2009/04/17

A personal update

RD (click on her icon in the "followers" box to find out about her) just asked me what I was up to, and I realized I hadn't had anything to say here for weeks and weeks! So, before I get into more consequential subjects, here's an answer to RD and an explanation (and apology) for my absence.

I'm still committed to two major writing projects, the same two I've been working on for years. But of course there are always myriad distractions, more here in this little Andalucían town than I remember from 25+ years in Manhattan. Birthday parties, first communions, the library reading club (this month: L'Éducation sentimentale by Flaubert), weekly tapas with English friends (good for keeping in practice in English), plus our personas libro group, serving as juror in the annual poetry contest (we just met last night). All of this I can usually keep under control: I exclude everything else from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (the usual time here to break for the day's big meal), and take care of everything else between 5 p.m. and whenever. But lately two new things threw me completely off my work routine.

One was the inauguration our new home and first condominium association meeting, during Semana Santa, when the people who bought the other houses in the complex were all here. I'm currently president of the condominium association (till August at least), and had to get together account info etc. Even without that, it's hard to get any work done in Andalucía (or probably anywhere in Spain) during Semana Santa.

The other was something completely unexpected. I discovered that in order to get a Spanish driver's license, I would have to go to driving school! There's no other way to do it if your only driver's license is from the U.S., because (unlike the European Union or most countries of Latin America), there's no reciprocal recognition of licenses between Spain and the U.S. And if you acquire Spanish residency, as Susana and I did, you have just 6 months to continue using your foreign license. I couldn't believe this at first, but I checked, and that's the law. And the only way to get to take the driving tests (written and practical) is through a registered autoescuela, or driving school.

So there I was, after more than 50 years of driving many kinds of vehicles, sitting in a classroom with teenagers eager to get onto motorcycles and young workers who need their first license, studying arcane stuff about Spanish driving laws and road signs. Two weeks of this, 9:30 to 1:30 p.m. every day (except for Holy Thursday through Sunday), with lots of homework. The questions are tricky. They include things like permitted trailer dimensions and weights under specific conditions, speed limits for different kinds of vehicles on different kinds of roads, when you're permitted to use your fog lights, car maintenance, and even emergency assistance to offer if we come upon a serious accident. I just took the test (with hundreds of other people) this morning. I hope I passed -- I won't know until Monday.

If so, I can get back to my strict routine and try to recover lost ground. If not, I'll have to take the test again & devote some more time to studying.

1 comment:

Dirk said...

I’ve long loved L'Éducation sentimentale I read it fairly young and was enchanted with those characters and their world. Even though I suppose Flaubert is much of the time satirizing them, with their drifting lives and feckless politics, they seemed to me immersed in a sustaining world of shining light. I was even younger, 18, when, while I was working in a lumber yard in Los Angeles over the summer, I read Théophile Gauthier’s La toison d'or. Soon I found myself stuck in a traffic jam with my girl friend of the time going to a performance of Carmen (in English) at the Hollywood Bowl. It happily occurred to me that without stretching it much you could say I was on the way to the opera with my mistress. I was thrilled. I felt I had become a person. That must have been 1953. A youth!