far too much writing, far too many photos


Monday, November 28, 2005

Woke up in the early hours from long, complicated dreams, the last of which featured me doing a performance piece, something I'd written. A one-person show, really, though for some reason it included a number of prostitutes hanging around the performing space. Why? Don't know. They had no speaking roles, they didn't do anything, really, except add a strange vibe to the general ambience. (Must have been because prostitutes are such sure-fire comedic gold.)

A brisk five-minute walk in the direction of Sol from here brings one to la Calle de Montera, one of the few visible concentration points of prostitution in Madrid's city center and scene of an ongoing tug of war between cops and local representatives of the skin trade. It's a strange length of city street, lined with restaurants, stores, a busy multi-screen movie theater, two or three sex shops, and anywhere from a handful to twenty or more prostitutas looking to pick up clients. Police try to be a presence, and when a cruiser or two is parked nearby, the number of putas diminishes, though the cops never seem to clear them all away. (This afternoon, six cops on one side of the street, chatting. Other side of the street: groups of working women, chatting.)

Last week, the city government announced a crackdown. The plan: hand out fines to both women and johns, a tactic that television news programs happily claim has stirred up controversy. Doesn't seem to have made much difference to this point along la Calle de Montera.

Protest by residents along la Calle de Montera
("Prostitution in the street, no!" "We're fed up!"):

Having no car here, I don't get out on the highways much. My first couple of trips out of the city, I noticed the occasional roadhouse off to the side of the carretera, nondescript buildings, generally unadorned except for a big neon sign reading CLUB. Roadside joints of ill repute, it turns out, where a lonely traveler can take a break, buy a drink, hire one of the women who work there for a brief, er, whatever. Puticlubs, one of my Spanish teachers called them. A whole other kind of rest stop. Not, strictly speaking, legal, but scattered about the landscape anyway.

And not for me. I don't see much attraction in that kind of partying without some sort of emotional intimacy. But to each their own.

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 7:14 AM [+]

Friday, November 25, 2005

Yesterday: Thanksgiving stateside, just another day here. A work day, and I spent it planted in front of the computer, laboring away while the building's ongoing rehab work carried on in relatively tranquil fashion, apocalyptic pounding and hammer-drilling breaking out only now and then. (For which I gave thanks.) A beautiful, chilly November day, sunlight pouring in the windows, me with a decent place to live in, in a part of the world I love, with good food and running water and a working computer. (For which I gave thanks.)

Thanksgiving never came up in my life here this year, no one mentioned it, no invites to ex-pat Thanksgiving dinners came my way. (For which, truthfully, I gave thanks. A simpler life, minus holiday hooha is fine with me right now -- there'll be hooha in abundance when I get back stateside on the 19th.) Normal life reigned, with all its benign routines. Got up in the morning as the workers began shouting back and forth in the stairwell (them gearing up for the daily destructo-derby). Showered, etc., pulled on clothes. Went out, picked up a paper, walked to a local morning joint for a good cup of brew and a tasty croissant. Strolled back here along busy streets, plenty of people about living normal life. Came home, found the doors to the apartment across the hall and its upstairs neighbor closed, the workers having been thoughtful enough to spare me having to close the doors myself to contain waves of noise and dust. (For which, seriously, I gave thanks.)

And on and on. Blessings of all kinds, and plenty of them.

And today? Took myself to the first showing of 'Harry Potter and The Longest Movie Credits In History.' Walked in 20 minutes beforehand, the sign above the box office warned that only first-row tickets remained. I had a hunch, though. Waited on line, asked the pixie behind the glass if there might be any available single seats tucked away around the theater, wound up with a center spot in the ninth row. Pretty much perfect. (Er, except for the movie, which felt to me like the film equivalent of a high-tech Reader's Digest condensed novel. Great dragon, though. And Mad-Eye Moody is a hoot.)

And then out into the falling darkness to wander about and enjoy the growing number of Christmas displays, first stopping to ponder the huge, inexplicable, underwater-themed display at El Corte Inglés (Jesus, Mary and Joseph surrounded by cheery starfish, seahorses, merpeople).

After which more restrained, less surreal displays came as soothing relief.

