Monday, July 09, 2007

Starting to settle....

AOG, Madrid

Yesterday I was in the north of Spain: San Sebastian. I'd gone over to a Saturday wedding in Bilbao with my other half and we had a free day to tour the Basque country. I have to say, it is the first wedding I attend where, out of 26 tables, 3 of them had two pairs of Marquises, one stand alone Marchioness, and a couple of Viscounts. You have to love Europe for things like that.

Of course, no one introduced the Aristocrats to anyone else and I, 1- made little effort to be introduced and, 2- had little chance to do so anyhow. What I liked best about the whole wedding shindig was being a little more accepted by my other half's friends. A small bond is in the making between them and I. They appear to like me, and I like them back with no appearances. I just do.

And yesterday, instead of staying in rainy, gray and drizzly Bilbao, we droved to rainy, gray and drizzly San Sebastian. Truly, it is a beautiful city. Although renowned in Spain for its culinary excellence, I have to say we were not very lucky with food. It was at best, palatable. I am not a food snob, but I have to say that nothing of note was served to us yesterday. I also saw the new Auditorium & Congress Hall, the Kursaal.

It is a beautiful glass monstrosity by my least favorite Spanish Architect, Rafael Moneo, which lights-up-at-night and has been plonked right in front of an immaculate XIX century boulevard facing the sea, ensuring that the residents who until then had enjoyed a sea view, no longer do so. I am surprised that no one thought of building it further down the sea walk where it meets the mountains and there are no buildings in front. It looks very out of place, and the scale, for a city of punctilious
dimensions, makes it look like a baby doll looks like when placed next to a Barbie doll: humongous.

I had been to San Sebastian last (and first) in 1990. I spent an afternoon there with my mother. She told me about her childhood trips and the female bear she used to visit at the local zoo whenever my grandparents took her there. I have yet to see this zoo.

When I got back to Madrid last night, we spoke on the phone. She wanted to know the names of the bride and groom to see if she knew their parents. Somehow her connections to Bilbao tied me a little bit to that place. When I told her we had gone to the Hotel Londres on the beachfront to have a coffee and watch the Wimbledon final she mentioned she remembered it too. She gave me the hotel's full name, which I thought was funny since I too discovered its name once inside. Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra. London and of England Hotel, aka Hotel Londres, full stop. Perhaps the "Inglaterra" is seen as pretentious these days. I don't know, but the Inglaterra bit is not seen anywhere on the hotel's façade.

I have just read a post from a blog I read from time to time. The blog's author, Chris Cope, is American and lives in Wales. And he wants to become a writer.

In fact, he is a writer. I don't know what he has written, aside from a few columns of his I have read online. But he certainly appears to be more of a writer than I. For example...I have yet to acquire a column of my own.

But I do write. Occasionally, weekly, but not yet daily. Here in Madrid, last March, I placed an ad looking for writing buddies. I found three. They are great.

One of them is a teacher. Our writing sessions star and end as discussion sessions and little or no writing is done, but we do set the world right every afternoon. However, once in a while, we do manage to do a few pages. He and I have entered a writing contest for the Spanish Railways Foundation: RENFE. Not to win, just to enter.

The other one, a guy from Chile, is writing a novel set in an office. We meet and discuss the chapters he brings. We have written together maybe once. We also tend to chat a lot of the time.

My third writing buddy is the youngest of the three. From day one, we have always written. We have good writing days and bad writing days. But we write. We give each other praise and comment, and if something is not too good, we also mention it.

I wrote to my sister in Oxford the other day telling her my latest plans and life events as they have occurred. She wrote back:

"It's so so good that you are getting out there doing the things you enjoy like writing and acting. You must enjoy every day of your life and not waste it. It's also good that you are gaining a larger circle of friends. It sounds like you are starting to settle in and make a life in Madrid."

And I was very taken aback by her words: starting to settle. I guess I must be settling in. I just hadn't realized it yet.

This week and last week, I have been cramming for a Spanish television exam. About 18 000 people are applying for 200 jobs. No don't be shocked, this is quite normal in Spain. 1 job= 3 000 applicants. I have had to cancel my acting classes and the writing sessions. Creativity zero.

Except for the blog.

Once the exam is over, I'll start writing again. There is this small Mexican drama developing in my head since March. I have not given it much thought lately, though it grows and grows. In fact, what grows the most is the anxiety of not writing it. Surely a good sign?