Wednesday, December 29, 2010

from the couch

I knew they'd catch up to me: the holiday blues.

But it's just an [emotionally] allergic reaction to physical illness. Feeling sick sucks.

Lucky for me, I've got good 'ole Lucy visiting from Valencia to take it easy with on a chilly December night. Thanks to the horrible movie we found on TV (after spending 30 minutes trying to figure out the DVD player), I can put some good [waste of] time into the internet.

This week has been interesting, hosting my first couchsurfers, a young quirky couple from Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are pretty cool, and it's fun to have a few new roommates every once in a while, even if your apartment really isn't equipped for such situations. It's been quite the disaster over the last few days, and will continue as such into the new year..

Having visitors sort of turns life a little upside down in one way or another, and well, who doesn't love the chaos of the holiday season with old (and sometimes new) friends and family? There are so many passing through the city this winter vacation!!.. I have been so lucky as to more or less meet a cousin from Bolivia (I believe we met as young children), and it's amazing how many faces I see in her's!

This so bad. Lucy and I ate a whole bar of chocolate turrón tonight. That's like three bars of chocolate.

Aaaand I think my sugar high is plummeting. That's all I got for now, goodnight.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

marcelo, ever so peaceful.

Christmas Day: exciting times for Marcelo Lanza.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Digital Christmas Card

Hope your holiday season is as bright as can be.
Merry Christmas from Sunny Madrid.
December 2010 (not 2007. that will forever bother me)

Monday, December 20, 2010

breaking news

Don't miss the lunar eclipse tonight, everyone's invited!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

sunday morning

For Madrilenos who love fresh flowers at home... people who appreciate admiring magnificent color while taking a walk in the city center.. then those who aren't bothered by slight sketchiness, Plaza de Tirso de Molina is where it's at (think this city's version of La Boca, Buenos Aires).

Going along with the new generations' trend of turning bad neighborhoods trendy (all the while maintaining aspects of their previous grime), this little pocket on the northern edge of Barrio Embajadores is a prime example.

Its location is key to its success in accomplishing this harmony: a five minute's walk to the west lies La Latina, a buzzing neighborhood perfect for sampling the best tapas of the city. Just 10 or 15 years ago, however, it was notorious for it's extremely high street crime rate.

On the other side one can find the neighborhood of Anton Martin, a historically artsy hood, where, among dozens of other cool spots, lies a beautifully restored cinema that plays all sorts of movies in their original form (December's special: Woody Allen) and whose admission is a whopping 2.50.

Right south of it it is Lavapies, the neighborhood with the highest amount of immigrants in the city center--an estimated 88 different nationalities inhabit its streets. Someone once whimsically described Lavapies as the border between Madrid and Africa, as if roaming through its maze could land you in Tombouctou or Marrakech. It's a pretty peaceful melting pot, despite the fact that it serves as a major drug-trafficking hub. There's really not much violence caused over hash, though this is not to undermine the social issues that come with it.

Anyway, the rhomboid Plaza de Tirso de Molina is known for being a generally harmless, homeless hangout, and of course it has seen relatively worse days than the present. Thanks to a renovation in 2007, the plaza now houses one the few flower markets in Madrid where flower lovers of Embajadores can get their fresh fix for a vase at home (or giant glass measuring thing) and then enjoy a caña of beer at one of the massive cafe patios that mingle around it.

Madrid is not famous for its flower markets, especially considering that they are not quite as cheap as in some other comparable European cities. I also don't believe the dry air of the city is conducive to their shelf-life.

Because I am not only a resident of the community, but also an avid fan of color and fresh flowers, it's only necessary to support the cause. These cost three euros, the same price as a breakfast (cafe con leche, tostadas, and fresh squeezed) at the cafe nearby, an Argentine-style bakery called Los poemas de Tirso (hehe "The poems of Tirso").

I'm supposedly broke (ahem, this weekend as been expensive...not going to think about it), but I think it's a worthy sacrifice. Of the three euros, of course, not breakfast. I splurged and had both yesterday :)

for all the fellow english teachers out there

This man is over 100 years old, and just plain awesome.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

holiday spirit

I find it a bit difficult to get into the holiday spirit in Spain like I do in the states. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that traditionally, the children are hyped up not so much for Christmas Day but rather for Three Kings Day, as this is when the gift-giving really takes place here.

This makes sense, because while Santa Claus has morphed from a once-credible Dutch figure to a completely fictional, commercialized character, Jesus has more or less stuck with his story. Whether or not you like to believe that he is in one way or another related to God, he was born and some people did celebrate this fact with gifts.

