Friday, October 7, 2011

Learning to Simply Live

It has been challenging for me to comprehend or even contemplate the fact that we now live in Sevilla.  This is not a vacation.  I do not need to "take in the sights" every day.  I can appreciate the sights, I can be surprised by new things, but I do not need to — nor should I — go on a sight-seeing tour every day of the week.  It's OK to run errands, do laundry, read a book, and just hang around the house every so often.  This may be the toughest thing for me to learn to do.


This morning, I met Lola for breakfast and we spoke Spanish.  That is the new Thursday morning ritual.  We have English Conversation Tuesday and Spanish Conversation Thursday.  We are having a ball learning about each other, our cultures, our families, and our languages.  Albert was there today as well and, as always, he adds wonderful energy, insights, and humor.  He was there for his morning coffee when I arrived Tuesday, but quickly departed so Lola would not feel uncomfortable about using English.

But it's different on Thursday.  Everyone is welcome as long as they stick to Spanish.  Margarita happened by and joined us for a cup of coffee.  She began to speak English with me, but was quickly informed of the rules.  No English on Thursday (well, we cheat here and there).  Our plan (mine and Lola's) is to spend an hour together, but we have had such a good time this week that the hour stretches into more.  Tuesday, we spent two hours.  Today, three.

We have already begun to teach each other common idioms as well as silly and inappropriate expressions in our native languages.  These are, of course, very important.

We (Jerry) couldn't get our oven to work (Jerry has been cooking on the range top only).  We both scanned the instruction manual, which is in Spanish, and were convinced the oven needed repair.  However, today while I was off enjoying Spanish Conversation Thursday, Jerry read and translated the entire instruction manual.  On page 62, he discovered that the timer needs to be set for the heat to go on.  Now, how does even someone who reads and understands Spanish know that tidbit without getting to page 62 of the instruction manual? And how many people read entire instruction manuals?

Anyway, we (Jerry) now know how to turn on the oven.  That knowledge really wouldn't serve much purpose in my cooking-incompetent hands. But I can't wait to taste what Jerry produces.


  1. I have never lived overseas, but have moved around this country often...each time I feel the same way, it takes time to realize "this is home now" ... it will happen for you my friend :)

    And I never read the manual, guess maybe I should huh?

    Can't wait to see what Jerry cooks this time, his recipe was a huge hit with my peeps :)

    Hugs Mr. B

  2. Davidallen:
    This move has been different for me than those many earlier ones, but then I'm not working nor am I looking for work. I'm a good "scanner" of manuals. This one required way too much attention! I would have simply cleaned the oven and used it for storage! I will definitely share whatever Jerry produces. He found another great cookbook last night!

  3. The realisation that you're not a tourist, you're a local, must be quite exciting.

    You know the old IT mantra: RTFM! (Read The F***n Manual!) Yep, turning the oven on is often the key to a successful dish. Thanks to the link to the earlier post - made me spit my coffee. I wouldn't have a clue how to butterfly a shrimp, either.

  4. Yes, I know EXACTLY how you feel. But I doubt if you will have the problem I had on moving. Finding veggie food was an ever-present problem for me in Germany, the only option being having to scour health-food shops where everything was about twice as expensive as elsewhere, a daily reminder of the sacrifices in trying to adapt away from a former life-style in England. And that's just the main unexpected thing that would be such a problem - which I never got over.
    But I assume you and Jerry have near enough identical tastes in food - and just living with someone means you can talk out the problems. So I'd expect you to cope better than I did.

    Btw Do you get people laughing at any mistakes you make in speaking Spanish? I found that after a while, when people kept laughing at me, it got more than a little wearing and started putting me off saying anything at all for fear of making further errors. Maybe it needs a thicker skin. Idioms were a particular minefield. Both native ones said to me (usually with a twinkle in the speaker's eye, knowing that I wouldn't understand) and my trying to translate English ones into their language, which just about never works.

  5. Living in a beautiful place can be very odd. After a while you start to take it for granted then every so often you catch sight of something as if you're seeing it with someone else's eyes and you suddenly realise how wonderful it is.

    Learning a language is such hard work. The better you get, the more difficult it becomes, I think, as you are always out of your depth. Good luck !!

  6. Judith:
    The realization that I'm a lucky is more unsettling right now than anything else. I've got to turn off the tourist brain. But, I'm getting there.

    You might also enjoy the second in my cooking installments, "Why I Don't Cook, Part 2,"!

  7. Raybeard:
    It's a nice problem to have and being with Jerry definitely makes it easier.

    The only extremely laughable mistake I've made in Spanish... so far... is one I mentioned in a post in August, when I told the waitress at Carmela our furniture had been delivered by IKEA but our apartment was at that time filled with boxes. I said "cojones" instead of "cajas." So, our apartment wasn't filled with boxes; it was filled with testicles.

  8. Jean:
    Not long after we moved to San Diego (from Connecticut) in the '90s, Jerry and I were driving to work and as we passed Mssion Bay we just looked at each other and said with glee, "We live here!" I love that feeling.

    As for language, you are so right. Fortunately, I'm not that much better yet!

  9. Being a resident not a tourist adjust slowly and enjoy the process! I speak French with a group once a week and the rules are NO ENGLISH a great way to improve speaking skills.I never read manuals so very well done Jerry.:)

  10. Cuby:
    Thanks for the advice. I need to put up reminders all over the house. Slow down and enjoy the process!

    Yes, well done, Jerry!

  11. Your Tuesday-Thursday ritual sounds like the perfect way to learn a new language and make news friends.
    it should be a ritual for us all.

  12. Bob:
    It's especially helpful for tuning my ears to different accents, dialects, pacings, and more. Lola wants to learn American English. So, I love helping her pronounce those odd (to her) consonant sounds -- which she does really well. It is all so much fun (and the cafe con leche is so good).

  13. Mitch, Re your above at 10.52:
    Hmmm, I see. So the word 'cajas' isn't as readily ON YOUR TONGUE as is, well, the other one? Interesting. ;-)

  14. It's a great gift to be able to slow down and smell the roses. I hope to one day enjoy that sensation my self.


  15. Raybeard:
    And before coming to Spain I very clearly knew the difference and knew to NOT make that mistake! So... Freudian? The waitstaff at Carmela thought it was hilarious. I was happy to make their work so pleasant. (And, yes, I DID notice your little -- upper case -- play on words!)

  16. Scott:
    I'll let you know once I really learn how to do it!


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