Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fifth grade ran out of steam today and the teacher declared a game of hangman. Fifth grade is tricky, partly because only three of the 20 students are girls, and partly because the bilingual program only came to the school two years ago. Because they didn't have the advantage of starting young, fifth is struggling with more or less the same lessons as the third graders: past, present, future, and whatever vocabulary their science book demands (jungle animals, currently).

Hangman is fun, though. A boy spaced this phrase on the blackboard:

"- - - - - - - - - - - -"

"A" someone said (yelled).

" - - A - - - - - - A - -"

One of the three girls shot a hand up. "Yes, I know, it is Play Football!" she said. Correct. Everyone laughed. Football=soccer, remember...all the kids are obsessed. "It's so easy to know what boys are thinking about" she said in Spanish as she spaced her word on the board. A long word:

"- - - - - - - - - -"

They still don't know how to guess. Instead of starting with vowels they choose the obscure consonants. The first correct guess, with half the man hanged, was "C"

"C - - C - - - - -"

"Crocodile!" said (yelled) one boy. Correct. "It's so easy to know what girls are thinking about."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Papa said photos, put up photos. So! While I wait for photos of Lisboa from Hannah, and photos of floor-mosaicking from Rocío, and photos of last summer from Elen...let's look at pictures of music.

Did I even mention how nice my single day back in Berlin and reunion with Heiko was? It was about as pleasant as something exciting can be. We just mainly were near guitars. I sang along with Heiko at somebody's birthday party and at this concert here at a patio bar/gallery:

We are in a box. The door is supposed to be closed, the musicians only visible by screen and peephole, but since all the kids at the event were playing inside when it was time for Heiko to perform we let them stay. They played all the instruments I had been nervous about having to play while Heiko sang his songs, and then we all sang "Beat it" and it was REALLY FUN only we were all yelling and one littler girl started to cry. Which is why we put children, generally, in cradles and parks and not in boom boxes.

Onward! In November I met these lovely Swedish ukulelists, and because they are tall and beautiful and like Beirut and the Magnetic Fields I took them to Eszenas, that flamenco/tea/hippie/unlicensed place I always talk about.

They are Martin and Inti, and for this month we are in a band called The Autism. We hope the name does not sound mean, it is meant in homage.

So this is what some people look like these days!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

La EKKA is hosting a Free Market this Sunday. Baskets and buckets and barrels of free clothing, free coffee, art for to freely view music to freely hear.

Also Juliana will be doing her truly funny SCUM Manifesto one-woman show. ¡Julí!

I am to play the ukulele and lose my voice and forget things.

The picture is NOT retouched. It is lit up cuz the natch light was weak. It has nothing to do with I cannot balance a ukulele on my head and look pretty simultaneously.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


In what sort of mood was I yesterday? The absolute best possible thing was Constructivism.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

guys today one student who was also my student last year called the berlin wall "The Fallen Fence."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oh guys. Gosh. I'm sorry I I every day coming back from school in the train, often with a cookie took from the teacher's scrounge oh ho ho i mean lounge, honeys, I take the train ride back and I think of all the Moments and all the Notable Differences and all the Ducks and all the Analyzable Structure and then I read my book and fall asleep and wake up and come home and do the grocery scrimping and then I do not update my blog! And it has been ages. My oh my. What's up. I love my little school. I hate waking up early. Today I used rubber bands to explain muscles. I also hugged a bunch of kids back and also swatted another kid who was making fun of someone crying. A Difference. Hugging and swatting. It's so good, so useful, especially in a bilingual school where communication is precarious. But! What I've been excited about this week: the kids are learning English. They ARE. Everyone suddenly can speak a little, can definitely understand a bunch. Especially the 1st through 3rd. The difference is palpable.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

From the Salon:



Straight ahead.

My room from below.

My room from above.

The hall is not always so dark.

Honeys mines I've been, let's see, 3 months out of Madrid, um almost a month on New York's couches, this is math, um another week at home, I was in Germany for more than a week and then later one day more, I just can't count the houses and beds and friendships I crashed on, we'd better ellipse...I got into Madrid the 27th and I didn't move into anywhere until the night before last. I'm homestarved, I think in this state any old bunker would satiate, BUT: this house is sunripened, handpicked, local grown organic uh a 20 year old WOOFer named Michael with a beard played flute to it while it's a good apartment.

The street is called Costanilla de los Desamparados, which means "itsy sloping street of the Homeless." Which ho ho ho, feels right. We're certainly camping at the moment, unmoved in, unfridged beer and floorspace conferences.

