Archive for February, 2009

A friend I met here, D, and I went to Lisbon this weekend. It was three days/four nights of happy exuberance. We cracked ourselves up, laughing so hard we cried, saw various, wonderful things, ate wonderful food, spoke in Espantugese and played “spot the drug dealer” on Rua do Sao Augusto. It’s not hard. They’re in their 50s or older, shifty, wear sports coats and make eye contact and beelines at the tourists. No, thank you.

More later, when I’ve downloaded pictures and reconstructed events.




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Last night was my second foray into late night Madrid. Normally I can’t handle dancing past 2 or 3 a.m. and most places I’ve lived don’t offer diversions much later than that. Madrid’s clubs and bars close at 5 a.m. Until recently they often ignored the official hour and stayed open until 6 a.m., when trains start running again. However, after the death of a young man outside a Madrid club, and a few other violations, there was a wave of club closings and the municipality is cracking down on code violations. No one knows whether or not this will be a temporary state of affairs.

The largest club in Madrid, Kapital, close to Atocha railway station on Calle Atocha, has 7 floors with lounges, table dancers and various styles of music playing. Desafortunadamente, not a single one of those floors played indie or new wave music. Where was my Bon Iver? Where was my Wolf Parade? Franz Ferdinand? Did you take The Smiths with you? We ended up bumpin’ & grindin’ to my least favorite style of music next to death metal – hip hop. Officially, I did have some fun. But I also got bored of the beats and we went back and forth between the house techno on the main floor where one of the table dancers had holes in her panties (above and beyond the three necessary holes) and someone lit a pile of weed on fire in the palm of their hand, apparently to “make a ball” with it. Why? I don’t know.

We high-tailed it over to a certain super hot table dancer, the gayest of them all, with some sort of weird backless, frontless leather jacket (essentially it went across the shoulders and ended in tatters of leather just below the deltoid muscles) and boot covers that I’ve seen before and have been dying to find. Two youngy young young girls started to talk to us, mostly because I was looking up at the table dancer and she jokingly put in her claim on his affections. I assured her that I didn’t want him, I only wanted to look at him. It is so annoying that I have mild hearing loss in one ear, I have trouble understanding people in loud situations when they speak English and for the most part my comprehension is completely fubar when the person is speaking Spanish. I just sort of laugh, shake my head, point at my ear and then give up. Usually running away is involved. For most of the night, my friend, his boss and I spoke Spanglish and I had a great time. What cracks me up is that one minute I’ll look at the clock and it’s 3:30 a.m. and the next time it’ll be nearly 5 a.m. Whoa. Thank god I got a ride home last night; I fell into bed around 5:20 a.m., ate some Sticks (cheese & ketchup flavor, please bring those to London and/or the States, Cheetos) and read Twilight before passin’ on out, earplugs firmly in place.

Oh, I should note that I finally sang karaoke and that Objection (Tango) is not La Tortura (both by Shakira, if you’re out of the loop). I can sing one, not the other, and was reminded forcefully of this when I accidentally picked the latter. Later, I managed to redeem myself with Let It Be. There were some fantastic older folks who sang lovely ballads I didn’t know but actually liked. I can’t wait to get to England and sing some karaoke in English. The offerings are thin here.

Rocio Jurado – Como Una Ola

Mecano – Hijo de la Luna

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– Yes, we know that they drive on the left-hand side of the road. But did you know that foot traffic on escalators, in hallways, and often even on sidewalks moves on the left-hand side, too? Look right, look left, look right again, not vice versa, is what children are taught to do before crossing the street. Keep Left, not Keep Right in the Underground (not called the subway, ever). Londoners I’ve queried on this don’t seem to notice it, but I guess that’s because they’re used to it. I kept feeling like a salmon going upstream and finally realized it was because I was trying to Keep Right. Then when I got back to Madrid I almost entered an up escalator to go down because it was on the left.

– Ridiculously, they buy gas (petrol) in liters but use miles, obviously measuring speed in mph.

– British beer is way better than Spanish beer. Hands down. And cheaper.

– Books are cheap. Or I should say cheap in comparison to in Spain. They are at American prices and big chain companies often have huge deals on multiple purchases, on the order of 4 for 3. I assumed that meant 4 for £3. Often 2 for £20 or 3 for £18.

– British teenagers can be frightening in a way I’ve never been frightened of New York City teenagers. There is a palpable feeling that they will cheerfully beat you to pieces as soon as tell you off in a confrontational-yet-not-inherently-dangerous manner.

– The food there is really quite a lot better than I expected. Meat pies at pubs can be unbelievably delicious, even though probably frozen pies reheated on the premises. That really surprised me. Oh, and mushy peas are fantastic, not a sentiment I would have immediately expected from the description.

– Gravity is somehow stronger on the second level of a London Double Decker. It is necessary to hold on TIGHTLY when walking down the stairs, I’ve been nearly thrown down them by an unexpected stop or curve in the road.

– Riding in London is scarier than any riding I’ve ever encountered in NYC, and not just because of the left-hand driving, must look to the right first thing, but because many London drivers just don’t seem to give a crap about anyone in the road but themselves.

– I like London better than I thought I would have.

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Oh, Spain.

Dear Spain,

I have been super naive coming here without a real plan. It seemed like work would be, if not plentiful, then at least forthcoming. I thought that I spoke enough Spanish. I thought I’d be able to do this bilingual, bicountry thing. But I can’t. So while I wait to find out whether I’ve been approved for a position teaching English to students in your public schools, I’m going to be with my boyfriend in England. It’s been too hard. Your natives speak too rapidly. Your jobs are too hard to come by. Your nightlife is too late for me. Madrid doesn’t have any water, nor any mountains.

I’m bored, I’m lonely, I’m isolated and I feel useless. Not having a job is terrible. But I’ve still got money saved up, will have more come tax time, and I’ll be with my guy, planning my next moves in the coming months.

See you in September!


P.S. No, I’m not talking to my blog readers. I’ll still be posting semi-regularly.

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