Tag Archive: catalan


Ok, let’s cut the chase. I get to the point right now. Medias in res.

In Spain, we have two major problems.

The two biggest internal affairs right now are as follows:

1.) There is the ongoing fight in the Spanish parliament about whether or not Catalonia should have a referendum for the possible Independence of Catalonia. This is one major concern right now. You cannot open the web, without being aware of tons of articles, or not, but as a foreigner you tend to get lost easily. So what’s up with that?

There are two sides, as always. The one side wants the referendum. The other one does not. The reason for why Catalonia should have their referendum is pretty clear. Two weeks after the 11th of September, which was the celebration for Independence Day, broadcasted around the globe a couple of hundreds of millions times with the historically long “Via Catalana” a human chain by hundreds of thousands of people, and above all, peaceful, without any type of violence. The other side, however, says no… Ok, so let’s ask why…

I could speculate and speculate but the main reason is and always has been the money… Barcelona and the Catalonian region have a functioning economy, much to the chagrin of the NO sayers in Madrid. USA Today even called Catalonia the milk cow that’s being milked every so often when the funds in Madrid are empty. The cow seems to be tired of being milked so often. Ok. This in itself may explain for the obvious NO from Madrid as they do need the money. But let’s go one step further, let’s ask an underlying question. Why is there so much hatred that goes with the whole question…? There is such an underlying hate element in the Spanish society that sometimes even frightens me.

Best example was this poor Valencian guy who was imprisoned for talking to the police (in a normal traffic control) in Catalan, one of two official languages of the Catalonian region. The thing is: He was neither drunk nor drugged. And yet, he was taken away, he was arrested and put before a judge: For speaking his mother tongue. No, we haven’t taken a time machine. This is not 1939. This is 2013. This has some strange taste to it. There are a lot of historic “ghosts”, evanescent moments of hatred and repression that still work the same way as 75 years ago. All this is embedded on a very emotional level. Luckily, the poor chap, got some media coverage and via change.org and with the help of the social networks, the man was freed and his prison sentence of six months for speaking to the police in Valencian was revoked. But does it need to get that far??? I mean, come on, really. The whole incident seemed so warped that I had to include it even though it seems like a slight affair.

We are faced with the dark side of history. Spain had a dictatorship up until 1975 and the violation of civil rights, the pain and suffering, the cruelties, the passion, the fear and the repression so many people had to deal with, it is still alive. It is still inside most families. Some of them remember who someone close to them was charged politically, was taken away, and imprisoned or even executed. Spain is a free country. It is democratic. Is it?

Yes. On the whole it is. Spain is even liberal when you think of places like Marbella or Ibiza… But then again, is this actually the real Spain, or is it just what people think Spain is??? So what do I know??? You might argue, but you are not even Spanish, or have a Catalonian husband or whatever, but I see what I see. And each day, I get a better impression about what happens. Ever since I started to learn Catalan and finally prick up my ears.

The thing is there will not be any kind of mutual understanding and a non-hatred fuelled relationship between Spain and Catalonia, unless Spain simply lets go and leaves Catalonians be who they are, and let them go their chosen way. It might not be what Madrid, what the Spanish royal family, or what Rajoy would want for Spain, but still, they have a right to decide. We live in a democratic state (at least that’s what they say), so let them have it their way. Let them please vote.

We in Europe have so many states with two, with three or even with four languages. Think Belgium, Switzerland, parts of Germany, think Sicily, think Crete, think Malta. The more attractive a region is, less chances you have of there being only spoken one language. Chances are that a couple of nations already tried to invade it, and chances are that this happened. I am sorry if this is a bit juvenile but I always think of Asterix and Obelix when I think about invasion.

Reise-asterix-karte-DW-Reise-Reguengo

 

You might think that the people in Madrid may be the Romans trying to force the Catalans to give up their language and cultural identity. But Madrid and a couple of politic agitators just see it just the opposite way. They see the Catalans as the agitators, or the traitors of the Spanish crown. There are some ultra-right wing people who deliberately disturbed the celebration of the “Onze de setembre” (September 11th), the Catalonian Independence Day. Funnily enough, justice was very lenient here, and they got away with a ridiculously low amount of 300€ while they smashed up things, menaced people, were hooded, entered a government building and were clearly not there in a pacific mission.

 

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mateu_informe_policial

 

Justice is a funny thing. This is something that startles me. How on earth can they get away with that? And how can the politicians in Madrid believe that their behavior was tolerable when they behave like that, that one might call a screaming injustice. Justice must have had a pretty bad day to sentence one man to 6 months of prison for speaking his mother tongue, and for fining another for an act of sheer and utter violence & some slight terroristic tendencies with a slight slap on the wrist.

