Friday, April 29, 2011

tangerine friday

I have found the perfect spot for today. This is why I love cities. If you just put in the time, there is a perfect spot for every day, thus making every day, a perfect day.

It doesn't really matter that I am wearing my ancient New Balances (lesbian, or just a woman in comfortable shoes?)... I wore them because I thought it was going to pour rain this afternoon and if any shoes of mine are going to be destroyed by God's wrath then it should probably be these. Tennis shoes are my arch-nemesis.

The rain hasn't come, I look terrible for no reason, but who really cares? Sure, I love looking nice even if it's just to have a date with myself. I like to match my environment. White on Sundays, sundresses at summer picnics, a clean oxford on a solo coffee date. As Kaitlyn once said, even matching eyeshadow with the color of one's underwear is satisfying on some Freudian level.

I dressed in rags today to match the terrible weather that was going to join us this afternoon, but while on the way home from class, meandering through Lavapies in search of poppy seeds, I have just found a lovely cafe. I haven't even had lunch yet but I just couldn't resist the place, its enormous doors opening completely to reveal a facade practically on the street. I am in two places at once! Inside and outside!

I almost passed it up. I can't believe I almost passed it up. I really wanted to get home and change my shoes. Come on, it's the little things. The lack of equilibrium between the charming cafe and my pitiful appearance might normally have given me anxiety, but not today. It's Friday, the sun is still putting up a valiant effort against the clouds, and Madrid looks and feels like tangerine.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Damn it all to bloody hell, I can't shake the negativity today.

I'm just pissed at mother nature for teasing us a month ago with the momentary nice weather and then giving us stagnant shit ever since. How can I appreciate only mildly nice days, when there were incredible ones not long ago? Here I go again about the damn weather...

Must surpress the bad attitude. But goddamnit I fucking hate the rain! It hasn't even arrived yet and I'm already dreading it. Why must this happen on one of the last glorious puentes of the year?!

Alright. That's it. I just took adequate measures to make me feel better. I googled "curious animals". And this is what I found:

preview 320 260 1 Valentines Day Special Ad of Wellington Zoo

If anyone actually knows what this is...I also just spent a fruitless 20 minutes trying to figure this out so that I may one day order myself a precious rat such as this little guy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

wise untruth of the day

"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."
-Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, April 25, 2011

sam in madrid!

When you call your mom to catch up and she asks why you haven't called in so long, are you really busy at work?..when really you've been on vacation all know something is wrong.

So here's an update, one that should include plentiful photos but Sam and I are a total disaster between the two of us so maybe in a year or two I will post them.

Anyway, Sam was in Madrid, neither of us could believe she actually made it, in fact we still don't believe she was even here. It was a very quick trip, as always the week went by way too fast. But for those who know the one and only Sam Bain, you will enjoy the following highlights:

Sam and I spent three hours looking for each other on the morning of her arrival. The frantic emails sent the day before were of no use, we totally botched the plan. After going to the airport at 8 a.m., arriving late as it was, then realizing I was in the wrong terminal, stress stress stress, I receive a phone call from a mysterious spanish number, as it turns out Sam was with the "drunk midget" she had sat next to on the plane, who was visiting her ex-pat son, the owner of said phone. Well, she was not at the airport, actually at the metro/train/bus station Nuevos Ministerios, and I was to look for her there. But where? That place is huge. I left the airport, and spent another good 20 minutes searching for her at the station. I found her in a maze of tunnels connecting metro lines, with a giant hockey bag that weighed over 70 lbs (looked like a dead body was inside) and three carry-ons. One of the carry-ons contained not only her laptop but an ipad and six hefty magazines. As a result, she had back pain all week, but she is never one to complain. And if she does, she apologizes profusely. God, was I excited to see Sammy.

Sometimes it takes visitors to remember what a beautiful place surrounds you. The sites of Madrid left a mighty impression on her, particularly the garden entrance to Retiro park, Plaza Mayor, and El Paseo del Prado.