Of course, like many commercial traditions from the United States (ahem, Halloween), that of Santa Claus and all his magical merriness has made it over to the peninsula. Nonetheless, kids still write to the three wise kings. Forget elves and reindeer, these guys were rich.

Luckily I've got some forces working on my side to keep from getting the holiday blues. These would include ex-pat friends who appreciate things like decorating sugar cookies and gingersnaps, and my school where we play a serious detective game of Secret Santa during the whole month of December.

Perhaps what works the best though is preparing for the Christmas party with my 2nd graders. This week we started teaching the kids the song they will perform next Thursday, as each grade sings a carol in English and Spanish (except the 5th and 6th graders, who do a dance that is completely unrelated to the present celebration and arguably inappropriate for an elementary school party).

Of course, most classes choose one of the more classic (and basic) Christmas carols, like "Jingle Bells" or "Frosty the Snowman".

This year we decided to really raise the notch with John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)". The kids have no idea that they are singing a song of political protest, but that's fine. It will sure sound nice when they sing the two-part chorus, that is, if they can manage to do it correctly. This is a feat that we are not sure will be mastered in time, or ever. Updates to come.

Anyway, in addition to these aforementioned happenings, I've taken the following measures to be sure to avoid even the slightest sign of grinchiness this holiday season:

-Obtained a real (and tiny) Christmas tree in Plaza Mayor. Decorated with white lights.
-Knitted a scarf
-Started planning a small Christmas party at my apartment to show Spaniards what it's all about. Taking votes now: egg nog or spiced wine??
-Cut my hair (always exciting, no matter the season)

Miss you, happy holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

la oscuridad

These days, I keep finding myself day-dreaming, my mind circling about in uneven patterns and sporadic waves of frequency (as it often does), and then, for whatever reason, whatever drift that took it there, landing on an impression formed maybe three weeks ago on my way home from who-knows-where on a random week night. My crappy memory lends to surrealism..

While walking up the hill of Calle Embajadores one night (a usual hike that I make, see map below), I noticed that every single intersecting street on the right was pitch black, as not a single lamp post shone. This was eerie, and as I have to pass quite a few of these narrow guys until I finally arrive to mine, it turned into a gripping mystery each time I passed yet another ghost-town street. With every one I arrived to, the situation continued to surprise.

(I just learned how to do this! It was so easy!)

And this should be noted, as it is pure science: genuine and thrilling surprise, experienced at least ten times in a row with thirty second intervals between each successive occurrence, can lead to heart failure.

It really freaked me out, and I wanted to take a picture, but the picture would have been..just black? I probably could have taken a picture of some of the car passengers that were equally baffled and then quickly turned reckless upon seeing their fleeting opportunity to drive down the streets with their headlights turned out. I remember doing that quite a bit in my car days, along with the "No-Brake Game", invented by the one and only Ashley Christensen. It's amazing we are still alive today.

Anyway, as I was saying.. It was an uncanny situation, certainly not the normal walk home, and one that has been meandering around my mind every once in a while since. And this is just to mention the conscious occasions.

When I turned on my street, dark too of course, I remember thinking something like, "Is someone going to attack me?" I believe my heart may have beat a little harder and faster (and better and stronger!).

This was perhaps a first for me in Spain, the anxiety of feeling in danger, something that I will admit has annoyingly plagued me in the past. I think that we often take safety, or at least feeling safe, for granted. It's something we often only appreciate when it is ripped away from us.

I feel so secure in this country, so when the adrenaline hit, it sort of felt good, the excitement foreign and new. Maybe I need to go back to South America to put me back in my place.

Geez, I'd better knock on wood, though, and hope for no more strange Lavapies street-light affairs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

pics mallorca

I'm back from Mallorca in rainy Madrid, and after a full 24 hours, I believe I am finally over the separation anxiety that filled my heart upon parting with the sea.

It was an awesome trip, five days on a big island, in a big house, with lots of new friends. For anyone who hasn't tried should really add it to your list of things to do. Anyway, I don't have much time, enjoy a few of the crappy pics I took!

Valdemossa, a mountain town about 30 minutes north of Palma.

The most northern tip of the island, Formentor.


This is probably the worst picture ever taken of the incredible gothic cathedral in Palma, La Seu. For that I am really sorry. It was taken from the car.

THANK YOU to my wonderful hosts :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

airport strike

The air traffic controllers went on strike in all of Spain yesterday, every-so-strategically during the national five day weekend. I´m feeling really thankful that I got out yesterday morning, rather than last night.

