¡¡¡Bienvenido a España!!!
I happened upon a picture of Michael in this month’s Playboy Magazine.
I’m sure you were nothing but an absolute gentleman during this photoshoot.
And I hope they let you keep the suit, it wears well on you.
You know what makes me happy? That we have that kind of friendship where we can go ages and aaaages without hearing a word from one another and yet we can still come back together, sit down with a nice hot cup of tea and act like not a single afternoon had passed between the last time we saw each other and now. At least, this is how I like to think about the increasingly infrequent blog posts I’ve been getting around to tossing up here. Thank you for coming by again, I’ll go make the tea…
While you’re waiting, there are some new faces I’d like to introduce you to. As of March 11th, 2008, I’ve officially been living in Spain for 4 years. Many have come and many have gone, and I’ve got the photos to prove it. So, over the course of the next few (insert random quantifier of time here), I’ll be updating you on the last few months of my life with some photo-blogging. Here’s who you’re bound to see.
Me!!! (Click on the photo for some close-up action)
Vanesa, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Vanesa. Vanesa and I are going steady. I asked her during lunch the other day (via note slipped under her milk carton), and initially she checked the box marked ‘Maybe…” and then changed her mind to “OK!” at the last minute. It made my day.
Let’s see… She’s a poet and she knows it. (Ok, that’s the last time I say that, I promise!) And she also is an editor-ess at Alfaguara. She’s also got the patience of an angel for putting up with the days when I’d sooner finish fighting the 100 year war than produce a single coherent sentence in Spanish. And supposedly there are over 50 poets out there in Madrid that are looking to strike me down upon hearing the news of this young lady being courted by some fanciful musician immigrant. Now THAT’S a Lady…
Nate and Edurne!
When these guys left to live in the south of Spain, they left a huge hole in the city of Madrid and in my heart. I think the last 3 trips out of Madrid and the next 15 are have been/will be destined to their little pueblo in the foothills of the Alpujarras for some R&R, Fresh Air, and hours wasted playing Guitar Hero.
She’s one of my longest running friends here and going strong. Like many other American Ex-Pat-I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Paying-Me-Good-Money-To-Speak-English-For-An-Hour TEFL teachers that wander into Madrid, she’s broken into the big leagues and is now a writer for El Pais, one of the biggest newspapers in Spain.
Another bundle of joy to be found in the center of Madrid. In addition to being a generally stylin’ chick (refer to photo above), she’s also the creator, CEO and chief editor of the new web-zine Nothing To Declare. Go check it out!!!
What I can I say, with a face like that, how can you not love him?
Rafaella and Valentina!
My Italian massas de zucchero. Valentina is off to Bolivia saving the world for a few months, but before you know it, the mighty trio will be reunited and ready to take over Madrid once again!
Marta and Simon
Simon, I’ve known forever, since I got here. And all around sweet heart and the most amazing cook I’ve ever met. Marta and I met in the play we did “Happy Endings” and when we’re not making plans to take over the Jam Session at Barco, we sit around blabbing about the meaning of life in some bar in Malesana.
Miguel and Fallon Painter!
Miguel is one of my new roomies. He is a genuinely friendly, outgoing and engaging person. After meeting him, I knew this was the apartment I wanted to live in. Thank Goodness he invited me to come live with him and the rest of the crew. The lovely lady is his main squeeze, Fallon Painter. I just like saying her name. Fallon Painter. She’s a South African lost in Spain and and all around good gal.
Simon and Kukla!
Simon is Sandra’s boyfriend. Sandra lived in this apartment when I moved in. Now she doesn’t. Now Simon does. But Sandra still comes around to say hello once in awhile. She’s an honorary roomie in my eyes. Simon is Gallego, which means he’s from Galecia, which apparently, according to him, is not Spain, it’s the lost city of Atlantis, the Garden of Eden and Ireland cubed all rolled up into one area in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.
The Last of the Roomies. We get on like peas and carrots. She’s originally from the Canary Islands and is now living in the one city in Spain furthest from any major body of water. I think she’s allergic to beaches. She also teaches me how to say swears in Spanish and read and interpret poetry in Spanish. I should be paying her.
