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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Homeric Gut Check

Homeric Gut Check

Sometimes I just settle into a grove. Call it a routine. Somewhere I wrote an essay where I called this a rut-tine. As lacking in wit as that bit of word coinage may have been, I’m feeling even less clever these day. Perhaps doing so much in Spanish is affecting my thinking in English? I sort of like this excuse because it implies that I have something better to do than try to be interesting in my native tongue.

I rolled over another minor milestone last night. I watched a Spanish movie without subtitles and I understood about 95% of it. The movie is called Sex and Lucia starring Paz Vega. I have had the movie since well before I arrived in Spain but it was way over my head, linguistically speaking. It isn’t any longer. Lots of naked Paz Vega in this movie who is the polar opposite of the old, fat, and naked foreign tourist from my last essay. I was loaned another movie by the same director, Julio Medem, called Los Amantes del CĂ­rculo Polar. No Paz Vega in this film, naked or otherwise.

I am currently reading a translation of a John Le Carre novel just to improve my vocabulary. I read the books years and years ago so I know the story. This is a great asset when reading in Spanish because since I already know the story I just have to learn the new words. I have found that the best way for me to learn is to make sure that I understand every single word before I move on. I used to read over parts that I sort of knew the gist of, just to move through the story. Now I think that I am advanced enough to make sure that I examine every single word. I read 43 pages yesterday and I only had to look up 10 words with “Hubcap” being the only noun, the others being fairly esoteric adjectives and verbs.

Along with learning Spanish, my other obsession right now is my personal fitness. That isn’t being truthful. It isn’t my fitness I am obsessing over but my nearly 50 year old carcass. I am just wondering if it is humanly possible for me at this age to have a completely amazing body like the 25 year old punks I see at the beach, like I had when I was that age. Since I used Ahab’s quest for an analogy in my last essay, this time I’ll say that I’m like Odysseus trying to get back to Ithaca. Of course, instead of a boat I’m traveling by bike. Instead of the obstacles Odysseus confronted I face perils like pork products and Spanish wine that want to keep me from reaching my destination of a flat stomach.

I am calling this Operation Speedo. It’s not like I’m planning on wearing a banana hammock, or a ball bag, or whatever you want to call it. It’s just that Operation Speedo sounds catchier than Operation Tasteful Swimwear That Doesn’t Look Completely Ridiculous. Besides, Speedos aren’t very popular over here anymore, especially if you aren’t old, fat, and German. I have two weeks until June; that should be enough time.

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