The Nada Diaries

Pedraza, Spain
Just looking at happy people makes me want to slap them lately. Yep, I've got some major problemas...

Even for someone like me, who has high levels of rabid-like positivity flowing through her veins, its surprisingly easy to let a little bitterness slip into the old expat life tubes once in a while.

In fact, some days, I feel that I just have one, long evil fuse that slowly and subtly burns on a permanent basis and then, all of a sudden, it explodes and wham! I’m in total hate with this country.

And while I try to keep a positive twist on things at the old Pass the Ham, I think I might have to do one of those posts that I always have me rolling my eyes. I really don’t like complainy posts, but I have to concede that sometimes it’s just necessary.

Otherwise, I may be calling you for bail money after I slap some random people on the street because that’s just what I feel like doing – going on a massive slapping spree. Bitter old Spanish women, obnoxious young Spanish ni-ni’s, tourists, children, puppies, whatever.

That’s right -  at this moment I want to slap a puppy.

People, this is bad.

And where did this puppy slapping urge come from? I don’t know. I guess the last few months have been a succession of what I refer to as nada moments.

What’s a nada moment, you ask?

Well, whenever I’m talking with someone about a particular problem or something that’s bothering us (that’s not life-threatening), I usually reply with a tone of “Oh, well, what cha gonna do?” In Spanish, I usually just respond with simple “nada”, meaning that its probably best to just move on and don’t worry about it.

However, lately, I’ve had a lot of nada moments of my own and they’re just driving me crazy. Don’t you ever have those little things that happen to you and even though you know that they aren’t really important, they still manage irk you to no end?

For example:

1) Nada de Manners. In the last two months, I’ve had two concrete job offers that have disappeared into thin air. As most of you know, I work as a freelance writer and I get by between the few steady clients I have, but I’m always looking to expand my portfolio a bit, so I’m constantly looking for new projects.

Recently, I went on an interview, then I went back for a second interview, then I met with them a third time. On the fourth visit, I was hired. It looked like a great job meaning I could still work from home, but have a major role in the company, etc. I was hired and ready to go. We talked about money, came to an agreement, and then, I was to go in to sign the contract “next week”. Then … crickets. Nothing. Nada. I contacted them and they told me that they were waiting on this or that and then … nada.

This has happened to me twice now. I don’t get it. Obviously, they want to hire someone, they interview me, they hire me and then … nada.

2) Nada de funny, people. I’ve kind of had it with Spanish humor. I mean, I just can’t get excited about something that seem so juvenile. No, that’s really not “que bueno”- its just, plain “que stupid”. Give me some sarcasm, some wit, some depth, something other than boobs on a man, for example.

3) Nada de variety. I’ve just returned from a quick trip to London and you know what? There is food there; seemingly, all kinds of authentic culinary gifts in every neighborhood at reasonable prices! Thai! Indian! Vietnamese! Chinese! Italian! Moroccan! Bangladeshi!

Look, I really love Spanish food and yes, Madrid has some great restaurants that serve pretty decent international fare, but I’m just at the point where I want more options at my fingertips. I want a Brick Lane and I want it now. I want distinct choices and I don’t want to go searching for it all over the place. And yes, I’ve tried Lavapies, but I want something more. I used to eat around the world on one street and that was in Atlanta, Georgia for ham’s sake! I want more flavors and more variety. Please, I want my food standards back.

4) Nada de weather. Look, people, it’s hot in summertime and it’s cold in wintertime. Do we have to start every single conversation with a recap of the current weather?

5) Nada de voice. I can’t believe after all this time, I’m still caught off-guard Spanish-wise. Recently, someone very close to me insulted me (in Spanish) and under normal circumstances, I would have told them to go shove it or at least, stood up for myself. But no, I just turned around and said nothing. I don’t know why my personality has to change when I’m “in” another language. I could have easily stood up for myself in Spanish at the time, but just got stuck in the process. It has bothered me for days now and I hate that feeling.

Well, nada. That’s my bitch-list for the year. Hopefully, next time, maybe I’ll be posting about how sweet puppies are instead of how puppy slap-happy I am.

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12 Responses to The Nada Diaries

  1. Ugh, I know these nada moments. Mine also come around this time of year when I’m hating the sudden onset of cold, the lack of job satisfaction, etc. I call them UGH days. Chin up, Hamanta!

    • Hamatha says:

      Thanks, Cat! I’ll be fine – just totally grumpy these days. And yes, I think the “sudden onset of cold” should be outlawed – forever! :)

  2. Christine says:

    Don’t worry I feel like I “change” personalities too when in Spanish to a much more reserved version of myself…hate it, but working on it! And to give you some perspective in terms of craving int’l food…at least you live in Madrid! In my looovely city of Algeciras, my options are Spanish, kebabs and Chinese.

  3. Cassandra says:

    Much ánimo, Hamatha! I know I always start to sink into nada-ness whenever the weather turns cold. And who says expat posts always have to reflect the sunny side ‘o things?

  4. Sam says:

    *hugs* hope you’re feeling better.

    when i lived in spain i would have times just like the ones you are describing- particularly to do with food! and waiting for contracts to be signed for a different sort of work. it used to drive me mad. i hope you’re feeling better now you’ve vented


    • Hamatha says:

      Thanks, Sam! Actually, I am feeling better. I was lucky enough to escape Madrid for a few days recently and it helped me relax a bit and fall back in love with Madrid. Sometimes, it’s just a can’t live with and can’t live without type of situation. If only I could travel full-time, I think I would be one happy camper! :)

  5. Katja says:

    Interestingly enough (or not, probably depending on whether you’re an expat), I’ve been mulling over the nada de voice thing a lot recently. I’ve definitely got two personalities, depending on whether I’m speaking in Italian or English. The Italian one is much more a listener than a talker – which has always been my natural state, but is emphasised by my language limitations. However, I’ve noticed that my English personality has become overbearingly talkative and opinionated as a kind of yin to the Italian’s yang. Urgh. I hate myself.

    I think it’s November. November is always rubbish. Chin up, Hamatha. Nada has a season, and it will pass.

    • Hamatha says:

      I agree – November blows! And thank you, it’s good to know that I’m not alone in the dual personalities issue. I also find myself more outspoken in English since coming to Spain. But, then again, it’s getting harder and harder for me to separate the two languages and my English comes out sounding like drunken nonsense. Arggh…I hate myself too. Call me when November ends…actually, call me in Springtime, I need some sun!

  6. George Mills says:

    Brilliant Hamanta. This bout of complaining is a sure sign that you are now at least half-Spanish!

    The next stage of the process is to take true delight in complaining and see it as a perfectly normal and healthy part of the day. If you really want to integrate, I suggest inventing a health complaint or a problem parent and then regaling your fellow bus passengers/grocery store customers with tales of your bunions/ hopeless mother etc. It will be great stress relief for you and everyone will appreciate the fact that someone is worse off than they are.

    • Hamatha says:

      Complaining is certainly an art form here, isnt’ it? And yes, I think I’m getting there, one complaint at a time. It’s not easy, you know! ;)

      Actually, I do find complaining the only form of communication most days so, yes, it is essential to practice whenever possible. When I first started going to the fruteria in my neighborhood, he wouldn’t even give me the time of day until I started complaining about the weather and the graffitti in the barrio. Now, he won’t shut up when I go in there – quite different from the initial cold shoulder.

      I think I’m getting the hang of it. Soon, I can only hope I’ll start fitting in with the bitter old señoras on the bus! :)

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