Friday, December 19, 2008

I love you, Mama!

I love you, Moominfamily!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanks Ma!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

One sweet ego trip many second language teachers take is students picking up our little verbal anachronisms. And they do, somewhat--but much much quicker do we begin to speak like them. And TO them, unfortunately. Super clearly, enunciating, slowly. With a smile.

I've got a TOEFL class who are oh, delightful. They all contracted different amounts of hours, between 36 and 48, and they're all peeling off to take the test one by one. We've set a date for a "Fiesta de No More TOEFL" (Spanglish is funny in two languages).

This class--they blew my mind today. We spend the class speaking English, they're all people I know. Jaya who works with kids and wants to study abroad in the UK; hipster artist who wants to go to Berlin; extrovert in eyeliner who spends more on clubs than I earn; sugarface geek...and then today I mentioned how everyone here tries to teach me to clap Flamenco-style, and they all break out! And suddenly everyone's Spanish, olé, and where is the wine and when will the women stand up and dance? "It's in our blood," they laugh. And class ends and they just can't speak English anymore, even the eager ones who stay behind and practice on me. We'll dance flamenco at the Fiesta de No More TOEFL! We'll eat tortilla española! They say.

Monday, December 01, 2008

View Larger Map

That yellow building in the middle there is mine!

Note this, that this listed address is not mine. Don't send any peanut butter to 9 Lavapies etc.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hullo honeys. Happy día de Acción de Gracias, which is what the Spanish call Turkey Day. I missed calling my family in Riverside, though I tried many times. I'm pretty sure the line was busy each time. Guys!

I did celebrate, though. Like most Americans here, I attended more than one Thanksgiving Dinner---one last week and one last night. The first was thrown by some sweet friends of Chase, a friend from work. They're nice hippies who do things like the Camino de Santiago and Couchsurfing. They invited 300 people from Couchsurfing to their leetle apartment, but luckily only about thirty people came. One of them was a friend of Brittany's, who I'd already met at the only other ex-pat event I'd attended. Ah eddies of slender currents of illegally expatriated college grads in full teacher makeover. I'm a teacher, who are you? Oh you're a teacher too! Then there's a pair of us--don't tell! They'll banish us, you know.

That dinner was delicious: applepie, cranberries, gravy, stuffing, and chicken.

An' last night another friend from work, another delicious dinner, this time with Turkey (baked in a toaster oven) (scrumptiously), garlic soup, corn, green beans, camembert on crackers and Lindt chocolate. Chase was also there, putting him in the three-card lineup of friends I've had two away-from-home thanksgivings with. Ariel, Christine, you're the others.
Double-Thanksgiving Friendship

In fact, yow, wow, now that I notice--two Thanksgivings ago, while I Studied Abroad, I also had one Turkey dinner and one Chicken dinner.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good morning!

I mean, good night, last night, of the sort on whose strength I returned to Spain. Keith and his friend Sophia and my friend Pastor and I went to a Yam. A Yam Session. Any English word beginning with a "J" becomes a "Y" word in Spanish, a completely unfair compromise between the Spanish "Hh" and English "Dg."

The Yam was in this lovely upstairs hall, incensed, dotted with cushions, dotty with hippies. We all, somehow, knew people there--Keith and Sophia realized their cool Spanish professor had told them to go to that same Yam, so two of their classmates were there. Pastor of course had music friends there. I saw people I hadn't seen since two summers ago, including my friend Topo, who ended up singing to Leandro's flamenco guitar at the very end of the night. Topo has an incredibly beautiful voice, and a face so expressive as to turn muppetlike when he sings.

I was having a beautiful shameless night. Funi, a tiny woman I know from the ye-oldens, was clowning to the music with a classic rattailed lavapies dude in some sort of flapping salwar kameez. The rattailed dude clown-courted me into his dance, so I had a fun clumsy time with them, enough so that I got up and danced later. Dancing in front of People is still embarrassing for me, even after Bard, where all parties were small enough for everyone to notice everyone's dancing. But I love it! I love it, and if I can't let myself look ridiculous now I'll never be able to humiliate my children at various graduations and birthday parties in the future. Last night was an investment.

In other news, I'm looking for a new room in an old building, any old building. I found a beautiful one immediately, but I'm still waiting to hear back from the charming tea-drinking Italian painter who owns it. Her apartment is little and sunlit and painted in pale spongy greens and blues, and I want to live in it and drink tea.


Monday, November 17, 2008

You see, I have no photos for you!

I'm editing the draft of some interview questions my favorite student is going to ask Wangari Mathaai, oh wow.

