Why Does Life Always Get In The Way Of Living?

•June 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As always, I’ve gone through a lot of shit lately.  Once more, I’ve had a job and I’ve lost a job all in the course of a month.  I’ve argued with my wife and we’ve made up and decided to move forward positively, no matter what happens.  I love her, I love my daughter, and I can’t see myself accomplishing anything without them.  That being said, as always seems to be the case in my life, I have several things, goal, wishes, whatever, I want to accomplish, and I don’t know how I am going to go about achieving them.

For months while living here in Spain, I felt like I should have had some sort of specific goal aside from simply “speak better Spanish.”  I would try to think of some specific goal I could reach for over the course of three months or so to keep me occupied and improve my ability to speak the language.  Once again I find myself home alone during the early hours of the afternoon, and if I’m not going to find a job, I should at least be finding a way to better myself.  I finally came up with something that not only will help my Spanish speaking ability, but it could possibly present opportunities for me to find work.

Obviously, people all over the world speak Spanish.  After Chinese and English, it is the most commonly spoken language in the world, and I love speaking it, and I think I would also enjoy teaching it.  I’ve probably said before that although I am not a teacher I do enjoy sharing my knowledge with others.  Unfortunately, without a license, it is quite difficult to find work as a teacher.  So what is my plan?  Well, it turns out that not only here in Spain, but all over the world, there are schools dedicated to teaching proper Spanish.  The Cervantes Institute is the highest authority on the language and they offer instruction and certification on the language to anyone who wants to learn.  Spanish and other European languages have levels that are assigned to the speakers to gauge their level of fluency.  The scale is A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.  A1 would be the most basic understanding of the language.  Basically, this is where you would start when first learning the language.  I have found various online exams that offer you a chance to test your abilities and I often fall into the B2-C1 range, C1 being quite advanced.  In fact, I sometimes doubt that C1 is accurate for me, but then my wife slaps me around and tells me I have to have more confidence in myself and trust my abilities to speak the language.  That being said, the Cervantes Institute offers exams periodically for all of its levels and offers diplomas to those who pass each level.  While A1-B2 are levels I could easily pass, the C1 or C2 exam would present a considerable challenge to me.  Additionally, those possessing a certificate for C1 or C2 are suddenly more appealing to prospective employers.  Now, being who I am, I could study and probably pass the C1 level test and try to seek work with that certification, but given my recent search for inspiration, I want to throw myself out there and attempt to pass the C2 level exam.  Here’s the thing.  I could play it safe and reach for the C1 and receive a diploma and maybe find work, or I could throw caution to the wind and go for the highest level attainable.  Unfortunately, I am fairly certain that if I don’t pass the C2, I won’t get a diploma for C1.  No, I’ll get nothing. This puts a little bit of fear in me despite trying to overcome my fears.  The exam is scheduled for November, which gives me a little over five months to prepare, and I have to register by October.  I suppose that if by October I don’t feel ready for the C2 I can sign up for the C1, but I don’t want to fall back on that plan  I want to get out of my comfort zone and take a shot.  I feel like if I study everyday just a little bit between now and October, I will know if I am ready or not.  There are plenty of practice exams online and study books available and I plan on going to the local library to ask if their are any means of studying there for the exam.  Now, there’s no guarantee I’ll find a job simply because I have a diploma in the language, but it does say I am qualified to teach the language and I imagine both here and in the United States there are plenty of people, schools, or businesses that need Spanish teachers.  I am hoping maybe this can bypass the fact I don’t have a teaching diploma and offer me a shot to teach, even if it’s not in a school but in a business or something else.