Ok, I now. I am guiri. I should shut up. What do I know anyway?

Being a foreigner in Spain, not knowing any Catalan, and just about able to speak a few sentences in Spanish, I came here to the island of Ibiza in 2007, in December. I was not aware of all these underlying conflicts when I first came here. I tried to find my way around this place. I was busy getting my kids into kindergarten and into school. I had to work. And I had to take care of the kids on my own, as my husband was still 1 and a half years in Germany while I already lived here. I was quite alone, kept to myself, but in a still quite male dominated society I was treated like a “soltera” and somehow, people suspected I was. I did not know what to think about it but I was too busy to care.

So many of my friends in Germany shook their heads in despair when they heard where I was going and they asked me “Why on earth are you going there?” (rough translation: this pool of sinners, of depravity, hedonism and sex, drugs and rock’n’roll). I just laughed it off. And hey, now, almost six years later, I still live here. I feel integrated. My husband came down to Spain one and half years later than us because it was more difficult than we thought. Exit personal history.

But one thing really still startles me, especially now that I understand Catalan and speak it fairly well. Why on earth, do my friends who dared me, who induced me, who told me to learn Catalan… Why do they now back down when we are talking about the Catalan Way, the question of Independence??? Why are they the ones I never see when there is some event for the Independence? Why don’t they react when I post something on facebook??? Even though in private, they are fervent defenders of their home, their island, the right to speak their language and their right to vote. What’s up with that?

On the 8th of September, Ibiza also had a small human chain. The press said that there were 300 people. I can safely say that there were little more than 160 people, maybe 200 in the end. So: What’s up with that?

cadenahumana

 

However, now we come to the second problem, or to the second internal affair, that Spain has to deal with.

2.) The plan and its implementation of the TIL – integrative trilingual language system. This is a brain child of Jose Ramon Bauzà who somehow now seems like a Little Napoleon as he tries to push forward with this seemingly progressive system. So what does the TIL include: Basically it means a reduction of the Catalan and a high increase of the English language, that instead of 50% Catalan and 50% Spanish, the children get their classes in 30% in Catalan, 30% in Spanish and 30% in English.

catalan_not_spanish

Don’t get me wrong. I love English. And for me, it would probably be a piece of cake, but then again… Think about how well or in some cases how not so well the outcome might be. Do they have decent teachers, do they have decent funds to invest in this Project. No. E.g, the school of Sant Miquel (a small village in the north of Ibiza) had placed up a huge bed-throw at the Wall of their school advertising tyhat the Balearic government still owed them a sum of 19,000€. And that is only one school. How so? How are they going to pay for the extra teachers… ??? How are they going to pay for the extra tuition??? For the extra books??? Hahahaha… Ladies and gentlemen. This will be solved Ibiza style, or Mallorca style. That is so easy, if your name is Jose Ramon Bauzà. Basically the answer is you are not getting any of this. Yes, You heard me.

No extra teachers.

No tuition paid.

No funds for books.

No funds for even paying old debts that concerned parents, the school itself or the state.

How on earth can this be a good basis for such a Project that – if it were well planned and well put into practice – not such an idiot thing. However, we are faced with empty wallets, resigned teachers, teachers who fear being menaced by disciplinary punishments and so on. The spirit of the generalissimo is still very much present. That present that the press today showed that Madrid does not want to change the name of Franco because of linguistic reasons. It is scary to see the adoration of a dictator who would have thrived in the amount of fear and repression that is subconsciously planted in the souls of so many, many Spaniards, as well as Catalonians.

And even if the TIL had come out as a proper plan, it would still be an attack against the Catalan language.

Let’s talk about how well are the Balearic Government free to decide what they are doing. There are many, many jokes in the net and one can see on television who is in charge. It is clearly Bauzà himself. Getting rid of a third of his parliament and claiming it was to show respect and the need to cut costs, was a nice excuse to get rid of his opposing forces within his own party. Bauzà has a nice little streak of a mini dictator in him. He may look like an ageing model or a car salesperson but in fact he is very strategic in what he does. Plus he thrives in the power he was given.

timthumb

Back to topic. No… I don’t know either. It is scary and it is such a preposterous idea. I am a strong activist for any type of increment of language and literature in school. But the way this is done is just… so, so, excuse me, it is so wrong… We have heard about the proposed system change right before the summer break and even then teachers were saying no. Little did we know back then. Now it is the second week of school and the teachers are still on strike, twitter is full of hashtags that show the support they are getting from so many different places, from so many different people.

