My absence from the blogosphere is indicative of the fact that I’ve been living a life–a very FULL life–very far away from my sweet little laptop and internet connection. And it is very good. Very, very good. In the past two weeks I’ve been more social than I have in, oh, the past six months, so it’s been exciting, exhausting, enriching and rather hectic all at once. Amongst exciting social activities have been: coffee with a passel of Fulbrighters, one truly impressive dinner party at the apartment of Mr. Mark Fox, a veggie-filled dinner in with Amber at her luxury pad, a birthday party at a rented-out bar, a date for tostas and a mid-morning rastro scrum, and a Very Fulbright Thanskgiving, pictures of some of which will appear here soon’s I motivate enough to put them on flickr.
So, summarily: things are totally fantastic. I’m tired on a more or less constant basis, but even that I can’t complain about as the sleeplessness comes as a function of aggressively sucking every drop of goodness out of my days. Rock. I’ve found some amazing new friends here, even now–threeish months into it. I’m fortunate enough to have found one of them in a fellow TA at my school. Amber makes going there a little less painful. And on that note…
School, aside from the hardships of dealing regularly with a slightly crazed coordinator, is going well and I’m looking forward to switching grades (I’ll be going from second to first) in the coming week. Excited, yes, and a little sad I suppose: I’ll miss my sweet little second graders like no other. In the past month and a half they’ve all become so very singular and special to me. For example, Ruben de Oliveira, who is allergic to wheat (that poor kid), has a smile that could light up the entire universe. Leticia is already a grown up; she comes complete with sass, confident swagger and burningly intelligent gaze. Miguel, easily my favorite kid, educates me every time I see him (see below), and told me that he wouldn’t like class as much without me there. Perhaps my most heartwarming case is Rubén García. Rubén, formerly a rough, tough bully who would hit other kids, disrupt class and generally wreak havoc whenever possible, could barely read in English the first time I sat down with him. Considering his classroom and social habits, I was totally unsurprised and unimpressed. The second time, about twenty days later, Rubén sat down beside me and read, willingly and from cover to cover, his little Golden Book. Then asked to read another for me. Then asked if we could share the reading responsibilities for another book. Then asked to take one home to read to his mom… and then brought it back the next day and asked for another. I was totally dumbfounded, so spent the next week reading with him, selecting more and more advanced books which he read with gusto and alacrity. I am absolutely in love with his perseverance and growth. Yesterday, sweetly enough, Rubén secretively waved me over to his desk. “Profe,” he said, “you know where is the fútbol field at the school?” I told him I wasn’t sure. “Well I have a game today. Can you come? I want you to come,” he told me, “you come with me after class and I’ll walk you over to the field! You can watch practice!” How touching is that? Sadly, last night my rollicking stomach ailments kept me from going, but I have a date with my little soccer player on the coming Monday. He makes my heart glow. 🙂
Miguel, my most favorite kid, delights me for different reasons. Unlike Rubén, Miguel started out as a stellar student of English and has only improved. Behind little blue glasses, his quick brown eyes miss absolutely nothing. He understands all of the higher level jokes in books, giggles, points out textual anomalies and has one of the most fabulous imaginations I’ve ever encountered. This fabulous imagination came into play when we were reading the amazing book “The Gruffalo’s Child” the other day.
Finding a barren winter branch in the story’s beautifully illustrated landscape, Miguel pointed to it, exclaimed, “it looks just like a coral! Do you know what a coral is?”
“Like, under the sea corals?” I asked him.
“Yes!” he told me, “those! Do you like corals?”
“Of course,” I told him. Satisfied with my answer, he informed me that he wants to study creatures under the sea when he grows up, (which sounds curiously like another sweet, winsomely nerdy, imaginative boy I know). Miguel then turned to me, all aflutter, “did you know that corals can fight!?” he asked me. I most certainly didn’t. “Well,” said Miguel, “corals have a little creature living inside of each tube, so as they grow and need more space, the creatures shoot out *pewpewpew!* and battle for space.”
A bit dubious, but totally delighted, I asked him, “really, Miguel? How do you know so much?”
Miguel looked at me as though I was absolutely absurd for asking, “Hombre!” he exclaimed (Spanish equivalent of “Dude! Come ON!”) “I saw it on a documentary!”
Something happened last Thursday that made me realize, suddenly and definitely, that I am a citizen of Madrid. I live here. I will live here until June next year, and the city, its people, and Spanish norms are beginning to rub off on me.
Because I had a very busy afternoon, I rushed home from Vicalvaro, ran to el Horno de San Onofre (an amazing bakery in Chueca) where I bought a loaf of pan Alemán (dark, German bread) for Amber’s and my dinner, and rushed off to my meeting. With my bread in my bag. On the metro. For a six block city walk. All the way to the gym. Back to my house. Back for a 15 minute city walk to Ambers, where the bread was finally consumed, roughly 5 hours later. I felt so madrileña. Everywhere you go in Madrid, you’re bound to see somebody walking around with a loaf of bread in a sack, jutting out of a purse, propped on a briefcase, etc. I’m beginning to blend in.
I’m also getting really tired. Feck. Field trip with the kiddlies tomorrow, and I’m so underslept. I’m off to bed now, but I’ll update a bit better as soon as humanly possible–though tomorrow may not be realistic as I’m baking a bushel of luscious pumpkin pies with Amber for my roomies, for school, and for Amber’s roomie.