I taught her and my other favorite two these two poems in conjunction, because they are conjoined:


When You are Old, by W.B. Yeats

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.



Breast Cancer, by Frederick Seidel

The intubated shall be extubated and it rains green
Into the uptown air because it is almost raining.
You can smell the sidewalks straining.
The sidestreets are contagious but serene.
The disease is nutritious.
The bitter medicine delicious.
The beautiful breasts are repetitious.
The much older man you love is vicious.

The man will be even older by the time
She takes down the book to read the poem.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

(He did perfectly well--being "poor" after college is part of the system)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Has there ever been a glam band called The Gilded Lilies?

Yes we would perform in goldface duh.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lunes 21,00 horas. La eskalera Karakola
C/ Embajadores 52 . Metro Embajadores, Lavapies & La Latina

Como actividad extra del Brunch de Gurlz, empezamos un grupo de conversacion en ingles, para que las que se animen se acerquen a mejorar su pronunciacion y oido. El grupo lo van a dirigir dos chicas californianas Elvia & Sophia . Cada semana se tratará un tema diferente. El local se abrira a las 20,45h para empezar a las 21,00h en punto. Durará una hora y se pidira una aportacion de 3e .

S'right, darlings, this thursday at 9:30pm the women of former occupied house La Eskalera Karakola will have their first English Conversation session, directed by dos chicas californianas, Sophia and (probably) Elvia. Three euros, one hour, tea and English.
The funny thing is, I met my poet. And, and I've told so many of yoo fyoo hoo read this blog this story. I'm absolutely uninterested in writing it all down, though it deserves such treatment. Oh soon.

Last night I accidentally brought Rob to the Spanishest thing in greater Madrid. José's little seedy bar, La Peña, has swanked up a bit. There's a lovely new stage, and they were charging 15 euro for a drink and cheese and ham and Flamenco. José swept us up in squeezy hugs before we had to be embarassing about refusing to pay that sort of buck. I felt guilty eventually, because they kept feeding us thinny cured ham and fabulous manchego. The flamenco was good, lust theater of babyfaced guitarrist playing to the fierce dancer. What hands those people.

At threeish we stepped out into the raining rain. Buses were confusing and Rob and I splitskies, he to La Latina and I to La Zebra Coja, where I had missed seeing Omega Power play, but was fed melon soaked in honey and hierbabuena and probably rum. At half past five I slept---now I run to meet Elvia for brunch at La Eskalera Karakola, kasa okupada de mujeres!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Since graduation I have had these dreams about friends from Bard in which we hug. The hugs are not just visual or narrative dream-hugs, but physically felt. On waking and thinking "What did I just dream about?," I am answered by the physical memory of embrace. It's nice, though sad: a lot of the hugs are goodbye hugs, as if I were seeking closure subconsciously. Others are of reunion, which is sadder.

Graduation is one of those big losses it takes one a year to swallow, I guess.

In other news: I wish I could have photos without having to take photos. Madrid is a stunner, but I'll never sink below her coiffed surface if I'm schlepping bout a camera.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My BEDroom.

(I was trying to think up a joke based on the idea that most of my room is a bed)

I live in Puerta de Toledo with a lovely Ecuadorean woman named Monica, her son Jonathan, and his girlfriend Diana. They're very kind, and everyone respects everyone's space, which in a teeny apartment is v. important.
So, news. I have a job teaching + tutoring English, mostly test prep courses, with a company called Club Ivy ( I guess their angle is that they're gonna get you into Harvard. I start this evening.

And, other news: my my my poet and I are meeting early next week.

And more other news: Rob and Keith are apparently coming to Madrid. I'm excited to catch up with them, though I'm also cramping around the idea of seeing anyone I know well. I just got here, I'm still finding footprints.

+ more news. Here's a photo taken by E. of my street at night:

Elvia, by the way, before we ever met, took this photograph of the plane we were boarding in JFK:

Monday, September 29, 2008

I didn't anticipate, seem somehow to have known, how familiar Madrid would feel a year later. Without making a reservation I planned on staying in a hostel whose location I never bothered to verify, remembering it close to Lizy's old place: later, leaving the Metro, I wound a few blocks up with my Santa Clothes bags and ála, found it footprinted in my mind.

People I've seen: Gustavo, Sofía, Álvaro, Ivan, + many nameless known faces. New people: many. They ask me how are Lizy, Codo, Mary Kate. I say Humming Who Knows Deciding.

In the Airport I made a friend:

Elvia! She speaks the same body language as Julie la Amsterdame, but she's much tinier.

Which is good, cuz it means she fits into my room and pasta plans.

