a wandering woman writes

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I knew I should have lit the candles...

A few posts back, when I announced my ISP change, Alex suggested I visit one of Salamanca's many churches and light a few candles.

I thought he was being funny.

He was being clairvoyant.

Still no internet at home, and little time to blog in the turbo cyber stops I make just to keep up on work. Meanwhile, I'm showing off Salamanca, to Di and her husband...and you'll hear more about our days on her blog than mine at the moment. (Her turbo cyber stops are blog stops while I catch up on biz.)

Have happy, happy holidays and I'll hope to be back here in a day or 2.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'll be home for Christmas

Well, I've managed to lose a post and I'm afraid I'm out of cyber-patience.

So I'll tempt you with the photo that went with the lost post - that's my Christmas view, last year - and promise to reproduce the post some time tomorrow.

Not a bad view, eh?


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The bravest thing I've ever done

In a Blog Carnival to be published today in honor of her birthday, Laura asks the question "What's the bravest thing you've ever done?"

Although I didn't plan to post a response, her question intrigued me. I decided to sit with it awhile.

Spanish friends routinely call me valiente. When I answer the "how'd you wind up in Spain?" question, their response is inevitably the same: "¡Qué valiente!" More than once, I've heard Nomadita explain my seeming inexplicable actions to puzzled Spaniards in 5 little words: "Es que es muy valiente".

I get emails in the wandering woman account calling me courageous.

Courageous? Really? I don't feel especially courageous. One of the things I ran across while thinking about Laura's question was the difference between English "courage" and Spanish "coraje", or "valor". The English definition, in a classic bow to the stiff upper lip I was born to, includes the notion of endurance - bravely enduring a difficult or uncomfortable challenge. By that definition, it would have taken a lot more courage to stay where I was 5 years ago. I wanted to stop enduring: quit my job, move to Spain, work for myself, play, create. I wanted to feel at home in my life. One day I just knew there could be no more enduring.

So if the bravest thing I've ever done wasn't quitting a secure job? Or selling the only house I've ever owned, and God forbid, that loaded (pun intended) American success symbol, the new blue Volvo?

Was it asking who I was without the CV? Letting myself be scared every single day? Learning to sit beside the fear and enjoy it, even smack it on the shoulder every once in a while, just for fun? Was it allowing myself not to know more than a few things? Looking hard at what was left of "me" after I'd shed the career, the native speaker communication skills and the perfectly developed 5 year plan?

There is something that scares me to death, and I face it every morning.

This morning, knees shaking, I realized I had answered Laura's question almost a year ago, in a post titled The Blank Page.

The bravest thing I've ever done is face the blank page. The blank page I've made of my life - no template, no contract, no assumptions, no concrete plan - and the blank notebook page that new life has led me to make a date with, daily.

The bravest thing I've ever done is to trust myself with a blank slate, with clean white pieces of paper, empty text boxes and freshly prepped balls of clay. The bravest thing I've ever done is make a new decision, every morning, to look at my day, my notebook and my life without considering the outcome. Without a clue as to what I am about to discover. Hmmmm....who might be back there, behind that pen, and what might she be capable of?

This hasn't been an easy year. Reading my old post today, I was struck by its optimism. I haven't heard myself sound that confident in a long time. I find it easy - soothing, in fact - to fall back into well worn templates and old assumptions. To miss my daily writing date. To let the work that's supposedly here only to finance my life become its sole proprietor.

The bravest thing I did today was take Laura's prompt and pick up a pen and paper. The bravest thing I ever do is throw out the plan book and the outline. And trust myself.

I hope you'll surf over and read my post from February. I'm happy with it. And I'm glad I reread it today!

So what's the bravest thing you've ever done?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Full belly laugh from an amateur translator

There I was, agonizing over how to translate the Spanish word propiciar in the Reverte quote, when I gave up, frustrated. Propiciar means "to favor the execution of", more or less, and I just couldn't see myself ending a quote that way. I wanted the quote to end with a bang, as it does in Spanish. I'd already tried finding inspiration in my Spanish dictionary. Nothing. I went straight to the big guns: the Real Academia Española. "Favors the execution of". Bleh.

