21 de febrer 2018

Día de la lengua materna en lengua co-materna

Querido/a monolingüe. 

No suelo escribir en castellano. Ni en mi blog ni, de momento, en mi territorio lingüístico. Lo uso por escrito en situaciones internacionales, cuando estoy en Latinoamérica o si tengo que escribir alguna cosa a alguna instancia en España, pero en general me alegro de poder usar mi lengua para expresarme.

Que vale, que quizás soy una de esas privilegiadas que habla varias lenguas con fluidez. Te voy a decir, en confidencia, que no gracias a la escuela. Y no porque no me enseñaran allí inglés o alemán. Si no porque factualmente es muy difícil asimilar una lengua si sólo la practicas 5 horas semanales y no está viva en la calle. Más si, en el caso de Europa, vives en un país grande que no tiene que adaptar su lengua a otros países, como España o Francia. Todavía peor si eres inglés. Tiene que ser difícil. 

Hasta aquí una reflexión sobre el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras. Por muchas que te pongan en el cole no vas a salir hablándolas y si lo tuyo no es la lingüística quizás ni llegues a entender su estructura. Te lo digo yo, que no sé ni hacer raíces cuadradas, divido con calculadora y sobrevivo sin apenas saber álgebra. Pero cualquier lengua te va a abrir la mente, te va a acercar a culturas, te va a estimular a querer conocerlas.

Dear monolingual, como catalana catalanoparlante, en el caso de la enseñanza o los servicios públicos no se trata de imponer ninguna lengua. Se trata de usarla con normalidad. Y aunque me parezca anacrónico (que nos pase esto a estas alturas en una España que en realidad debería ser plurilingüe) se trata de defenderla, sobre todo, de personas como tú. 

Catalunya ha luchado años por recuperar su lengua en ámbitos públicos. Yo, aún en los 80, en primaria, aprendía que en mi territorio lingüístico los catalanoparlantes éramos diglósicos. 
Usábamos el castellano para el ámbito público y el catalán para el privado. Cuántas veces he oídi a la señora catalana ir a la panadería y pedir en castellano. Resquicios...

En mis años de primaria quedaba rastro del Quico, las clases se daban mayoritariamente en castellano aunque algunas de mis profes tenían un acento catalán que tiraba p'atrás. Pero es que a ellas se lo prohibieron en la escuela, y les costaba escribirlo. Como a mis padres, o a mi abuela. Recuerdo cómo le enviaba postales a mi abuela de mis viajes por el mundo y ella me respondía cartas en castellano, disculpándose de que no pudo aprender a escribir catalán en la escuela. Mis padres se esfuerzan mucho en escribirlo, tampoco lo aprendieron. 
Como lingüista lo encuentro un robo a la cultura y a la identidad. Pero todas las regiones del Estado Español sufrieron las consecuencias post guerra civil. Cerremos capítulo. Pasemos página.

Liebe(r) Einsprachige. Desde su última prohibición se ha ido recuperando la lengua catalana en un proceso de normalización. Normalizar quiere decir "dejar ser", que forme parte de la vida pública también. A ver si ser competente en una lengua para atender a los hablantes de su territorio va a ser opcional. Hace poco me pidieron alemán para trabajar en el sector privado en Barcelona. Pero a mis compis de trabajo alemanes no les pidieron ni español (inglés sí). No trabajan cara al público. Impensable si tienen que atender a gente en un territorio donde se hablan otras lenguas aparte del alemán, ¿no? 'Pos' eso. 

Me acuerdo que hace unos años fui de vacaciones a las Canarias, al Sur, y entré a buscar postales en una tiendecilla de playa. La chica que me atendió sólo sabía inglés, no me entendía. Me quedé estupefacta y me fui. Que conste que hablo inglés perfectamente. Fue una cuestión de ética lingüística, porque patriotismo español, poco... 


Si me centro en Catalunya, en su ciudad más popular, Barcelona, ésta atrae a muchas personas por motivos laborales, pero también culturales; gente que se enamora de la ciudad, del Mediterráneo o de algun(a) residente y se aventura. Entiendo que haya personas que por proyecto, prioridades o trabajo estén de paso. Entiendo que si a algunos extranjeros ya les cuesta aprender castellano, el catalán les de bastante igual. Tema práctico. 
En Amsterdam, donde tengo la residencia base, sin ir más lejos, somos tantos los de fuera que no hace ni falta aprender neerlandés, con el inglés basta. Es más, por ser una ciudad internacional, los nativos se molestan poco en hablar holandés a los no nativos. Mucha gente como yo que se esfuerza en comunicarse en neerlandés lamentan el poco esfuerzo que hacen los nativos. A otros les parece fantástico. Los nativos me dicen que si hablan en inglés se ahorran tiempo y esfuerzo. Mira tú. El efecto Amsterdam. Pero la escuela pública es en neerlandés, en Amsterdam también, no te flipes.

Yo por esta razón siempre intento hablar a alguien de fuera en mi idioma: para darles la oportunidad. En Catalunya me dirijo a todo el mundo que trabaja cara al público en catalán. Si no me entienden lo explico. Ayudo. Si me lo piden cambio de lengua. He vivido en diferentes países. Sé que no hablar la lengua de un país te priva de oprtunidades. Sé que en Catalunya podrían pasar con castellano, pero les va a cerrar acceso a otras oportunidades y sobre todo, a conocer e integrarse a la cultura de otra región. Ahora viene lo de "¡es que estamos en España!", pues entonces, si ese es un argumento, no te extrañes que algunos queramos salir a crear uno nuevo donde el catalán (y algunas cositas más) tengan derechos por el hecho de ser "país"... 