Well, looks like I might be stuck on this island forever...I could get used to these sunny skies...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

hello, mallorca

Goodbye Madrid!

Something about living in a city...really gives me the urge to get out, enjoy myself for a bit, and then remember why I love living in the city so much, upon return.

Taking off to Mallorca for the weekend in the a.m. on an 11 Euro ticket...not bad. Can't complain too much about the 6 day weekend, either. It just so happens that I will return to work for only one day (Thursday) before hitting just another usual three day weekend. This land of puentes can't be real.

I'll leave you with this marvelous tidbit I just stumbled across and feel the need to share with someone:

"He brushed by a gaunt, cadaverous, tristful man in a black raincoat with a star-shaped scar in his cheek and a glossy mutilated depression the size of an egg in one temple. "
-- Joseph Heller, Catch-22: a novel

Well, gotta prepare the maleta! It's adventure time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the biggest hamburger in the world

The "biggest hamburger in the world" can be found in the ugly little town of Parla, 40 minutes south of Madrid. Despite the fact that the patty of this burger was possibly more lamentable than one of McDonalds, it was pretty damn good.

The skinny little patty probably had something to do with the fact that the burger as a whole was composed of FAR more pig than cow meat, thanks to the fat strips of bacon that were laid out to perfectly form a star hiding under the top bun. I'm really wishing I had a photo display this art, which, to me, screamed "All hail the pig!" One word: TYPICAL.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I thought this was in the news this morning that today officially marks "the beginning of Christmas" in Madrid, which means the town hall will turn on the Christmas lights that will "accompany your shopping". Are they synching with black Friday?

Whatever the case, I'm really quite pleased with this fact. If you've been here before, you can only imagine how lovely and glowing this city is at Christmas. I think I might just stroll on over to Sol in a few hours to see the giant Christmas tree they mount every year.

happy thanksgiving!

It's Friday, which means it's still Thanksgiving. In case you didn't remember the little tid-bit from grade school... the original celebration was a three day festival. So Happy Thanksgiving!

I might not have remembered this yesterday, like some friends who answered incorrectly on the "Thanksgiving Quiz" (prizes included) we took after dinner. Of 19 questions, the Americans present (mostly English teachers) obviously missed the fewest. There were some hard ones though...for example, what president/founding father wanted to make the turkey the national bird? I guessed George Washington, and I was wrong.

Anyway, the English teachers surely had an advantage, but this isn't so much related with our heritage or our impressive memory of things we learned as kids. Instead, it really comes down to the fact that, with every American holiday + St. Patrick's day that hits the calendar, we squeeze out as much English-teaching-material-juice as possible.

I somehow ended up with one of my private class's notes from yesterday afternoon. This was a follow-up lesson of Tuesday's, where we learned about the history of Thanksgiving (AKA why I only missed five questions on the quiz). My little student is an 11 year old who, though sometimes difficult, is SO cute. Always needing to be especially creative with this age, I came up with the brilliant idea to make an acrostic of the things he is thankful for. We chatted, brainstormed, filled in the gaps, and finally, made revisions. I was surprised to witness slight swells of excitement submerging over things like his Nintendo Wii or his cousin's new puppy. He is not one to show much emotion, being a rather shy and reserved little boy.

Now that I think about it, it's possible that it was just my own enthusiasm over the puppy that I was perceiving, but either way, I sure do think new puppies are a pretty damn good thing to be thankful for.

And I (because this my blog, goddamnit) am thankful for my far-away friends and family, who I talked to at 5 a.m. this morning. Even though it is incredibly lame that the new Skype allows for group calls but not group video calls, it was so nice hearing some of the voices for which I feel so affectionate!

Let's live in the present moment, but also look forward with bright eyes to the future : can't wait til my next Thanksgiving with you, whenever and wherever that may be.

I'm also thankful for my nearby friends and family, with whom I celebrated last night, and will be celebrating again on Sunday. I had to special-order the five-kilo turkey, and I am hoping Pilar remembers something about cooking these birds from her days in the US of A, because I haven't the first clue.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

improvisational improvement

Taller de Improvisation
(Improv workshop)
Martes 8 p.m.
Mission: pee my pants from laughing so hard, and improve my spanish all the while!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

sunday surprise

"24 HORAS EN..." presents Nashville in the Sunday paper! Of course, couldn't help smiling while I was fondly reminded of Music City and the endless list of cool things going on there.

