far too much writing, far too many photos

runswithscissors


Saturday, September 08, 2001

RETURN TO IKEA

That's right. Two days ago. Some parts of the process went smoothly, others less so.

Highlights? Well, the trip consists of a ride on the Metro to the station Principe Pío, where one grabs a bus to Alcorcón. There one transfers to another bus, the #1, which eventually winds its way through the shopping fantasyland that's home to the Ikea megastore.

I made it to Alcorcón, got off the bus to wait for the #1. And waited. And waited. Then I waited some more. Ninety minutes later I came to my senses, flagged down a taxi.

During that hour and a half, many people passed by -- on foot, waiting for buses or in cars. Including a small, European-make car containing four clowns. In full make-up. All staring straight ahead, motionless, expressions disturbingly serious. There one moment, gone the next.

I finally get to Ikea, as I'm making my way across the parking lot to the entrance, I notice a large sign that didn't register my first time through: 'Garantía de devolución.' Signifying, I imagine, either a guarantee re: sales returns or a guarantee that your purchases will devolve -- your choice. (Q: Are we not men? A: We are Devo.)

I find a person to help me order furniture. I pay for it, find a cart, find the furniture (boxed up in its component parts, as it must be thrown together at home), go through the check-out line, go through the line to arrange delivery. Then I buy a few items I can carry, and make the return trip to Madrid with them. That night the furniture shows up.

My new neighborhood has narrow streets with high population density -- parking is tight. On my block in particular there is no parking at all, no room to pull over, and iron posts sunk into in the narrow sidewalk on both sides of the street to prevent any car from jumping the curb. Somehow the Ikea delivery guys found parking, loaded everything onto a cart, got it to my door and helped me wrestle it up four flights of stairs. (Another interesting feature of the new space: it's a fifth-floor walk-up.) When I handed them a thousand peseta bill -- maybe $5.50 American -- they looked surprised. It's a weird fact of life here that the Spaniards, generous in many ways, don't tip much. I'm told that Spanish manual laborers make better wages than their American counterparts, but we're still not talking an extravagant living. If they exert themselves as these guys did -- efficiently, with great attitudes -- they deserve something more.

But I babble.

I assembled the furniture (feeling suitably manly), the apartment continues to become a living space. Most of my stuff from the other flat is now here, with one significant omission -- the CD player/boombox. That arrives later today and should make a serious difference.

The difference between my old neighborhood and this one is dramatic, becoming apparent as soon as one crosses la Calle de Génova, the main drag that separates the two barrios. The old barrio (the southeast point of a district called Chamberí) was a neighborhood for people with money. The British Embassy lay a short three block walk from my building. The tree-lined streets were kept relatively clean (relatively -- the Madrileños toss a fair amount of garbage around), and apart from a nice sense of bustle during business hours, it was pretty quiet. Once across la Calle de Génova, however, the trees disappear, the sidewalks narrow, there are more stores, most looking and feeling a bit less refined. As one continues moving deeper into Chueca, there's more evidence of nighttime drinking, the sidewalks are stained from years of harder life than those in my old barrio. The street noise becomes more insistent and continual. And as you approach la Plaza de Chueca, it becomes clear that you're not in Kansas any more.

Street life is much more the way of life here, especially around the plaza. As I sit in my piso, four floors up, there's a near constant murmur of noise from down below, punctuated by outbursts of one kind or another -- someone yelling or breaking into a bizarre fragment of song, cars passing (or drivers leaning on their horns because someone's blocking the way), motorcycles or motorscooters, dogs barking. Now and then someone in another flat somewhere cranks up their stereo, something that never happened in the old barrio.

There are times when it feels strangely like living near the ocean, near a popular beach. And there's something oddly restful about that.

I have yet to sleep here, though. Last night in the old flat was one of those perfect autumn evenings -- nicely cool, with a fresh, understated breeze. Quiet. Conditions that promote deep sleep for me. Tomorrow night will be my first night here in the new place I suspect it may be a whole different experience.

Re: the walk here from the old neighborhood -- after crossing la Calle de Génova and heading down the side street in this direction, I pass a small tienda that sells women's wear. This week its display window has sported a hand-scrawled sign reading:
atención
bajaron
los
pantys

(Literally: attention, they lowered the panties -- undoubtedly meaning a drop in prices.)

One other thing -- twice now I've seen a car parked around the corner from here with identical Simpsons t-shirts pulled down over the two front seats, as if the seats were wearing 'em. The shirts read "Like father like son," showing Bart and Homer giving the peace sign -- Bart to us, Homer with his hand behind Bart's head, giving him horns.

The Simpsons -- they're everywhere.

rws 7:45 AM [+]

BLATHERINGS

August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


MORE FOCUSED BLATHERINGS


Travels:
London '01
Pamplona
Italy '03
U.K. '03
Sevilla
Casablanca
Stoke-on-Trent
Barcelona
Québec/Ottawa
Boston/Lisbon/Madrid
Italy '04
Montréal
La Sierra

Events:
Madrid -- arrival
9/11
Emergency Room I
Holidays 2001
Holidays 2002
Holidays 2003
Holidays 2004
Holidays 2005
A neighbor's passing
Madrid -- March 11 bombings
  and aftermath
Emergency Room II
Israeli friend/Madrid Marathon
Madrid -- Royal Wedding
The DELE exam

GONE, a novel:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

THE BASTARD CHILDREN OF
JOE ROCCO, a novella:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3

BURBANK SHRUGGED,
a screenplay:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3
-- Part 4

Short stories:
Murphy's Wife
Another Autumn
La Queja de Una
  Hermanastra Muy Conocida

Autobiography
-- Personal History
-- Hormones On Parade
-- Accidents, Random Mishaps,
    Personal Problems

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


OTHER SOURCES OF WHOLESOME ENTERTAINMENT

People/Weblogs:
dooce
foxvox
fudge it
fear not
rebekka
bookslut
802online
idle words
madhaiku
wockerjabby
grow-a-brain
rebel market
letting me be
out and about
kung fu grippe
fanatical apathy
baghdad burning
wfuv's music blog
kexp's music blog
mimi smartypants
between the miles
just a hippie gypsy
the impossible cool
tomato can brushes
vermont homestead
sugar mountain farm

Good Clean Fun:
gizmodo
futurismic
postsecret
dave barry
human clock
mcsweeney's
spaceweather
book-a-minute
internet archive
self-portrait day
my cat hates you
out of context quotes
surrealist compliment
  generator
strindberg and helium

Makin' Musical Whoopee:
last fm
stereo8
pandora
soma fm

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


ABOUT RWS/CONTACT





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runswithscissors would like to thank everyone who's ever lived for everything they've ever done.



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