Lieve eentalig(e), en general a los catalanoparlantes nos da igual si nos hablas en castellano. Te entendemos y como bilingües, te lo hablamos también. Pero si has traído a tus hijos, o los has concebido aquí, privarles del catalán en la escuela es privarles de riqueza cultural, de oportunidades, de que sus jóvenes cerebros aprendan a reproducir fonemas que no existen en castellano y sí en otras lenguas, a entender una gramática que no sólo les armará de capacidad lingüística si  no que les proporcionará apertura de cerebro, les abrirá la mente para aprender otras lenguas con más facilidad. Para muestra, un botón: cuando estudiaba en Barcelona, teníamos estudiantes que venían de regiones del Estado Español. Se les facilitaba el aprendizaje en catalán, uni pública. En el 95% de los casos acabábamos echándonos cañas en el bar con los estudiantes vascos, que al mes se animaban a participar en conversaciones en catalán. Parece que a los de otras regiones les costaba más. No era cuestión de aptitud, si no de mentalidad.

No se impone la enseñanza del catalán en las escuelas. Se usa con normalidad. El castellano ocupa el 80% del día a día de un catalanoparlante, de un castellanoparlante el 99%. No se va a perder nunca.
Cuando un padre quiere que un hijo estudie en una escuela con otro idioma no-vehicular (escuela inglesa, alemana, internacional), paga por el servicio. Lo paga porque es un "extra". Seguro que hay escuelas en Cataluña donde impartan en castellano si no te interesa la realidad o la inmersión lingüística. Con suerte hasta concertadas. Padres monolingües: estáis pidiendo un servicio privado en la escuela pública. La de los recortes... Profes de catalunya: es como si os dijeran que vuestras opos les importa un mojón.

Mon cher/ ma chère monolingue, give it up, nos ha costado demasiado recuperar una lengua para que ahora nos la arrebaten de la vida pública y nos la vengas a ningunear tú con tu lengua megamasiva internacional.
Sólo tengo que abrir Twitter para leer a personas que quieren privar a sus hijos de ese derecho. Me pregunto si somos dueños del destino de nuestros hijos. Si cuando decides vivir con ellos en otro país o territorio querrás que vivan conforme a la realidad que les quieres crear. No tengas miedo, la cultura no hace daño. Obre els ulls. El régimen ya acabó. Parece que vuelva con el 155. Est-ce que ce monde est sérieux? chacho, ¡ya! 

Estimat/Estimada monolingüe. A aquestes alçades de la civilització, si us plau, deixem ja la intolerància, obrim els ulls i respectem la realitat lingüística i cultural. Si no t'hi vols integrar, les teves raons tindràs. Però ja ha patit prou l'educació perquè encara la baixem més de nivell. Defenso tota llegua, minoritària o no. Resulta que en parlo una de minoritària i dia a dia veig com un govern monocultural la vol reduir a un nivell anecdòtic. Em toca d'aprop. Per a mi és un atac als drets humans.

I a tots aquells, parleu la que parleu, to all, whichever language you might speak: 

https://en.unesco.org/international-days/international-mother-language-day

Feliç dia de la llengua materna a tothom! 

31 de gener 2018

me too

Often, when I am asked if I am a feminist, I don't quite know how to take it, I am a woman. Being a feminist comes as a default.


However, I don't like being expected to consider myself one as an extra, not only because in my view it seems to accentuate the gap, but also, because from a linguistic point of view and in contraposition to chauvinism, it unconsciously designates the other extreme, which is not the case. 

I am a woman, I am aware of the differences between the two sexes, but I am also aware, that it is a men's world in general and we lack some privileges men don't need to fight for. 
I am a woman, hence, a feminist, as, with my existance I will do all I can possibly do to shorten the gap within the obvious differences.



Generational unawareness...

I found myself the other day watching this video on my parents' company. I mentioned the last statement made in the video hit me very hard and had me crying of anger for over a week, my mum missed out the last bit I asked her to pay attention to, because in her attention span, she had moved to playing Candy Crush and I saw myself explaining to them that he was making a methaphor to "la manada", the Whatsapp name of 5 young men who went to the Sanfermines and who had clearly stated on their whatsapp conversations that they wanted to get loaded, get rape pills and with cero shame stated: rape someone. They succeeded and raped an 18 year old within the 5 of them. Brutally and mercyless. I won't get into details.

I did got to the Sanfermines once, too, when I was 22, with my older 27 year old friend. Two girls. I was more the party and drinking type, and she was more a seducer. None of us had booked any accommodation trusting we could pass out somewhere on the public spaces, common practice that day of the year.

Turned out we met some young men very late, when the sun was coming up, and with my seducer's friend help we were invited to crash with them. Them and some other very drunken guys in mattresses spread in a living room.
My friend did get laid on some mattress spread in the living room with the guy she had been exchanging looks with. I didn't. I slept. Her actions were consensual at every point. Had she felt uncomfortable she would have left the place. But maybe not me, as I had drunk a lot. At no point I made a move to any of the guys there, but we were all laughs and giggles for sure. It was summer and we were wearing short sleeves. She might have had a skirt on. I am sure I didn't because I never wore skirts in my 20s. The bottom point was, that we could have been that girl. We felt at ease with our hosts, and I am sure neither of us would have ever imagined any of the guys would have done something inappropriate. I have travelled alone for years and that is how I have always felt. And it's the way it should be, but it unfortunately isn't. I am sure our experience still is the rule, but there shouldn't be an exception. And in that case, it should be punished hard. There is nothing more sacred than your body.

