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