Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the historia

Not long ago I hosted a Cinco de Mayo gathering because I truly believe in the holiday and everything it stands for.

Need I not mention what it stands for; I trust we are all on the same page...

The lamentable guacamole contest and the cheap stick-on mustaches went excellently, and I mean excellently, with the flowing margaritas and random mix of people that came and went throughout the evening, all of whose mouths were so thirsty for the bottomless waterfalls of sweet, sweet tequila...

Amongst such crowd were two neighbors, who rather unexpectedly came down from directly above us (like angels!!!!) somewhere around 1 and 3 a.m., as some sources vaguely have it.

A little background on these aforementioned characters before we actually met them, which was that very night:

Renée: no idea of their existence
Joan: saw one of them once, maybe twice, but couldn't remember a single thing about her, except that he felt attracted to her presence
Carlos: saw one of them in the elevator one time, and remembers feeling this strange "in love" sensation (read: boner)

Anyway, back to that night. I mentioned "we met them" but really I mean just I met them. I happened to have the apartment to myself that weekend (PARTY!) and thus Carlos and Joan were unfortunately not present for that special night the three female spirits united, when they crashed the party and I fell in love.

I was delighted by their spontaneity, but mainly our neighbor-status, probably because I was so drunk.

No, no. I take that back. I have always been particularly in to loving thy neighbor. Especially cool, young female neighbors in a building of 80% old people and an apartment 66% boy. I am a minority, and I seek out my kind.

So these two cute girls show up and really they were just charming. I vaguely remember thinking, with 100% confidence in my state of drunken happiness: ¡¡ these girls are going to be my new!best!friends!!! there is no other way the world can beeee!!!!

Which is what I told Carlos and Joan when I related the exciting news to them, knowing how excited they would be. I wanted them to rest assured that I would definitely be inviting the girls over for dinner.

Anyway, I unfortunately shouldn't go any further because I am respectable enough on the internet. And in all reality there is nothing too juicy--just rather comical details. But you can take what you will when I say, It appears there might be a historia building up, exciting news considering that I have double-whammy girl-crush as well as a weak spot for minor gossip.

Which brings me to this: I do often battle with longing for female presence at home (probably the root of the girl-crush) but I have finally come to accept the fact that more often than not, boys are just like girls. So I can live without the estrogen and really, live quite well... But this is not to say that I won't join the crowd in wooing them. Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

saturday evening

Vanilla skies in Madrid. It's 9:30 p.m. in the picture if you can believe it. This is the kind of light we deal with in Spain.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

new blog name

I'm thinking of renaming the blog Tia no tengo la pasta and Tarsiers: everyday life of tarsiers and a tarsier fanatic in Spain.

Monday, May 23, 2011

rant on ac

I don't care that wikipedia uses the words "thermal comfort" in their definition of air conditioning, nor do I care about how many lives air conditioning has saved in stifling hell holes like Lubbock, Texas. I think it is the worst invention of all time.

Yes, that's right. Of all the filthy, despicable things that mankind has come up with.... think hair plugs, nuclear weapons, wheatgrass-flavored ice cream... air conditioning is far by the worst.

I came to Spain thinking I would escape its evil wrath... I longed for sweltering summers lying around in my swim suit, or smelly bus rides because there is a large part of me that really likes natural body odor and I have no shame in admitting it...

I wanted so bad to forget my days of hot and fussy roommate wars over the air dial... for the love of GOD it is actually unhealthy to live in a freezer when it's 90 degrees out, and the vent is giving me the black lung.

And for the most part, coming to old-school Europe has done the trick. I sweat my ass off last August in Cadiz for example and loved every minute of it.

But as it turns out, the devil lurks in all corners of the world. Today's high was 29 degrees celsius in Madrid (almost a perfect temperature if you ask me), and though we thankfully could do nothing about it at our sans-ac home, the bus I take each Monday night was definitely making up for the lack thereof.

I really look forward to my bus rides--a time that I usually spend not on the physical bus but rather on Mars. And despite the fact that the metro takes half the time, I take the bus home because I like to look out the vast windows, and then I sometimes like to open the tiny ones up top to catch whatever breeze might slightly caress my face...

But tonight I stepped on, and was immediately forced to CURSE THE GODS OF TECHNOLOGY WHY MUST THEY TORTURE ME SO WITH THEIR BLIGHTED, REFRIGERATED, FAKE AIR? It was so cold, I would have preferred the bus's hot exhaust fumes blasting in my face, because there is nothing worse than frozen, purple toes that look like they were just fished out of some freezing lake of upstate New York, which is currently the state they are in, yes, even 30 minutes after escaping the polar state that line 23 was sporting this evening.