Solas


https://www.elpais.cr/2016/03/08/noticias-del-asesinato-de-turistas-argentinas-exponen-costado-machista/

"Las dos chicas argentinas violadas que viajaban solas Marina Mengazzo, de 21 años y María José Coni, de 22, circulando por las redes sociales".

If you don't see the blatant chauvinism, let me ask how many women/girls does it take not to travel alone?

This case took place while I was travelling South America. Of all the places I have travelled too, it was the one where I felt more objectified, where I unfortunately more often than not felt men as predators. Like that time I interrupted a stay with an otherwise nice host, because he would suggest to f*ck per direct or in every other remark. It was very unpleasant and it spoiled nice moments, as I felt I had to go on defensive, on victim mode. 


María and Marina were invited to stay the night by two guys. They accepted since they were quite low on budget. They got raped and murdered, one of the guys said he accidentally killed them because they were too loud. It almost implies he has done something of the like befo
re. 

These things still happen. They shouldn't happen. Men should be educated in consent. Kids in empathy.
The press discriminates us more when, in the headlines, they mention they travel alone. I doubt that would have been formulated this way if it was two men. I doubt, leave rape aside, the press would have said two young men travelling alone were robbed and murdered.

Let's see: 
El juicio a La Manada —el grupo de cinco hombres que formaban parte de un chat de Whatsapp con esa denominación— por la supuesta violación a una joven de 18 años en los Sanfermines de 2016 entra en su recta final. 

Supuesta violación

Violado= when they went on to have kids and have a family- I see consent... Why the use of rape?

#metoo

In May of 1998 I gave myself a trip to Prag, on my own. Alone. I booked a hostel behind the central station. I had been told it was an unsafe area at night. It really looked like a dodgy area I avoided. 
Turns out after going out for beers and jazz with some newly acquaintances, I had to leave the metro before reaching my station, on the exchange, because of curfue. 
Turns out I had to walk to the hostel from that station. It was hard to talk to people, I tried to get help from the police but they were only interested in controlling my passport. I had no money left. The only way to my hostel was through the station. I found a coat on the street I put on, because it was getting cold. The coat was 2 sizes bigger and made me look like a dark mass of fabric. I did manage to cross the very dodgy park at the station unnoticed. There were mainly drunks and some dealing, drug and prostitution from the other side of the steel curtain. 

I reached a street I only had to cross and walk up the hill. Relieved I didn't get in any trouble, nobody cared about me. And then I heard this voice. A male. He was calling me, but as we women do when guys call us to come, I ignored him. But he ran after me. There I was face to face with this man. All I remember was his very dirty nails, he didn't give me a nice first impression and there was nowhere to go. 
He kept me on conversation for nearly 30 minutes, trying to invite me to the casino. Me, pretending I was late to meet my friends and telling him I was going towards the opposite direction, so he wouldn't know where I was staying, in case he'd follow me there (all of these techniques are applied after real experiences, I wonder if men would ever had to). 

I politely rejected all his offers to accompany me, to join him in the Casino, to have a drink and so forth. I nicely said bye and walked to my pretend direction. 
I reached him my hand as a good-bye. He grabbed it, pulled me towards him aggressively, grabbed my face and licked it from bottom to top. I turned around, mute and started walking, my back to him. He started to shout: run! run now! and came after me. I saw a small alley where I could cut back to the point we met, so I could then run to the hostel. When I did reach the main street, like in the movies, I saw a cab and took it. 
I don't know what he had in mind, but he had already managed to place himself in a spot where he would have got hold of me (this very sick game of hide and seek).
My cabby didn't speak German, or English or Spanish or French and I didn't speak Czeck. But he could feel what was going on, he could see me pointing, shouting, making gestures to that man. He empathised.

He dropped me at the hostel and refused to charge me the fare.

That night it could have been me. Travelling alone.


And as I was still working on this writing I found out about Diana Quer. 
It makes me feel so responsible to work toward a change. 
As usual education is key, but can we control all those abused/neglected kids? 
As a woman, as a feminist, I will continue backing all sisters.  



16 de gener 2018

do normal


Doe normaal!

a Dutch expression that parents typically tell their kids when they are behaving obnoxiously. 

In my circle of friends in Amsterdam we overuse it in irony mode, mocking the undescribable concept of "normal". Because maybe you can try to do normal, but being normal is a more complex thing.

I think am doing normal these last weeks. It is interesting, here some normal doings:

I wake up in the morning Monday to Friday. I commute in public transport. I overuse senseless sentences that have morning, weather, Mondays, Fridays or weekends as a subject. On the weekends I feel I have to go out and drink (something I haven't craved since last time I did normal back in 2015). I do hang out at parks with kids at times. We do sand castles. Life is normal.