So, I hope you know now about what’s going on in Spain and more specifically on the Balearics.

Why did I mix these topics together and added some streaks of personal history to it, even though they only on the surface have something to do with each other?

I would think that there is a deep underlying structure. If Wert called for the fact “españolizar” hispanize the children of Catalonia, then this is actually quite fascistic if not downright fascist.

If speaking Valencian is a crime, and smashing up a government building and disturbing an official act (given you’re rightwing!!!) is a small thing easily forgiven and does fall under the jurisdiction.

If a TV show (on IB3, the local TV station of the Balearics, government funded… ) about the TIL only shows:

– a group of six, all men (not one woman!)

– the majority were lawyers and not education experts

– one teacher, whose forte certainly was not to speak in public

– and without a decent distribution of the time allowed for each side (the defenders of TIL had 7 minutes, the ones against it 2 minutes!!!)

There is slight feeling, that this whole program could have been government sponsored and PP-program aligned. It is just so wrong the way they do a supposedly political program on TV. It was just so previsible.

Personally, I could not believe that there was not one person who was rhetorically able to speak up and up for the challenge.

Conclusion:

In effect, I wrote this blog post here, mainly because I was getting tired of being asked all over the same questions.

What is the TIL?

Why are you so in favor of the Catalonian Independence?

Why are you so Pro-Catalan?

Why are you against the TIL?

nacionalisme-espanyol-1

Mainly, I hope to have clarified this issue with the above text. I am a language lover, I do not think that TIL is actually oriented in real life and will promote “fracaso escolar” more than anything else.

My obvious tendency towards the Catalonian Independence derives from the fact that I among other subjects (I majored in languages), I studied history and I think that the free state of the Catalonian people is necessary. Historically it can easily be derived that Catalonia is a state. I could go deeper into history but this would go to far. Also from the point of view that being a repressed nation, the Catalonians deserve to decide for themselves. Psychologically it can be argued as well, when the amount of suffering has been big enough for them that their will for independence outweighs the fear of being defeated. The Catalonians need to try it, I feel also Catalonian, I am one of them, and I wish them, I wish us the best of luck, and I think that Spain would be wise to let them go. Unless they want to have a century long hate relationship with even worse cases of linguistic recriminations and also crimes in the name of the Spanish state which presides everything.

First of all, I know, Catalonia is different, but Ibiza is also different. We work so much with tourism on a daily basis that the idea of reinforcing English in the school system is not the worst idea, but again… The way this is done, is what makes it turn out to be a total disaster or a plan that should be planned and scheduled properly in order to be successful. Please do not implement TIL. It is not worth the trouble it will surely cause. And try to prevent it for the sake of your children!

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So, where do I tie the knot?

Language and culture is like two peas in a pod. They belong together. If you take away the language from a person, in the sense that you make it a crime to speak that language, you steal part of his culture and basically you victimize him.

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Invaders have often done this. The Romans did this. The Greeks did this. The Spaniards did this. No big deal. But this here is the 21st century. I wish for mankind to be as far evolved that they see that you cannot suppress culture and language for a long time. It will stir things up. It will make people rebel.

Those in charge in Madrid, and also our little Napoleon of the Balears, Ramon Bauzà, would be well advised if he saw that denying people to speak their own mother tongue is a crime. It is a direct reference to the military dictatorship of Franco. And to be honest, this in itself gives me the creeps.

mossos_franco

What gives me the creeps even more is that there was a report that they want to reprimand people who speak on facebook, twitter or any online media about things that could cause a public disorder. This is also a step away from a democratic system. Be warned. And be alert that Spain and also the Balearics do not move back in time. This would be fatal.

o-JAQUE-AL-REY-facebook

I seriously apologize that I could not post the homage to T.S. Eliot whose birthday it is today. But I will take the opportunity to thank you.

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Eivissa, capital mundial de l’Scrabble en català – Noudiari.es | Noudiari.es.

The above link is a Catalan language article for anyone who is interested to read something about the World Championship of Scrabble in Catalan. There were roughly twenty-odd people playing, some of which had travelled from l’Hospitalet, Barcelona, Menorca and Mallorca in order to participate.

Anyone who will be in Ibiza at the end of March this year (March 22nd) will be able to see another Scrabble championship, this time maybe a good chance to give it a first shot. Admission possible until March 20th. The championship will be held at a local school in Sant Josep and afterwards, everyone can let the evening ease out with the famous Flower Power Party in Sant Josep. Come in hippy clothing to the championship and have a good laugh. Afterwards, chances are that we probably all go there, which is basically the sign that summer is around the corner, the weather is quite nice, and the days are getting longer.