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 6:32 AM [+]

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Windshield sky -- the November overcast above Madrid allows a brief glimpse of blue:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 6:29 AM [+]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

During the course of yesterday's long wander around the city center:

1) I found myself giving thanks for not having had the impulse to take that particular hike a week earlier, an impulse that would have put me in the middle of a sizeable political demonstration against the Ley Orgánica de Educación (LOE), the current Spanish government's education reform law (try here for a clear explanation), convened by the fine folks in el Partido Popular in tandem with the Spanish Catholic Church.

Exactly how sizeable the demonstration turned out to be is impossible to say given the difference in attendance figures supplied by various sources.

The organizers claim that two million people took part, a figure that would make this demonstration twice as large as the genuinely mammoth protest that took place in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq. (Drastically unlikely, given that 90+% of the population was against the Iraq incursion -- cutting across the political spectrum to include everyone except Partido Popular politicians and their most hard core militantes.) La Comunidad de Madrid (currently run by the PP) proclaimed attendance of 1,500,000 people. The police put the figure at 407,000. El País, the country's largest-selling daily newspaper -- and generally a lefty stronghold -- fixed the turnout at 375,000.

A bizarrely, comically huge spread, and I suspect the actual number to be somewhere in the general neighborhood of the police estimate. During the big anti-invasion protest in 2003, the center was so clogged with people that the sprawl reached this neighborhood, a ten-minute walk away, the overflow leaving local streets notably more crowded than normal. Last Saturday, with the anti-LOE demonstration happening in the same zone, I saw no evidence of it here, the streets no busier than on a normal Saturday. So that I actually forgot about the protest until I saw it mentioned on the tube that night.

Since then, the organizers/PP and the government have been going back and forth, the papers and news programs giving it plenty of play, 'it' feeling like a lot of noise about not very much, the real issue perhaps being the ongoing jockeying for power.

2) Somewhere along the way, I came across a store piping Christmas muzak out into the street, my first encounter with that this year. The tune immediately took up residence in my head, a key part of the melody playing itself over and over until I realized I was beginning to walk in time to it. Desperate to change the soundtrack, I managed to reprogram my internal jukebox with the Vince Guaraldi version of Oh, Christmas Tree. Something I at least like. Which got me jonesing to hear the real item. Once home, I searched through the handful of CDs I dragged along from the States, discovering I'd forgotten to include the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, a CD that's grown on me in an embarrassing way in recent years. (At least the actual Vince Guaraldi tracks.) Whistling it will have to do until the return to Vermont.

That was yesterday morning. Last night, the teams with the biggest rivalry in the Spanish fútbol league went head to head, Real Madrid hosting Barcelona at el Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. A face-off that is traditionally the season's hottest ticket, the winning team/city reaping bragging rights until the next confrontation, months away. Madrid -- Spain's version of the Yankees, with some of the biggest names in world fútbol on its roster -- has been plagued by injuries, their on-field chemistry inconsistent. So it came as no surprise when they found themselves outplayed and outclassed, on the losing end of a 3-0 score. Even more disconcerting to some Madrid players: the ovation given to Ronaldinho after his second goal, the general appreciation for a rival team playing excellent ball. And it was interesting to note the overall acceptance of Barcelona's current superiority in this morning's sports section, coupled with a kind of metaphoric shoulder-shrugging with respect to R.M. The team's inconsistency during these last years seems to have been accepted with resigned, fatalistic aplomb. Or something.

Matches, like most everything in this life, come and go. Existence moves on.


Enhanced mailbox, la Calle de Alcalá:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 10:06 AM [+]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Around Madrid's city center on an overcast Saturday morning:

Stop here! -- La Calle de Montera:

La Plaza de la Puerta del Sol:

Sex shop/bridal shop, la Calle de Montera:

La Calle de Alcalá:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 7:02 AM [+]

Friday, November 18, 2005

Last night: out with a friend, sitting in a local joint, talking, watching people. Letting go of a day that featured a high, at times thunderous, noise level here in the building. A beautiful mid-November Thursday -- air misty, sun shining strongly through it -- but intense.