The most normal thing I am doing is spectacular: I have incorporated an activity I have refused to undertake in my 20 years of very active lifestyle:
I go to the gym.
Well, I found a discount on a site to join the barrio's gym, because of its swimming pool (a place I like to go in winter).
Since I was going to do normal for a while, I thought I would blend in beautifully if I also did the dreaded indoor exercises.
It was a very interesting experience and I am sure it will still providea lot of anthropologic material.
I was late to one of these group classes and I had a 40 minute gap to fill, sporty dressed and all. I thought I'd go to the fitness room and see what goes on in there.
I am no stranger to weight exercises, but I am to machine-filled rooms.

 I do regularly follow very primitive exercises on vintage videos in my laptop and they help me start the day. I split the screen between a muted 80's exercise video, with John Oliver or Late Motiv volume on. The habbit has gotten to a point that I can't see Buenafuente, Broncano or Berto Romero without lifting dumbells or doing donkey kicks. Pavlov's bitch big time! 

But that was before doing normal. It was when I didn't know the day of the week, when I woke up when my body felt like it, where I could take 20 minutes to have a coffee, and a smoothie, hang around and wait for the first bowel moves and then set myself in the living room to watch videos of the School of Life while wearing ankle weights in my pajamas.

I knew doing normal would help me appreciate my life much more. Thank you, normalcy.

Today the experience is called: "normal things that happen in a gym".

I have always said I dislike gyms, a lot. I couldn't provide empirical information, it was just a gut feeling from past experiences. I never quite embraced the idea of groupalry doing exercises going nowhere like hamsters in a mill. In my beloved Sydney, for instance there is 1 fitness trainer every 2 citizens. In a city you can actually run on the beach sand as soft as flour or do outdoors exercises with views of the whales in the horizon. True story Christiansen Park!

Anyway, with the experience fresh in my senses I can  state from a non-empirical point of view why I dislike gyms:

It has a lot of the things hypersensitive beeings find gross combined:

- Smelly people - check!
- annoying music - check!
- excessive vanity - check!
- television screens - check!
- superficial interactions - check!
- scarce intellect - check!
- unnatural bodies - check!

I started feeling a bit visually disturbed by those guys so pumped they can't hang their arms on both sides of their body. I call it the inverted croissant effect.

To me, muscly guys are unsexy, because they use their biceps to lift a lot of weight, but they don't seem to have lifted a book (and/or read it). 
As I came closer to them the initial assumtion confirmed itself when I accidentally eavesdropped the guys on my left: they were talking passionately about the great atmosphere at Pacha and who could get them cheap tickets. They were in their 30's, mind you, I would turn a blind eye on 15 year olds. Don't judge. Dios los cría y ellos entran gratis en Pachá.

I suddenly had the impulse of running out of the room in sheer confusion and convinced that it couldn't be possible I shared DNA with those walking croissants of muscle, product of hamster-like exercise, that tissue-damaging protein powder that reeks of turtle guano and perhaps good old steroids, steroids+testosterone: the rapist-maker.
As my mind wandered to the view of bumpy bodies, I thought, as I always think: "if you saw yourselves in my eyes..." All to the rythm of repetitive boom boom music, that was really fogging my mind. 

And I also though, as I always think, if any female in the world finds that pumped, ballooned, shaved, shiny, smelly, bumpy, veiny body sexually appealing. 
In order to escape the horror in front of me my mind needed to fantasise with chubby guys, not the flubby ones, the naturally "big boned", with arms like my legs, a protubering tummy to lay on, some body hair, those you can fall on to and never hurt yourself, sinking a bit in a feast of warm flesh (hmmm)
I was so horrified by the scenario and my thoughts that I started to fancy the idea of getting out of the building and join the parents outside watching the swimmers for the 30 minutes I had left until the yoga class.

But, oh serendipity made a plot twist, as I put my hand in my pocket and I found I had my mp3 inside. Block my ears, hit play... and suddenly the idea of listening to "Flashback" from Fat Freddy's Drop calmed me down (that intro...) and gave me strength to resist.

I had an atypical rush of courage, of positivity, thinking: "I paid for this, and I will use these machines to get the hardest, roundest, slap-a-best 40-year old-arse in the district of Horta-Guinardó and maybe even Nou Barris."
The music in my player continued to "Over and Over" from Morcheeba and it gave me new energy to look forward to coming back home and practising the picking on the guitar. Awwwww
The idea of coming home to my guitar cheered me up a bit. And then I remembered a dear friend who once confessed she liked working out because she gets micro orgasms when she hangs from a bar and does sit ups.
Slightly panty-moisted by the idea of coming home to the guitar, I remembered that doing butt-exercises does not exactly make me calieeeente, but the moves have a positive effect on my crotch. Maybe if I work on it I can manage to come like a cat in heat and get something out of the situation other than sore muscles. Challenge accepted, purrr.

I went to talk to the monitor. My first question was, in Catalan: "haig de portar la meva pròpia màrfega?" Em contesta: "l'alfumbrilla? No, no la tens que portar, hi han aquí"
Penso en el Yeral i l'Àfrica. Sona Eurythmics: "there must be an angel (playing with my heart)" I laugh like a mad woman at the randomness of my playlist.

I don't know if I'll follow on. I have thought that I can load the mp3 player with audiobooks while working out and focusing on reaching some sort of a similar climax to my friend's while working on my abductors, glutes, adductors, hamstrings... I can bypass the odd smell by focusing on familiar scents. The perks of looking into the bright side, woohoo!