It's Atocha zone (by the gorgeous train station), metro Antón Martin, officially part of the Barrio de las Letras, or Literature Neighbourhood, where famous phrases have been bronzed and hammered into the pavement.

Our flat! Right about Lavapiés, where we lived last year. It's up in the world, and it is where we have moved. The rooms are big and sunny, the hall is big enough to gallop up, down, wide enough to lean in and converse, all four of us plus someone's friends, the floors are wood (excepting that of the big chummy kitchen, which is brick)...there's a balcony in the living room, plenty of traffic noise tra la. We're all pretty in love at the moment, with the apartment and with each other for having stuck through and stuck together and found this THING, this beautiful sunny thing. Ewan already is making noises about staying in it more than the (age! age!) year we have contracted.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

tomorrow i find out EVERYTHING. everything. times, places, fates, faces for the names. candy for the baby. all things!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dear Guys,
I am coming to the East Coast, which is where some of you sometimes are. Are you there? I would love it if you were. I will be in New York City and in New Jersey sometimes, but I am without itinerary generally. I come the 24th of this month and I leave the 17th of the next month so I have some time to sleep on your couch and discuss being lost in this world, which is big. Let's compare struggles and cook, sometimes bake. Also can I sleep on your couch.
With my utmost request,

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

¿se conoce alpedrete?

Sunday, July 19, 2009






Sunday, June 21, 2009

A lot of the women from the Eskalera Karakola are lesbians---or bi, or trans, or otherwise queer--and many are immigrants. The Sunday brunch often turns into a discussion of various forms of discrimination these women experience, at work, in the street, and in the gay community. The term "gay pride" is particularly controversial, in part because "gay" conceals lesbian presence, and in part because, for most of these women, pride has never really been the issue so much as basic rights and dignity. Most have been victims of hate crimes, some have lost friends, and, as much in Spain as in their home countries, many have lost jobs. Since Spain allows gay marriage, facilitating gay migration, it is seen as a hub of gay culture; the Pride celebrations here attract zillions of tourists from all over the world.

The mainstream pride celebrations are mostly held in Chueca, the (expensive and male-dominated) so-called "gay" district of Madrid. My wonderful abundant Asor made the poster above to advertise various alternative activities the Ekka and others have organized: lectures, marches, fundraiser concerts and discussions focusing on the plight of immigrants and other otherized minorites. I've been participating as much as I can in these last few packed packing days--saw Asor and Camila speak, saw some legendary women rappers at a squat in a graaaaveyard, hoo, and have littered my neighborhood with propaganda.

I love the women of the Eskalera Karakola, and can't imagine this year without them. They accepted me completely, they've given me so much---many became my students, and many my friends. They're one of the biggest reasons I'm excited to come back.

When Mary Kate was here we hung out with them a lot. She was also impressed by how open and kind (and fun) they were--how the Brunch was truly a social space for women, not a cruise bar or a cult. We all went to see Clara in a concert in which Pedro Guerra and Ismael Serrano also played. Also a dude from my neighborhood who works in my favorite bodega.

Clara and the dude she played with:

The triumphant metro ride back--we pushed Anixua, the gorgeous Canary sexologist in the center, to get her photo taken with Pedro Guerra and Ismael Serrano like she wanted, and now she loves us very much:

The next day we celebrated Asor's birthday at a Cuban restaurant:

Anixua, Asor, Asor's childhood friend, me, Stef--Mk is taking the photo:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's the last ten days! I'm miz, really. But how pretty things've been: Mary Kate was lovely here, charmed my friends and will hopefully send over some pictures so I can prove how charming. Since she left two more guests have come and gone.

Last Thursday morning Lizy phoned, saying she was near the center and would call me once she reached Lavapies. I said great darling, I'll have a student in my room but you can bop around and make tea. I said I live in the plaza my address is--and she said oh I'll just call you. So, lovely. My dear student Pablo arrives, we discuss the poetry we read last week (W. Carlos Williams Plums/K. Koch parody of), we---we are distracted by what sounds like my name outside. I balcon.

There is no one. We resume class, 6 minutes pass, then I am sure I hear my name again: "Sophiieee, Sofía, guapa, Sophiiiia," balcon again and indeed, Lizy is calling me from the street (having fully circled the plaza). I beckon from balcony and she bounces upstairs and all is golden apples.