Here is a nice weekend to be had! Why not join in?

For more information, please visit this page

http://scrabbleclubeivissa.blogspot.com.es/

The Scrabble Club Ibiza (Eivissa) and its blog

The Scrabble Club Eivissa can be reached through the blog or the facebook page (“scrabble club eivissa”).

Ask for Pau Arranz, president of the Scrabble Club Ibiza.

English / German / French / Dutch / Italian / Greek language contacts can also contact me, Chryssula Kokossulis, member of the Scrabble Club Ibiza.

http://www.fiscrabble.cat/

The International Federation of Scrabble in Catalan

Happy New Year, folks.

I hope you are more or less back to normal. I certainly have been pushing my limits quite hard lately, I kind of feel exhausted.

Nevertheless, I wanted to say thank you to all those who have been by my side, virtually, or physically the last 12 months, or much longer than that, for that matter. It does seem to me that 2012 was a pretty important year for me.

I have two reasons why I wrote this text today. One is because I have been confronted with some misconceptions about why I wrote something, a novel, in Catalan. And still really think it could be worth publishing one day.

Second, I was kind of fed up of repeating myself over and over again. In that respect I tend to be rather a lazybone.

That’s why I copy & pasted an entry from facebook here for you to see how I feel about the whole writing business.

“Re-editing my novel for the zillionth time around… I wish I was less selective, less fussy with language. The plot is no worries. It is mostly language, expressions, register, the lack of authenticity of used language. Some sentences simply don’t compute. Fuck… I need a language coach. Else the novel will die a horrible death. You know how writers tend to be cruel.”
  •  
    Klaus Faulenbach Sorry, dear, I can see and understand the challenge writing seriously in a foreign language but did Goethe write in English, Shakespeare in Italian, Cervantes in German? Why are you making this so tough on you?
  •  
    Chryssula Kokossulis I second that thought, dear. Although… It’s the way I started though. Every language has a particular sound, melody, rhythm and such. I kind of started to write subconsciously and the novel is beyond anything that I wrote so far in German or English. If I can work this one out, I will know that I made the right choice.
    It’s a book set in Ibiza. The people in it are Ibicencos. Why wouldn’t they speak Catalan?
    By the way, all of the quoted writers were well capable of reading literature in other languages.
    Anyway, you know me. When I put my mind to an idea, I will follow through. Stubborn, headstrong and incorrigible.
    Actually, by now, I see it as a challenge. I’ve come this far, why should I give in?
    PS.. Thanks for comparing me to the Swan of Avon, Goethe and Cervantes. That’s a bit over-reaching but still thx 😉
    PPS.. Another thing is… I cannot change the language at this point. This would be such a cowardly thing to do.
    No. Now it is catalan, all the way through. Once it has been edited, proofread and so on I will translate it though.
  •  
    Klaus Faulenbach Written language only has that particular sound, melody, rhythm and such when one is fluent in it. And reading or writing a foreign language are two different cups of tea. You can and you should practise your Catalan as much as possible, no doubt about it, but giving you constant headache over words and expressions and frequently reaching out for language support for what you consider an important work of yours shouldn´t be the way to improve that language nor writing the thoughts of your soul.
  •  
    Chryssula Kokossulis It’s not a lost battle. I may be perfectionist and I may be over-critical but this is just to find the right people. What’s so wrong with going after one’s dream. I already met very nice people on my way. But sometimes there is a thing that you need to resolve by yourself.
    And please… Every writer writes from his soul. Well ok there may be other bodyparts. 😉
    But once you’re ready to leave the ivory tower and share your thoughts with other people… That’s exactly when you show yourself as a vulnerable creature… So?!? What’s the worst that could happen? I could get hurt. Yes. True.
    But believe me, i’d rather run the risk than watch my novel – which yes, is super important to me – fade into obscurity. If I fall, I shall fall.

    Don’t worry about me too much. I’ve had worse situations than just writing and searching for language coaching.
    By the way, the good thing about being poised like that is that you create an amazing energy and kind of see which people can really relate to who you are.
    Becoming a writer is in that respect painful since you need to overcome privacy.

Right now, I don’t really have much time to appreciate what is happening right now, but there is this faint feeling at the back of my head that some day, maybe in a couple of months’ time or so, I will look back to what is happening right now, and know that this time (starting with May 2012, around that time or so) my life shifted, and I found a new perspective. Which in itself is quite exciting, that much I must tell you.

