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.