check-in and thoughts on an election overseas

First off:
I’m alive, I’m still here, things are fine but these past few days have been a little hectic (which is to say, hectic for Spain, which is comparatively not hectic, but more hectic than not-hectic in Spain. If you followed that). There seems to be only two flavors of homework in Spain: almost none and gobs. It occurred to me on Monday that the amount of things that needed to be done for today fell into the gobs category. If I had been planning ahead, it would not necessarily have been so, but I wasn’t, and it was. Hence, I’ve read a 210 page novel, watched the movie, studied for and taken a midterm, and gone to class and done all in the 46 hours between Monday classtime and class today. Also bought new pens, because I seem to be in the midst of a pen death blight (I don’t usually kill my pens, but I’ve gone through four of them in the past two or three weeks. And while people always give you loads of cheap ballpoint pens, I’m a pen snob and don’t like them).
And it was election day. Did I mention that? Of course, you probably knew that anyway.

I’ve heard it said that that the busiest people are the most on top of things and organized. And from where I am right now, I’m pretty sure that it’s true. When I’m at Smith, fencing three or four days a week, taking four decently hard classes, on the leadership boards for somewhere between four and six clubs, depending on how you count, I am a pretty put-together person. My room isn’t always clean, but I know what needs to be done and I find time to do it without shorting myself on too much sleep, and I look ahead in the syllabi and know when tests are coming up and large books need to be read by, and I still manage to find time to just be myself with my friends somewhere in there. Here, where’s there’s very little work most of the time, I can’t be bothered to remember that every three classes we have to read a literary text, and to remember that this one’s a novel, and have the foresight to figure out that if the last class on that book I didn’t like is a Monday, that means that the first class on the next book/movie will be a Wednesday, which means that I won’t have a weekend in which to do it.

I got it done, of course. But as I said, things have been a little hectic.
And, due to the afore-mentioned preponderance of free time, I’d decided to try to participate in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which started on Saturday. I should mention that I don’t know how well a 2000-words-a-day goal will mesh with a Spain blog, but I suspect the blog may suffer a bit. I’ll still try to keep posting something once or twice a week, but it may be shorter than usual (shorter than this one is turning out to be).
On the subject of Things Going On In My Life, we’re going to Granada Friday and Saturday. I’m excited.

It’s been interesting, and hard, watching this election from the outside, as it were (which is not to say that I didn’t participate!). This was the first presidential election in which I was old enough to participate, and in some ways I’m sorry that I wasn’t home to experience it firsthand. This election has meant a lot to a great many people, and it sounds like that stake in this election really showed in the outpouring of emotion and the incredible poll attendance. I would have liked to have been there to see that. I can’t remember an election in which people cared so much (or at least, that’s the impression I’m getting here). Goodness knows when we will have one again. And it was my first, and I wasn’t there. On the other hand, hearing of riotous celebrations at 2:00 am (las dos de la madrugada; only a country with as much night-life as Spain would have a special word for the wee hours of the morning; it’s very useful), there are parts of me, the parts that like going to bed at a decent hour, that are just as glad to be in Spain.

The timing of this election was really hard.
We’re six hours ahead. I know this. It makes it interesting to call people. But it really comes home to you when it’s been election day for half the day already, and you come home for lunch at 3:00 and people in your state, one of the early states, have only been voting for two hours. People here are interested in the election. And they care; everyone I’ve discussed politics with supports Obama (and were, for the most part, convinced that he would win – I’ve had several discussions in which people come up to me and said, “Obama’s going to win, right?” to which my response would be, “Well, the election hasn’t happened yet, so it’s hard to tell.” I’ve also been asked, “Who’s going to win?” more frequently than “Who do you want to win?” I don’t know if this is a difference in Spanish politics or merely an example of positive thinking in language). I’ve had a discussion with Ana, my host sister, about how she really wanted Obama to win because it will affect her . . . and she originally supported Clinton. (Although on the subject of interested, I’ve been surprised that I haven’t been called upon to explain the electoral college, other than pointing out that projected election maps can be misleading because it’s not the amount of red or blue on the map, or even how many states each candidate has, but rather which states each candidate has, because of population differences – maybe they all figured out the electoral college eight years ago. Or maybe (my personal theory) they don’t know that it exists, because the Spanish for polling place seems to be “electoral college,” at least based on yesterday’s tv coverage.)

There was an election party at a local bar from 10-2 last night/this morning, in which the tv would be set to CNN or something in English, and people would watch the election results. There was also supposed to be something similar starting at 7 this morning. I did the math, realized that the east coast polls with be closing about when the bar would (and I mentioned gobs of homework, yes?), and didn’t go. I checked the internet this morning. That’s one thing I’m sorry about missing; my friends in the states knew the results by 11:00 last night. That’s a perfectly reasonable hour. I could have stayed up until 11 to find out the results of the election. But 11:00 there is 5am here, and while I know a girl who stayed up, there was no way I was going to. And one misses a certain amount of the community feeling figuring out via internet, rather than sitting in the dorm’s living room with all of your neighbors watching tv.

I feel that there was probably something else I intended to say, but it’s eleven o’clock.
Of course, the Spaniards are all going, “We knew that he was going to win.” I wonder if their preference for a centrist liberal candidate has anything to do with the fact that the two main parties here are the PP (Partido Popular(?), who I’m told run on a platform of “derecho,” rights, and have been likened to the Republicans in the states) and the socialists ( . . . who are socialists. I think that’s really all there is to say there), both of which everyone seems very disillusioned with. And I wonder if this disillusionment with the main parties has anything to do with the fact that Córdoba has a communist alcadesa, mayoress. But Spanish politics as compared to American politics will have to be a theme for another night. It’s not like I actually understand them, anyway.



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2 responses to “check-in and thoughts on an election overseas

  1. Anonymous

    Watching Elections
    I had an interesting experience recently. I went to see my mom and her “new” husband–they’ve been married over a year and this was the first time I’d met him. They were both McCain/Palin fanatics and the husband was a FOX News channel junkie. FOX News was on many, many hours each day. Coming from the very liberal neighborhood of Germantown/Mt Airy I found watch FOX News was a bit like watching something very, very foreign. It was an eye-opener, too, as to how the media can twist things to suit their purpose. So, I sort of understand the feeling of strangeness of experiencing the election through foreign eyes.
    And, we didn’t “know” by 11:00, but we were getting the sense that Obama would win and we could quit holding our collective breath.
    It was an awesome election to have missed and I missed being able to see Obama two blocks from my apartment because I was at the Greyhounds Reach the Beach celebration. I was disappointed, though, as I only stood in line for an hour to vote. I was sure it was going to take much more time and I had a good book to read while I waited.
    I’ve decided that I’m not so sure I’m not a Socialist at heart–I sort of liked the idea of “sharing the wealth” a bit. It makes more sense to me to ask wealthier tax payers to pay more instead of less. And if the government bought everyone a house then think how much money we’d have to spend on “stuff” and how that would stimulate the economy.
    Your librarian, civil servant friend

    • Re: Watching Elections
      Mom told me that our neighbors, even those who don’t work, were waiting in line hours before the polls opened because they wanted to vote.
      I was in my Roman Andalusia class this morning and we were talking about the elite classes in Roman society, and how many of the city’s bills for new buildings or public projects were paid by the evergetismo (philanthropy is a fast and loose translation) of the aristocrats to show off how rich they were, give themselves a good name for posterity, and shame their political competitors by spending more on their cities.
      I wouldn’t want to live in Ancient Rome, certainly. But it seems to me that a little more evergetism in today’s society wouldn’t hurt.

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