El País

Saturday, November 20, 2010

some cuzzins

Wow, I love these beautiful faces, as ugly as they can sometimes be :P This is from Marcelo and Pilar's new house! Doesn't really show much in that aspect, which means you just need to come on over and visit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

pows and wows

Back in a wonderful place I once lived during that magical time known as "senior year", we would sometimes gather around our little wooden kitchen table at night and tell our pows and wows of the day. Basically, you say one "pow" (bad thing) that happend in your day, and then end on a good note with one "wow".

I really loved that, perhaps because my childhood home had quite the kitchen-hangout culture. But everyone knows...sitting around the kitchen table is a blessed, blessed thing. Especially if it's a warm wooden table.

Spaniards go above and beyond in this aspect during the wintertime, and they do this using this UFO-shaped electric heater called a brasero. Placed under the kitchen table, or any table really, with a heavy blanket thrown over, it exudes warm heaven underneath (where your lower-half is neatly tucked in).

And what happens? Everyone migrates to the table. There might be a few gone missing..a stray uncle doing his thing.. the teenagers upstairs on the computer... This is especially in the case of there being more than 10 members present, as there almost always are at the Almendros home on Sunday afternoons.

Thanks to Carmen, Consuelo, Pilar, and of course, the brasero, I picked knitting back up on Sunday, and am feeling really good about it. I even learned a new pattern!

You know, this atmosphere is the perfect place to really get into the winter mode. With my three female mentors casually giving tips and correcting clumsy errors... nine year old Claudia lazily playing cards with whoever will join.. Alex reading a Nintendo magazine... one or two snoozing (sitting up) on the couch.... Well, family feels good.

Anyway, here's a pow and a wow of Tuesday, in reverse order:

Wow: First private class got cancelled. Didn't make money, nor did I have time to go home before my other lesson...but I did get to hole up in the Getafe library for an hour and a half :)

Pow:Fell asleep in my second lesson. I haven't been sleeping much lately...err.. luckily my student is a little boy. It's not my fault his mother keeps it so warm in his house (oddly enough, there is a brasero at the table we study at !) I don't think he noticed when I all of the sudden read something totally invented which was a mix between two or three or maybe even four words from two different lines...or that my eyes went sort of cross for a mili-second, or when I immediately woke back up after a quarter of a second's sleep, heart beating rapidly, as if I had almost just crashed the truck or something).

But to still end on a good note, I hope everyone's wows dominated their pows today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yea...HI. How is everyone doing? I'm just wonderful. Wouldn't you like to know why?

OK, fine, I'll tell you. It's because I get to walk by THIS everyday. It's the art project we did last week, which is related to what we are studying in science: the BODY! (right now we are on bones and muscles!). This was at the beginning of the unit, back when we were reviewing the parts of our faces.

We gave them a blank face and a sheet of different eyes, noses, etc. to choose from and color, and then asked them to make self-portraits using the given materials (cut cut cut, stick stick stick). As you can see, they came out better than we could have ever imagined!

This is Lucia. She's so coy! I literally laughed out loud the whole 20 minutes it took to hang this mural up. Best part: it isn't going anywhere*.

(*just for an idea about how "typical Spanish"/FUNNY my school is...decorations that go up...stay up. At the end of the year, the halls are covered top to bottom in tattered (but still good!) surviving halloween decorations that mingle creepily around summer vacation beach scenes, and of course, everything that happened in between. It's awesome)

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Hello from Sunday night, and Sunday night it shall be, well into Monday morning.

These days I am a little lost, but perhaps in a good way. After an unfortunate apartment situation that consumed almost all of October, I feel like I have so much extra time to think now that my thoughts aren't quite so consumed with worrying about where I was going to live. The hunt was long and terrible, although it did lead to fun things like staying for a short period with the lovahs pictured below. For every door that shuts, a window opens I suppose. Or something like that...

And you know...maybe I can live by that whimsical philosophy. Otherwise I might not have ended up where I am now...the cozy cubby hole I now rent in the truly smelly neighborhood of Tirso de Molina, only eight or nine minutes uphill from the last apartment in Lavapies.

(I actually moved all my stuff in one swift run with the help of three took us a little under 15 minutes to haul the massive amount of artifacts I have built up during the last 14 months in a few suitcases and several small parcels/shopping bags/baskets. I sometimes sang "The ants go marching one by one (hoorah, hoorah)")

Tonight I held the "whatever excuse for a dinner party"-dinner, in honor of my recent entrance. I was feeling like it was really fucking fall-ish today (yep, it's still funny), so I made a feast of autumnal flavors, like butternut squash quinoa(but in my case pumpkin, because I accidentally bought a pumpkin), or for dessert, chocolate carrot cake:

The chocolate carrot cake: a success

(but really, it actually tasted pretty good despite the totally botched ganache. oh and my super-techie roommate Joan took this photo.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

friday night

Think about's always the beginning of something. Even down to the second. It can be the beginning of a second, right?

