Sunday, April 23, 2006

Burnt Out in Spanish Hell While Dreaming of Tahiti

For some reason I’ve been feeling burned out. Perhaps it's my schedule of work, school, working out for the marathons, and family. I may be on overload. Another issue is that I am not exactly happy at school. For the last 10 years I'’ve been going to school trying to get a bachelors degree, I a’m almost halfway there. Because of all that goes into my life I'’m pretty much limited to one class, two max per semester. For the last two years I have been stuck in Spanish hell. I am in the third semester with one left to go for the two- year language requirement for the university. Because I am graduating on the Arts side of the fence I needed the foreign language to graduate from the Arizona college system. I already acquired an AA from a community college in Northern California, it'’s just that the Arizona system requires more. If I can get through this and one math class I can graduate from the community college and get another AA degree. I'’ll still need some more base requirements to transfer over to Arizona State University (again) but if I can I can enter as a junior. I would just need to reapply to the University and the school of journalism for entrance at the professional level.

Spanish Hell
I picked Spanish not because it would be easier or that I already knew quite a bit of it. I just thought that it would be infinitely more usable than any of the axis languages that I had contemplated studying like Japanese, German or Italian. Despite having knowledge of a great deal of the vocabulary already at the level of Spanish that I am working at there is a plethora of verb conjugations which has stopped me dead in my tracks. I hit the end of my Spanish knowledge somewhere mid-semester during Spanish 102.

Plethora? What’s a plethora?

With English you change the sentence around the verb. In Spanish it's all about the verb. Instead of saying and would go or I went, the suffix of the verb changes, this is not even getting into the list of irregular verbs or the reflexive. With around 500 common use verbs that one has to memorize you have to understand that there are 15 conjugations each. That's a lot of memorizing. Needless to say, I am having a challenging time beyond the present tense getting into subjunctive, future, past, past perfect, past subjunctive, mandate and so on.

I guess what I miss are all of the journalism and writing classes that I took at the beginning of my studies. I miss writing for the paper and having my own column. Someday if and when I get to the university and the college of journalism I can write again Until then I'’ll just blog. Scorpion Sandwich has provided me an outlet and a means of sanity and keeps me off the ivory tower despite being a better shot than Lee Harvey Oswald or Clarence Whitman combined. At least it keeps me sane, if only for the moment.

Dreams of Tahiti

Over the years we have taken many of a vacation, during some of the trips I have managed to achieve some level of decompression from the stresses of life. But for the most part because of my a type-a personality, years of built up angst and anxiety I often find it hard to find the triggers that allow me to decompress psychologically while the triggers to only make it worse only abound in my life. Of all of the times that I have taken off of work I can only remember a handful of them where I can say that I was able to fully relax. I now know what it takes to get there at the very least it'’s just getting there and allowing myself to relax.

I have a friend that I use to work with when I worked as a supervisor at the Pasadena Production Studios/Pasadena Camera Rental. At the time Danee Hazama was shooting as a freelance photographer and also worked part time at the rental house.

Danee would come up to me on occasion and say
"Hey, I have to go because the President of Tahiti is here along with the Ambassador to France." Usually when an employee has a head of state in town to see them I thought it best to let them go for the day. About a month after that Danee asked me if I could do a favor for him. As a photographer he would usually shoot for the French and Tahitian governments when they needed him to. But in this particular case he needed someone else to take pictures for him so that he could attend to other duties, so he asked me. The event was a US/Tahitian friendship dinner. The evening consisted of dinner, Tahitian entertainers and dancers, raffle and door prizes and dancing afterwards. Little did I realize that at one of the table was seated the president of Air France and several high ranking Tahitian and French Government officials. It was nice that Danee trusted me with my photography skills and let me work the event. I had so much fun that it wasn'’t like work at all. Seeing all of the culture and hearing about the island, I was hooked. I'’ve wanted to visit Tahiti since.

Shortly after leaving EarthLink I was in a bad place in my life. I had lost my call center, my dog had recently died, my life was starting to sound like a country western song. With the new job things only got worse. I was doing 17 hour days, working through the weekends and under constant high pressure from the job, just over all miserable.

One day in the middle of the fray I had to take a moment and take my wife and kid to the airport. They were flying out of town to see her mom in Reno. I had just dropped them off and as I made my way back to the car I passed by the AmericaWest counter. A man was putting up a new sign. "Now Flights Daily to Zihuatanejo." The gate was open, the first passengers were embarking and I had just remembered that I held silver certificate frequent flyer status with AmericaWest, possibly the shittiest airline in existence. I had spent the last three years flying to Sacramento, Seattle, Pasadena, San Antonio, Atlanta, Omaha, St John Newbrunswick, and Yakima. After all those late flights and crappy meals I had earned one free flight to anyplace that they flew. I had a vision at that moment of me standing on the beach in my business clothes with my slacks rolled up and I was standing in the surf as the waves rolled in. Upon seeing the sign I remembered a scene from The Shawshank Redemption.

ANDY: Tell you where I'd go. Zihuatanejo.

RED: Zihuatanejo?

ANDY: Mexico. Little place right on the Pacific. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That's where I'd like to finish out my life, Red. A warm place with no memory. Open a little hotel right on the beach. Buy some worthless old boat and fix it up like new. Take my guests out charter fishing.

I wanted to just get on that plane and leave. I just wanted to get on the plane, land in Mexico, catch a cab and head straight for the beach just long enough to walk in the surf, just long enough to decompress. I didn'’t want to quit or give notice, just be gone until somebody noticed. But I couldn't. My sense of responsibility, duty and dedication that had been brainwashed into my psyche did not allow me to do the spontaneous thing and just run away. I just sighed, dropped my chin into my chest and shuffled to the parking lot to get into my car and go to work.

Jill's life and schedule are no better, She is driven every moment of the day. Somedays she only gets three hours of sleep yet manages to get herself up to exercise, get Aimee and herself ready for school, work an entire day at school as an aide, take Aimee to either piano lesions, Aikido or a Girl Scout meeting,, only to then come home make dinner for the kid, read stories and put Aimee to bed, then have to start work on either the magazines or one of the books that she is working on at any time. She lives by the way of the shark; swim or die. There have been times where she has dropped off to sleep at work and school, once falling asleep while she was standing up.

With all of the madness going on in our lives we decided to take a vacation. Not just a vacation involving seeing family, but a vacation that was just all about relaxing, doing nothing at all. After looking at all of the places in the world to possibly visit Jill finally succumbed to my recommendation and said
'The hell with it, let'’s go to Tahiti."”

Last year was a good year for many different reasons, which is why we are able to go to French Polynesia. But I can honestly say that this is a vacation of a lifetime.

All I can say is the excitement of such a journey was summed up by Morgan Freeman'’s monologue from the last line of The Shawshank Redemption:

RED: I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain... I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Tahiti photos used with the permission of Danee Hazama Photography.


Mr. Middlebrow said...

So, what you're saying is that second-year Spanish irregular and reflexive verb conjugations are your El Guapo?

Seriously, though, great post. Very evocative, even without the Shawshank Redemption references. With them, you put it over the top. Nicely done.

Can't wait to hear about Tahiti, in whatever language you choose to recount it.

Bon voyage, mes amie!

Ed said...

El Guapo would be in phenotype and spirit my father (he really looks like him). Perhaps I am trying to take Spanish so that I'd at least fit in a little bit more on one of the sides of the border. Throughout my life I have had times where I felt spiritually trapped, oppressed, like I wanted to break out from what I was doing, hence the Shawshank references. Tahiti (and ETSing from the military) is my Zihuatanejo. Thanks again for reading, your opinion means the world to me.

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