Madrid Blog-Barbarians at the Gates

I liken the decision to live in some place where you have no cultural, family or professional ties to "dropping off the grid." This sort of move is easier to do if you are the sort of person who felt "a few degrees off the grid" in the place where you grew up. Even if you did fit in wherever it is you grew up or live today, you need not travel far to find someplace you don't.

I remember, the kind of reception I got in the 80's when I traveled with the debate team from my private preppy (we send 20 kids a year to The Ivy League!) Atlanta high school (see The John Knox Institute) to compete against other schools in places like Americus and Warner-Robbins, Georgia. This was a sardonic: "Well, ain't we privileged to have you Atlanta private school kids with us here today."

The beneficial effect of walking outside one's village, for the person capable of acquiring perspective, is the rapid realization that "who" you think you were, back wherever it is you are from, has absolutely zero meaning to the locals "here."

Yesterday, was our court hearing in the affair of the neighbor's noise complaints against our children. As it turns out--in the exactly 12 units in the building, the only people who have had an issue with us are the (now departed) Germans (by way of Argentina) in the unit across from us and the bat-shit crazy people in the unit below us. Rather ironic, considering the former are one generation removed from The Reich and the latter's example of triumphant child-rearing is the single adult daughter who lives with her parents, works for her father, and doesn't look a day younger than forty (to be fair, this could be the perma-mask of bitterness etched on her face).

It was both less than I was expecting from a legal point of view--all that went on was that our lawyer told the judge that we deny the accusations they make against us (like our kids make noise at all hours of the day and night--not exactly possible since they're in school all day and in bed from 9pm to 7am). From an emotional point of view it was worse. Most of you have better things to do than waste time on Facebook, but this pretty much sums it up.

Me: "Nathalie Mason-Fleury experienced the disgust of having the 80-yr old president of our building association tell his lawyer and my lawyer (AS IF I WASN'T THERE 3 meters away) that it is "not normal" for a 2-yr old to wake up at 4 am in the morning and cry."

Cristina: "ask him to come to my house yesterday night... 2-yr and 9 months crying. At 3.32. And the three were hungry and 1 with fever. drinking bottles and eating biscuits."

Karen: My 17 month old made it to 5:30am before the molar coming out of his gums got the best of him yesterday. No, crying there...

Fiona: like he would have any idea. My two year old was hollering at 5:30 am today before I bounded to his room, gave him the pacifier, and he went back to sleep.

Abigail: What alternate reality is he living in? The one where the babies are silent and the old farts make all the whining? And even if it wasn't 'normal' wtf are you supposed to do about it? It's not like you can tell your doctor 'I'd like a peaceful sleeper' and then get pregnant, can you? can you? did I miss something here?

Heather: If his own mother were still alive, she'd straighten him out. "Oh yeah, you used to wake me up at 4 am all the time," etc.

In 8 months, the first time I saw my elderly neighbor was yesterday--I imagine him, mummified in his apartment, remembering a better world, when Franco was still alive and running things, children knew their place and foreigners weren't your neighbor.


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