While I have developed a study plan to work on while my daughter is at daycare, I also have the desire to get back to writing.  Yes, blogging is one way of doing it, but I would like to have something published whether it be fiction or non-fiction.  I have toyed with the idea of going back to some of my drafts from years ago and revising them but after re-reading some of my stuff yesterday, I wonder if I ever really had the ability to write well.  I have several ideas in the works, none of which have been officially started.  The first is a novel.  I have always wanted to work with one of the stories I started in college an I think with the right amount of time and effort I could make it something worth reading, but I have to find the time to do it.  A second idea was to write a new collection of short stories.  I have tinkered with the idea of writing them in Spanish, as it would be a great way for me to improve my Spanish skills and possibly add to a greater audience, but aside fro the basic idea of doing this, I haven’t started any stories.  I envision six to ten short stories and I would love to write it this summer, but again, I have to find the time.  I am trying to work on posting videos on YouTube to practice speaking Spanish and to reach out to others who are learning other languages, whether it be Spanish or any other language  I wanted to use this as a way to not only speak better Spanish, but start practicing other languages as well, but that might be counterproductive to my studying for the C2 exam, and I don’t want to put that in jeopardy.

I would like to discover some way to get paid for doing something Spanish/language related from home, but YouTube videos are a shot in the dark and I have yet to launch a podcast or anything else that can gain me fame and/or notoriety.  I suggested we start some kind of online business, and the idea actually went over pretty well, but neither me nor my wife could think of a totally solid idea.  She thought of a good idea, but I don’t know how we would put it into practice.  I hate that I sit here daily without a job and I feel guilty when she comes home and asks me how my day went, but I am at a loss for how to find work while I am stuck here.  Don’t get me wrong, I have sent out a few resumes online and she and I both dropped off a few in person, but I don’t know if anything will come of it or not.  Job searches online sometimes find me opportunities, but often they are looking for someone with more experience than I have.  I left resumes at Subway and Starbucks, which sounds like crap, but who knows, maybe those will pan out.

In any case, I think this has been enough English for me today.  I am trying to stick to Spanish as much as I can.  That being said, I hope to come back here with good news soon.  Until then, adios from Spain.

Rambling

•March 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes I feel like no matter what I do, no matter where I turn, I am somehow wrong.  I buy the wrong food, I say the wrong thing, I wear the wrong clothes.  I felt out of place when I arrived here in Spain over a year ago and you would think by now I would be comfortable, but it seems like everyday is yet another struggle to get my life in order.  I love my daughter more than you can imagine and I hate anytime I am away from my wife, but aside from the two of them, I have nothing here in Spain and I desperately want to return to the United States.  Perhaps if I had found a job immediately or if I found myself speaking Spanish with ease I wouldn’t feel this way but when I think about spending several more years here my heart sinks.  I want nothing but the best for my family and I feel like the only way I can provide that is to be back in the U.S. where I feel like I fit in.  I am always lost here.  I have always been a timid person, and being in situations like this hasn’t helped.  I thought my new job would ease my worries, but in reality it has only made me feel worse.  For the most part, the people have been nice to me, but I am constantly making mistakes and there are a few employees who have made me feel very bad about myself.  I am doing the best I can, but between the language barrier and the fact they do things very differently than I am used to, it has been almost impossible to adjust.  I know I shouldn’t take the job any more seriously than I take anything else, but once again I feel like no matter what I do, something goes wrong.  I needed to request a day off, and thankfully they granted it, but I am convinced when I go in today I will discover instead of just giving me a day off, they will have switched me to another day that I already know I can’t work.  I need to take my daughter to the doctor on Monday and I am almost certain they will have changed my day off from Monday to Friday to grant me the day off I requested.  I don’t want to have to explain the situation to them, as I know it’s going to further complicate things, but I don’t know what else to do if they did in fact schedule me to work Monday in place of Friday, as I need both of those days off.

Every second that ticks by as I wait to leave for work increases my anxiety.  I know it’s foolish to be so stressed out but I can’t help it.  I dread going to work and I race to leave as soon as my time is up.  I wish at least it were more similar to my work back home.  At least then I would feel I had a place.  No matter where I go I feel lost.  I try to be happy at home with my family, but I just stress out about the next day.  I only find solace when I go to bed, but I dread waking up to face another day here.  We’ve talked about going home in November to spend a week with my family and it’s all I am looking forward to, but I know it’s going to be near impossible to return to Spain afterwards.  My daughter won’t be making the trip to the U.S. and she will be the only reason I will want to return.  I don’t hate Spain and I have nothing bad to say about the people.  It’s just not my home.  I know it’s unfair to ask my wife to give up her life here so that I can be happy in the United States, but she has said time and time again she would go wherever I wanted to go.  Obviously she wants our daughter to experience the culture of Spain and have time to know her family here, but given how far away all her relatives in Spain are, living in the U.S. won’t be that much different.  I know it will be hard for my wife to be far from home, but we have already talked about having her parents come visit us in the U.S.