By late in the afternoon, the soundtrack produced by construction/rehab. in the hallway and neighboring flat had become relentless enough that the only sane response was to bolt, get some air, maybe go to a movie for some distraction. And as hoped, flight brought immediate relief. Took a walk through the neighborhood's busy streets, caught a bus on Gran Vía, watched the passing city en route to the Plaza de España. Good therapy, all of that. Stopped in at the movie theater I'd thought about hitting, discovered the film I'd had in mind wasn't there. Stared at the various choices, surprised. Stared some more. It still wasn't there. Shrugged, stepped back out into the afternoon. Wandered for a while, caught another bus, returned home, the building substantial more tranquil than when I'd left.

On checking movie listings, I discovered I'd gone to the wrong theater. A little embarrassing, but not a total surprise. Just shows what I already know: all the commotion happening right now has me, at times, a little distracted. Given how intense existence has felt in recent days, I'm doing pretty well. I manage to get myself dressed and fed, manage to get work done, manage to carry on like a reasonably high-functioning adult. I enjoy the moments of peace that descend now and then, stumble through the more intense moments figuring they'll eventually pass.

When I stepped into the local joint yesterday evening, one or two customers sat at the counter. They paid up and left soon after, for a while I found myself alone. Watched traffic passing, listened to the counterman quietly working, read a little. Other customers entered, the place came alive with conversation, movement, me sitting in my corner, letting it all swirl around me. Jorge arrived, the evening shifted gears, my little part of it jerked more or less up to speed with the rest of the local world.

Back to normal life, just like that. No fanfare. Simple. Easy.

Jorge's been getting to know a woman in recent weeks. She called as we sat and talked, they arranged a rendezvous, Jorge inviting me along to meet her. I went, and for a while found myself in another joint, sitting across from an intelligent, attractive woman, enjoying watching them enjoy each other, talking about books, movies, pointy boots.

This morning: Alfredo finally showed (turning out to be short, balding, mild-mannered), accompanied by a slim, taller worker, Central or South American. They checked out what needed to be done, Alfredo disappeared, replaced by a swarthier, slightly burlier male, a mason. Since then, brief fits of activity have traded off with long spells of everyone disappearing. By the end of the day, I'll probably have some version of a kitchen wall. Yee-ha!

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 3:34 AM [+]

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Window of closed shop, la Calle de Hortaleza, Madrid:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 11:19 AM [+]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Starting late last week, rainy, cold conditions took hold of Madrid. A kind of November weather, as I've already written here, that I enjoy, though as it hangs about day after day after day the law of diminishing returns kicks in. By Monday, I was ready for a change.

I was ready. But the weather gods? Apparently not.

The plague of construction/rehab. work (las obras) that can be found throughout the city -- in some areas, as in this barrio, literally along every street, something being built, torn apart or rebuilt on every single block, at times producing an atmosphere of insistent, relentless chaos -- reached this building over the summer. When I arrived at the beginning of October, I found no workers about (though the evidence of their labor was everywhere: mounds of white dust strewn around the stairs and landings along with chunks of drywall and ancient plaster, walls and bannisters covered with powder). Work being done in the piso across the hall from here -- turning one old, rambling flat into two smaller ones -- had gone awry, I was told, a wall having been built incorrectly or in the wrong place. Putting everything on hold until resulting legal complications were worked out.

As a bonus, the dust had found its way into my flat, covering everything with a film of white powder. My first task on arrival: spend an hour cleaning up. And believe me, after a long overnight trans-Atlantic voyage there's nothing I enjoy more than sweeping, vaccuming, dusting.

Two, three days later, a pair of industrious women showed up to clean the hallways, leaving the place looking more like the building I remembered. A week after that, the workers materialized, las obras recommenced, I discovered why the halls had been such a disaster: in the course of tearing apart the neighboring flat and its downstairs cousin, the doors had been left wide open, clouds of dust billowing out into the passageways, chunks of pulverized materials spilling out.

As no work was being done in the hallways themselves, I began asking the workers to shut the piso doors, meeting with some surprised resistance that slowly gave way before my steady insistence. I asked without aggression, without anger, always thanking them for humoring me. They generally responded -- and continue to respond -- like gentlemen, often acquiescing gracefully, and when not exactly reacting with what might be called grace, at least not arguing the matter, not responding with attitude. For which I am genuinely grateful. We exchange greetings when we pass in the hallways or in the street outside, they seem to have settled into a tolerant acceptance of me, the foreign crank who keeps after them to close the doors.

