Have Library Card, Will Travel, and other rambling

My library card arrived on Friday. I think I mentioned that in my last entry. Because I was in Málaga, and because Monday was a holiday (or rather, Sunday was a holiday, and here in Spain if a holiday falls on a weekend, they extend it to a weekday, too), I didn’t get a chance to use it until yesterday. And I successfully acquired a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Mascarada and an anthology of Spanish sci-fi. And I did it all by myself (besides asking where the library was). Well, that’s not entirely true. I did ask for help several times, but I asked Strangers, rather than people who are paid to interact with me – which, if you think about it, a lot of the people who I deal with are. Of course, if you really want to split hairs, the library staff are paid to interact with the library patrons, of which I technically am one, but we’re going to ignore that for the purposes of this argument. And unlike the time I tried to get a local library card at school, I did not need to go home at any point and get more identification; my passport was sufficient (though, mind you, I had about six other pieces if that wasn’t enough). And it was successfully delivered to my residence (when I applied, they asked for my domicilio. I have two addresses, the one where I receive mail and the one where I live, and since there were only two lines, and my receive-mail address is a lot longer than that, I gave them my where-I-live address. I later learned that they would send me the card through mail; if this had occurred to me I would probably have tried to fit my receive-mail address onto the two lines, because my name isn’t on the apartment mailbox, and I wasn’t actually sure that it would arrive. But it did. And I figured how to take out books (there is no browsing room for adult novels; you have to look them up on the online catalog and request them from the room behind the library desk with slips of paper. I would really have preferred a system where I could look at the books before taking them out, but a public library is a lot cheaper than bookstores here, so I won’t complain), and successfully managed to get the right two books (the librarian originally fetched me a sci-fi collection and La Mascara de la Revolucion, or something similar, which, while it looked somewhat interesting, was also giant; about three inches thick, and not actually the book I wanted). I’m still a little bit confused about the children’s section; there seemed to be a notice that only youth under 14 can take out books, but I only saw that after I gave the librarian a request for a book with an asignatura for a children’s book, and she told me that I could go upstairs and get it myself. But I didn’t see any books by that author at all. I’ll figure that out next time. Maybe I was accidentally searching the wrong part of the catalog.
As far as reading, the going is a bit slow, and I have the distinct impression that I’m not picking up on stuff, but I’m hopeful that this will get better.


I was in Málaga last weekend. It wasn’t actually warm enough to do beach things, although the weather was nice (albeit windy). Also, the sand in Málaga is a dark charcoal grey, which I found to be distinctly odd. I’ll post pictures later if any of them came out decently. At any rate, we visited with Pepi’s sister and brother-in-law (cuñado), staying in Pepi’s second apartment, which was right next door. I found this to be odd; while I had been told that having a second house is much more common in Spain, it hadn’t sunk in on the level that a single working woman with two children in their twenties would have a second apartment, but she does; apparently her father bought the two apartments years ago for his daughters. We spent a lot of time at the cuñado and hermana’s country house; a small house up in the hills with a small garden where they grow their own fruit and a view of the ocean (or at least, a possibility of a view of the ocean. I could tell that the ocean was there, but only after it was pointed out to me). There was a great deal of family, and I soon gave up any pretense of keeping track of names or relationships. I made the mistake or the smart move to ingratiate myself with the children; while I never lacked for company, I was never far from the cries of, “Miriam, Miriam, ¿jugamos? ¿La que nos enseñaste ayer, de esconditos?” I tried to teach them sardines, but since the four-year old wouldn’t hide or seek by himself, it was more of a slightly altered version of hide-and-go seek. I rediscovered the possibilities of Mother, May I? to occupy small children for hours, and was taught a game called “colores” which I played several rounds of before discovering that the overall goal of the game was to move forwards. This is liable to happen when you’re having a game explained to you by a seven-year-old, particularly in a language other than your own.
I discovered, to my displeasure, that there are mosquitoes in Spain. They live in Málaga, and Spanish mosquitos are larger, and fly with a whine like a bomber, or a dozen distant dentists drilling. It’s possible to sit in a quiet room and listen to the mosquito fly around, not just when it’s close to your head. There are a lot of flies in Málaga, too. (There are, of course, no screens in Málaga. Luckily the mosquitos don’t seem to be as adept as American mosquitoes, and I wasn’t aware of any at the country house (perhaps they’re too heavy to fly in elevations higher than sea-level?).)

While Málaga was very nice, it also made we aware of how lucky we are in our natural spaces in the states; while Pepi raved about how “muy de pueblo” the countryside was, I couldn’t help but notice how much smog there was (and it wasn’t just clouds; I asked, and she said that it’s often like that, at least in part because of pollution) – I could hardly see over to the other side of a valley.

I got along very well with the cuñado; we had a running joke about him being a Jack-of-all-trades, and the fact that there is no work in Spain because he’s doing everything. After we got back, I was surprised to hear Pepi describe her brother-in-law as “serio,” serious, to Ana.

They grow mangos in Málaga. I had the best mango I’ve ever eaten Friday night. (I also had some so-so mango later, and remembered while I sometimes think that I don’t like mangos.)

I’m taking a bookbinding course; I folded close to a ream of paper last week, and have my next class tomorrow morning. I hope that I’m done folding. While I know that the folding is important, it gets a bit repetitive.

I’m in the chorus, and taking individual voice lessons. I’m learning how to breathe properly (I’m told that we’ll sing actual music the week after next). It’s a lot of work, but I can tell that I’m getting a better sound already. And the teacher says that I have a good voice. I personally thought so, but it’s nice to have my belief confirmed by a professional.

I’m also taking guitar classes. Last week we played something that sounded almost like a song. Or at least, like it would sound like a song if we practiced another zillion times. I should practice a few more times before class tomorrow night.

There are no bagels in Spain, which makes me very sad. I didn’t particularly expect that there would be bagels in Spain, since there aren’t really any Jews in Spain, either (though I think that I saw a synagogue when we were driving back from Málaga), but I was hopeful. I mean, they do have cream cheese; what do they put it on if not bagels (and don’t tell me “rice balls,” I can’t imagine that they have glutenous rice, either)? It’s odd that the food-thing I would miss most is a bread product in this land of wonderful, marvelous bread, but it is.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Have Library Card, Will Travel, and other rambling

  1. Anonymous

    Closed Stacks–How AWFUL!
    I’d never read anything if I had to ask for every single book from closed stacks. I once wanted to do a research study on why children were drawn to certain books–covers, titles–why did someone choose that book. So, the thought of closed stacks is horrifying.
    Your trip to Malaga sounds very nice–the best mango ever? That’s impressive. The country house in the hills sounds lovely–fruit trees. But the mosquitoes sound threatening. I abhor mosquitoes. Just reading your description makes me itch.

    • Anonymous

      Re: Closed Stacks–How AWFUL!
      Well, after a month of no new pleasure books but The Silmarillion (which, while lovely, I’m sure, is kind of dense, and I have to be in the right mood to read), I wasn’t about to let bureaucracy and a computer catalog and slips of paper stand in the way of me getting more books. Even if they are in Spanish.
      Besides, I figure that a Spanish library is a whole source of new books and new authors. I just need to find them.
      It should be mentioned that we don’t get mangos terribly often. And there were several years of my life in which I was firmly convinced that I didn’t like mangos, and so didn’t eat them even when we did get them.
      I think the mosquitos must be a slightly different breed from the ones in the States; despite their sonorously announced presence and the large streaks of blood after I killed two of them, I’m not covered all over in itchy red bites.

  2. First paragraph
    You go, girl.
    I’m still laughing over the first paragraph and trying to think who I can share it with.

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