28 October 2006

Normal things

Yesterday I was pushing my cart through the men's silk tie section and I got tickled. I went on through shoes and out of the store realizing that it has become normal to push a grocery cart through the equivalent of Macy's or through a mall. It's normal and most the time I don't think about it.

Today it got really warm, 82 in fact and the rest the week is suppose to be in the 70s, after two weeks of cold rain. So of course we have the windows open again. I don't know if it's the rain or what, but the bugs are out in force. We have no screens on our windows. I guess you can have them custom built and a few homes do that, but most places don't have them. So bugs flying in and out of the windows is pretty normal. When it gets to dusk, we plug in these little things that look like air fresheners, they repel mosquitoes and don't smell like anything. I don't like bugs being in and out of the house but I'm used to it. This is a likely cause for why we had a bat in our bedroom one night. We forgot to plug in the bug repellent and I think he probably followed something in the window. We won't make that mistake again, hopefully.

Hola. Everyone says it. When you're out walking or a neighbor is in their yard or in stores, it's very normal to say hola and have it said to you very often. So without thinking now, I say hola when I'm out walking and I pass someone. I wonder does my hola sound normal or is it a little off, and they thing, "where is she from?"

All the tourist shops sell them, but then so do all kinds of shops. Abanicos are the pretty fans that are often a souvenir from Spain. The thing is the abanico is alive and well. In the summer, nearly every woman has one in her purse. I in fact carried one this summer. Without air conditioning, you are often in places that are stifling hot. When you hit that maximum capacity on heat, out come the fans. It's amazing the relief a little stirring of the air can bring. Lots of people use them in church too. You can spend a lot of money on hand painted ones, more suited to hanging on the wall or you can drop a Euro and have one that you don't care if you lose. It's interesting what has become normal.

22 October 2006

Worried, Happy

I've noticed the use of a couple Spanish words that are near synonyms for English words but they are used differently here. One is preocupada (preocupado if you're a boy). It looks and sounds a bit like preoccupied. This is the word for worry. I know this because I worry and I was trying to say something I was concerned about. Estoy preocupada de...whatever. I like this word for worry, because really when I'm "worried" I'm allowing myself to be preoccupied with something that most likely I cannot control or change.

Another word that I find interesting is contenta (again change the end to and o if you're male). While if you look it up you will find it is a synonym for English's content, however, the use of it here is wider than that. It is used for content, but it's also used for sort of glad or happy. This situation was good, or I got this new scarf and -- estoy contenta. I'm happy, I'm content. I like the two ideas rolled together. Paul (as in the apostle) wrote the famous line about being content in whatever state you find yourself. In English, the idea of content, which could connote just dealing with something without complaining, all the way to pleasantly at ease with the situation, with happy, I don't associate it with happy.

So "contenta" inspires me to ask what in my life can I be content with (meaning my old perception of content) and which of those things in my life could I move into the Spanish idea of being pleased or happy with it. I am absolutely not saying we have to be happy with everything in life, but maybe we just squeeze our emotions around something that we could open up and be more content and happy with if we would stretch ourselves.

Things are not perfect. But, preoccupation may be robbing me of being contenta with more aspects of my life. What about you?

01 October 2006

Sometimes real life is just surreal

Sorry to be so long between posts. The odd thing is often if I'm having a hard time I can't post...this time I have tons to post about and haven't had the opportunity. Now I don't know where to start.

We have been going to the fiesta activities in the town near us each night this week, so a few excerpts from a very interesting, cultural, bizarre, bunch of activities.

Wednesday night had a totally surreal evening, maybe a strange day over all. The new regional boss from the US was here. She seems very nice and approachable, we just tried to make a good impression since it was our first meeting of her, but feel like we could speak to her if we needed to. Went to lunch at a nice restaurant (her treat) for paella. Our neighbor was on duty - I think his parents own the restaurant. So I'm Spanish kissing the staff...

At 8 pm, we went to hear a music group, Toom-Pak, at the fiesta (all percussion on industrial drums and tire rims and stuff) very interesting, like Stomp. They didn't start at 8 of course. There were no chairs set up and Dar saw an old guy sneak around a stack and get some chairs, so Dar got some for the 5 of us. Pretty soon, in Spanish fashion lots of people were sneaking chairs out. It was almost a funny social experiment.