During my time back in the States, for some reason -- I'm still not sure why -- as part of the work here, a small section of the wall my kitchen shared with the neighboring flat got torn apart, the work left unfinished, newspapers stuffed into a narrow gap that now gives directly out onto the outside world. Not a problem during warm, dry weather. Soon as rain moves in, however, puddles of water begin extending in across the counter and onto the floor. Not enough to cause damage, but enough to indicate that the work really needs to be completed. I let my sainted landlords know, they told me they'd tried getting the work finished but on the appointed day no one showed. They put me in contact with Alfredo, the person in charge of the job, he and I arranged to have someone come repair the wall a few days later.

That morning: got up, waited for the worker to arrive. And waited. And waited some more. Got a phone call saying the obvious: there had been delays. More waiting. Another call, more obviousness. Further waiting. Called Alfredo at the four-hour mark, told him I was done waiting, we rescheduled for a week later. A holiday, it turned out -- el Festival de la Almudena. No one showed that day, I received no phone calls. Sent the landlords an email letting them know I was finished dealing with Alfredo, that it was now up to them. Two days ago, they sent an email saying they'd just spoken with him, he'd be getting in touch. I'm still waiting.

Two days ago, the workers in the flat next door began tearing out the other side of my kitchen wall. The result: dust and cold breezes filtering in through the unfinished section, white powder covering every surface in the kitchen, combining with incoming rainwater to produce a special kind of ugly. At first, I cleaned it up, left the kitchen door closed to contain the chilly temperatures. Yesterday, I realized the dust invasion was ongoing, that cleaning it up was like trying to sweep sand off a beach. This morning I came to my senses, pulled out a roll of duct tape, covered the unfinished area with plastic bags.


Meanwhile, Monday morning, electrical work began in the hallways: hammering, drilling, debris all over the place. The workers across the hall stopped closing the piso doors, I had to go out periodically and close them myself to cut down the din.

And why, you might wonder, am I inflicting all this on you (in all its excessive, squalid detail)? Because the ongoing obras-related hooha and days on end of gray/cold/rain combined with the deteriorating situation in the kitchen in a way that finally felt overwhelming. I spent yesterday trying to write about a period of crisis 3-1/2 years ago, when I retreated back to the States, thinking my time here had come to its end. Woke up last night in the wee hours, in as low a place as I've been since that time, feeling worn down, thinking that if things here didn't improve in some way by month's end, I'd give notice, pack up, head back to Vermont, likely meaning my time here would be finished. A possibility that produces panic, gets me feeling trapped, desperate.

Eventually got back to sleep, woke up to find sunlight seeping in around the windowshades. Me immediately happier, everything suddenly feeling much less dire.

Sometimes that's all it takes. Morning sunshine, skies clear and blue. Plastic bags duct-taped over nasty, unfinished kitchen wall.

On to the day.

[Later: before writing the preceding, I sent a note to my landlords notifying them of Alfredo's continuing absence and the madcap developments of the last couple of days. After writing the preceding, las obras out in the hallway reached this floor, the workers in the neighboring flat using hallway noise/dust clouds as an excuse to leave doors open and make their own tooth-rattling contribution to the general roaring din. That sent me out of the building and off into the center, seeking relief. At which time my mobile phone rang: Alfredo! The she of my sainted landlords had received my email, immediately called him. I'm assuming it was a heavier call than he'd have preferred -- he sounded suspiciously eager to please. If all goes well, work in the kitchen will be finished up on Friday.]


Damn, these honkies got soul!

And where the hell were these classics of children's literature when I was young and tender?


This evening, along Gran Vía, Madrid:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 6:59 AM [+]

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Truth in advertising? An overdeveloped sense of irony? --
Nightclub along a Madrid sidestreet. For sale ('SE VENDE').

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 1:31 PM [+]

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Within the last few days November settled in over this part of the world. Real November -- cold that begins to have some bite to it, a certain kind of gray sky producing a certain kind of late-autumn/early-winter day (something I associate with wide New England fields, empty of everything but corn stubble, with the cawing of crows drifting surprisingly long distances through clear, crisp air). Sunlight begins to take on a look I associate with the holiday season, growing thinner, its angle changing as the sun travels lower in the sky. Being out in it all makes my body feel alive. Heading inside afterward, stepping from cold into warmth, feels like being enveloped in something soft and luxurious.