Glad I got that off my chest, I think it has helped my toes thaw quicker. Thanks for listening, and turn off your air if you've got it on. It's only May and you're wasting energy.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I am trying to get excited about the big things going on in my current city...

And by current city, I mean my 'hood. The day and night protests that started six days ago in Sol, the center of Madrid, are no less than ten minutes walking distance from my front door... They say they want a revolution....

If you know me well, you know I am not into politics. I used to think it was a sign of immaturity but I think it's now safe to say that some things just aren't meant to be. Forget goverment teachers' fruitless attempts to inspire me, or my sister's lousy lectures that always ended in frustration...I don't have faith: politics and I will just never understand one another.

But even though I have come upon this conclusion (that I am a slightly cynical young adult in this sense), my apathy currently converts itself inwardly to confusion and, outwardly, to embarrassment. Why don't I care?

I suppose it has less to do with my political apathy, and more with my foreign status. In a country that is not my own, I find it incredibly difficult to relate to my Spanish peers, unemployed or not. I understand that the system is shit, the politicians don't actually stand for the people...but here's the cynic in me, saying "Come on, what's new?" This isn't just a problem in Spain: I don't know if I believe that there are alternatives to the corrupt capitalism that we ourselves have created. And then I can't help but wonder why this is all going down just days before the elections? Pardon me if I am mistaken, but it seems a little late to provoke real change.

This is sort of painful for two reasons. In the first place, I have lived here nearly two years, Madrid is home, and I want to feel solidarity with its citizens. Then I think about some of these peers that I speak of, some that are particularly close to me.... and their enthusiasm has not inspired any such feelings in myself. In fact, it has had the contrary effect: I have felt irritated, jealous and bitter. Irritated because I'm tired of hearing about it, even my American friends are on the bandwagon. Jealous because I want to be riled up too, damnit. And bitter because I just can't seem to get there...

And of course to continue with the slightly psychotic behavior, I have to be stubborn. I have refused to go see Sol all week.

But curiosity generally gets the best of me, so I roamed over there last night and then again this afternoon. How could I not, when it is just down the street? My skepticism should at least be grounded in something..

So I stumbled around the masses, snapped some photos of the endless eye-candy, and ate an ice cream while pondering the "writing on the wall"... still, no spark.

But, little by little, I have tried to at least understand, and in doing this, I believe I can support the cause. What I have gathered is that this is no everyday protest... this thing is a total grassroots movement, and the anger-fueled youth behind it, also known as the Democracia Real Ya, have done an impressive job in executing it. Each day it has gained more and more momentum. What they have mounted in Sol is like a small, autonomous city. Run by the people, for the people, and they are not going anywhere. So here's the truth: I suppose this is exciting, and something is perhaps changing.

The only problem is this: tomorrow is judgement day. Will all efforts be futile?!

P.S. Find more info, but mainly better pictures, here

three hours later...

The mint wilts. IT'S A CURSE.


As it turns out, some things are not like mother like daughter.

Despite mom's expert tips, I can't seem to make things grow...the failure to germinate seeds this spring has been close to crushing. It's as if I were infertile...

But instead of wallowing in my lack of a green thumb, I chose to adopt.

Say hello to my new babies! Since plants are relatively easy to take care of, I decided to adopt four: a set of twins (cherry tomatoes) and then a brother and sister, mint and spearmint.

Monday, May 16, 2011

interesting nyt on educ

Hmm....intensive fast-tracking to kindergarten? Sounds more like robot-fabricating cult land!

Different strokes for different folks--but I firmly disapprove of this for obvious reasons and I slowly shake my head in dismay for the children whose parents subject them to it.

This is not to say that I think it's necessarily harmful, I don't mean to be dramatic. I am just rolling my eyes at the coolest new trend in unorthodox education. Let's be honest--most everyone is all about enrichment, and creativity in this institution is important, but sometimes I just don't get it. Any slightly intelligent person knows that small children learn incredible amounts in just playing with blocks on the kitchen floor.

If there is one thing I do approve of it's the reading list, but what parent doesn't read Goodnight, Moon or the like with their children at that age? Especially that parent who is paying 200+ a month in Brooklyn, NY, for example, for drilling sessions for their three year olds?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

happy mother's day, again

Do they come any cuter? Can't wait to see you Vicksie!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

good news for word goblins

Whether you're a spanish speaker or not, news of peculiarly-themed dictionaries are always ones of great excitement to any word goblin out there.

