A friend I hadn't heard from for a while asked me what I was up to. Lots of things, really, too many to keep track of. There's the approximately-weekly essay on Spain (I try to post every Sunday, but sometimes life gets too complicated and, like today, it comes in late). There's guitar practice, flamenco and classical; maybe some day I'll be good enough to play for you. There's that overdue book we're writing for Norton on the history of architecture and urbanism in Latin America (the pre-Columbian section is done and now my co-author Susana & I have jumped all the way to the 20th century). And there's the novel I'm in the process of publishing and which should be available by fall. And ideas for two other novels that I've barely started. Travel, most recently to Paris, then Barcelona, then Madrid (see my blog entries on Paris, 2010/06/10, and "Barcelona or Madrid?"2010/06/23).
And something else that will no doubt surprise my old friend, and anybody else who has known me over the years: I've been seduced by fútbol. Me, who since a grade school flirtation with baseball (obligatory in a suburb of Chicago, with two major league teams), me who had never paid any attention to any professional sport. Until now.
In Spain, fútbol is a collective passion that I finally couldn't ignore. At first I had no idea what those 22 guys were doing on the field. Well, 20 of them, anyway—it was pretty obvious what the portero or arquero guarding the net was up to, but the maneuvers of the other guys as they scurried up and downfield were a mystery. I've now watched enough (on the tele) and read enough to enjoy a really good pass, or a steal of the ball, or—more rarely—¡gol! We've been reading Eduardo Galeano's marvelous Fútbol a sol y sombra, and like him, my enthusiasm isn't limited to any particular team. I'm glad that Spain has been doing so well, since I live in Spain, and I was disappointed that Argentina got so thoroughly wiped out by Germany, since we have a strong Argentinian attachment in our house, but I can root for a good play by Germany or Ghana (which started out well) or even Paraguay ("even," I say, because those boys were playing rough and playing not to win, but not to lose—and an all-defensive game is much less fun to watch). And it gives me something to talk about with folks in town here in Carboneras.
Actually everything's going pretty well for us here in southern Spain, better than for a lot of people we know here. By a combination of luck and smart decisions by the smarter half of this couple, we got ourselves cushioned just in time before the "crisis"—as this deep economic recession is mislabeled. (A "crisis" is supposed to be a turning point, but so far the bankers and economics ministers haven't agreed on where to turn and seem to be hoping for a miraculous return to the old system. But I digress.)
My only problem is that I've fallen a few decades behind in my schedule. I was supposed to become a famous novelist by the time I was 45, and a good guitar-player in my 20's. I was also supposed to be fluent in French (I'm part way there) and German (long way to go still) and a couple of other languages by now. (I hadn't really planned to learn Spanish; it just happened.) And to have written more books. I haven't abandoned any of these projects, but it looks like I'll be obliged to live a little longer than I had expected to get them all done.