I like it is what I'm getting at. It gets me outside more, gives me the urge to walk. Perfect, that, given where I am, how much I like roaming around the city center. Since getting back here five and a half weeks ago, I've mostly focused on writing and studying, a kind of turning in thats shown up in, er, the narrowing of my social life. Which is fine, I suppose, until I want to hang out and notice that people have stopped calling, that one or two folks have left the city for other points around the globe. So I head out on my own, sit in cafés, go to movies. Drag my camera out when something catches my eye, take some pix. And walk through this wonderful city. Watch Saturday morning streets come slowly to life, thread my way through late-afternoon shopping crowds, through seas of people eddying in and out of places to eat and drink as evening falls. Coming across the occasional deserted street, parked cars striking a discordant note with the place's clear sense of age, of centuries of life.

It's good, all of that. It'll do for now.

The local Christmas season continues coming slowly on, a shift I continue to find disconcerting. A shop up the street installed a beautiful, full-sized, lushly tinseled tree just inside its front window, its lights the first I've so far seen plugged in, shining softly out into the falling darkness. It occurred to me that I'll be arriving back in the states a few short days before the holiday itself. I expect the show of festive hooha here will pale in comparison. Though what do I know? I might be wrong. God knows, it's happened before.

But that's a line of blather for another entry. Right now, a soccer match is about to get underway on Channel 1 -- Spain versus Slovenia, the Spanish national team taking another step in what it hopes will be a trip to the next World Cup. Time to go be a fan.


Madrid, te quiero.

rws 4:02 PM [+]

Friday, November 11, 2005

You know a neighborhood café's become too trendy when you can't have a quiet cuppa joe 'cause of the photoshoots.

This morning: me half-awake, sipping espresso, minding my own business. Slowly returning to consciousness after a night of strange dreams. (The last of them: me standing in at a Springsteen concert when Himself got held up en route. Huh?) Next thing I know a photographer's assistant is laying cables around me and -- I am not exaggerating here -- a photographer's butt is pressed up against my ear.

And a very nice butt it was. Just not a kind of wake-up call I'm used to. (Bottom right: my chair. Slightly above: unexpectedly friendly booty.)


Self-portrait, local florist shop with serious delusions of grandeur:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 8:42 AM [+]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

[continued from entry of November 8]

Once again, I found myself amid talking people, no conversation coming my way. And not resisting it, the scenery outside becoming dramatic enough, compelling enough to hold my full attention as the car headed deeper into actual mountains, steep, forested slopes angling up toward darkening skies. At a certain point, the landscape changed from mixed forest to pine forest, enormous, tall old pines, extending away both uphill and down, a kind of landscape I hadn't experienced in a long while.

The car stopped, parked outside a gate, we got out and slipped past the barrier, heading down a dirt road into quiet, no sound except my traveling companions' voices and the wind in the trees. And in the moments when conversation ceased, or when I allowed the others to get well ahead of me, the silence that settled in felt total, a kind of silence that wind in trees only seems to deepen, if you know what I mean.

Quiet. Seemingly endless pine forest. And cow poop. (Visible here to either side of the trail.)

Same as with the morning's hike: cow poop everywhere. Strangely sizeable mounds of it. This time with nary a cow in sight. Just us five humans, trying to keep our hiking footwear poop-free.

The trail extended on and on, at one point skirting a section of forest that contained old open-air buildings, apparently a camp, at one time, for, well, fascist youth, during the time of the dictatorship. Now an assortment of empty, quiet buildings, spread out among tall pines, the space around the camp dotted with a few ingenious rustic fountains, a couple of them still spouting cold, clear water. A ghost camp, access to most of the structures closed off by strung wire.

Rain started up, began coming down as if it meant business. Falling heavily enough that an hour into the hike I began thinking about turning back, getting ready for the return to Madrid that evening. At which point the others left the trail, began heading straight up the slope, unmindful of shrubbery, plentiful rocks, steady rain. Hunting for a certain kind of conifer (which came as news to me). María gamely slogging along, despite wearing footwear made for city streets, not steep, rock-strewn, rain-damp mountainsides. And when they finally stumbled across one of the trees, they examined it, paused to talk/take a breather. One or two moved off to water the abundant moss and lichen, the rest discussed continuing uphill. I voted against, citing my need to return to the city that evening, strongly suggesting we head back to the car, head back to the house. They listened, agreed, we began the return hike, the sound of rainfall all around, surprisingly loud, streams that had been minimal on the trip in already beginning to swell.