I'll keep track of changes and maybe get over the idea that uploading pictures is vain and just try to make something out of being a work in progress in the oh-not-so-fresh years and my normal doing stage.
I've never had a gym-butt. 
Say hello to the yummiest gym-butt to be, yeaaaahh, yessss, yessss, YEEEAAAAAAHHH

Ik ga normaal doen, hurra!

02 de novembre 2017

All souls



Christian religions chose the 1st November to celebrate the departed souls. The date has no apparent astronomical connection.

In loving memory of Arnica, our drama teacher and Guru. Endless source of energy and inspiration. The woman who opened us a door to listening to our emotions and to letting go, completely. 

On NOV 2 2014, in Sydney, I went through a life-changing experience... not. 

The evening had some Halloween magic, which made the incident tragicomical. 
I used to work mainly Saturday nights just 20 minutes down the road, as a language teacher/babysitter. Working on Saturday evening gave me an excuse not to go out at night, some room to try pedagogical activities and some pocket money for my free time. 
I usually started at 7pm, but we had agreed I could come around 8pm that evening. It was Summer time in Australia in November, and the sun started going down. I jumped on my bike and turned the Dutch lights on. They don't light the way but make you visible in the dark. 

After using regular bikes in NL I chose to ride an electric bike. My neighbourhood was at the top of a 1km hill and it was pretty steep on the way to town, especially on the way back.
I used to go to school, to work, out party and to the beach on my bike. I had to buy an electric bike to get over the steep hills.
I like sturdy bikes, I carry bags on the sides to carry groceries and basically, I am no middle aged breeder in an unfulfilled marriage who likes to dress in nylon and pretend he/she's a superhero cyclist. My bike is my commuter. Dutch style. Once an omafietser always an omafietser.

The first day I bought my electric Dutch style bike

One of the best bits of my ride into town was going from the top of New South Head Rd, with all its curves, all the way down to Rose Bay without hitting the brakes. I could get speeds of 40km/h and my goal was to find all lights in green. I only managed twice, but it was worth it!

That evening it was getting dark and I was being a bit late to work. It was 7:50 and I had to hurry up. 
I admit I was going insanely fast, but once I reached Rose Bay, a flat road, I had my first traffic light. I passed it in orange and I saw the next one green, green as green could be, so with the extra swing of not having come to a complete halt I rode past my GREEN light at the intersection with Newcastle Rd.
Right as I passed the green light a burgoundy car appeared out of nowhere and halted right in front of my front tyre. 
First reaction (Aussies drive poorly and have no sense of space or road sharing) was, a usual: "another idiot on the way", and the second thought was: "oh damn, here I go". 
I put my arms in front of the bike as if to get that monster out of my way, flew out of my bike, landed on the windscreen and came flying out, losing sense of time and space. It seemed an eternal hovering on the way to an imminent crash, not knowing what bone I was going to break. I had already done a flip, and thanks to that flip I managed to land half ducked like a very clumsy superhero. And then I collapsed on the ground. 
I don't know how long I spent there. When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by zombies, witches and vampires looking at me. It was a show of cheap make up and prostetics. It seemed I was already in hell, then I realised it was Halloween, and a weird giggle came out of me. I felt instantly relieved. I was worried if adrenaline would make me feel like a rugby player going on with a broken nose or jaw and, for what I could see, all my joints where in place and no blood at sight. 
I sat down, asked a couple of people if my face was bleeding and they said no. The two other things I said afterwards were: "I am late for work" and "Where is my bike?"
Someone said the ambulance was on the way and the zombies, witches and vampires didn't let me move an inch from the ground. In the meantime the car driver who had ran me over, came to introduce himself. I told him I was fine, but we still needed to exchange contacts and I kept repeating: "I was on green light". Maybe he was exercising his: "on red, turn left with care" as we do in OZ, and he didn't see me because:

1. I was faster than you'd expect a bike to be (I'd be dead had I been a motorcycle) 
2. Simply put, bycicles don't exist for uptown Eastern Suburbians.

I called the family of the kids I taught every Saturday to say I had been ran over by a car, but that I was ok. An ambulance was going to take me to the hospital to make sure I wasn't having any unseen issues. 
On the other side, the mum freaked out a bit and said not to go anywhere until she'd come meet me. 
The ambulance was there and it was funny, because I asked them to wait for my boss/friend and they looked at each other perplexed, as if I was talking to a cab driver. 
On the ambulance I had the chance to chat with a green eyed paramedic. He was definitely fun and witty. We made a couple of inappropriate accident jokes and then he asked me if I wanted some morphine. 
I said no. 
He said it is common procedure, because I was still in shock and I didn't know what parts of my body could have been damaged.
He gave me an intravenous and I went on a high. Then he said it was only antiinflamatories, so maybe I was right not to want any morphine. 
I was given some morphine when we got to the hospital and it was the first time I experienced a high on a hard drug. It was beautiful. There was no pain, not physical, not emotional. I was experiencing pure love. 
When my boss/friend came to the hospital I told her that I was high and that I was sorry I let the kids down. I took her by the hand and went on to say how great I felt. 
She had other plans for the night and didn't stay with me. I waited in a bed to be tested. 
After being tested I was sent out of bed in my ridiculous pyjamas to wait for my report in an emergency waiting room. 
Totally high on morphine and dressed in a white gown I got to sit with different people, hug them, take them by the hand and ask them how they felt. I collected 5 different stories that had a supportive loved one or a bad break up behind. In the case of the bad break up the pain was chronical, they said they kept coming back with aches, itches, pains, but nobody knew the cause... I shall point out I was sent to Kings Cross hospital in the middle of the Red Light District, the closest State Hospital, and I was talking mainly with junkies. Addiction has a lot of hearbreaking stories. There was a guy whose pains shocked me. He kept coming back for unconclusive tests. When I put my hand on his heart it was like a drum. When I placed my hand on his arm, his blood was going through it loudly, I don't know how to explain, as if there was a river there, a foamy river. I hugged him. I wished him he'd forget about this guy who made him feel so unloved. I said I loved him. I wouldn't had if I wasn't on drugs. I started to understand the spiritual rush of the sectarious religion and why people turn to hyperspirituality after years of drug abuse. 
Tests revealed no damage to organs and muscle tissue was ok, just a few bruises. A miracle, the doctors said. I told them not to say that while I was having a drug-induced spiritual awakening. 