I’ll never say I regret the decisions I have made.  It crushes me to think of my wife in Spain alone or not having my daughter.  I love them both intensely and hate to imagine any sadness falling into their lives, but sometimes I think about the life I left behind and I have to tell myself no matter what happens, I can never go back to that, even if we move back to the U.S. I miss being able to go grab a coffee or order a pizza whenever the mood struck me.  I liked the idea of going to the movies alone on a Thursday afternoon when the rest of the world was at work. I liked my trips to the laundromat or sitting at Starbucks for hours scribbling in my notebook. It many ways, it was a lonely life, but it was also the life I had created for myself.  This life is nothing like anything I ever predicted.  Sure, it some ways it’s incredible.  The guy who packed up and left everything behind to marry the woman of his dreams in a foreign country.  It’s the stuff for movies I guess, but unfortunately, it’s not playing out the way it should.  Life is hard, I know this.  I didn’t have to move to Spain to know that things will always be tough, but I guess I thought maybe finally I was going to catch a break.  I’m 35 and I’ll be 36 in just over a month.  I’d like to say I have a lot of life ahead of me and this is only one chapter of a very long book.  I plan to see my daughter off to college someday, which means I have to go on living at least 18 more years or so.  The first 18 years of my life weren’t so terrible.  I struggled a bit during the next 18, but maybe the 18 I have ahead of me will be a little better.  I’m not going to try to live my life through my daughter but as long as I can see happiness in her eyes, I will be OK.  Her happiness is my only priority from now on.

I try to say that someday I will look back on my time in Spain and laugh about it.  Right now I feel trapped here.  I want to go home but it’s just not possible.  I can’t tell my wife that I feel trapped, she will think I don’t want to be with her, and that’s not the case.  I just want to continue this chapter of my life in the United States.  Of course that will be another challenge in itself.  Being married will help, but there will still be a lot of forms to fill out and fees to pay before she can come with me to the U.S.  My daughter will have no problem, as she is considered a U.S. citizen, but I won’t leave here without my wife.

This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do and I know it won’t get any easier, but I just want the chance to live my life with my wife and daughter in the place where I grew up.  For now, I have to get ready for work and hope that things go smoothly for the rest of the day.  Until next time.

One Year

•February 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I have now officially lived in Spain for one entire year.  I can easily say there were times I didn’t think I would make it, and even worse, there were times I felt trapped, as if I wanted to escape, to run home to Connecticut, but I couldn’t.  I love Vero and I love Chloe, both with all my heart, but there are still days I wish I could wake up in CT with the two of them.  Vero and I talk about moving to the U.S. all the time, but sometimes I feel like it may never happen.  Ideally, I would like to be living with Vero and Chloe in the U.S. by the time Chloe is four years old, as Vero and I both think she would do better in American schools versus the schools here in Spain.