Before the real group began, one of the local clubs came around with their drum core and threw confetti and streamers. Then sang a club song. Then the real group began but another club came in and were drunk and kept singing and blowing a squeeky horn. The official band was louder, so it was still fun.

One it was over so we went and got churros from a stand they had set up frying them fresh. Little kids are lighting off M80s right next to us and loud stuff that Dar said isn't legal in the US. We decided this wasn't safe, so we walked down to the real fireworks area...fireworks again yes, third or fourth time this year.

We sat on the roundabout; there must have been 100 of us sitting on the median. Tons of people were gathered, kids were jumping over us and knocking into us wrestling. The fireworks started a half hour late 10:30. It was set to music which was very cool. Once again we were so close that chunks of the fireworks were raining down on us. I plucked a chunk the size of the tip of my thumb out of my hair. (Not burning thankfully.) This was a huge orchestrated show. You felt like you were inside the fireworks and the music. I noticed a piece that fell that stayed firey all the way down to the ground, off kind a behind us and had the thought that in a dry country with a 40 year drought I'm surprised they do so many fireworks.

A few minutes later a bunch of kids all get freaked out and are pointing behind us away from the fireworks. A small brush fire had started on the hill from the fireworks. The firetruck drives through our roundabout (without lights or sirens) the fireworks keep going... you don't know what to watch the fire or the fireworks. A heavy metal song came on in English for the fireworks...I want it all, I want it all, I want it now...it felt like a rock concert. Loud people, loud music, people everywhere. Then there's the fire behind us (not near, but up on a hill) with firemen going up to it. It was spreading quickly, but they had it out by the time we walked to the car and drove out. The fireworks were so large and so close that you felt like you needed to duck during the finale. Tiffany said she felt like she was on a tv show that it couldn't be her real life. Cooper pointed out that we had fireworks (fuegos artificiales) and we had real fire (fuego real). It was odd and funny. Home by midnight.

Went to a dancing horses show another night. Cooper and Dar stayed home and played video games while three of us girls watched the show. It turned out to be dancing Spanish horses couched in the form of a legend being acted out. Sword fights, jousting, fire, smoke, loud music ranging from rock to classical. The horses were cool. The show was long and it was getting cold at 11:30pm. Still glad I went.

Friday night at 6 there was a running of the bulls. Granted it was less than 3 blocks and there were only 3 bulls, each released one at a time. Kerry and our co-worker Tiffany decided to run...before we knew there were only 3 bulls one at a time. I was trying to record on the video camera. It was a hoot. Can I just say the bulls are really, really fast? Mostly people don't run they mill around then climb the fences, in a frenzy, which is what Dar & Tiff did too. I think I was jumping away from the fence with all the commotion, maybe with more enthusiasm than Dar, and I was on the outside. Very funny.

Then everyone went to the bull ring, so we followed. Anyone who wanted to could go in the ring and they released one bull at a time and it chased people til it tired out then they'd corral it out again and let another one out. The same 3 bulls. This would never fly in the US, too dangerous and random. This was not a real bullfight with matadors etc. and they didn't kill them. Very interesting, but I felt sorry for the bulls. They seemed confused and disoriented. It was noisy and people tormenting them and then running behind walls so they'd hit their heads. Glad it wasn't a bull fight.

Saturday we went to an bull-dodging demonstration. They dodged the horns - very close calls. A couple guys did flips over the bulls. They picked the bulls and they were bleeding a little from their shoulders, not too much. I know I eat meat...but I still find the tormenting type of killing disturbing. They did not kill them they just jumped around them. As a team they were very skilled at maneuvering the bulls to the right place in the ring for what they wanted to do. It seemed like the guys could dodge them better if the bulls were running faster. The bulls did not seem as tormented this time though they were bleeding this time. Maybe Dar will blog about this, we got some photos, nothing great but interesting.

I feel like I keep taking a deeper drink of Spanish or at least Madrileno culture. Sometimes it is overwhelming in a pleasant way, like a roller coaster or something but more like slow motion. There's just so much to tell you guys about lately! I never even got to the bat in our bedroom!