The ride back to the house -- going from deep forest/deep mountains to small village then back out into open country -- included a detour through a teeny, nondescript hamlet to stop in at a surprisingly pricey furniture/antiques joint, dealing in an extensive spread of fare both interesting and cheesy. It's everywhere, the antiques biz.

At the house: me making a fire (not getting why it wouldn't catch until Juan Carlos remembered to tell me about the built-in fireplace fan, apparently an integral part of the process, immediately transforming me from puzzled loser to world-class fireplace dude), María and Tony making dinner in the kitchen. A homemade tortilla con patatas, which would have made me happy all by itself. Tony, however, conjured up a vinegar-based dipping sauce, the first time I've ever eaten tortilla with a salsa. Turned out to be so addictively spectacular that the meal disappeared in no time flat, all of us sitting around the living room coffee table, eating simple, excellent food at near supersonic speed.

Jorge and his friends materialized after the inhaling of the tortilla. People tried convincing me to stay the night, but I had work to do the next day, I was ready to go (the thought of trying for a night of sleep with eight partying Spaniards in that small house did not appeal).

María, the other person in the group with things to do in Madrid the following day, was my ride home. Still not completely sure of herself on the local roads, much smoother once we made the highway. Rain fell on and off all the way into town, mist rose from moist earth in the light of passing towns' streetlamps.

And suddenly we were in the city's northern reaches, María pulling over at la Plaza de Castilla, me dragging my bag out from the back seat, doing the two-cheek good-bye kiss thing, heading down into the Metro to catch a half-empty train into the center.

A short, simple jaunt -- 26, 27 hours. Out and back, really, nothing more. Hard to believe it's taken me so long to lay it out here.

Or not so hard to believe, given the number of things this simple overnight's gotten me thinking about. Self-examination, mostly. Nothing I'll inflict on anyone but myself, at least not now.

Later, maybe. Won't that be fun?

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 8:55 AM [+]

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This morning: quiet. The building peaceful, little activity outside in the street. No racket from construction/building rehab. Me drifting happily in and out of elaborate, benign dreams, waking up at my own tiempo.

It's a holiday in Madrid today, the festival of the Virgen de la Almudena, one of the city's two patron saints. A religious holiday for some, for others a day to screw off relax. Bringing tranquility to the neighborhood, something I appreciate in a big way. (The din from rehab work happening here in the building got so intense at one point yesterday afternoon that it sent me out the door for a long walk, me winding up in a matineé for the second time in as many days. Forced decadence.)

Pulled my bod out from under the covers at a very user-friendly hour. Showered, etc., pulled on clothes. Headed out, picked up a paper, made the trek to one of the only neighborhood joints that open on a morning like this. A place where they know my face well enough that they get a cortado cranking as soon as they me, slide a plate with a croissant in front of me without waiting for me to ask. Noticed that they had a couple of large, beautiful roscones displayed by the usual morning pastries, cut laterally in half and filled with swirls of cream. A variety of the sweetbread everyone goes for on January 6, the day of the Three Kings, but less ornate, less gaudy -- at least the examples I saw -- and called la Corona de la Almudena.

Spent a little there while waking up. Returned home for a bit, headed back outside for another cortado, this time at a café I've become surprisingly fond of. Trendier than I generally care for, at times packed, the noise level startlingly high, but with smooth café, great people-watching, good music on the sound system.

And speaking of music -- later, back home, me poking around online, Radio 3 playing on my teeny, beat-up excuse for a sound system. (Radio 3: a station in danger of becoming one of my all-time faves.) They got into a set of most excellent re-makes, all by bands I'm not familiar with, playing versions of 'Cosmic Dancer', 'Cinnamon Girl', and 'I Wanna Be Your Dog.' All in a row, just like that. Made me so happy.

My needs: in general, they're absurdly simple.

Outside, a spectacular November day is underway, sunshine pouring in the windows of the flat. Time to go enjoy it.