I find this fact reassuring.

...especially so at the beginning of the weekend. I celebrated "the beginning of the weekend" yesterday when I walked out of my last private class of the week (God, was that beautiful), but since it's such a great occasion and I can't just run by Renée time (normal schedules don't begin the weekend on Thursday), I'm celebrating it again right now. Long live the weekend!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

rainy saturday morning

The autumn rain has finally hit Madrid and it feels so good! The air has been cleansed! It was dangerously contaminated there for a while---the city even placed signs on the roads begging drivers to ditch their cars and take public transportation.

It also feels good because grey weekend mornings are nice, when you’ve got nothing to do. My one complaint? Nah, forget it. It's personal, and why shine the light on the negative?

I've been pessimistic lately. I know it and everyone involved in my world ("this is my world, you're just a part of it!") knows it. It's annoying as hell, and I am sick of myself. This negativity is selfish, and selfishness is NOT one of the things I would like to exhibit. So then I find myself at the state of self-loathing, a feeling which is normal and maybe even arguably healthy at 13. Not at 23.

But negativity is consuming. It's like a scab on your knee when you are 10 years slowly pick away at it, little by little. Things happen, people talk to you, the world turns... you're not really tuned in as you concentrate on your project of making a bad thing worse. For whatever reason, it's the only thing you really care about in the present moment. And then, all of the sudden, the scab is gone. The wound is open and vulnerable, and much worse than when it was an ugly little brown thing that didn't give you much trouble in the first place.

So yea. No complaints here. Thinking positive thoughts. Like the following:

-going to see the NEW Let the right one in movie sometime this weekend, and couldn't be more thrilled

-it's another long weekend in Madrid..the case of the Mondays is a thing of the past [week]

-Basia Bulat

-good friends who do good things for you, especially in pessimistic times

-Halloween party tonight...although still trying to be positive about this (having a hard time getting into the spirit, plus no costume, per usual)

-the unemployment rate in Spain just dropped below 20%...feelin' good for those who beat the odds

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

what's up playaz

Really busy being an asshole at life with a constantly sore throat. It's COLD. I am literally trembling as I type. Is that a bad sign? AND I'm in bed. I did take off my scarf... but I thought I was curing up with a movie..

I downloaded my movie in French.

Haha...actually taugt that in a class today (damn, goddamn, goddamnit, damned to hell, condemn, etc).

Sorry, mother. Please pardon my french!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

hey carrie!

Hey carrie! We're twins! How's my peace sign?

Looks superb! I just wanted to tell you, just between us little boys, that you are going to LOVE this haircut. There are so many fun things you can do with such little effort!** Such as...
This. It's called the Tidal Wave, created by Cameron Diaz in There's something about Mary.
Then there's this, which I call the Vogue Jogger. Inspired by high-fashion-infused sport.
This one has no name, but I'm more often than not rockin' (and lovin') it.

And then there's the mohawk! It's the only style that might require some effort, aka hair-gel. Use a copious amount and follow as instructed in the picture.
Oh! Can't believe we almost left out this one. It's called the Ambiguous Pat.

**Works best when hair is dirty.

MISS YOU, japonesa!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

everyday life, part 2419

So it's been a while since I've been real. This silly thing is about my real, everyday life after all. Plus I really don't feel like doing here we go. Read about my day today, more or less like any other day.

I got up at 8:30 and had a piece of toast (butter and strawberry jam..very un-Spanish of me). Then I strolled along the ten minute walk to Atocha, the central train station in Madrid whose name you might recognize from the 2004 terrorist attack resulting in 191 tragic deaths. But looking at the bright's beautiful, especially with the bright morning sun peaking up over the edge. See?

I got to school by 9:30, just in time to hear the piercing bell ring and wait another 10 minutes for the kids to trample into the classroom and begin class. The next hour was spent talking about Fred and Poppy and Titch, the characters of our 2nd grade textbook, to name a few. "This is Titch. She's my sister" (Fred says this). We completed two pages of the workbook. Pronouns are difficult for seven year-olds.

We then studied how to be healthy in Science, which on this level involves eating well, sleeping a lot, and playing sports. Despite its simplicity, this is also rather complicated for them.