And The Rest of the Crew!!!!
Maria Vecina! (Now Residing in Singapore… )
Ana Belén – Vanesa’s Bestest Friend. She told me that if I didn’t put her up here and put a link to her website, Baby, Light My Way, she would sell my firstborn child to Gypsies. So, take a look at her site, even if you don’t speak Spanish… do it for Paul Jr.’s sake.
Wuff… I’m POOPED! This whole blogging thing is a lot harder than I remember! No wonder I keep putting it off! But I already have all the photos uploaded and ready to show off to the world, so be sure to check in soon for an update.
Oodles of Love!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mad Men has taken the Golden Globe for each of the two categories in which it was nominated!!!
Best Actor – Jon Hamm
Best Television Series – Drama
Too bad the writers’ strike is still going on, or the world would have been able to see Michael on the Red Carpet. Fiddlesticks!!!
Now all they gotta do is release the DVD Box-Set with “Winner of 2 Golden Globes” printed in big block letters on the cover and then you, me and everyone we know can go out and buy it.
I love waking up to an e-mail from my first student saying that they won’t be able to make it to call that morning. That’s consideration you can take home to meet Mom.
Speaking of Mom… (Happy Birthday)
With a free half hour window opening up in my morning, I decided to actually eat breakfast today. And as I’m scuffling out of the kitchen, cereal bowl in hand, a banana sitting in the fruit bowl waves to me and says ‘hello.’ (No, this isn’t the flashback part)
(This is…) And I was snapped back to the homeland, where sliced bananas atop a bed of not yet soggy cereals was one my mom’s specialties.
And so I grabbed the talking banana, and sliced him up over my Kellogg’s. And it was Mmm, Mmm, Good.
I needed this nice start to the day…
In the last year and a half, I’ve taught hours upon hours of private classes to over 50 students who I have never met in real life. This is because I give a good chunk of my English classes over the telephone. Most people find this odd, but there is actually a rather high demand for this type of class. They say that a large percentage of comprehension is due to body language and not to the actual words coming out a person’s mouth. When talking over the phone, you take out body language out of the equation and any and all comprehension depends on those little floppy things hanging off the sides of your head.
Since it’s a bit more difficult to follow a book during these classes, most people choose to have conversation classes using articles I send them as a way to improve vocabulary and conversation skills. One great website (www.breakingnewsenglish.com) is a bountiful source of short and sweet articles that provide enough fodder to get me through each 30 minute lesson.
This week’s article resounded with me as it not only talks about the field in which I work, teaching English, but also, more specifically, about the company my brother Chris works for in Japan and all the hubbub surrounding the recent mess they’ve gotten themselves into. This should be a fun week’s worth of conversation.
Any points of interest you can add Chris?
Japan’s biggest English school in trouble
Nova Corporation, Japan’s largest English conversation school chain is in serious financial trouble. The company, which employs some 4,000 non-Japanese English teachers, was given court protection from creditors on October 26th. It has debts of around $357 million and has given up any efforts to try and clear them. Nova’s directors are hoping to find sponsors to keep the majority of its 900 schools operational. The company’s disgraced president is nowhere to be found. Nozomu Sahashi, 56, owns a 16 percent stake in the company but was fired on Thursday. The board accused him of financial wrongdoing, as he could not give an adequate explanation for his “opaque way of fund-raising and negotiating with potential business alliance partners.”
Nova’s collapse has angered thousands of teachers, many of whom have not been paid. A union representative, Katsuji Yamahara, expressed his concerns saying: “This is a serious development that could force many students, instructors and employees to suffer losses.” Some teachers now face eviction from their company-provided accommodation. There have even been cases of Nova deducting rent from teachers’ salaries and then not paying landlords. Teachers at the scandal-hit school went on strike last week to protest against the company’s malpractices. The final nail in the coffin for Nova seems to have been a discovery that its advertising lied to potential students about its services. Nationwide ads claimed students could take lessons any time they wanted, which proved to be untrue.