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Life lessons on the road

10 Aug

When my dad decided he would teach his children how to drive, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

The day I took my place behind the steering wheel marked the beginning of a very stressful period in my father´s parenting career. Teaching his absent-minded seventeen-year-old the ropes out on the road would entail a lot more patience, use of the handbrake, and partly held- back screaming (“There´s a TRUCK, didn´t you SEE that?”) than he had previously imagined.

Apparently I had a tendency to concentrate only on what was right in front of me. This annoying habit would become properly compensated two years later by my brother, who would develop an amazing skill at looking in all the mirrors almost simultaneously, but neglecting what was going on right in front of him.

But we both got our driver´s licences, and when my youngest brother got his license as well, I´m sure my dad must have patted himself on the shoulder for a job well done, rejoicing in the fact that he would never have to go through such an ordeal again.

During that training my father taught me something about skidding that I want to share with you. It is an advice that I have never forgotten, although I use it in a very different way. He told me that when people lose control over the car, they usually focus on the obstacle that they don´t want to hit, in an attempt to avoid it. But this is exactly what makes them drive into it.

What you have to do, my dad said, is focus on the place where you want to go. The space next to the tree. The exit of the bend. If that´s where you direct your attention, your chances of maneuvering towards that space are a lot higher.

I have found this to be a very useful piece of advice when things go wrong in other places too. When the wheels of a relationship lose their grip, when my own steering wheel doesn´t respond, when I want to push the breaks but I just keep skidding. When that happens I force myself not to look at the trucks, the trees, the precipice. With all my might I focus on where I want to go.

It´s the only way to get there.

 

 

 

When people call you crazy…

4 Aug

… just tell them that´s simply a rather rough synonym for fascinating.

 

 

 

 

Brave

15 Feb

 

The easiest way to be brave

is not having an alternative.

 

 

 

 

Sew A Dress For Myself: Check

26 Jul

Number 12 on the list. Cost me blood, sweat and tears, and a lot of creative adjusting, because simply following the instructions in the magazine (for as far as I understood them, because they were in Spanish) didn´t do the Bippety-Boppety-Boo-trick of magicking up a dress that actually looked good on me.

So I changed it into something quite different, and now I think it´s alright. A bit bohemian maybe, or rather giving a bit of a Caribbean touch to this Spanish summer, but if you can´t do that here, well, where can you?

DSC_0518

Reflection

22 May

Like a shy child

covering its red cheeks

he tries to hold back the love

that radiates from his face.

 

But she´s seen it

and beams it back.

Oh, to find your moon

in this infinite space.

 

 

Borgen vs House of Cards

3 May

When I first started watching House of Cards, I was quite impressed. The political intrigues and manipulations that got Frank Underwood, a power-crazed psychopath, into the White House were fascinating to follow.

 

But apart from fascinating, they were also disturbing. Watching this series, it doesn´t seem hard to believe that this is how things work in the real world. And you might even take this line of thoughts one dangerous step further and conclude that this is how things inevitably work, due to the character of the profession. That there is no place for kindness in politics, and that every demonstration of humaneness is a tactical move.

 

Gradually I started to realise that after an episode of House of Cards, I would feel uneasy, skeptical and with my faith in the world at a lower level than it was before.

 

Then I started watching Borgen, a Danish tv-series about a Danish Prime Minister.

 

The main character here is Brigitte Nyborg, a woman with good intentions and high moral standards, who simply wants to do her job well. The series starts when she becomes Prime Minister and shows us the many challenges the job implies: the assertion of her role as a leader, the juggling of different party-lines in her government, the media-strategies, the vultures out to get her.

We are also made witness of the heavy demands that her holding office has on her private life and the many difficulties she has to face while trying to balance work and family.

 

After an hour of Borgen, I feel like I´ve learned something about human life, and that slowly but surely the human race is making progress. (*)

 

I think that´s a nicer effect to have on your viewers and a better message to send into the world, don´t you agree? Because the world will eventually become the way we picture it. I´d rather have the politicians of tomorrow follow the example of Borgen, and not that of House of Cards.

 

And there are more reasons why, in my opinion, Borgen beats House of Cards.

 

The photographical perfection of House of Cards lends the show something so cool and clean that it becomes almost sterile, whereas Borgen shows us a more realistic setting, where we can imagine actual people living an actual life.

 

When it comes to dialogues, half of the time I can´t follow what on earth they´re talking about in that White House, and I honestly believe that has nothing to do with my understanding of English. It is a lot less tiring to watch Borgen in original version (I actually pay attention to the Danish -what a peachy language) and simultaneously read the English subtitles.

 

On a psychological level both scripts have their merit, but here too, Borgen wins. Let me explain why.

 

House of Cards grant us a look inside the mind of a psychopath, which is interesting. But the psychopath becomes boring. An egocentric person only thinks about himself, and all he wants is power. Not much more can be told about that. This series misses one of the most important tools in story-telling, which is character development. In the end it´s just about tactics. Like watching a game of chess.

 

Borgen on the other hand has a lot of psychological nuances. Nyborg has to keep testing her actions against her values, and correct herself when she gets carried away by political game-playing. She has to harmonize the needs of her country, her family and herself. This is a tricky balancing act, that doesn´t become boring at all.

 

So thank you, Denmark, for this gem you have given us.

 

 

(*) I have to admit I haven´t seen Borgen´s season 3 yet, but I can´t imagine them suddenly turning the whole thing around.

 

 

 

The Bad Parenting Prerogative

30 Apr

All my daughter has done today is watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the only time she´s been out of the house, is when I took her to the supermarket. There we bought popcorn, which we had for dinner.

 

In my world, that counts as some pretty bad parenting: no museum visits, no theatre plays, no park, no nutricious three-course meals.

Of course I am not raising my child solely on ninja turtles and popcorn. But today was just one of those days, you know, where you use 15 minute naps to muster up the energy for half an hour of administrative chores.

 

And you know what, I think that´s totally okay. We don´t need to be Super Parents all the time.

 

Besides, on the bright side:

* she spontaneously asked for a tomato after all that popcorn

* she has undoubtedly picked up a lot of (American) English today – and is there anything cuter than a Spanish five-year-old who knows the word “dude”?