Those of you who also read my other blog in catalan what I’m talking about here. Well. I don’t want to mystify it for the others either. I started a novel around that time. And i wrote the first draft in between May and beginning of September.  Yesterday, I finished an in-between draft which surely is not the final draft but I seem to be making progress. Well that’s my feeling anyway.

Right now, the whole writing business, staying up countless nights, it all seems so crazy, a bit obsessed and a bit like a thing that no-one else but me could probably understand WHY I HAD to do this, and WHY I had to do it LIKE THAT. I sometimes ask myself how did I do this? How did I find the energy, the hope and also the way not to despair?

I don’t know.

I guess, that’s what writing and passion for writing really does to you. I cannot go without it.

There is some extent a love-hate relationship in there as well. It makes you swear. It makes you get to know yourself better. It makes you go and reach out for your personal limit.

So the novel? I sometimes despair, but I guess, it is coming along. I have been reading, re-reading and yet reading it again at least a zillion times now and I can see that the structure itself is not really bad. I don’t want to trash it. I think there are still passages that need working on. But basically, it is a story that I would personally go out and read.

Well, the process about writing, editing, reading and re-reading is kind of painful sometimes, and you notice that style is something that you cannot do without. I guess, the whole language business is kind of workable, but like I told a friend of mine yesterday, “it’s not a lost battle” and no, I still feel not ready yet to be happy with or gratulate myself is the language, and the style. But on the whole, I can say, I finally got my head around the idea that I am a writer. Full stop. That to me was the seventh world wonder. I never knew this for sure. I thought, yeah, writing is my hobby. I am a philologist, so surely, I read and write. It just went without saying.

So, there you go. I’ve come out of the closet. As a writer. I am a writer, I openly admit it. And guess what? I write stuff, I swear, I shout, I sometimes make myself an idiot, and I am proud about it.

Sure, there is probably no way you can live on writing. So in effect, the whole thing boils down to being a translator / salesperson to make money while your vocation is being a writer, but not being a salesperson / translator, who sometimes writes. To put it more clearly: A writer who does sales and translation to survive. Being a writer: That was something I kind of denied all these years. I felt that you could only call yourself writer when you’ve got like three or four books to show for yourself.

I did make an effort and had some small publications in the year 2000 (Stiller, Mein Heimliches Auge, Konkursbuchverlag) and 2003 (Race of Rats, Tränen – Anthologie, Geest Verlag) and 2004 (noch weiter im text, 1980 – 2004, 24 Jahre Autorenwerkstatt Uni Köln), I did do some lectures of poetry 1994 (Heretic Heritage) and 1995 (Night’s Little Fiends) and 1998 (My short trip to your stinky planet), I was part of a writers’ group at uni 1992 – 1996 (AutorenWerkstatt Universität Köln), and I was alwyas the first one to enter a bookshop. But I kind of thought it more a natural thing to be since I was studying letters so of course, I would write in my free time just like I had years before uni. It felt right, but I did not have to place a name tag on it.

Ok, back to 2012. Why was it an important year?

1) I wrote a novel. One I am not ready to trash yet.

2) I had my first exhibition with “Dark Vila” as a joint project with Oliver Janssen a photographer from Germany. It was located in Sant Josep in the Can Jeroni gallery. We got some really nice comments, there were people who really liked the exhibition which is a bonus, I guess. Right. I could say something here and now, but I won’t do it because that would be over-reaching.

3) I continue to learn Catalan. I have made a point to learn more insults and profanity, which to me funnily enough reveals as much as the soul of the language.

4) I got to know some really fun and interesting people who make it very worthwhile to keep at it and not to throw the towel once you hit rough waters.

5) I started playing scrabble in Catalan. It might seem trivial to some, but it does help you build new synaptic connections and that’s why it is used against alzheimer’s as well. I don’t use it for that purpose, I just happen to love that game, and being a learner of catalan, makes me want to play it in Catalan. To anyone who wants to learn a language quicker, I would seriously recommend this game.

6) After many many years, we – the family of four – made the decision to go to Scotland for some time. This is a long lost dream, we had scheduled for 1997 long before the kids were born. That’s what life does. It does overthrow planned things and makes you re-schedule. Somehow, the trip got to be 15 years later since the journey was planned for summer 1998 and now it will happen in winter 2013. But anyway, I am so much looking forward to it. And if freeze in the snow, it does not matter, this will be Scotland, so it will be wonderful.