Later we picnic with Bea. Bea is someone I have mostly known through others: Sergio calls her his beloved, Lizy calls her her twin/shadow (and indeed when we met up Lizy wore long white and Bea long black, amazing). I'm so glad we finally made it into each other's lives. Bea's extraordinary, a witch baby but a real woman: someone, like Sergio, I'm sure I'll meet again. After Lizy left she stayed another night, before being off to Francy and Sicily.

Since Ivan left we've filled his room with guests every night. Last night I slept there, as that's where the sheets were. Soon I'll be a guest--then truly at home--then hoopla dee.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

After Allison Bechdel drew me, or drew a photo of me, I remembered my desire to wander fiction in fictional form. It will happen in time. Sergio, when here, gave me a copy of his super super funny comic, Serio te lo digo.

This is he drawing something in the front:

And this is that thing:

Roundheadguy: Excuse me, can I ask you something?

Myhead1: No

Myhead2: No

Myhead3: Yes

Roundheadguy: Well...nevermind.

I THINK depicting me as a threeheaded contradictress was cuz drawing someone's face is hard but with three resemblance can be approximated. Yes? No?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Duckums! So way back a week or so ago came one Katy Jane Tull, lately of Bard College. It was lovely to have her here: she is a thoughtful house guest and a total blast. She's been abroad for months, and'd just been in Israel, and made me authentique hummus to prove it, and one day before I went to teach we lunched thus in the Retiro:

Then went to rainy green beachside San Sebastian/Donostia!

It's way up in the Basque Country, edging into France. My Basque housemate tells me Donostia (the B. name) is also known as Ñoñostia, or Prissville, perhaps cuz it's spense and well-dressed and considered the Cuisine Capital of Spain. We ate only pintxos (tasty tapas pegged onto bread) and wine from Navarra. Pastries also figured heavily. No regrets.

Everything's different from Madrid. (Dusty Hot! Landlocked Castilla/Green, Cold, Seaside Euskera). We went to a church to listen to service in Euskara (Batua, Gipuzkoan, Bizkaian, Upper Navarrese, we couldn't tell which). We blew about the rocks by Chillida's Wind Comb. I love the Wind Comb. It leaked rust over the stone it juts from. (We had already gone to the Chillida museum, landscape of grassy swells and mysterious rusted angles. We had a picnic and drank wine and rolled down one of said swells, all of which made the surrounding statues even heiroglyphicker) But here is Katy's red hair rusting the sea warpéd rock:

Oho! In the foreground: who knows.
In the background: a statue of Christ, on mount, reaching toward the city.

We climbed up to see: his hands and head are enormous, his spine is laddered, someone planted an antenna twixt his shoulder blades. While admiring the antenna we made friends who shared füet sausages with us. They told us there was another Chillida statue down the hill, so we wound down the leafy fascinating path, ignoring The Clouds Overhead. The statue was ugly. A storm broke out! We sheltered on a museum patio facing the sea, with some in-love teenagers and a sort of sprite in tiny guise of a 60-something Basque woman. We could see the lighthouses whitening the fog. Our friends gave us oranges. Hail just hurrrrrled at us, and we all retreated to the wall. What is that poem about hail popping on the lawn? Juicy hail balls bursting on the lawn? Actually it was bouncing off the patio and hitting our faces.

We took a nightbus there, and I took another back, arriving at work rumpled and salty.

Katy Jane took a train to Paris, making way for my friend Sergio from the old days, who, once having floated to Brazil, left space for Mary Kate, who is here now. On that, more later.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oh I LOVE how the NYtimes writes about teenagers as if they were this alien life form. From an article about how huggy teenagers are, which also includes accounts of schools where hugging has been banned as "dangerous," and parents bizzarely mourn the decline of the "high-five":

Some parents find it paradoxical that a generation so steeped in hands-off virtual communication would be so eager to hug.

“Maybe it’s because all these kids do is text and go on Facebook so they don’t even have human contact anymore,” said Dona Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls at the high school in Montvale.

Maybe these kids have carpal tunnel syndrome from being on Facebook? So handshakes hurt?
ALSO I heard the best story ever from this other dude who teaches English:

So his father's business associate, like a zillion years ago, walked out of a building in NYC and bumped into this guy and this guy just fell right over and then a week later died in his sleep. Punchline: Andy Warhol. The guy was Andy Warhol.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh I should write about how super it was to have Katy Jane hereabouts (and how striking was San Sebastian) and also the gorgeous supper the Liss's treated me to (and how I shamelessly asked for the leftovers) and also the astronomic gastronomic party we're throwing for Ivan's third and probably final 26th birthday celebration tonight----but!

All I really CAN write about is how Archie is finally going to choose between Betty and Veronica and he TOTALLY has to choose Betty. Because she really and truly loves him!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh Yow!