This past year has been the most frightening and most challenging of my life.  I have had to escape from my comfort zone to do things I never thought I could do, or never imagined would be so hard.  I know by now I should be more comfortable living here in Spain, but each day I wake up with anxiety for the day ahead.  After months of being unemployed, I recently started working at McDonald’s again.  Given I had worked for McDonald’s in the U.S. for eighteen years, you would think started over here in Spain would be a piece of cake, but it has actually been my biggest challenge yet.  Some things obviously are exactly like back home, but other things are completely different and it’s going to take me some time to get used to it.  They had me working on the window my very first day which I suppose on one hand was a good idea, but utterly terrifying at the same time.  I could understand most of what the customers said, and I even had the good fortune of having several English speaking customers, but anytime a customer has a question or wants something I don’t understand, I feel like an idiot.  They get frustrated with me and I understand why, as I used to have the same issues with non-English speaking customers in the U.S.  I figure it will take time, but I will get better with the language as I have more exposure to the customers, but right now I hate feeling so foolish.  This week they are planning on having me train in the grill, which is fine by me.  It’s less pressure and more opportunities to talk to the employees without worrying about taking orders.  Unfortunately, my hours are horrible this week.  I have to go in in the afternoon and I don’t get out until one o’clock in the morning.  I have to take the subway to where my car will be parked in the middle of the night and then drive another forty minutes home. I don’t expect to be home before three o’clock in the morning and then tomorrow and Friday I have to do the same.  I told them when they hired me that I was available basically anytime and that I don’t expect any special treatment, but I really don’t like the idea of being out so late at night and Vero being home alone with Chloe.  I basically have to survive my first two months without complaining, as in the first two months they can fire me without cause, but after that, if they continue to give me hours that keep me out so late, I may need to have a discussion with the manager.  There are over eighty employees on the staff and I am sure they can easily cover the night shifts without my help.

I am hoping to be promoted to at least a shift running manager over the course of my first six months.  At least that was the plan when they hired me.  I think if I can overcome the language obstacle, leading shifts will be no problem at all, but I fear I will get to six months and they will decide I am not qualified, or worse, they may try to send me to another restaurant.  Right now, I have an advantage of working in a store that is fairly easy to get to, even though it take over an hour, and there are many English speaking customers.  If nothing else, the fact that I am a native English speaker offers me a slight upper hand.

I am hoping this year will be a little more smooth than the last.  Between not having a car, a job, or money, the first three months here were terrible.  Once we had a car, I was still unemployed and trying to legalize our marriage and Vero was pregnant which did not make things any easier.  Her parents were an amazing help to us, but living four hours away, there was only so much they could do.  As we approached Chloe’s birth, I was still struggling with my own anxiety and of course that didn’t help anything.  I know it’s just a matter of me overcoming my ridiculous fears, but it’s one thing to say it and something entirely different to do it.  I have so many things I would like to do, but right now all I can think about is getting back to the U.S.

One thing that has got me extremely excited is the chance to go home for ten days in November.  Vero found great prices on airline tickets and we are planning on spending Thanksgiving with my family.  I wish we were staying permanently as it is going to be incredibly hard to say good-bye once again to my family, but I think I really need to see them, even if it’s only for a week.  We’ve already made plans for the things we would like to do and I am just hoping nothing happens to prevent us from going.  It looks like we are going to leave Chloe home with Vero’s parents, as we both feel an eight hour flight to the U.S. would be too much for a one year old baby.  As much as it will pain me to be away from Chloe for so long, both Vero and I agree it’s for the best.  Obviously, my family was a little disappointed by this news, but I am hoping they will still be happy to see me and my wife for the holiday.

Another thing that worries me is that Chloe will have to start going to daycare in March.  Vero is returning to work for half days so that she can be home in time to pick up Chloe in the afternoon, but I hate the idea of leaving her so young at a daycare.  I know other parents have to do it but I have to try not to think about Chloe crying when we leave her or else I won’t be able to do it.  One good thing about working at McDonald’s is that there will be certain weeks in which I will have days off during the week meaning I can be with Chloe instead of leaving her at the daycare, but I am not sure when that will be, as my schedule changes from wee to week.

Having a job means we will finally be able to breathe a little easier.  Vero would like to take small trips throughout the year when we can and I know she is still thinking about a trip to Germany.  That may have to wait until next year.  Obviously, we also need to start saving money if we are going to move to the U.S., but I think the two of us are smart enough to manage the journey home when the time comes.  I think it will take about a years worth of preparation and there may be a few bumps along the way, but unlike my initial move here, our move to the U.S. is going to be better planned out.

