Saturday, June 16, 2012

beginning and end of summer

So it's my second-to-last Saturday in Madrid before heading back to SF for the supposed summer.

I sort of can't believe I'm giving up the long, sunny Spanish days that I so love.  For chilly, grey SF. The coldest winter I ever knew, a summer in San Francisco.

And the nice weather, the long days, there is so much that comes with it.  Gazpacho, sandals, hours of tinto de verano and cañas in the terrazas around the city, IBIZA...

Tonight we're going to see Guadalupe Plata, an awesome Spanish dirty blues/rock band.  This is the type of music you groove to, sweat with, you don't mind that your eye make-up runs a bit 'cause it goes with the feel of the whiney, erotic guitar.

This goes out to the people I want to see longer than the blink of an eye...quality time will have never felt so good!  I'll be living up my last few weeks of summer here, with other people I will dearly miss, and I'll say goodbye with a touch of remorse but more than anything an incredible thrill.  The countdown has begun---see you in two weeks!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Wishing I were here...  northern-most point of Ibiza--Santa Agnes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Considering its situation, Spain itself is by no means diverse, Madrid and Barcelona being the only places one kind find an array of different cultures, and even so it's not saying much.  In the city center, my lovely neighborhood of Embajadores might be the only area where you can find several different cultures melding together like a poorly cut puzzle.

I could go into how this puzzle sort of works, but there is the looming fear of political incorrectness, and in any case, this post has greater purposes.

Like the gypsies.  The gypsies in my neighborhood are many, and what's funny (predictable) is that because they blend in a bit more looks-wise, I was never very quite aware of their numerosity.  Everything changed, of course, when all of the sudden they were my students. And all of these students are in one way or another cousins, or so they say, and their moms and dads and aunts and uncles and grandparents are in the street all the time.

They don't say hi fact I salute them with waaaaay too much enthusiasm considering the majority hardly give me a smile.  It is a very, very closed culture (probably even more so than the Chinese who are also mingling on the same street corners).  In any case, I want someone to let me in, because I am actually boiling inside with curiosity for who they are, who they were, their histories.  Nobody seems to know where they came from...I've asked several and received all different answers... in any case there are some things that are just general knowledge, like the roots of flamenco lie in the gypsy culture, and that gypsy law is far different than that of the state, and that to this day, they practice la prueba del pañuelo.

And this is what I've been getting to, la prueba del pañuelo, or the handkerchief test, because I just feel the need to share this...

It probably goes without saying, but we will start from the beginning: the gypsy culture is a very chauvinistic one.  Once women are older, they can enjoy a matriarchal position over their children and grandchildren and ailing husbands, but this, obviously, does not come without a long, hard life of paying the price of respect.  In the beginning, women are seen as sex objects, and once they are married (usually very early), they are in charge solely of producing children (preferably boys) and raising them on the same principles they themselves were.

That being said, young gypsy women are expected to save their virginity for marriage (of course, the double standard is obvious: young gypsy men are encouraged to sleep with as many women as they like).  To ensure that the young woman has kept to her promise, la prueba del pañuelo  is performed on the eve of her wedding.

La prueba del pañuelo entails the bride, her grandmother or some other elderly wise woman, and the closest female sisters, cousins, etc to enter a room with a handkerchief.  The matriarch then opens the girls legs, and with her hand in the handkerchief, penetrates the girl.  If the handkerchief is pulled out with rosas, figurative for blood, they celebrate the woman's soon-to-be marriage.  If not, the wedding is called off, the girl may never marry, and her family will probably be shamed.

I don't know what to make of it all, you make of it what you will.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Each time I sit at my computer to write something, pretty much all that comes out is a flood of confusion.  I don't even think my mom wants to read that.

Aaaaaaand I've been spending an average of five minutes a day sporadically visiting the kitchen to fish pieces of chocolate out of a cereal box.  I didn't even realize it, but I think this is how I deal with taxing stress.