So here's the news: last Sunday was Ma's Birthday. This Sunday is Posie's. Katie Jane Extraordinaire is here in Madrid and we're trading gossip. Tonight midnight we bus to San Sebastian, city I have been jonesing to visit since I damned got here. Saturday my student who reminds me of Hannah meets the Prez of the Dominican Republic, whom Hannah has also met. Sunday midnight I come back and teach again. A pigeon just landed on my balcón. This whole week has felt like vacations.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I suppose I ought write bout El Patio Maravillas.

The Patio is a squat in hipsterville Madrid. It's the most beautiful squat I've ever seen, and one of the loveliest liveliest places in all Madrid. The middle is an open patio, and all the floors above have outside passages, so the activity is nicely centered. It's full of beautifully executed graffiti, ditzy politics, concerts, workshops, blah blah. The aesthetic is comparable to Smog/Feitler at Bard, but, dare I say, the people are friendlier.

[Blah blah: There is a hackers workshop which has hooked up two telephones from which to make free international phone calls. There's a daycare. There's a restaurant and a pretty hoppin bar. There's a free clothing store which I use as a second closet, and a free bookstore which is pretty useless. There is legal advice and free Spanish classes for immigrants (and think, think how goddamn useful and kind it is to provide that service in a country so flooded with folk who literally floated over on a raft), as well as free English, German, and French classes. There's a rooftop garden, a bike workshop, an art workshop, and clubs for yoga, dance, queerness, political everything, yes.]

Like an anarchist Small World...

I've started going once a week to the German Stammtisch which, now that the weather is gorgeous, usually meets at dusk right here in the central patio, in front of the bike workshop. Most patio activities happen after seven pm. People spill out onto (not over) the balcony passageways, or bring chairs out and conduct their workshops/meals around us. Today the English Convo. class sat RIGHT next to us and I got v. confused.

Anyway, dear Government, please don't shut down El Patio Maravillas.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Another favorite student has a particular request. See she's a curator, or an apprentice curator, hopefully heading to a MOMA next year, and she needs to read in English. I suggested "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," (she reads v. well) and she LOVED it. She loved it so much that she now trusts absolutely in my ability to recommend novels of art-historical import, and has requested I find a follow-up novel about the U.S. art scene in the 60's-70's. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 04, 2009

So! I've been told extra virgin olive oil, being good for All Parts of One, makes a killer conditioner. Thing is, though---I already soak my scalp in vinegar. So! The question is, how hot is it to dress like a salad?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Multimedia blog update! (tho I hate to see my Bechdel self scoot ever down the page ugh)

Firstly all things taste good in a pita, and all things look good from a balcony-y, particularly in sunlight, and any plaza with so many children playing and so many adults selling beer cans hidden in the trash cans and so much sunlight and so much pita full of hummus and dal while I look at it must feel like a neighborhood.

I'm putting everything in pita these days. It's the warm weather. Now I'm going to a party--made red pepper hummus and bought cheap rice wine from a Chinese-owned grocery store, and come to think of it what country am I even in. I made up a tierful joke nobody at the party will understand. It has to do with the concept of a pity party and the fact that everyone will have brought hummus and baguettes*. Instead everyone will be making a joke YOU guys won't get, which is that it is a mostly-gay party and everyone who will not have brought hummus will have brought tortilla de patatas.

This song by Clams' friend Dibs is beautiful: href=""

*You get the first joke, right? [(pity-y)+party]+a=pita partyyyy!!!! but everyone will have brought baguettes, which is a PITY!!!!! ha! what is the area of a full circle? ha HA! okay party time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I had a good conversation with a student yesterday:

Me: Well, I need to go prepare my next class now.

Him: You prepare your classes?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

OH my gosh.
So, some news is good news: Alison Bechdel DREW me. She drew me!

I---it's----oh! Man! Yow! (Mang I take comfort knowing my Bechdel self is much more articulate than the self I have right now. Whenever I am at a loss for words I will look to her, smugly logophiliac, recently caffeinated).

Look, she drew my arms and hand exactly as they are in the photo. My face is smarter in the picture, but my arms hold exactly what they held.

Trivia: Jaya Ch. took this photo when she visited me in Madrid in 2007!
Significa: Ben Stevens romanced this photo from Bechdel when she visited Bard. This was the exchange as documented by B. Stevens:

I started the Q&A by asking whether
she could draw as a cartoon someone from a photograph?

"Sure!", Alison said.

A photograph I had printed out from facebook? (I printed out three,
for options.)