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 8:52 AM [+]

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

[continued from entry of November 6]

Woke this morning up in the wee hours, the neighborhood outside quiet. Could feel I wouldn't be getting back to sleep right away, turned on the bedside light to read for a bit. Opened up a book, found myself needing to stop now and then to look up a word (part of the cost of the ongoing learn-Spanish thing), began thinking how nice it would be to have what's called a photographic memory. Which got me remembering Ricky Berg, a guy I knew in junior high who actually had a photographic memory. I remember him telling me how easy it made certain kinds of homework, I remember staring at him as he talked, thinking about the possibilities. Which got the me of here/now thinking about how I experience and process this life of mine.

It's not photographic, exactly. More along the lines of a vivid process of absorption, me in the middle of whatever's happening, senses working away (like, er, everyone else on the planet, I suppose). Watching, listening, etc., often with a slight sense of something I could maybe call remove. Not distance, exactly, a word that suggests a kind of not-feeling. A slight remove. Or something. Whatever it is, I sure as hell am feeling while I'm in the middle of it all. And adoring the show, even in the weird times.

I found myself with Jorge, María, Almudena, post-morning hike, doing the watching/listening thing in a bar/restaurant in a old, old village -- locals streaming in and out in Sunday mode, coming from church or on the way to Sunday dinner, appearing to be mostly family groups, sometimes three generations, lots of kids and teenagers about. J., M. and A. ordered liquid refreshment, a plate or two of finger food. I -- having eaten nothing at breakfast, the only available fare being heavily sugared -- ordered juice, water, a sandwich, the others countered with another round of food/drink. Noise, energy, conversation. Tony and Juan Carlos showed up at some point, briefly disappeared to pick up bags of provisions for the evening's dinner, reappeared settled down with us for a while.

In his food run, Juan Carlos picked up the single largest, heaviest bar of chocolate I've ever come across. So thick, so dense that someone had to use a knife and some elbow grease to break a chunk off, fingers alone lacking the torque or muscle mass to get the job done. Not to be used lightly, this chocolate, not for baking or for making cups of hot liquid. To be employed as a weapon. A club or bludgeon. Or as an anchor, to stabilize hikers trying to make some headway in the face of gale force winds.

But I blabber.

We collected our stuff, filed outside (our table immediately disappearing beneath the heaving mass of an extended family looking for somewhere to sit, and the term 'heaving mass' is only a slight exaggeration of the way they took over the space we'd just occupied). Headed back to the car through a river of locals exiting an ancient church, drove to another village for what I thought would be a meal. Turned out to be a rerun of the situation from the evening before, stopping at another joint for liquid refreshment and finger food, me the only lonely soul jonesing for something more substantial. A joint in a lovely village, a pueblo that looked like it might provide a nice life, the streets alive with locals out for Sunday socializing, the various restaurants, pubs, bakeries packed with customers.

At the previous place, Jorge had received a call from two friends who were en route. We waited for them to show, me enjoying the general scene, when they arrived everyone in the original group except Jorge took me by surprise by deciding to take off for a second, more ambitious hike, leaving Jorge behind with the two new arrivals. I opted for further exercise, quickly found myself crammed into a small car with four other folks, heading out of the village toward mountains and dark, overspreading clouds.

[continued in entry of November 10]

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 2:02 PM [+]

Monday, November 07, 2005

I've found myself in recent days going through some strange, unpleasant passages, a couple of which have left enough of an imprint to get me thinking, me at times feeling a little off balance, feeling more alone than I'm comfortable with. The good news: I take care of myself fairly well, treat myself fairly well. Which today meant getting my adorable butt out for the distraction of an early evening movie -- a film the Spanish critics have been fawning all over. And found myself watching a story that became progressively miserable, progressively melodramatic, the main characters going through hell because of their own decisions and an insistance on getting deeper into a situation that promised no good for anyone involved.

At some point, I noticed I'd stopped enjoying it, found myself looking around the theater instead of at the screen, realized I genuinely did not want to watch any more. Grabbed my coat, left the theater. And when I stepped out into the cool November air -- darkness falling, Madrid still busy with the evening rush hour -- it felt so good to be free of that story.

