Here’s to 9 months of teaching Spanish kindergarten (in a death metal muscle shirt)

Several steps closer

I’ve been gone man, out in the world handling business left, right and center. I haven’t been able to keep up with this thing do in equal parts to my pwning the Spanish immigration gauntlet and some distressing love life issues (which I also handled with panache and runny eyeliner). But I’m back with all the necessary updates of the past several weeks in very brief and convenient numbered points:

1) All the visa hoop-jumping is completed, except for the actual visa, but compared to all the prep work, that should be ez pz (and I even managed a decent-ish passport photo, so I’m gonna ride that high for quite awhile).

2) I got my work placement, and it will be around a 40 minute commuter train ride’s away from the city center, where I will

3) Teach kindergarten!

Ok now I’ll elaborate and spin some yarns about these exciting events. So the visa stuff has been a real handful, I’ve had to make ever so many phone calls, which is something I’ve hated doing since I was a small child: the phone is scary and people on the phone are never helpful because there is no physical presence to hold them accountable to give correct information. They are arbiters of knowledge just floating in the ether, waiting to make my life more challenging. And my phone voice is weird. But everything has been handled, all steps being completed yesterday upon my super-dodgy cash-up-front medical exam (NO, a drug test isn’t necessary, that is outside your purview doc) so now I only have to worry about having my visa rejected due to some bureaucratic abnormality (Spain’s bureaucracy is already so much worse than France’s, hadn’t thought that was possible, seems ominous).

My placement has put me in a village (I guess pueblo is the preferred nomenclature) 40 minutes north of Madrid at a school that is easily accessible by metro and commuter train. This extra time will be convenient for doing lesson planning, which I always did in the morning anyway, letting a few buckets of coffee inspire me. I am still going to live in the city center because I’ve paid my dues with village life, they can’t make me do it again I NEED  PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND KEBABERIES OPEN PASSED 10pm. Those aren’t crazy requirements, I just want to be treated with a little humanity. I also want to live with some hip young Madrileños, but that is for another post; the apartment search will produce tons of blog fodder, so stay tuned for that debacle.

Lots of coffee and shirts with bad words on them; half of this will change for the children’s sake.

Finally, a return to glue-eating and fart accusations in the realm of the very tiny people who will be learning some west coast American English under my careful and exuberant guidance. The good news is kindergarteners love me because I’m female and dress decently, and that seems to be the only rubric needed to be named a “beautiful princess” and I am so down to be called a beautiful princess in my day to day. I also have an expressive face and tend towards slapstick, which probably makes me not unlike a birthday clown. I am also vaguely cool because I wear a lot of black (and sometimes a metal tank or two) and coolness gives one universal cultural capital, so in this way I get a simulacrum of respect from a bevy of 5-year olds (to recap, I am a beautiful princess goth-clown, and the kids dig it).

This photo illustrates the “goth clown” look well. And probably the reason I’m sometimes taken for a post-operative trans-gendered person (true story).

I’m actually not terribly worried about my wardrobe. The biggest problem will be crouching down in too-tight pants over and over again throughout the day, but currently I dig through barrels of mothballed vintage in these very same bondage pants, and haven’t suffered a stroke, so it should be fine.

Tight-panted physical comedy in my homegirl’s kitchen. I have a mouth made for guffawing.

 

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Waiting on Madrid (this will be a theme)

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It’s 4 o’clock and I’m bored. I’m sitting on a flat rock about halfway up Bernal Hill; from here I can see all of Downtown, the Financial District, the Castro, the Mission, Soma, and two bridges. Four fire engines are going somewhere off to the East, but I can barely hear them from this high up. Off to the West the coppery heads of the great pylons of the Golden Gate are just visible above some tree tops , almost obscured by the play of light amongst all the buildings of all the neighborhoods between it and me.

I’ve been listless for awhile now; age is going faster than wisdom, and I’ve felt like I’m on the verge of some great spiritual understanding for some time, like Zarathustra on his high hill, minus the philosophical depth, certainly. There is just so much doubt (am I setting myself up for disappointment? do my decisions even matter? Am I outsmarting the powers that be who want to profit from my suffering and labor?) the last one is likely a “no”. For awhile now I’ve come to the conclusion that momentum, blind momentum, is the only thing that I’ve got to cling to. Inaction is a crippling thing, I’ve always feared it. Acceptance, submission, finding happiness in the little things, that has always signaled some type of subjugation to me. But after all this, somewhere in old age I may feel that I’ve wasted my life, that not putting down solid roots was the biggest mistake I could have made. But even then maybe it’ll be enough to know that the compulsion to keep moving, to keep trying to find that something that I’ve been missing, never being satisfied, was the best choice I could’ve made when I’ve had next to nothing to go on, other than knowing what I didn’t want my life to be.

I could go on and on, but anyway with all this in mind, I’m waiting on the powers that be over at the Ministry of Education in Spain to give me the green light to expat myself out of California and begin a teaching sejour over in Madrid, where again I will impart my delightful Valley accent on some glue-eating 5 year-olds. I feel like I have overstayed my welcome in SF; lovely city that it is, it definitely has an expiry date. I’ve been to Spain before a couple of times, though my travels were limited to just a few days in Madrid and Salamanca, I was into it. Into it enough to live on a meagre salary and potentially face a classroom full of teenagers, particularly frightening because I may have embellished my Spanish skills somewhere in the application process (hey man I took Spanish for years, but once I began learning French that all went out the window, and boy is it hard to get back). For now I’m assuming that I have some fantastic latent Spanish abilities tucked away in my brain, likely filed under “no longer necessary for communicative purposes”, probably not far from wherever all that high school calculus went.

From my limited but optimistic understanding Spain is a bitchin’ country in many ways. The people are friendly as all get out and the food is a lush dream. It is definitely a good next step in my reverse-retirement (why work hard now and have fun when I’m old, that just seems like common sense). A more reasonable pace of life and concentrated enjoyment of friends, food and gossip around a good bottle of wine. The museums, the music, the energy. If one’s life feels directionless, might as well have an existential crisis with a good backdrop.

Honestly I didn’t get to dig very deep whilst over there the last time. And given the language issues, I imagine this experience will put some hair on my chest. When all is said and done I’m really not sure what the hell I’m doing with my life, so I might as well do it in Spain with a vat of sangria, because really, who cares (in a good way).

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I have a love/hate relationship with this ambrosia. Mostly I love it but I hate throwing it up.

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I was a vegetarian at this time, so this was a sad picture.

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A picture almost exactly like this used to be on the cover of my Middle School Spanish text book, right before lunch. The abject lust with which I used to stare at that damn book cover waiting for the bell…

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Palacio Real with my homegirl, taking in some culture to ease the hangover.

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Being all about it.

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