Well, I just finished off a week in Luverly Mallorca. It was great, I sat in the office and looked out the window at the second loveliest place I´d ever seen, twelve hours a day. It looks like I´ll be returning there each week until 1 July. I turn 35 on 30 June. I´m going to turn 35 in Mallorca, Spain. I´m from Lumberton. Ha ha ha. I get to come back to Barcelona each week to take my Spanish classes on Fridays. One of the subtle ways that the language sticks it to you here if you´re an American is by changing your nationality. Here it´s Estadounidense. About 50 times a day I have to pronounce the unpronounceable "Soy de los Estados Unidos" or "En los Estados Unidos..." Everyone else gets off easy: Mejicano, or Italiono, or something. After a while, you just stop mentioning the USA. My solution, of course was to start saying I was from Texas: "Yo soy Tejano". Which worked fine. Until I found out that this actually means, "I am a pair of blue jeans", a la JFK´s "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a donut).
An Excellent plan:
a. Move to Europe.
b. Insult Europeans
Last night I had dinner with my co-workers in Mallorca, Teresa from Madrid, Maria from Barcelona, and a fellow from France named Richard. Sometimes I just have to stop and let it all sink in. Anyway, somewhere between the Tallerines Negros and Dessert, I asked Richard (of course pronounced "Reesh-ar" just to be French) where he was from. Keep in mind that this whole conversation took place in thrilling technicolor Spanish, just making the high comedy a little, um, higher. He replied that he was from some unpronounceable place in the Alps, near Hen-Ebra. Being American (or whatever I am, good lord this place is complicated) I said, oh, that´s nice, I´ve never heard of Hen-Ebra. He Look At Me In Awe, as if I had suddenly grown an eyeball in the middle of my forehead with the reflection of an American Flag waving in it. "Jou have neaver heeard off Hen-Ebra? Theese Americains! Bouf!" Whereupon I got up on my horse, pulled on my cowboy hat, and let him have it at full gallop: "Hey hombre, have you ever heard of Lumberton? Do you have any idea of where Louisiana is?" (he said it was next to Florida. Hah!) I ranted on in this fashion for a few minutes when a little trigger went off in my head: "Hmmm, Hen-Ebra... Spanish pronunciation Genebra... oh. Geneva.)"
Suddenly my horse threw me, removed its shoes, and refused to budge, claiming that its new European 32 hour work week was over. I realized that I had suddenly become very ugly and very American, and later discovered that the Tallarines Negros had stained my teeth black, making me bizarre to boot. I said the only thing to be said in these situations: "So, how about them Bears?" They didn´t get it, but it was better than, "Gee, I sure am an Ugly, Bizarre American".
It´s been a good week, really. I´m actually happy to be working again. I wonder if I´m going to be travelling constantly again for Oracle Spain like I was for Oracle USA. I´m not sure if that would be good or bad. I´m not even sure if "good" or "bad" can be applied accurately in this situation. Hmmm, this letter is taking on this kind of "¿Quien soy yo, y donde voy?" shade, so I think I´ll close until next week. Take care, -Tim
Friday, June 11, 1999