7) I have learned to be more understanding, more human (I hope) and less perfectionist. I know this may sound a bit tiresome and also perhaps arrogant, but I do believe that being a writer makes you understand your own limitations and to help you accept them and live with them. I sometimes wish that I would just say, shit, just let’s go with the flow. As long as people can understand it, this shit is ok. Sorry, that is not gonna happen. I cannot be like that. I will rather spend a night working on one particular small chapter and kind of re-fitting words, playing with sentences, characters around, and exchange words and single phrases. It sometimes brings me to the verge of a nervous breakdown. But when I read a chapter I feel happy with, that really makes me happy. I know this sounds pretty silly, but people are so different in what they believe who they are and who they really are. This discrepancy goes for each and everyone. This is the reality gap. The black whole of conception and reality. I would like to keep that gap as small as possible. But it also makes me understand that as much as I want to deny it, I do have limits. Limits are good, without them, I might wake up and not know who I was. Admittedly, sometimes I go out of my way and try to break them. Limits that I try to break and overcome each and every time, like the numbers of hours I tend to sleep lately. But hey, I guess, that’s just me. And I learn the hard way. 😉

8) What about the whole Catalan business?
Friends have asked me this and I ask myself sometimes too why did I have to write it in Catalan? Well the answer is: because. It just happened that way. I cannot reverse it and take the reverse gear.
Do I do this to make myself more interesting or what?
No, I absolutely don’t. I would much rather just write, and be left in peace. But maybe, this is a cosmic lesson. In as much as I hate to go out and state that I am a writer, I kind of had to do it, since I could not achieve the class and the quality of what I usually write in Catalan. This kind of triggered other people to respond or not to respond to me. Here again, I was faced with the question of would I sustain my wish against all odds?

9 ) Yes, I did. I am still here. I still write. I still stick to the plan of finishing the novel which is such an important piece of my personal biography. Not because it is in catalan, but rather because I write it and do not feel afraid to ridicule myself since this is an authentic wish and this is an authentic piece of me. There is a lesson to be learnt here.

But I have come this far, I really cannot go back now. I know, this novel needs to be written in catalan. Maybe, it will be my only one I write in Catalan. Maybe, I will finally manage the pronoms febles, and the fucking difficult verb forms, who knows? But the point is: I finally took myself serious in what I do best: describe things, describe mental or emotional states. Describe people in their complexity.

Well, maybe I should not say that cos it might sound a tad arrogant, I do not believe that I am such a great writer yet, I am still at the beginning, but what I do know is that I have found something that kindled my passion.

Why else would I stay up night after night? I may be a passionate person, but I am not trying to kill sleep itself. I do feel wrecked, I do feel tired. And I know that I cannot keep going this way. I need to slow down. I seriously need a break. I do know that.

10) Facing up to who you are. However, those of you who already tried, will know that writing a novel is a bit like hitting puberty again. You go through all the stages again: the fear, the sometimes heightened and sometimes frail ego, the obsession, the theatre, the lust, the crying, the scratches, the love-bites. Um. That’s just me? Ok, then that’s just me. 😉

I do find it hard to relate to the state I was before.

I wrote all my life, but I never told anyone. It was something I used to keep to myself.

11) Writers must be eccentric, at least in one respect: Topic, style, language, or presentation. Sometimes, all of them at the same time. Writers do not belong to the standard lot. Otherwise, in case they would just obey the rules, they would be plain, dead boring and pretty stuffy. I’d much rather be weird, eccentric and juicy.

12) I accept and love myself as a writer, as someone who has come out of the closet. For being such a weird, and strange little girl.

http://youtu.be/QnWVCWNnkQE

Happy new Year. Make it happen!

What is it that I wish for?

1) That I don’t stop here. That I don’t lose the speed, the va-va-va-voom. That one editorial person, one publishing house can see through the grammar and expression mistakes that are surely there and still give me a chance to publish.

2) That I don’t give up writing in Catalan – no matter what, even though there is still a long way to go I guess. (both in terms of grammar, and in terms of vocabulary, expression, register and so forth)

3) That the people who I virtually as well as physically met throughout 2012 will remain by my side. There is not one of them, I would like to go without. I don’t need to name you, you all know who you are. 😉

4) That there will be new and exciting art projects along the way. I do hope so. There might be another Dark Vila or other thingy coming up. Who knows?

http://www.dark-vila.com/

http://ib3tv.com/20121124_190901-dark-vila-mostra-una-eivissa-ben-diferent.html

5) That I finish my first translation piece of a non-fiction book translation and there will be more fiction or non-fiction pieces to translate.

http://graceperiod21.wordpress.com

6) That Scotland will give me time and peace to recharge my batteries.