I had never felt so connected with people and so selfless like that night.
When the effects of drugs wore out, I had just a minimal amount of pain and a scratch on my knee which has become a beautiful scar. 

And I am still very upset about it. 
Coming back to letting go and the array of emotions drama courses allow you to explore, I declare with absolute shame that I was even angry and jealous of those who went through a traumatic experience, came out stronger, discovered their calling and even found a soul mate as an added bonus. 
In the meantime, after miraculously having  been given a second chance in life, I was lying in my bed crying for days, disappointed of no revelation coming my way to show my life calling and the very necessary soul mate to get my residency in Australia, the country I chose to build my future.

I stayed days indoors, crying: "where is my freaking awakening" "where is my appreciation for life?" I was so angry I sank into a self-inflicted depressive state. 
I could have spent months like that if I hadn't miraculously been relieved by Jay Bee, who found me via social media after 25 years of silence, got me out of my pityful first world misery and showed me the way to real love. I hadn't been talking to my father for a bit more than a year and all I needed was to hear J say something on the lines of: "You'd rather get a slap on time, than regretting not seeing your family another minute" 
He knew what he was talking about, he lost both his parents at a very early age and would have given anything to have spent more years of his life with them in it.

Christmas was on its way, and that year, following the words of wisdom of somone who has endured more than many of us can imagine, following teachings of pure love, I spent my Summer savings on an overpriced ticket for Christmas to see my family in Barcelona. We magically put all tensions aside and it has been a pleasant road to love and understanding since then. Jay Bee, though, disappeared again. 
But that's another story.

11 d’octubre 2017

break the silence

In this historical times my country of birth is being the focus of attention in a scenario we only dreamt about.
The European left has certain hopes on it, after the Greek fiasco, as an exit from the corporative Europe and return to an economy of smaller communities where the people and not the economic interests of corporates, have a say. 
One thing I like of times of change, incertainty, and -why not mention it- certain fear, is that it makes us put other personal affairs aside and focus on a transversal issue that affects in this particular case, the whole Spanish State and Europe, for its character. 
It feels like revolution. And among the noise of the internet era, a lot of great minds let their creativity flow to produce amazing reactions. I like civil disobedience, because only so, people can change things. 

As a constant writer I feel the muses are awake, I am accessing new emotions. 
And, in the end, I decided to have my say, tired of  hearing so many opinions and also tired of reading on and on that one political figure is to blame for the Catalan souveraign movement. The desire of the Catalan nation of becoming independent is a few centuries old. I have had to review the Spanish/Catalan history, from English sources, to confirm that the Spanish sources have even reinvented our history. At school I studied both. The Spanish ancient history had pride in kicking the moors and the Jews to become one nation. The Catalan focused on the loss of culture and referents as the Castilian reign grew. As a note, the Borbons, the current monarchy in Spain, were historically disliked. I am not going to give a history class. Let's say that our desire of independece has passed through so many generations it is almost genetic. 

Past is past. But it leaves its mark in the future. 

From my point of view: ever since I was a child, I never felt Spanish. I felt I was born in a wrong country, where people weren't aware of the world, where there was an almost folklorical pride of being from a monolingual country. Funny enough, I realised that when I spent some holidays in Menorca and became friends with an English girl. I picked up some of the words she spoke and managed to hang out with her and her parents. We are all same same, but not the same.
My parents felt Spanish, my grandfather was a Guardia Civil, Andalusian, a sweet guy always in a good mood and ready to pull a joke or clap to the rhythm. I always saw it as a personality trait, but never raised a hair on my skin. I spoke Spanish at home, because my parents, born in Barcelona and raised in Spanish, met in that language. 
My school was catholic and quite post-dictatorial in views. I had a terrible time there and I used to hide under rucksacks to escape reality. 
By age 10, with an identity crisis, I started blending in with the Catalan reality around me. It felt and sounded right. Both my sister and I decided to stop speaking Spanish to defend the beautiful little language that didn't sound so harsh. If anything, from the adoctrination of my school I must have become a catholic neofascist. But people are not "tabula rasa", we have our character and our views. 
I read somewhere that the independentist vs non-independentist point of view springs from a progressive vs a stagnative view. In the wake of the current situation, the description sounds quite accurate. 
Childhood aside, all I did until my 18s in the sense of belonging to a culture was to demonstrate every 11th of September and claim the "Estatut". I didn't know what it was exactly, I just knew it could do good for my language and culture to blossom (mind you, the Catalan spoken in Barcelona is quite precarious, and I do take care of mine, but it shows where it has been learnt). 
I learnt about the phenomenon of diglossy in my country. We would use Catalan or Spanish depending on the social context. I decided to break with it. Maybe because I am very sensitive to language and culture. Maybe someone else would have chosen to speak Spanish accross all situations, because that was the language of the Spanish State. Maybe it could have been my choice if I had been more interested in Economy, science or painly, if I hadn't been a humanist since age 2. It was a possible choice in the linguistic reality of Barcelona. But I decided to speak Catalan only on Catalan soil. I had friends who preferred speaking Spanish and we would carry our conversations in both languages. It is a nice phenomenon. My Spanish was flawless, so if someone couldn't understand Catalan I could swap to Spanish. Nowadays I can easily express myself in at least 3 further European languages.
In fact, I live abroad since age 18, so there is only one place in the world where I can speak Catalan. 