The Spanish accent is something Sam mastered during her six days here: "Donde esthtan losth banoths?" No big deal that the "s" isn't actually lisped...

At three a.m. 'Nuff said.

While leaving Matt a voicemail on her blackberry, a phone call that will probably be the priciest part of the whole trip. IT'S ALWAYS SO TYPICAL.

We spent a few days in Valencia, coincidently when Madrid and Barcelona played at the stadium next to Lucy's house. It would have been an awesome time nonetheless, but the atmosphere that these two rivals create definitely added to the experience. Most people in Valencia are Barca fans, so we kept quiet at our corner table in the bar where we watched the game. Not that I really care... but Madrid did win!

Of course we went out after the game...we were definitely in the mood after three hours in the bar and six pitchers of beer later. Sam is not an aggressive person, but you know how she gets sometimes.... at one point, when asked if we had seen the game, she said "Yea I watched it, but you know I prefer real football, like where you throw the ball and stuff". Great way to add to the awesome stereotype we Americans have haha. And she doesn't even like football, I think she was just in the mood to irk the poor guy. She later asked the same victim if his mom irons his underwear, as Lucy and I had earlier informed her that Spanish mothers baby their sons (and iron their underwear) hahahaha.

And subsequently it's the only one I've got, us atop some really posh hotel in Plaza Santa Ana, the 15 euros it cost to go up there were totally worth it. Miss you Sam!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Per usual, I've yet another travel post for you guys that does not include having left the country...

Traveling is nothing to be taken lightly--it is one of the most sacred things we can do as human beings living in a technologically advanced world. Jet-setting across oceans has become such a standard procedure that people proudly claim their global status, and work intently at covering the map with their tiny pins and needles.

The problem is, however, that with so many far-off places within our reach, we forget what treasures lie right in our own backyard.

Ok, backyard is a stretch. That term shouldn't even exist for a landmass as extensive as, for example, the US of A. But, there are so many beautiful places to visit, and if what you are looking for is a cultural change of airs-- certainly it won't be anything like going to Timbuktu-- but just try drinking a coca cola with peanuts floating at the bottom while sitting on a porch of a classic coastal property in Charleston, South Carolina..if you're from somewhere like upstate New York then you might as well be in China.

Other than my recent trip to Paris, I haven't left the country once this year. Yep, that's right folks, Renee has been la-zy. It's just that planning a trip that requires a plane takes sooo much more effort than one involving a car, train, bus, etc..

But it's true that my thoughts above reflect my feelings here in Spain, and this country isn't even a quarter of the size of my own. There is so much to see within the borders!

Like Cuenca, a city east of Madrid in the community of Castille-La Mancha. Even though I felt like I hardly left Madrid after a one hour train ride (when will the US get on the boat with the fast trains?), it sure satisfied the craving...

If you're standing in the city center, Cuenca scores low in exoticness: it is your typical antique Spanish city, quite charming, complete with its beautiful cathedral that I generally have a hard time appreciating, and its labyrinth of narrow streets that once evaded enemy attacks and to this day, killer sun rays. This photo is of Plaza Mayor, where we were so lucky to find our temporary home! An ancient family's property of my travel buddy, the place deserves mentioning....upon arriving we unlocked the door on the ground level and then had to descend two flights of stairs in a musty stone foyer. I was really concerned, I had no idea where light would enter into the place because I literally thought we were heading into a basement. But Cuenca is cool like that...the other side of the building gave way to another small plaza that looked over the river valley. Trees galore, green explosion in the eyes! Whereas we had entered on the ground floor and gone down two more, all the windows of the house stood on the third level. Abundant sunshine, a beautiful view..amazing. And this isn't to mention the interior of the house, which was more like a museum or antique shop of plentiful curiosities..