On one hand, I can’t believe it’s been a year, but on the other hand, I cringe when I think it’s going to be four more years before I can settle back in the U.S.  We should have no problem entering the country as Chloe and I have American passports, although Chloe’s will already need to be renewed by then, and Veronica will be able to get a spousal VISA to enter with me.  Once we’re in the country, we have to settle on where we will live which is still up for debate.  My mother owns a condo which she would like to move out of and has mentioned putting the place in my name.  I would love if we could live there, however I don’t know if my mom wants to wait four years for us to move in.  I need to talk to her about these things, something I plan on doing in November.  Aside from saving money here, we will have to sell the place we live in now, which I imagine will give us a nice buffer of money to live off of for a short time (if we are moving into my mother’s condo) but I will have to find a job rather quickly once we are in the U.S.  I have a few ideas, but I need to make some connections in advance before heading across the ocean.  Veronica and I have talked seriously about opening our own café, an idea I really love, but obviously that too is going to cost a lot of money to do.  My hope is that it will be a successful enough business that we won’t have to worry ourselves over money too much.

Nothing is going to come easy for us and I worry about how Veronica will feel once the idea of moving to the U.S. becomes a reality.  I know she won’t back out, but I fear she will be unhappy. Chloe will be too young still to really understand it all, but I don’t want Veronica to resent me if she is unhappy in America. I think if our business idea is successful it will make the transition much easier for her.  I imagine it will take us at least a year in the U.S. before we can start planning a business but hopefully with a little help from people I know, it will open smoothly.

OK, I have rambled on long enough now, I must go and prepare for my night at work.  Until next time….

And Suddenly It Got Better

•January 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As you can plainly see, months have literally been passing me by without allowing me the time to sit down and write about all that has been going on.  Quite a bit has changed for me since I last found the time to talk about my life here and I am going to do my best to summarize it all before I get interrupted.  You see, on November 13, 2016, at about 1:23 PM, Veronica and I welcomed Chloe Elizabeth to the world.  I have never been so happy simply watching someone, but I could spend hours watching her sleep.  She is beautiful and despite scaring the hell out of me, I love her unconditionally and look forward to raising her as best I can.  That being said, things have not necessarily gotten better here in Spain.  Well, at least until today.

Despite it only being five hours a week, I was working as an English tutor for a time.  Unfortunately, the contract only lasted through December, and much to my surprise, I was suddenly out of work again after only being employed for two months.  I promised Veronica that I was going to be more positive about things, even when things were going badly, but it was hard to stay positive when I was once again quickly running out of money.  Since coming to Spain, I have tried to think of ways to make a living that doesn’t necessarily involve speaking English, and after losing the current job I had, I was ready to apply for work at the local gas station if that would help pay the bills.  Chloe is only going to get more expensive as she grows and I need to provide for her.

As a fall back plan, I had contacted McDonald’s in Spain months before I moved here hoping to find a job with them if all else failed.  At first, the response was a kind ‘no,’ but I recently received an offer to go talk with some people in the corporate offices and they actually offered me a position.  Now, it’s not exactly an office job.  I’ll have to start working in one of their restaurants as a general crew member and hopefully, after a six month training period, I’ll be promoted to a shift manager.  Even that position isn’t quite as prestigious as the one I held in the United States, but right now, something is better than nothing.  Now, I am not going to go and say this is the ideal job nor is it the solution to all of our problems, but after speaking again with one of the corporate people today, I am suddenly feeling a bit more confident about my life here.  I still have to confirm I want the job and I won’t start until February, but Veronica thinks I should do it and hopefully it will at least keep us afloat for a few months.

I will most likely have to take the train into the center of Madrid and I may find myself being sent to a number of different locations over the next six months, but I have gotten more comfortable taking the trains here and McDonald’s has always been a place I have felt at ease, so hopefully I will be able to ease into this without much stress.  Certainly it will not be easy, as I am not looking forward to being away from home all day, but Veronica and I both know we need to do what is necessary to take care of our baby.

In any case, I’m pleased to say things are finally looking up for me and I actually feel a bit of confidence for the coming days.  It hasn’t been easy, but perhaps things are finally getting better.  Hopefully I’ll keep you all posted often.  Bye for now.