My parents were always reluctant to send us to a public school. And, like other parents, they believed a Catholic school had better infrastructures and that it showed better values. 
It was a big struggle but I managed to be sent to the school I believed would fit me best. It was a laicist-cooperative school. I liked the fact that the school called itself Cooperative Catalan laicist. The nuns accused me of being a communist. I knew then, that I was making  the right choice. 
My sister was sent to it, too, and her academic records blossomed. We both felt at home there.
During high school there was a movement of "normalisation". That meant bringing Catalan to a normal state, instead of being an anecdotic language, used in some situations, mainly for family conversations. Spain was very young at being democratic, but it started feeling that democracy was kicking in.
And then I moved to the States. And then to Germany, and then to Australia, and then to The Netherlands and to New Zealand. 
I don't know when the Spanish imperialistic feel kicked in. I didn't know about that. That you had to feel Spanish and that feeling Catalan was offensive to some. When I went to England in the 90s, we were divided (not smart) in two groups: kids who flew from Barcelona and kids who flew from Madrid. The Catalans spoke Catalan among them. The Spanish would attack us. I remember I once had to go to an excursion with the Madrid group because I missed my Barcelona group. Kids refused to talk to me, but a Canarian communist and a chilled chick from Madrid. Those acts shape your identity, create a reaction when called names for speaking a regional language. 
You identify with the ones who speak like you, because others insult you for not doing so. 

I have always felt a child of the world. But it is also inevitable to feel part of a community, a country, a culture in a broader way. While living in all different countries, if asked where I was from I always said: Barcelona. Luckily the city had become known after the olympic games. 
If told: "ah, Spanish" I wouldn't deny it, I would just add: "well, Catalan". That's all. 

If someone was ever interested in knowing why I didn't feel Spanish, I would explain myself from my personal point of view. My speech has evolved, and my feelings towards indepence as well, as the political situation changed. It started being a mere: "just feel this way" to a more complex" I identify more with the Catalan language and culture. In a united Europe I don't see the place for a new border, but I believe Spain is like a puzzle put together by monarchic interests and too interested in being homogene, when in reality, it is a multicultural, multilingual country, quite rare in Europe." in the past years.

In Europe, a number of borders correspond with languages rather than ethnical groups or religion. If Spain ever came out of the unilingual closet it should be proud of such a diversity. Catalans feel they have a strong cultural identity, and Spain should celebrate that, recognise that, instead of trying to silence it. I even used to say: "if they only gave us a special status to feel less disdained, that would suffice."

People might mention the Spanish Constitution, agreed by Catalans as well, as if it would make one feel Spanish. After nearly 4 decades of dictatorship any repressed region would have agreed to any text that would have the word "democracy" in it, let alone "autonomy". Gee, who would have even dared to rebell against the non-chosen king?

An autonomous right gave Catalonia the chance to draft their Estatut, their autonomous constitution.

Years have passed, and that text was intercepted (butchered) by the constitutional court. The final version was a big disappointment. They removed the definition of Catalonia as nation: A nation. The UNESCO defines nation as: 

 [...] one where the great majority are conscious of a common identity and share the same culture


We voted for that text. Polònia, a program of political satire I follow, called it Bob-Estatut, inspired in a cartoon for kids. 

 A 'no' would have meant being ruled only by the Spanish constitution. It was a very low move from the conservative government in the hopes to keep that united Spain puzzle put together. And, in my view, to exercise control on a region. I remember, during the referendum for the Estatut, that everyone said: "at least if we vote for it now, we'll be able to re-write it".

After years abroad, my cosmopolitan feeling grew and with it the so-called "equidistance", a certain distance towards what the future of my country would hold, motivated by a new future elsewhere. 
The European union was a promise to move freely in different countries, set my residency anywhere and I was hoping to become Dutch or Australian one day and be able to get rid of the Spanish passport, just so I didn't have to justify my nationality on a piece of paper. 
Recently, I was in Iceland, and the officers were asking people: what country are you from? I didn't know what to answer. I said: my passport says Spain.

When the political situation escalated, I thought it was exaggerated to think that Spain was exploiting us with taxes above our BGP. As a socialist I believed it was fair to chip in for regions that were behind in growth. I had also considered, that if I was to return to Spain, I would move to Extremadura or to the South to get more government aid, to live at a different pace. Friends of mine from the art industry moved to Madrid, because the capital enjoyed better subsidies for arts and culture. 