Thanks to hard work of a one Manual Alvar, a professor at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, we can now pore over the extensive study of odd Madrileño dialect. Over 6,300 new words that will serve in no other place but the capital of Spain!

They actually might not even serve here. Some of the words are so antiquated that upon the book's release a few reporters polled passersby on the streets and yielded these probably anticipated results. They asked them the meaning of things like "dar mulé" (to kill someone) or "gadafi" (a sort of tapa, but to which a man replied "If it's not that delinquent..then I have no clue..").

Nonetheless I plan on incorporating some into my bank because why not? If at least to amuse the old men around town. I know a Sevillano guy who talks like Shakespeare when he speaks English (which is always because it tickles him so), and I can't even begin to describe how much it delights me when he says (in a completely serious way) "I fancy you, dear child".

Monday, May 2, 2011

dos de mayo

I could inform you all regarding the bloody history of Dos de Mayo, the day of revolt in Madrid against the French occupation (1808)... but isn't that what wikipedia is for?

Just kidding...sort of..

Federal holidays are OK by me and probably every other person alive on this planet, but who actually stops to think and remember what actually happened on, say, the Fourth of July?

Ok, fine, a lot of us. We are taught as kids. We are just proud ok?

To demonstrate that, here is a flag:

United-States_flag.gif (360×240)

It did sort of crack me up though, thinking about my childhood...how much weight the three words red, white and blue carried... how we stood each and every morning, with our hand over our hearts, and Pledged Allegiance to the rising flag...

Even though I think it's safe to say that no nation demonstrates pride quite to the extent that USA does, Spain could probably be considered more conservative in this aspect despite the fact that things have visibly altered since last summer's World Cup win.

However, last Thursday, before taking off for the long weekend, I listened in as my kid's main Spanish teacher explained to them what happened on the second of May, 1808. I really love this teacher in particular, Elena--a smart matriarch-type who is incredibly dedicated to her job, one of those teachers you truly admire for her fantastic work of shaping young people's minds... Anyway, one thing she does in particular is put utmost importance into everything she says to the kids, simply by her choice of language, form of speech, etc etc. In effect, she speaks to them as if they were adults.

So she gets going on Thursday morning, starting with the basic, "Children, there is no school on Monday. There will be a puente." Of course nobody knew why, and in dove Elena to her passionate speech about the French and the Spanish and Napoleon...

The kids all sat silently and heard her with their arms folded on their desks, respecting whatever life lesson of the day that might come out of this.

I say heard and not listened because I'm unsure as to how many actually followed the brief discourse. Let's be honest, several were probably on the moon all along.

But hey, these are seven year olds, and seven year olds that are not from "the land of the free and the home of the brave" where Independence Day is almost as crucial as Jesus' birthday. Elena's attempt to instill a feeling of national pride (without using the term football, for example) was not exactly successful..

Either way, she was not exaggerating her compassion about what happend, and one day the kids will hopefully understand. The second of May is a pretty cool thing to claim as a part of Madrileño history. As she said, "Nope, we Spanish, we aren't like that. We didn't let the French stomp all over us". And bam. Other rebellions rise in Spain..the resistance strengthens..the Peninsula War is on folks.

I took a walk over to the Dos de Mayo square today to check out the scene, I guess hoping to catch some sort of exciting revolutionary parade or something. The plaza was built on the site of the artillery barracks and it is a green haven of plentiful terraza (outdoor seating).

The plaza lies in Malasaña, a verrrry hip neighborhood named after a 15 year old seamstress--a heroine who died of debatable causes on this day. I prefer the story that involves her courageously facing up to two frenchmen with the scissors she had in her pocket. What a badass.

Anyhow, I found people rejoicing everywhere in the plaza and surrounding neighborhood. Not necessarily anything to do with the actual historical holiday (or so I could tell), but just rejoicing life and the day off work in the way Spaniards know best, which would be socializing on the street. There were people everywhere-- standing, leaning, sitting in chairs, on the ground, kids running, pairs strolling..snacking, beering, smoking, sunflower seeds everywhere... how else how else? Buen rollo, I'd call it...a good vibe. Cheers to Dos de Mayo and the land of puentes.

A woman watching the street life from her balcony. She caught me right after I took this photo and was really pissed about it. Oops!