One Step At A Time

•October 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It’s funny how the more demanding and stressful life becomes, the more difficult it is to find time to write about it.  I realize I haven’t posted anything (in English) for quite some time and I wanted to get back here just for a bit before my 30’s pass me by and I have to change the title of my blog.

Life is, well, life.  I’m not complaining, as I am living with my wonderful wife and we are only a few weeks away from welcoming our daughter into the world, but to say the last few months have been challenging is quite possibly the biggest understatement of all time.  To be fair, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into last February when I got off the plane in Madrid.  Sure, I knew I was embarking on a new chapter in my life, but it has been more than that.  Much more.  My life has been turned completely upside down, to the point I just have to try to take things one day at a time and keep the faith that it will all work out in the end.  So far, this philosophy has worked, despite me being the most stressed out I have ever been.  Granted, I am an anxious person by nature, I always have been, but this has really been my biggest challenge ever.  I’ve gone basically eight months without a job and despite speaking adequate Spanish, I still feel lost when out in public and trying to communicate.  Veronica continually reassures me that I am doing fine, but each month we both have panic attacks over money.  I know, we still have a roof over our heads, food in our mouths, and a car to get us where we need to go, but it is impossible not to imagine the worst every now and then when week after week goes by and I don’t have a job.

Initially, the problem was I couldn’t get a job because I hadn’t yet received government approval to work.  This made the summer months very difficult.  I have finally been approved to work legally, but it requires me to have some number that they haven’t yet mailed to me.  I could rant and rave about the Spanish government for days. In fact, I could probably write an entire blog just on their inadequacies but I am trying to remain positive about the country I imagine I will find myself living in for the next four or five years.  I have a few part time work opportunities that have presented themselves and I am hoping to have a steady income starting this week.

I won’t lie, I have an immense longing to go home, but I realize several things about this.  One, the home I sometimes imagine going home to no longer exists, and two, going home now would only cause further stress on Vero and me.  Of course when I say I want to go home, I want her and the baby with me, and we have talked about moving back to the United States, but the plan has always been to move around the time Chloe is ready to start school, as we both agree the schools in this country are awful.  We want the best for our daughter and we feel living in the US would be better for her during her school age years.  Of course, every time I get frustrated with the way things work in this country, or don’t work for that matter, I tell myself I want to go home.  Honestly, there are times Vero appears completely fed up with the way things go around here and she even hints that we should move back home, but I think realistically, we both know we have a lot of work to do here before we can just hop on a plane to the United States.

If I actually can maintain a job here for the next four or five years and Vero continues making her salary, we should be able to set aside enough money to move back to the US without too many financial concerns.  Of course we will both need jobs, and sometimes I worry more about me finding a job than her.  She is a very qualified travel agent who speaks two languages.  I can’t imagine it will be too terribly difficult for her to find work, provided she has the proper VISA when we come over.  I on the other hand fear the employment process.  In the US, my only real career was McDonald’s and I really don’t see myself going back there.  Hopefully, by the time we plan to move, my Spanish will be strong enough that I can possibly find a teaching job, even if it is not in a school necessarily.  Without a degree, my options are limited, but I have looked into taking classes here in Spain that would provide me certification to teach Spanish.  Hopefully this would carry some weight in the US.  I sometimes find myself sitting up at night thinking about this and I have to tell myself that I still have five years to prepare for it.

I know worrying about things is useless and gets me nowhere, but I can’t avoid it, it’s who I am.  It does help to write things down finally and use my brain a little bit in English.  I sometimes worry that I can’t get things out because my Spanish is still too limited to fully express all the things I want to say.  It’s frustrating at times to always feel tongue tied, but I have to push on and continue speaking.  It’s the only way I’ll get better.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now, and as I know my audience is limited, I don’t expect a lot of chatter on this, but if anyone has any thoughts or advice, sent it my way.  I always appreciate others poits of view.  Until next time….

I Must Be Crazy…

•July 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I think I may be out of my mind.  Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but with all the things going on in my life today, my most recent idea is surely one to raise an eyebrow to, at least given my particular circumstances.  Let me go on and try to explain and we’ll see where it gets me.

