Sunday, November 30, 2014

Life in Alcalá

It's hard to believe I've been living here for a month, but there you have it.  I've been working almost exclusively since I moved into my apartment - working in this case meaning writing, transcribing, researching future graduate programs, and signing up for Spanish classes.  (I have realized that my language-learning strategy up until now which has been mostly chatting with backpackers while drinking beer and building up my vocabulary via Latin American magical realism novels has resulted in me being able to say things like, "The vagabond had a terrible upheaval in his demented soul," but unable to understand such commonplace and rather more useful sentences as, "Leave the report on the desk in my office.")

I haven't been doing much out and about the city, though I went out for my birthday with my roommate and a group of her friends, to a trendy tapas place around Puerta del Sol.  Incidentally, tapas are the single greatest idea ever conceived in the history of cookery; rather than order one meal on an evening out, in which case you will inevitably get bored with it after two bites and wish you'd ordered what that guy is eating instead, you order ten different meals and get to sample everything.  Tapas!  Tell your friends.

The only thing I just can't get my head around, and this caused me a lot of grief in Argentina as well, is how freaking late people stay out here.  As a person who enjoys getting up early, and who gets very moody very easily if my sleep patterns get out of whack, I just can't get used to this whole culture of dinner at ten and then drinks not starting until eleven or twelve at night, and then clubbing until six or seven.  I suppose it makes sense in hot countries, where during the summer the weather doesn't become tolerable until after the sun goes down, and you have a midday siesta during the hottest hours anyway.  (Incidentally, siesta is another custom I have issues with, mainly since there seems to be an unspoken agreement among all the shops, libraries, and museums in Alcalá that the moment I finish my work for the morning and decide to take a walk, that's the signal for everybody to close up for three hours.)  My point of all this, of course, is.... tapas!  Tell your friends.

Moreover, I've actually been making more progress in NaNoWriMo than I have in any of the past 10 or so years I've tried it.  Will I reach 50,000 words by midnight tonight?  Not a chance!  I'm currently at around 6,000ish and will be hard-pressed to get another thousand in due to actual work taking precedence, because I, being an American citizen born after the Baby Boomer generation, am being slowly asphyxiated and having all my dreams murdered by student debt.

However, after years of telling myself, "Once I'm out of Baltimore and free of its ambiance of inspirational stiflement, I'll set aside time each morning to write," and then, "Once I'm done backpacking and have some measure of stability, I'll set aside time each morning to write," and then, "Once I'm gone from Dublin and my life has ceased to be a whirligig of chaos, I'll set aside..." etc., I have finally come to a point where I can set aside an hour or two not every morning but close enough to work on a novel I've been envisioning since I was ten.

Otherwise, I really thought I'd have more to write about after nearly a month living here, but things have been slow.  Alcalá is a quiet yet adorable medieval town, dating back centuries upon centuries to when it was a Moorish citadel, which the Visigoths conquered from the Moors and then the Romans conquered from the Visigoths.  As it is, it has a smattering of different cultures lingering in its fabric, including a Jewish neighborhood, a cathedral, a stately, antiquated university, the Archbishops palace where a community of cranes have built their nests, and ancient Roman ruins.

Otherwise, things are going splendidly, and I'm juggling a couple of knitting projects in the scarce free time I have.  I have a set of fingerless gloves and either a headband or a cowl in the works for my roommate and her sister, and multiple possibilities of tiny jumper-like garments to make for my friends who, deciding one bilingual super-baby wasn't enough, decided to have a second.  More exciting projects include a creative writing class I'm going to teach in the city, a Russian cinema club, and Spanish lessons, which start tomorrow. ¡Hasta pronto!

No comments:

Post a Comment