far too much writing, far too many photos

runswithscissors


Saturday, December 27, 2003

These last few days have whizzed by at startling velocity. Time has flown, I've had plenty of fun. Some old saws hold true.

The 24th: Stepped outside around 6 p.m. from a late afternoon movie to find Christmas Eve Day in Madrid slowly giving way to Christmas Eve (la Nochebuena). Little traffic, crowds thinned out, leaving enough people about to provide a peaceful sense of city. A quieter, more relaxed Madrid. The cafeterías and taverns still open were crowded, customers moved freely in and out of the few stores still going at it. Most businesses were dark, though as I walked from the city center into Chueca, my barrio, that slowly changed. A surprising number of shops on la Calle de Fuencarral had doors open, music pouring out into the street. Stores of all kinds -- clothing, footwear, glitzed-up dumps peddling trashy gifts/touristy tchochkes, bakeries, joints dispensing café and food. Off the main drag, things quieted down. Few cars cruised the streets -- kind of amazing in itself -- though people were about, enjoying the thoroughfares turned into de facto pedestrian ways.

During all this, the soft light of the long, lingering twilight continued, the sky to the west painted in pinks and soft reds, the light extending out into the rest of the sky from there, changing to blue, then to progressively darker shades. Lovely, tranquil. Apart from the explosions.

That's right, explosions. Fireworks. Nothing organized, nothing official -- ashcans (or the local equivalent) and rockets being set off by local knuckleheads, continuing for well over an hour after my return home, much of it out in the street in front of this building.

When I stepped back outside around 8:45, on the way to Christmas Eve dinner -- bearing two bottles of sparkling cider, one of sparkling wine -- fewer people moved through the local streets. Those that did walked in groups, talking happily. A 7 or 8 year old boy went by on a scooter, peering out at me from under the hood of his winter coat. The only kid to be seen. I smiled at him, he zipped past, expressionless.

The streets lay emptier, quieter, with more shops closed, until I reached la Calle de Montera, a three-block stretch that lays between la Gran Vía and Sol, known as la Calle de las Putas. A fair number of prostitutes did Christmas Eve duty, attracting groups of rough-edged 20-somethings, Eastern Europeans and darker-skinned Central/South Americans, carrying on among themselves.

In Sol, where large stores remained open, catering to last-minute gift-buyers, plenty of people drifted about, most in groups of two or three, carrying bags of purchases, some eating pizza or pocket sandwiches from the numerous local Turkish food shops.

The dinner: an affair taking place in a travelers' residence where Tracy, a friend from Spanish class, is staying. I got there to find numerous folk about, Tracy sitting in the small common room with one of the women who worked at the residence -- Teté, from Argentina, bright and very slender -- and an Argentinian 30-something named Eugenio (a jewelry-making craftsperson, hair pulled loosely back in a small ponytail, several days' stubble, a thick Argentinian accent). A young Romanian woman sat apart from them in front of a computer, involved in instant messaging. Other individuals came and went, all males. It felt to me that my presence -- a gray-haired American guy -- made Eugenio and Teté a bit uncomfortable. Teté loosened up with talk and wine, especially after ascertaining that I was unmarried, with no children, immediately talking about setting me up with the woman who runs the residence (not present that evening). For whatever reason, Eugenio never really seemed to warm up to me too much.

Two more folks joined us, Juan and Henry from Venezuela. Conversation turned from trying to set me up with the owner to politics and comparing life in Venezuela, Spain, the States. Tracy disappeared to prepare lamb chops for the meal, the rest of the group eventually drifted through the surprisingly endless hallways of the residence to the kitchen, where seats were taken, bottles of cider and champagne opened, bowls and platters of food found their way to locations among plates and glasses. The young Romanian woman materialized with her partner, a 20-something Romanian guy, they settled into two chairs at the far end of the table set-up. Hailing from Transylvania (where, they claim, a Dracula-oriented theme park is being built), she spoke multiple languages, he spoke English but no Spanish, so that she had to translate the conversation that flowed around the table.

A motley five out of eight. (Photo courtesy of Tracy D.)



[Continued in entry of Dec. 28]

rws 1:07 PM [+]

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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

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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

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ABOUT RWS/CONTACT





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