Dinner in bed. Almost as glamorous as breakfast, lunch, reading, talking on Skype, folding laundry, doing work, and sleeping in bed. My room is really small.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

(That's me in the corner)

Ahumph. I'm madreeth. It's awfully familiar here. And homesickening nonetheless. I'm struggling to find room + work. Lovely hot sun coaxing me into this time zone. Occasional surprise encounters with old palses on streets, some say oh I know someone looking for a flatmate, ... I call a million numbers, wander streets, look at rooms, meet people once. When I need downtime I go to Conversion and calculate my savings into euros over and over and over. No! It's fine! I'm fine! The hostel is draining me---it's like living in a bar, yknow, full of noisy Australians. Met some nice old kids who spent 6 hours in the Reina Sofía the other day, ups to them.

The Shipping News: good to read.

No human self yet, gimme a wait.
In Queens, honey and honeypie; also schnukumpts and snookum, tuckapie, plumwich, gumption. I like them.

Emma mapquested and phoneguided M + I from the Freeway.

Sam fed us handmade spaghetti carbonara, oh my mother.

In their old house, post-Rothko.

Monroe works on something awesome for his job teaching college classes to five year olds.

I, pre.

Was sea monkey unfurling in water glass.

No pictures of Peggy or pup, new house, monarch fields, the wild woods, music, forgive me.

Monday, August 04, 2008

What do I believe in? Do keep forgetting. American Apparel was giving away free "Legalize LA" t-shirts, and I do believe in immigration reform and I do believe in free clothing but I do NOT believe in free advertising all over my front (visible in the signature cut more than in the shirts text, which really does mostly say "Legalize La: Immigration Reform Now!). And do I believe in companies getting involved in political activism? Is that admirable and responsible, or is it an abuse of power, or is it just , again, an advertising campaign? Rosie and I picked up shirts (size XL mens--do I believe in the beautiful unashamed shapes of the human body or do I believe that covering up is the most valid feminist stance I could possibly take at this point?) and then I went to work, talked about immigration reform with a few people (good! but oh the pamphlet Am.Ap. handed out was so ditzy--a Timeline of attitudes about immigration reform with entries like "Sept. 11th changes many attitudes towards immigration." ???) And then a girl came in and told me about her absolutely miserable impression of Dov Charney and what a sexist hebephile asshole he is, and I told her about Clams meeting him and Ruth working for them and the miserable impressions they got, and then I went home and read more and just hated him and his, and looked at those anorexic teens and hated it, but then again what company would I not hate if I read as much about it as I have about American Apparel? It's all for profit and it's enough to make one never buy and enough to make one accept a free t-shirt and be bought.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I am absurd, and I return again to this poem. Blessed Yeats.

Her Praise

SHE is foremost of those that I would hear praised.
I have gone about the house, gone up and down
As a man does who has published a new book
Or a young girl dressed out in her new gown,
And though I have turned the talk by hook or crook
Until her praise should be the uppermost theme,
A woman spoke of some new tale she had read,
A man confusedly in a half dream
As though some other name ran in his head.
She is foremost of those that I would hear praised.
I will talk no more of books or the long war
But walk by the dry thorn until I have found
Some beggar sheltering from the wind, and there
Manage the talk until her name come round.
If there be rags enough he will know her name
And be well pleased remembering it, for in the old days,
Though she had young men’s praise and old men’s blame,
Among the poor both old and young gave her praise.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

text message buzz in my pocket. am i coming down and is such descent desirable?

just sputtering in the shallows. got nowhere to go therefore cannot be lost. marry me john. is this my last time calling home home? or will my vagabundia leave me here time after and again?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

My plans to go to the city thwarted, I spent a beautiful, productive day at home doing all the work I should have done this week anyway. I am, truly am, a nerd--or, to speak grown-up speak, an academic. Oh I love my thesis, I love translation, I love/hate/love Benjamin, Derrida, I love/love/revere Olvido García Valdés.

Christine got into graduate school, University of Chicago, so I'm hugely proud of her and happy for her as well as pitifully without a plan for next year. I don't really need a plan, just a place, but the places I want to go (Granada, Berlin) all seem to think I should have a plan (a job).

But. Here is Christine in winter:

And. A poem by García Valdés, and one of the paintings it references.

Ambulante se pinta
cuando no puede ya andar. Leve,
de despedida, sobre lo rojo
el gesto.
Casi el rojo
de la visión, toca
blanca, curva de estupor
ante la lucha, la lucha con
el ángel. Klee, Gauguin.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

yes it is possible to waste your life. you waste your life if you spend it putting pomegranates into packages.

pomegranates are packages