I believed the people of Spain, a country strongly influenced by socialism, would look at the actions of the radical right party they chose and would wake up. The country did, they rose in May of 2011, it was amazing, a new real left party of intellectuals was born, and a Catalan non-independent, anti-corruption and -so they wanted to show- pro a lot of cool things defied the Spanish bipartidism of extreme right and moderate right. 

And what happened?

No change in the votes. A slight one, no more. But I believed the slight change would stop the "cortijo", the unity by repression and corporative greed. In the meantime, since I visited Barcelona once or twice a year I noticed the change: unaffordable housing, unemployment, impossible cuts in essential matters and a political aversion to the Catalan language, fewer hours of Catalan in schools and cuts in cultural events made in Catalan. That was strange and the attack to the culture offensive. People were sick of a party that was never voted in Catalonia. There were constant attempts to dialogue, 18, have been computed: from a federal-oriented project to an economic agreement to be able to redistribute the budget. The radical right's superlaw was that constitution and they had the judges (they suspended the one judge who dared to investigate and uncover their corruption) and what did we have? Bob-Estatut... 

6 years in a row the Catalans would go on the streets to make the Catalan crisis visible to the media. The crisis began as a the constant dissing of the Catalan identity from the Spanish government following to a full-on recession in which the government used public money to finance the banks, invested in new roads to nowhere, ghost airports while the Barcelona airport was being neglected, a high speed train stopping in towns where the plutocracy had their country house and ah! a project of a Mediterranean train halted to give priority to a faster access of Madrid to the coast. In the meantime the Catalan society, tired of complaining, started saying: "we are ready to go". My parents, long time socialists, converted to independentism because they felt the left party was laughing at their faces, not moving anywhere with the federal proposal. They lost credibility in Catalonia. 

I understand, other parts of Spain might think: "those Catalans, always asking for more". But seing a big chunk of your budget splurged away in absurd expenses didn't seem sensible, not for Spain, either. 
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not the biggest fan of Barcelona, but any Aussie, any person I'd meet anywhere found it some sort of a paradise. Hence, I don't talk biased towards the city, however... Wouldn't you want to take good care of your second biggest, and most important city? Barcelona is the visiting card for Europe, it's the first big one you hit after the Pyrenees. Wouldn't you want to show progress there, make it burst with multiculturality, presenting it as a sample of a diverse country? Wouldn't you want Barcelonians to feel part and feel proud of a cool, a unique country? Wouldn't you want to keep the Catalans happy and integrated, knowing they have a strong feeling as a culture?
And if, as some parties claim, you think there is a non-independentist silent majority, how else would you come out of doubts? 

It seems the more the central government, and that Catalan-based non-independentist new party (Ciudadanos), the most aggressive corporative side of the ones who already saved the banks with public money, ready to divide society again, the more they used the word Catalans combined with: unsolidary and other harsher words, the more opportunistic hate they innoculated in the Spanish people's minds with such speeches, miracle! The more that hate grew! 
But the Catalan resistance grew proportionally. And the need of change.

The PSOE's turn to corporativism, the Ciudadanos hate speeches and the stagnation of a do-nothing president were some factors for most of my not_so_interested_in_independence friends to say: enough is enough. The only way forward is the disconnection, let's reset. Let's start as a new nation. There is nothing to do, nothing to lose. The SPanish government, heir to the fascists want us to submit to their tyranny, by repressing language, culture, finances and infrastructures. 
I still had the hope that the Spaniards, seen the dialoguing nature of Catalonia, would just JUST stop supporting those crooks and work toward a different approach. They are more!

AND THEN IT HAPPENED...
My most rotound "YES", the convinced one, the point of no return arrived the day I heard the inner ministery say, clearly, recorded: "we have screwed up their health system". 
The documentary "las cloacas de interior" "the sweage of inner affairs" collects some of those documents. 
http://www.publico.es/politica/documental-cloacas-no-quieren-veas.html

I doubt it can be found in Spanish pages. It came out on public Catalan TV and wasn't broadcasted in Spain. I can't pretend not to see proof or hear proof on recordings of the continuous corrupt state milking the Eastern region while making others hate it for pointing at it. WHERE WAS I????

Dear Spanish citizen:
I don't care what reasons you have to believe we shouldn't be a country. I don't give a 1 cent coin for the unity of Spain any longer, or at least as long as the radical right is in charge, where not a single of their components has left their mandate after outrageous acts against their holy constitution. I don't care about monarchies and there is no reason to respect the current Spanish one, not for their words and definitely not (NOOS) for their acts.
I don't care about your facts coming from the manipulated centralistic media. 
We, you, are the people, humans, not a corporate. And I feel some Spanish individuals have dehumanised us enough.
Like many Millions of Catalans believe, this is not about that untouchable constitution the state violates and modifies in 5 minutes to accommodate to the King's offsprings. 
I understand the referendum wasn't official, and it was our best effort as a nation to peacefully demonstrate our disapproval of the Spanish empire and state of things.

It's simply not working. I doubt in the ability of the government to dialogue. 
It's over.
 Better alone than sleeping with my abuser. 

I understand as a Spaniard, you might be content with the Status Quo, and I understand you can't walk on my shoes. I understand you can only get the scope of the Catalan reality if you are Catalan. I even see where you come from, you believe in a united Spanish Kingdom (or republic), you don't want your identity shaken. Guess what? Neither do we.

We have had enough of humiliation. As a Catalan, my pledge, my vote to a new country is about DIGNITY.