7) That I will learn more each and every day.

8) That I might start learn Greek, the language, my father was too lazy to teach and told us we would not speak Greek with him.

9) That I can be a good example for my kids, well, at least in some ways.

10) That my husband will not kill me because I am always writing, checking articles, reading, reading, and editing and studying. He really is a patient character (just the opposite of me) and sometimes I don’t know how he can bear up with me, being the way I am, some strange little girl.Image

PS: yeah, right, I forgot to mention that in 2011, I saw all the X-men movies, but last year, in 2012, I saw many more Hugh Jackman movies and have to say that he is way more than just Wolverine. Check out his performances. He is a great character man, very versatile. This picture above is from Correlli, an Australian mini series where he plays a character that is in prison and falls in love with the prison psychologist.

But he was also particularly brilliant in Paperback Hero and The Prestige (also starring Michael Caine).

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I read this book in the finals days of July I think and I must admit I have been wanting to write a review about it for quite some time. It is not a book one can read and just put away. This book gets you hooked. But at the same time, the book really defies being typecast, it is hard to place your finger on what it is. It is a very unusual book, quite different to anything I have read in quite a while. I picked it up again and again and really immersed myself in its otherwordly charme and recently re-read it.

First of all, it really contains ingredients for a pretty rough ride, and that’s what the story really is, at least for its protagonist, well, I would say for the reader as well. But that’s a good thing. It is a fast paced story, full of twists and turns, and it does not let you breathe properly until you know what the end is like. No spoiler alert here. To me, this is a mixture of genres, a horror story, set in present day, containing social criticism clad in the institutionalisation of “difficult teenagers” as well as a classical drama. On the surface, we are introduced into these summer camps, which are basically the cheap way out for rich parents not able or not interested in facing up to their own educational failures.  Here are a handful of teenagers locked up in the outward idyllic of a secluded college for socalled juvenile delinquents. But that is just the surface and the setting.

The author is particularly strong with dialogues. They are pretty short but very poignant. When you read passages like in the beginning the discussions between father and son, you get the idea that inspite of being set in an affluent family, this youngster Vicent has not so much he could laugh about. Of course, he is rebellious and you (as a reader) wish for this dialogue to continue in spite of the youngster being sent away. There is an undercurrent of father-son relationship gone really bad, there is a huge conflict going on there. That to me was a shame that this dramatic potential was kind of wasted. All the reader was left with is a sort of background information. But nevertheless, since the speed keeps you on the edge of your seat, this is not a major set back at all. The book is just really well written and you kind of wonder why the authors would not dig a little deeper here to make the character a little more emphatic and a little more three dimensional.

The central conflict of the book is the fight between the owner of this institution and Vincent’s daily trials he has too undergo which get more cruel, wicked and grim as the story progresses. Little by little the reader gets to understand that an escape may be the only possible solution left for him. There is a deep sense of enclosure in this book which I found amazing. Trapped in the woods with some ego tripping headmaster? But what can you do when even the inmates start to disappear and you hear howling sounds and inexplicable noises and see weird things that make you guess you must have dreamt.

Ullals (Fangs) is a book that teases the reader into believing it is very easygoing, it starts pretty offhand, almost lightly, it welcomes you, it offers you a chair, but then as the chapters progress, you feel that the climate gets rougher and rougher. This is a very clever thing I never saw before in a book. The way the book is written also reflects the situation of the protagonist at the same time. The story quite literally straps you onto the chair while you try to stand up and search the exit door. But hey, it does not exist. You are trapped as well. The reader gets to peak into a scenario that has pretty dark shades and sometimes Kafkaesque touches. It gives you access to a world unknown to most of us. The sheer physical violence of some scenes lets your adrenaline rush. A very clever thing is that the reader feels quite involved through the immediacy of the dialogues and that there is not so much in between left that could clear up or free you from the menace of the damocles sword, which is not only inside the instition personified through the headmaster but also outside, in the woods, through something else, something more ferocious even.

There is this trait in the book where you feel quite uncomfortable that you are witnessing something that really could have been avoided.

Even at the end when you think you already know the end, the author manages to insert an unexpected turn and you are left with eyes wide open, your pulse racing and possibly a hand clapped over your mouth.

The book won a Youth book prize in 2010. Absolutely deserved, I think. Ullals moves you. And it does a lot more than that. An intelligent, fast and furious book, a tour de force, lots of cinematic images, very well written. If you haven’t read it so far, go and buy it. It is a modern classic.