And the morning flew by (30 minute breakfast break, the other 2nd grade English class...) and it was one p.m. and time to hop the train back to Madrid. I came home, ate lunch (pasta, yogurt, pomegranate) and took a 20 minute nap because I can (every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays). Then I went to two and half hours of grueling private lessons, which aren't so bad on Wednesdays because one and a half of those hours are spent with a quirky couple whose enthusiasm to learn english greatly exceeds mine to teach it. Not that I don't like my job, but it can get tiring sometimes with the private lessons. We meet three hours a week, and it's safe to say that we all enjoy the class. Today we corrected love letters they wrote to one another in the roles of Romeo and Juliet. Fun stuff.

Then I hopped the metro back to Lavapies (my 'hood), stopped by a friends place to catch up for a minute, and came home and relaxed. Took advantage of cheap produce for dinner (avocado, tomatoes, onions...) and here I am, stalling preparations for tomorrow's private lessons (two ten year olds, one easy, the other painful) and thinking, "Gee, this post sure has a lot of phrasal verbs in it." I'm having a fiery and sometimes passionate love-affair with my native tongue. I read T.S. Eliot to calm the emotions.

That's all...goodnight.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

wise words

Si estamos centrados, seremos como un faro estable ante las olas, los vientos y las tormentas.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

typical spanish

A peek into the back of the house
Tarifa, August 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

the search

It's possible that the place is exactly what she's looking for. The vaulted ceilings, the red velvet armchair, the spacious living room whose vastness remains untainted even by Sombra, the massive great dane who lingers around on four lanky legs.

The room is tiny, but sufficient. At this point, she isn't so preoccupied with details such as these. She longs for that warm feeling of home, that intuition which she has been depriving herself of….

But it's only possible that it will work. She isn't sure…she feels lonely in the apartment. It's far away, the stranger who lives here is cold, shows little interest…

Your heart beats as you press the buzzer. What lays ahead could be it, and you've been considering this possibility since you made the appointment. You're already attached, despite the fact that it was never and may never be yours.

You climb up the stairs--rare to find an elevator--and arrive short of breath. Is it A or B, or C or D? This could make all the difference. You knock, hear footsteps, wait impatiently to set your wild eyes free…

And you're usually disappointed. It's too dark, or it smells funny, or who you thought would be a young peer judging by the neighborhood is actually an old couple who refuse to budge despite changing times. And the search goes on.

But if this isn't the case, if you actually like, maybe even love what you see, your whole body will already start to fill with disappointment, anxiously worrying that it may not be yours in the end, regardless of whatever efforts you make. You know there is a list, and you know this is an interview. You begin to sweat, you speak too quickly, say too much, you are completely transparent and the desperation intensely shines through. You obtain the details, leave feeling hopeful and scared.

You wait a few days to hear back. You nurse the pathetic, false relationship you have made with the place…fantasizing about making breakfast in the kitchen, hanging your clothes to dry in the patio, curling up on the couch to watch a movie in the dead of winter. You've already invited your friends over, they comment on what a lovely apartment you have. You offer them a drink, chit-chatting about the weekend's activity, and they relax in your cozy living room as you enjoy being host. It wasn't easy, but you did it. This is yours, it's perfect, you're inspired, the satisfaction lends to growth.

But this is you delusional. Growth is not an option, as you have no energy left. You have gone absolutely crazy, and you still don't know where home is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


In recent news, I'm really stressed out. Thank God for wigs...they can surely brighten the greyest of days...

This is my friend Chemi, circa 1973, hangin' with the groupies backstage.

This is me, circa 1610, right after I met John Smith.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

guess what

FREE CALLE 13 tonight in Madrid! Oh yeah, who's jealous? WHO?!


Oh, it's nice having friends in Spain, even if they are sometimes a six-miserable-hours-on-a-shitty-bus away (20 Euros). Or a luxurious two and a half on a train, for three times the price (60 Euros).

Going to Valencia soon to see LUCIFER...this is Lucifer...



Friday, October 8, 2010

country road

Ayer soñaba que me iba sola
A un sin rumbo, sin miedo alguno
En el camino, yo voy a encontrar
A muchos amigos, y ganas de viajar

Country road
Debo seguir por aqui sin parar
Algún día sé que llegaré a la ciudad
Country road

Pasaré por momentos muy tristes
Pero no nunca me vais a poder ver llorar
Ahora mis recuerdos yo voy a hacer desaparecer
Olvidaré el ayer

Country road
No voy a ir hasta el lugar donde nací
Ya no puedo ir por tu senda
Guía me hoy
Country road

Country road
Vuelvo a ser la del ayer
Querré volar
No me esperes
Solo era un sueño
Te digo adios
Country road

(John Denver adaptation, Sussurros del Corazon)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

FUNNY reblog

MTV Panama.