"She looks like a cartoon character already!", Alison said.

Flummery: I did not request such a favor, but I absolutely implied that, you know, if I were to be in the presence of the creator of "Dykes to Watch Out For" and "Fun Home" I would definitely do something nice for any luckless absentee in my life. Ben, and Bechdel, went far beyond my wildest hinting.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Tonight was horrible. Supposed to be gorgeous, but made horrible. Later I'll say why, but I wanted to mark this before throwing myself into bed. Horrible, horrible.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

There are many things to say and do, but I had an unexpectedly carefree day and spent it on a ten buck haircut.

It has all the bumps and innecessities needed to justify my historically 30buck haircuts, without the charm of the free ones (O Christine) often ignored by historians, but anyway, awesome.

Spring! Also spite. Ten or so males whose business my looks are not have told me not to cut my hair since I let it ducktail out. So I curtailed it, bitchily.

UPDATE: I confused myself while using the verb "ducktail," and spent some time googling. The ducktail haircut is a 50's dude presley thing, and this is from the obituary of the inventor, one Mr. Cirello:

"Mr. Cirello, who lived in Williamstown, N.J., and operated a shop in Society Hill for years, said he perfected the DA around 1939 by experimenting on a blind boy who used to keep him company in the shop. ``He didn't know what was going on,'' he recalled in a 1979 Inquirer interview. ``He didn't ask. He just sat there. He was only too glad for the company. And I was only too glad to have him to work on.''

Monday, March 30, 2009

I like when I am doing anything and then the song iTunes plays is one of my friends's.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dang, dearheart, is Granada beautiful or hwhat. Spent a day or so with hippies from the olden studenten days of Madrid, whom've max-exodized to Granada proper, where rent is a hundred a month and nobody can find enough work to pay even that. I crashed in a three person house with about a hundred other people. Reminder: Granada is all white with orange trees and china plates on the inner and outer walls of its houses.

Imagine I took photos!

This tiny beautiful person taught me to make coffee with ginger. Another taught me how to make cheese in twenty minutes with only milk and lemon juice. Wow really cool.

Here are what these people are nicknamed: Codo, Chema, Mele, Fani ("Fani eez funny!"), Almu...

I wish I had photographs! Then we went camping at this free festival thing. Tristan was there! Like a fairytale! And we froze at night in a circle of crowded tents but in the morning we could eat! That's the best part about camping: eating outside with lots of people. Baked potatoes and zillions of torn off bread hunks with stuff. I didn't even get sick til I hitched a ride home with some kids who umm were sleep impaired. An' ate a bunch of sausage and paprikachip sandwiches. OH my gosh never again.

That's the story! Also, today I found 20 bucks, my phone charger, and affordable greek yogurt. Oh ha ha.

Monday, March 09, 2009

This is still my favorite part of my thesis transl. introd.:

"Translated wordplay such as “the mama donates/ beauty” function mostly by sending the reader back to the original text on page 201, “la madre dona la/ hermosura,” during which transit the words “madre dona” and “mama donates” undergo a species of magic-eye congelation, a cross-eyed bilingual reading from which the Madonna emerges."

When I wrote it I laughed and Emma said "what what what" and when I read it to her she had many many more whats to what

but it's an important point, that third-eye of ze reader of parallel poems, the 3D spanglish congealing down the page divide

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I never posted Carnaval photz.

Well Carnaval is not such a huge thang in Madrid, though there is some weird tradition where a sardine is buried... but stuff was fab enough in Toledo. We went to a house party, then a plaza party (with a big paid-for sounding cover band and zillions of costumed people. Smaller town means I think elaborater costumes) and then a converted mosque (converted into a dance club, ooh this world) (that was probably the most fun of all) and then oh chocolate and churros and heavily slept through bus ride home. But Toledo, strangers:

We the Madrid contingent did not dress up so much. Truthfully we were pathetic. Ewan and Ivan were "rockstars." Gonzalo + Juanjo + María were "hippies." Elen and Keith were two Americans who took an earlier bus to hacer Toledan tourism and were exhausted.

I was "a dude."

Kids in Toledo were dressed to the nines, often in groups of that or more. A huge group all in one costume...6 cross dressed brides, 5 pawns, eight Snow Whites would not be a ridiculous troupe. The whole thing was so silly, so wigged and extraneous and cute.

E+I+I's embarassingly attractive friend A all went to a week-after-Carnaval costume party.

Note Ivan's hat, the same hat (his) I wore the wknd before.

Sunday, March 01, 2009