I don't think i've mentioned it yet, but i teach english here. i work at a language school, one of the oldest and most respected. i consider myself lucky because it isn't a difficult job. you do, however, have to be energetic, creative, and know your english grammar inside and out. My hours are fairly flexible. I get to enjoy the sunny barça days and crazy barça nights. i meet all kinds of people, as my students range from high powered attorneys, photographers and fashion execs, to buckwild 10 year olds. i really feel like i have the opportunity to take part in the culture, even though i speak english all day.
but i do have one student i'd like to choke. she's old. it's the first thing that i can say about her. probably not so old in age, but her skin and eyes are melting down her face, and her hair hangs in a brown lifeless blob, i mean, bob. she's one of those people who speaks in a head voice, so she sounds like her voice has no bottom, and her words have no weight. she's very intelligent. a more-than-receptionist in an architect's office, she helps to organize and edit her boss's writings. she knows about any number of topics, from art and photography to politics. in our first class, she started to talk about the sad state of africa, and said, i quote, 'africa is the shame of europe'. i took this to mean that she thought it was europe's fault africa's more or less fucked, and to a certain degree, i can relate to this sentiment. i thought there was hope for her.
but somehow, over the next few weeks i could not quite engage her. i showered her with everything from cute conversational cues like 'How would your life change if you found out your parents were aliens'? I showed her video about how civil war and African migration were effecting the continent. She seemed uncomfortable with everything. And she had considerably less self confidence and sense of humor than some of my other students. my high powered attorney, for example, who all but jumped on the conference table of his swanky rambla digs and started dancing when confronted with some of these same topics.
i tried to keep the energy up. it was the dalai lama brought us down. a simple audio news article about china and tibet, and she freaked the fuck out. "i have very specific political beliefs, and you are not going to change my mind". i hadn't tried to. but i let her vent. like i said, i like my job. i tried to mollify her. "the dalai lama has no power, it is all marketing." she even went here, "i don't believe people should have religions their parents did not belong to. westerners cannot be buddhists. i mean, what would you think of a hindu who was a catholic? it's not right; it's out of context. hindus shouldn't be christians, and westerners can't be buddhists . . ." oh. i was giving private lessons to an aging, unattractive, catalan ann coulter. who knew?
i told my cool italian director of studies about the strange encounter. she called her a fascist and had my back. but i couldn't stop thinking about how curious a thing is religion. a lot of it is show and costumes and smoke and mirrors. but i believe there are powers outside of us. and i also believe like buddhists; enlightenment, which can spring spontaneously from the well of consciousness inside of each of us, is ultimate power. is it unfair for me to think of her as a soulless cruella de ville because she can't see anything past the smoke and mirrors? maybe.
it should have bothered me that she said my class bored her. except i didn't give a shit. i come from a class of rowdy, fun, spirited and incredibly smart 10 year-olds to an hour with her. to say i was fucking bored, too, wouldn't begin to explain it. i'm not bored anymore, though. her rant kicked that shit right out of me and put sheer paranoia in its place. closed-minded folks are like roaches. if you've found one, it's only a matter of time till the rest come scurrying out of their hiding places.