 As far as I know, the book Ullals is being turned into a movie and is currently in pre-production.

When you look around in the world. Most of the people are concerned with the 9/11 celebration and remembrance services for the heroes in NYC. But, living in Spain, 9/11 gets outdone easily by this year’s “L’Onze de setembre” which is the National Day for all Catalans. I don’t want to go too deep into the history of the date but it goes back to the year 1714 when a lot of people died a heroic death, serving their country and dying for it.

The world of 2012 is undisputably quite different nowadays. First of all, today a lot of Catalans were in Barcelona celebrating the Catalonian National Day. This was a day of historical dimensions. There were 2 million people present in the Catalonian capitol Barcelona. A lot of them waving the red and yellow flag with the star. They showed their political opinion. And it was a demonstration that had no major hickups as far as I know.

Then, some of us need to follow a more mundane rhythm of life. Basically, you are far away. Back in the olden days, you would have yesterday’s paper to inform yourself. But hey, this is 21st century. You have all the comfort of sitting at home, watching television, using the social media such as facebook and twitter to receive the information of an event you would like to witness rather closely but cannot make it.

To be honest, I did feel quite close to the events. I read a lot of well written articles about how people right now. Of course, I am just someone who immigrated about five years ago, but I still feel I have a right to form a political opinion on what is evolving here before my very eyes. Even though it is quite clear that if I had had such a terrible urge to go, I would have gone there. I can safely say: Go on, Catalans. Try to push forward. It is worth a try. Go on, Catalans. Don’t submit yourself. And what I saw today was a sign that a lot of young and youngish Catalans are not prepared to tolerate too much shit we are being fed each and every day. They have been pushed that far that now the idea of separating from Spain altogether does not seem such a bad idea.

And you know what… After having done a fair bit of reading, I totally agree with them.

Visca Catalunya lliure.

Sometimes when you’re working on writing something, it is extremely hard to find the right words. Words that are the right ones. Not politically correct maybe, but the right ones instead.

That is exactly what’s happening with my writings right now. I’m trying to finish my novel, reading and re-reading it, and somehow I’m still a bit at a loss as for some words in Catalan, especially Catalan colloquial speech. It should not be so hard to find them out. Well. That’s what I thought at the beginning, but after having perused nearly each and every book I could get hold of, I kinda feel at a loss. Even the socalled Catalan Colloquial Dictionaries only quote “clean” words. The whole idea of drug abuse seems to be so absurd that no one feels the need to quote it in a dictionary or maybe it is seen as vocabulary not necessary to perpetuate.

If you’re Catalan speaking, Catalan teacher or translator or whatever, or simply know of someone who could help me out, please send me a notice. Words that are connected with heroin, junkie, drug abuse, street jargon, but also justice, juridicial terms, topics things like that.

Maybe you will ask yourself why I need to have these words in the right street jargon. Well, that’s just me, I suppose. Of course, I could just use the easy way out and use the standard language. But in this field, I would like to play the authenticity card. I happen to prefer to call a horse a horse, a junkie a junkie and a mobster a mobster. I don’t like it when language becomes blurred. In our feeble intent to make language smooth and more acceptable for everyone, which we ironically enough call politically correct, we basically mess it up and make it understandable for no-one. That’s why I love being politically incorrect. Fuck them. People who understand me, basically get this. The others I need not to worry about.

The story I am writing is written in first person. That’s why it is such an urgent requirement to get the street jargon right. Otherwise the whole authenticity and thus its strength and immediacy would be lost.

Don’t make me go roam the streets, I am no good in chatting up junkies or social workers or drug lords. Plus I suppose it is not that easy to go underground just like that. And I don’t want to mess up either.

So. Waiting for the exam is over. Waiting for d.day is over. I will know more in roughly ten days. Sometimes, I wish I wish I wasn’t a writer. But what can you do? The exam was fair. Being smart would have been wise and it would have saved me from thinking that I might have failed the exam.
But who needs wise when you can have wild, stupid, on the edge and irresponsible? I will always be the quirky one. The one where you think, yes, weirdo. But that’s me.
Catalan is a beautiful language which I will study each and everynight as much as I can. That much is clear.

Exam outcome and all that
will be released 7 th of june.

By the way, yesterday was not only exam day but also another Sunday spent on the beach. So, yes, that might sound erratic but there are days I need to disconnect and just pretend to be anyone with
a beach towel and sunglasses. Good night

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Exam outcome and all that
will be released 7 th of june.

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