Simultaneously desperate not to write a sentence I didn't like and ecstatic not to be a professional translator, I decided to invent my own word. It seemed to me that propiciar would, of course, translate as propitiate.

Giggling at my own cleverness, I surfed over to Ask Oxford. I typed in my word, hit search, waited patiently to read "sorry, no listings" -----

and a few moments later, read this:
propitiate: (verb) win or regain the favour of; appease

Seems our word has Latin origins. My invented English word exists!

So how come that never happens when I make up Spanish words in the middle of a conversation?

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

To Travel

Guerson over at Our Big European Adventure posted excerpts from Javier Reverte's Vagabundo en Africa in a post titled To Travel.

I can't help but post a quick translation of a few lines. Here's Javier Reverte, on travel:

Travelling extends your life, fills it with faces and scenery..... When you travel, your convictions fall as easily as eyeglasses; it's just that it's harder to put them back in their place.

Wait, it gets even better:

And travelling is also a way of creating, because you retain all that you see and all that you hear, in the memory and in the retina, in order to later try to interpret it, as if you were an artist, a painter facing the palette, facing the faces and the shapes, a musician open to sound, to voices and rhythms, and perhaps in the end, a poet. Travel converts us into free beings; allows us to see ourselves paused in time while the world runs along beside us.

Makes you want to walk through your own house as though you were "travelling", doesn't he?

I've yet to read an entire book by Reverte, although El Río de la Desolación is sitting right beside me as I type this post, patiently waiting its turn in the reading line. Javier Reverte is one of few writers that makes language-loving me see languages as a barrier for just a moment -- as I wistfully regret not being able to share him with friends I know would be swept away in just a few paragraphs.

So you'll excuse the amateur translation.

If you've yet to discover guerson, she was born and raised in Brazil, is married to a Canadian, and is working on her PhD at the University of Toronto. She's in Barcelona doing a year's research right now (nice work if you can get it, huh?) and writes up her adventures on her blog.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

a week in New England

Rockport, Massachusetts. The red fishing shack (called Motif 1) is said to be one of New England's most photographed subjects. The original shack collapsed in the Blizzard of 1978, a snowstorm I remember fondly (for giving me at least one full week out of school). Motif 1 was recreated and repainted later that year.

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Será Maravilloso.....a wandering woman singalong

Three cheers for Javier, who sent me a link to the song I sang for days after dancing to it at a recent wedding in Salamanca: El Puente by Los Mismos.

C'mon, now I don't ask for much. Sing out. It's an easy sing-a-long; just make sure you get your Nancy Sinatra moves going during that 60's bass vamp halfway through. Extra points if you act out the modes of transport (plane, boat, walking, bicycle, hitchhiking...) English words at the end of the post; no excuses!

Thanks Javier! You made my week, even if I'm not sure my friends thank you. Why do you think Nomadita seem lessed than pleased to hear ALL my newly learned lyrics at the bars on Friday?



Tengo miedo al avion
También tengo miedo al barco
Por eso quiero saber lo que debo hacer para cruzar el charco
Por eso quiero saber lo que debo hacer para cruzar el charco

Yo sabría esperar, por el tiempo no me importa
Si construyeran un puente desde Valencia hasta Mallorca
Si construyeran un puente desde Valencia hasta Mallorca

Será maravilloso
Viajar hasta Mallorca
Sin necesidad de tomar el barco o el avion
Solo caminando, en bicicleta o autostop!!!

(repeat as necessary to fill a 60's pop arrangement....)

What's it mean, English speakers? From the top (without the catchy Spanish rhymes, sadly):
I'm afraid of planes
I'm also afraid of boats
So I want to know what I have to do to cross the puddle (the Mediterranean, between mainland Spain and Mallorca)

I'd know how to wait,
Because to me time is not important
If they'd build a bridge from Valencia to Mallorca

It would be marvellous (oh, but say it Spanish: Será maravilloso..)
To travel to Mallorca
With no need to take a boat or take a plane
just walking, riding a bicycle or hitchhiking (autostop!)

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