Anyway, like I was saying...Cuenca doesn't offer too much beyond standard Spanish style at first glance. However, if you roam through the streets out to any edge of the city you will quickly realize why this tiny dot on the map is deemed a UNESCO world heritage site. Standing on rocky cliffs above two important rivers of Spain, the Júcar and the Huécar, the city is surrounded by incredible views of the impeccable fortress city. The most notable would maybe be that of the "casas colgadas", or hanging houses, that seem to be part of the earth itself. You can actually go inside one of these houses too!...a lovely spot for the Abstract Art Museum.

What's a travel post without proof of some culinary delicacy typical of the area? Here we have zarajos, which are what-other-animal-than-pig intestines wrapped around sticks. Delicious if you appreciate slippery, rubbery texture and rich, slightly repugnant flavor! One bite was enough for me.

Beyond opening your eyes to new sights, sounds, tastes, etc whilst traveling, of course one of the most important factors of the experience is enjoying the company you are in. This is Lucas, travel buddy extraordinaire .

I have used way too many words to talk about a 36 hour timespan. So I'm gonna wrap this up.. finally, just for kicks...enter the Ermita de la Virgen de las Angustias, but please be respectful!

Monday, April 11, 2011


What a funny little word...from. Why do we pronounce it the way we do? Why does it make me think of german mushrooms for no apparent reason? Why is the english r so ugly, and why don't I speak french? This is how I waste Monday afternoons.

Take some every day word, write it down on paper and just look at it. Study it skeptically. Wonder if you are spelling it right. Question its authority. This just happened with from and I.

Oh how I wish I could toss it from my word bank, it's all of the sudden such a stranger to me... but there is no breaking up with from nor any other equally unpleasant preposition of the english language, like toward...

Luckily we've got the dark and sexy under or the soft and subtle with to make up for such an unappealing gathering of four little letters, from.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Teaching english can be a real bore at times. I can describe it perfectly in a spanish phrase that I am working on incorporating into my spoken slang dictionary.. "que lata!" Literally "what a can!" Commonly known as "what a bore!" or, in modern american renee english, "how lame!"

So yea. Teaching english...que lata. But this happens to everyone...every once in a while one feels discouraged or disenchanted by their contribution to this world, and it is only necessary to remember what they (mothers) say, something along the lines of.. "it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do it well." It even counts if what you do is professional poop-scooping..

Teaching english is sort of like poop-scooping. The parallels are present in many different forms and on many different levels, but since most of us aren't english teachers here, let's just take it down to its basic core: bad english is like small poop-droppings everywhere. there are many dogs, and they are all out on their walk, their special walk, and they are leaving droppings everywhere. your job is to pick them up and dispose of them. you will perform such tasks, you will correct and sometimes humiliate. then, if you are a really good english teacher/poop-scooper, you will replace the poo with a daisy or something of equally charming aesthetics.

This past week I took on another five hours of private classes [poop-scooping] in a desperate pre bail-out system to avoid a mid-summer financial crisis. As summer work options seem to dwindle in possibilities (okay fine, I haven't been so proactive), I also grow more and more worried about fulfilling my summer plans to "live the life". I want to take living the life to a whole new level, and I think this goal is quite attainable. I believe, if I can achieve three months of 20% work and 80% vacation I will be 90% there. Ya know?

Personal sacrifices are generally of worthy cause, and for this reason I am going to tackle poop-scooping like I never have before. I will give up my sacred Friday afternoons so as to master the skill, and I will feel fulfilled by the sheer excellence of my hard work! The poop droppings will slowly dwindle in will be fun and it will fund the most kick-ass summer since the last summer, cause let's be real, they're all always so kick-ass. And hail to positive attitudes, they shall prevail yet again!

P.S. For the record: I still can remain in bed until 1 p.m. on Fridays if fancied.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Cochinillo, or suckling pig, is one of the only baby animals that I don't feel bad about eating. Little Wilbur, you're so cute I could just eat you right up.
Also it should be noted that Little Wilbur still has his baby teeth!! So cute!
Christmas 2010
(pulling from the archives of the time the camera went on an extended vacation to Zaragoza and I was unable to finish the holiday photo redux)