This afternoon, I was reading a Facebook post by someone who was discouraged with his Spanish progress.  He felt like no matter how much studying he did, he would never achieve the level of fluency he wanted, although sometimes I think our goals of fluency are a little obscure.  What is fluency anyway?  We all say we want to be fluent, but at what point does one become fluent?  I have been practicing Spanish since 2008 and some days I feel like I can say I am fluent, and other days I laugh at how little I really know.  Learning a language is not easy and being able to call yourself fluent is really a matter of opinion, but I hate to hear other people be so negative towards their own abilities.  It got me thinking about how far I have come, and from where I started.  I speak pretty good Spanish now, but what did I sound like back in 2008?  If I wanted to start from scratch today, what would I do, how would I start?  It got me thinking about learning more languages.  Back in 2011, I tried my hand at Italian and French.  I enjoyed them both quite a bit, although I got much further along with Italian than I did with French.  It wasn’t that French was that much harder, but that I began French a few months later than Italian, and then I decided that it would be better for me to stick to Spanish only for the time being, as Spanish was my one true love and I didn’t want to risk backtracking my Spanish while I tried to learn Italian and French.  I always say I want to go back to it, but I am always a little hesitant to start mixing languages, although I have read many stories of people who practice two or more languages at a time.  In fact, they say learning multiple languages helps offset the development of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in adults, which are two diseases I have a great fear of.

I certainly don’t want to try to learn multiple languages right now, but the idea of diving back into Italian is starting to appeal to me quite a bit.  I want to use it as a way to show the people who doubt their abilities that if you set your mind to it, you really can do anything you want  Of course, I am deciding to do this at a rather tough junction in my life.  I have heard others talk about how they never give up on their dreams and those who truly want to accomplish something will find a way, but I don’t know that I can call learning Italian a dream of mine, rather a fun hobby to take up and I can not sacrifice my time with my new and growing family just so I can say a few key phrases in a third language.  Look, I only want to spend an hour a day on this but as I look ahead just to the next few weeks, I don’t imagine I will have even an hour a day to myself.  My mother is coming in a few days and I have a wedding to take part in.  Veronica is on vacation for the next several weeks and we plan on spending quite a bit of time together, and while she has proven to me that she at least writes in Italian very well, somehow I doubt she wants to spend her vacation teaching me a third language.  Believe it or not, I still don’t have a job, but I do have something hopeful in the works, and if that pans out, it would limit the amount of free time I have.  Perhaps having a more structured day would help, I don’t know, but if we get to September and I am still unemployed, there will be a lot more to worry about than whether or not I can ask for the bill at a restaurant in Italian.  I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on this prospective job.  Unfortunately, I am not sure adding Italian to my resume would help me here in Spain.

In November, our daughter will be here and obviously she will take precedence over all, but I wonder if caring for her will allow me the time to practice a bit.  No, I am not going to talk to my newborn daughter in Italian, but perhaps in the moments we have together, I will find a little time to read a bit or study my Anki deck.  Late night feedings may provide just the time I need to try my hand at Italian once more.  Veronica has said we need to maintain our lives.  While having a baby will change things, we still need to be independent adults from time to time.  No, it won’t be easy, but I think she and I should discuss how we want to work out a little free time for one another once our daughter arrives.

If I do jump back into learning Italian, I am going to try my best not to become obsessed with it.  I tend to overdo it when I take up a new hobby.  I have plenty of listening exercises on my computer that go over the very basics of the language; the alphabet, basic vocabulary, things of that nature.  I will try my best not to attempt to write the next great novel in Italian before I can list the days of the week.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

OK, so I may go at least make a plan of study, just to organize my thoughts and see if this crazy idea is even feasible.  Given that I spent about six months studying Italian and it is very similar to Spanish, I am hoping a lot of the early stuff will come back to me and I will be able to progress beyond the basics fairly easily, but again, slow and steady.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.  I need to go study a little Spanish before Veronica gets home.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll give Italian another shot.  It would be interesting to see if over the next few years I could become reasonably coherent in Italian, French, and maybe even Portuguese (another secret love of mine).  I know they all stem from the same roots, but telling people I can speak five languages would be really cool.  All right, until next time…

