Sean tested into the pre-intermediate. Things somehow got a bit topsy turvy on the first day and Sean was directed into the beginner room and I to the Pre-I. I sat in class, catching 25% of the words. I thought “wow, they really push the beginners”. A woman from our ttmadrid program (Mim) was supposed to be in my class, but wasn’t there. This made me suspicious. After an hour we had a break and I checked the room schedule and saw that I was in the wrong class. The teacher of the class I was in said she thought I was getting it enough to stay in the class but I opted to downgrade to beginner. I’d rather not be in the same class as Seany boy. His Spanish would put mine to shame.

It is a rainy day and we are at a cafe, again. They are probably getting sick of us here but we buy our cafe con leche and log onto the net. Sean’s computer battery is pathetic so he has to set up his plug stretching across the doorway from the cafe to the bathrooms. It is pretty much a death trap for the older clientele. In America people would threaten to sue; but not in Spain. They believe  you should use common sense. If you fall into a ditch on a road it’s your fault for not looking where you are going.

I was going to upload picture of our new place but I brought the wrong plug. Soon we will have internet in our apartment but we are at a standstill since the internet company answers the phone is Spanish. Sean calls and ends up hanging up. I have been dropping hints to our friends with better Spanish skills but there have been no bites yet. -bl

The Long Goodbye

October 4, 2010

Schedule’s filling up for work. Strange and piecemeal (B’s word, love it). Four hours with this place, eight with that one, two with that one. Going into companies and teaching older folks how to pronounce the regular past tense verbs. (Common Spanish mistake is pronouncing jumped as jump-ed rather than jumpt).

Or showing film clips to advanced students and debating with them, careful to correct those subtle fossilized errors (bacation, instead of vacation).   For one of my classes, I was thinking of showing ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors.’  They have such an appreciation for Woody Allen here. There’s even a statue of him somewhere in Spain.

Having limited internet access and realizing, slowly, that I need the internet for like 9 hours a day. Like an addict when I do get access. Gah gmail nytimes huffpost twitter dy/dan imdb!  I froth at the mouth and try to inject the WIFI into my bloodstream.

Favorite part of Spanish life, in a landslide, so far: how people end conversations. At the bank the other day, our homegirl Pilar said this before hanging up: ‘Vale, venga, hasta luego, hablaremos, adios.’ Granted, this took 1.0023 seconds, but I love how they cherish it.


October 2, 2010

Bethany Lucas/Sean Geraghty

Carrera de San Jeronimo 44, 2-E (draw a little circle like a degree sign after 2)

28014  Madrid, Spain

We will post pictures of the apartment soon but will not have the internet after tonight for about a week or so… bl

We got it!

October 2, 2010

We just signed the contract to our Madrid apartment! The contract was in Spanish so who knows what we committed to. Sean testing into a pre-intermediate Spanish class so I am sure he understood most of it… right? The apartment is even better than the one we lost. It has two balconies overlooking a gorgeous street. The apartment is across from a congress building, there is a fountain down the street, and a church beyond. You can hear the bells toll. We have a real oven and a full size fridge (a rarity around here… many apts have just the stove top and a college dorm-room size fridge). We also have a delightful doorman names Marcel who is from Brazil and lets us practice our spanish with him.

We need to pack up our studio and move today and tomorrow. Luckily our belongings fit in 3 suitcases. We won’t have the internet in the new place for a bit either but at least the electricity is already on.

Everything is coming together. We graduated from our TEFL course at Ttmadrid. It was a phenomenal program and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to live abroad for a year. Sean was the top student! We even have a bit of work starting on Monday (I am teaching a few classes to business people during their lunch breaks monday-thursday; and then general english class for 3 hours on Tuesday and Thursday). I need to buy a few more business-y outfits and more comfortable high heals.

More exciting things to come, including picture of our new place when the internet is on. -bl