I actually don't know these people nor do I know how I am connected to them, but I found their blog while digging around emails from the year 2008 (coincidently, I never found what I was actually looking for in the first place). They go by the names of Jay and Julia, and they were working in Central America for the Peace Corps. Pretty cool/funny stuff they have going on at Panablog. I'm also impressed by their technology skillz, especially considering they were in the middle of nowhere. If you have a minute, check it out. It's old news, but hilarious and a good, interesting read nonetheless.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Fall. Thank God for a five day weekend I have coming up in a few weeks. Let's see if I can scrape up enough cash for a mini road-trip. They say go north...keep an eye out for some moderately spectacular fall foliage photos.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the final days of vacation

Okay. So it has been three months since I've legitimately worked. It's about time I return to the real world... what better than to do that on a Friday?

September...has been interesting. Far too much time to nest, and then even extra time to indulge in fun things like nights out in the 'hood, or concerts in Getafe, or a five day weekend exploring some East coast livin' in and around the beaches of the Costa Brava. Fun, interesting times.

And of course, with too much time, it's hard to be productive. I came back to Madrid, blindly, at the beginning of September thinking I could get started on private classes to make some cash after a pricey summer. But as it turns out, September is actually still summer. Hard to believe, I know. That going-back-to-school month that rings in fall for so many of us..well we're gonna take it easy here in Spain.

September is holy, because although qualified as autumn, it practices so gradual of a transition in Spain that the changing of lifestyles that comes with the changing of seasons is even more graceful than Mother Nature herself. The kids enjoy half days of elementary school, as well as grandma's home cooking in many cases. The employed (which for the moment is only about 80%!!) choose to take vacation in September to avoid big crowds, while others escape away for a weekend to take advantage of the lasting warm weather. Then there was a big fail of a general strike in Spain today (which I won't comment on now because it's a long story and the truth is it's really quite silly.. and furthermore, I hate politics) but either way, many sacrificed, on average, 80 Euros of their salaries to skip out on work. The ones who went, went with slight and in some cases lazy caution.

Basically, everything has been floating, and to me, it feels as though just this week it's all being gradually pulled back down into Earth's gravity. I use passive voice here, because I have no idea who is doing it. Little effort seems to be put in on the citizens' part, myself included, to help out on the endeavor. Viva Septiembre!

And I just started last week...taught two hours of private classes. Well-done. October 1st, first day of colegio, come to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

more stuff to read

If anyone was getting tired of my can get a good dose of Spanish culture sans my sometimes silly opinions!

I'm now an "examiner" for, San Francisco. Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010


For those who like snuggies, and also speak spanish...this is HILARIOUS. A "batamanta" would translate to "robe-blanket". This guy does a great job of mocking the idiotic inventions we like to come up with and then successfully sell on TV in the US.

Also, anyone out there know how to put an actual video on this crap blogger? Instead of just a link?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

la pobreza

So you've got all the time and none of the money to enjoy living the life. I call it hedonistic survival, and it takes skill...

Everyday things you can learn to live without, when the money is tight:

-toaster [even if there is no oven]
-microwave [even if there is no oven]
-peanut m&ms
-eating out
-plants for your balcony :/
-metro rides

Everyday things you can live without, but justify even when the money is tight:
-a pillow
-peanut m&ms
-a strainer
-candles (natural light saves $)

Everyday things you can't live without:
-light bulbs
-train rides

There is a method and an equation to this, both of which I will be practicing and testing for accuracy until the end of October. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

non-spanish speakin suckas!!

I just spit this email out to my aunt Pilar in an surge of affection (it's been two days since we parted!) and clicked send. Then I skimmed over it and realized that it is so ....creepily ....happy. I think it's a good sign. As Homer would say...woohoo!! Thanks Kaitlyn. And sorry you can't understand...hehe sucka! Those that can..can laugh?


renee christensen

show details 11:52 AM (14 minutes ago)
holaa! que tal estas?

pues yo muy bien! disfrutando mucho en decorar mi habitacion :) a ver si puedo sacar unas fotos con el ordenador ahora para que veas...

solo queria decir hola! el viernes vendre a casa por la tarde, que estare en getafe para conocer a y hablar con un hombre que es companero del trabajo de diana, la mama de saul, y quiere clases. tambien esa manana tengo entrevista en una academia! que se llama berlitz. la unica cosa es que esta lejos (nuevos ministerios..) y tambien hay otra cosa grande y eso es que no se si puedo trabajar mas, como no tengo papels de trabajo. no se como funcionan estas cosas.