Once More

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now Orlando, FL.  And that’s only a fraction of the various mass killings the United States has seen since I first took note of them on April 20, 1999.  I was four days shy of my 18th birthday and I came home to the news of high school students, my peers, teenagers just like me, killing their own classmates.  The thought of anyone the same age as myself capable of not only planning but carrying out such a horrific event changed the way I thought about the world forever.  At the time, I thought we could never again see such a heart breaking news story, but over the years I have repeatedly been shocked at the brutality some people in this world are capable of.

I awoke Sunday morning to the news of yet another mass shooting in the United States.  A lone gunman entered an Orlando night club around 2:00 AM and began methodically shooting and ultimately killing 49 innocent people, as well as critically injuring at least 53 more innocent people.  I don’t suppose I really need to go into the details, as this is a story that has now been discussed around the world and at this point we all know what happened.  I come here today not to go over the facts, as I am not really much of a reporter, but to hopefully sort out some of my own feelings on this event and try to find some way to understand how we can go on living in a world such as this without demanding changes to be made.

I won’t get political, it won’t get me anywhere.  I know where I stand on the issues and I know where a lot of other people stand on the issues, and it saddens me to think that there are those out there so easily swayed by anger, fear, hate, and ignorance.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t feel it is fair to say anyone else’s opinion is wrong, however I will say an intelligent person bases their opinions on the facts of the matter.  That is, we gather what we know to be true and then make an informed decision on how that makes us feel.  Unfortunately, if one bases their opinions on lies or false facts, then yes, I can say your opinion is in fact wrong.

Too many ignorant people immediately jumped on the fact that the killer was Muslim, or at the very least had a Muslim name.  Without any additional information it was automatically assumed that this was an organized ISIS plot and somehow a terrorist from overseas had made it into our country and we now had to fear any and all Muslims. “Close the borders,” was the solution.  “Muslims are the problem,” was the chant.  “These people are destroying ‘our America.'”  “Build a wall, protect our people.”  All of this foolishness being spewed by the ignorant until low and behold, the killer was in fact one of our own.  Born in New York and raised in the United States, this lunatic was one of our lunatics, not one of ISIS’s.  Sure, in his rampage he claimed allegiance to ISIS, as well as a handful of other terrorist organizations, but it turns out he wasn’t directly connected to any of them.  He could just as easily claimed to be a Nazi. Yet somehow this anti-Muslim sentiment still exists.

I’m not an expert nor do I have any statistics in front of me to argue but I know in my heart that no good comes out of anyone owing an assault rifle.  Too many people are so quick to defend their right to bare arms here in the United States, as a means to defend themselves against mass murderers such as this.  Ignorant yet very outspoken individuals feel that if more people had been armed that night in Orlando, fewer people would have died.  I can not disagree more.  More guns only equals more deaths.  I can never envision myself owning a gun nor using one to shoot another human being, even in self defense.  More innocent people would have died at the hands of other innocent people trying to defend themselves.  I certainly don’t want the accidental death of anyone else on my conscience.  People are so afraid the government wants to take away their guns.  No, the government wants to keep the guns out of the hands of psychopaths.  The kinds of weapons these killers are using should never have found their way to them in the first place.  They are weapons of war, not self defense.

The more I learn about some of the people living in the United States, the more fearful I become for our future, but it’s not immigrants or the terrorists I fear, it’s the ignorant, hate filled members of our society who want to lynch first and ask questions later.  These irrational, heat of the moment decisions they want us to make are what will destroy all that the United States stands for.  I have said many times before, I don’t have the answers, but I can certainly see the problems.  I know the solution is not more guns.  The solution is not to close our country off from the rest of the world.  I know discriminating against any group of people, whether it be racial, religious, or sexual, will only push us backwards when what we need to do as a people is advance forwards.  Like I said, I don’t have the answers, but I can only hope there are those out there like myself who want to find peaceful solutions on how we can prevent more of this madness and move forward in a positive way in our society.