hace mucho frio hoy y ayer. los vientos de cadiz me han seguido!

me piro, vampiro. (nueva frase)

x renee


Nature, in all it's horrifying glory. Watch this.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

the new casa

Hey folks. Jot down my new address, and send me something via snail mail!:

Calle San Cosme y San Damian, 11 Numero 1 IZQ

Madrid, Spain 28012

Nesting is an interesting thing. Supposedly it is a pregnant woman's instinct, but I like to make my own theories based on personal experience in the world (feel free to believe otherwise..). I think it's safe to say that we women in general are particularly prone to the psychological phenomenon of nesting, pregnant or not, and I must say that I do quite enjoy it.

Moving into a new house is like adopting a new pet, or meeting someone of whose relationship you know will inevitably end in something profound shared between the two parties involved.

It's because homes come with history. Even those that are brand-spanking new…despite their novice in sharing space, they nonetheless glow with the touch of whatever human sweat was put into their making.

In the case that the home has been lived in (and god, is that a loaded phrasal verb)…well, all the more emotional baggage it carries.

Yesterday I moved into my new home in Madrid. I now dwell in a three bedroom apartment on the southern border of the capital, and once again, I possess "a room of one's own". Oh!..the freedom! Thank you, Mrs Woolf.

Thus I nest. And because I am particularly fond of those especially worn-in homes, it has been even further stimulating than what I have experienced in my previous solo endeavors (and how few I have had..)

I suppose I am excited to be living in the center of Madrid, Europe's breath softly humming in every corner. Who knows how many people have made their home in this very room I sit!…whose walls are covered with marks and bruises of previous owners, and whose dimensions are all a bit off… the floor of the balcony slightly tilting upwards on the left-side..the tiles cut at slanted angles to take advantage of small, awkward spaces. It's quite lovely, in all its imperfections.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

fotos, cadiz

Well..Cadiz is up and over, and I'm back in Madrid. It was a wonderful few weeks roaming around the province, and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the scene there, which I mentioned back at the beginning.

It's crazy…this social network that is. As it turns out, or as it seems to me, people in Cadiz generally stay in Cadiz. Wouldn't you, if you had over 40 first cousins from just one side of the family alone (in Luis's case..)? During my two and a half weeks, I met so many individuals, all of which are somehow related. Just knowing Luis's immediately family led to meeting their close friends, and their families, and so-on. Whether they be siblings, cousins, couples…the world here is small. Andalusia is seriously Spanish (as opposed to European), whereas Madrid could be qualified as a little less deeply rooted. Then even further north there's Barcelona, which in many ways, could be a metropolitan city in any EU nation.

It made me wonder…what is it about the geographical entity that is "the south", that people become so deeply settled that they may never leave? I've noticed a trend…

Now that I am back in touch with reality…I finally have an internet connection fast enough to post a selection of photos. Enjoy!

Luis's youngest brother is really into fishing. I kid you not..he does not mess around when it comes to pescado. On my first day in Cadiz, he came home with over 80 fresh caballa, which is sort of like tuna (or so I was told). These were the first fish I've ever eaten whole! They were delicious, and totally worth the fact that the house STILL smells like fish guts.

On my birthday I went to a beautiful place called Zahara de los Atunes…a small fishing town famous for its tuna nets that drag in thousands of fresh Almadraba daily (atun=tuna). There, Luis's other brother held his annual end-of-summer barbecue. Here he is dressed up as a Flamenco dancer with his partner-in-crime (example of above-mentioned effect: his girlfriend's sister's husband…)

Another from the barbeque...Luis's brothers' girlfriends, and to my right, his little sister. Buena gente.

The Andalusian flag…is green and white and everywhere. This was taken while enjoying a cup of coffee in a quiet corner of Cadiz (the city). The only thing that was missing were the cries and claps of the Flamenco performers.

I actually spent a few days there with this guy, yet another brother of Luis'. He is 28, if you can believe it (I couldn't), and rather handsome.

One afternoon we walked the whole perimeter of the old part of the city (the "island" is divided into two parts by the Puerta de Tierra--the historical casco and the new section), and it was quite lovely. This is the most famous beach--Playa de la Caleta. Supposedly a scene from James Bond 007 was filmed here, fooling all viewers into thinking it was Havana, Cuba.

On one edge of the beach, there is a decrepit castle extended out into the ocean, that often goes unseen under the water. When the tide is low, however, you can swim all around it!

Nuns: love them.