Grabbed a bus heading up Gran Vía, planted myself in a window seat. Noticed dark forms overhead stretching across the avenue as the bus headed uphill toward Callao, remembered that the city had begun hanging Christmas lights last week. Not cranking them up yet, just getting ready. On the other hand, I stopped into El Corté Inglés Saturday morning (early, before the shopping hordes grew to their full Saturday massiveness), encountered Christmas decorations, neat displays of Christmas cards, substantial floor space already devoted to gift baskets of all sizes, table after table stacked with boxes and tins of seasonal sweets. Yuletide tunes were not yet doing their cheery thing on the in-store sound system, for which I gave sincere thanks. But we're clearly sliding into the season, the local version of the season appearing slicker, more professional than in the past. It's just a matter of time before lights get plugged in, sidewalk bell-ringers get going, seasonal music wafts unnervingly through the city air.

Not sure why, but it's taken me by surprise. Could be the contrast with the local near-total absence of Halloween hooha. Might be 'cause I don't remember Christmas frufru appearing here this early in past years. Don't know. But there it is: Madrid getting ready to have itself a merry little Christmas. In early november.

A kind of early that's normal in the States. Apparently becoming normal here.


The call of the neckties -- evening along la Calle de Fuencarral, Madrid:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 1:46 PM [+]

Sunday, November 06, 2005

[continued from entry of November 4]

Juan Carlos turned on the heat, Jorge built a fine fire, a soireé took form in the small living room, the hour approaching 1 a.m. JC opened up the household liquor cabinet, began distributing glasses of hooch, insisted I had to try some kind of whiskey or scotch despite my 'no, gracias.' I took the glass foisted on me (recognizing the excellent intentions behind the foisting, and Juan Carlos is nothing if not a high-quality person -- generous, intelligent, good-natured), held onto it while everyone else sipped or hoovered their drinks, unobtrusively put it aside later.

Four of the group had squeezed together onto the sofa, Jorge and I sat in chairs. They talked and laughed, I enjoyed them but stayed mostly quiet. Tired. At some point, Tony began drifting off, shook himself awake, announced he was ready to hit the hay. I hopped on that bandwagon, got assigned a guestroom, slipped into bed soon after.

The heat, by that time, was cranking like it meant business, my teeny bedroom inching its way from 'bake' to 'broil.' I shut the radiator down, it turned out to be one of those that didn't know the meaning of the word 'off.' The bedcovers consisted of a sheer, lacy, nearly nonexistent sheet and a thick, spongy bedspread -- one not substantial enough, the other way too substantial. I think I reached a compromise, covered the bottom half of my bod with the spread, only used the sheet from the waist up (feeling like I'd just put on a negligeé). One does what one can.

Outside, the wind blew. After an hour or two of sleep, I got up to dump the ballast, saw that a light remained on in the living room, where Almudena had been assigned the sofabed. I heard coughs, the sound of a page turning.

Returned to bed, slept fitfully.

A strange thing about nights of less than optimal sleep: come morning, it takes me just as long to come to as on normal a.m.'s. Which is to say a while. Two, three hours, even with the benign assistance of caffeinated fluids. If I'm already awake or have only been skimming the surface of sleep, wake-up time should be proportionally shorter, shouldn't it? Doesn't seem to work that way. (Grumble, grumble.)

That particular morning, I shuffled into the kitchen around 10, found María and Almudena trying to get the water heater lit. I figured it was like the one in my flat, needed time to produce a stream of gas after being shut off for extended periods. They let me take over, I eventually got it up and running. Which meant hot water for a shower, something else that helps me with the morning return to something resembling a sentient life form.

Post-that, returned to the kitchen, found María, Almu, Tony, drinking café, eating sweet stuff, blabbering away like actual high-functioning humans. I poured a cuppa, sat down to sip it, look out the barred window at the autumn sky (clouds just beginning to allow sunlight through), listen to conversation. Juan Carlos showed shortly after, Jorge after that, people finished up, pulled on clothes, headed out to the cars for the day's first activity.

Driving along Spanish country roads, houses far and few between, though piles of cut timber waiting for transport to mills seemed surprisingly numerous. Me with Almudena and Jorge, beginning to approach something resembling normal consciousness, pulling out my camera now and then, aiming it at whatever caught my eye.

A brief stop at a local tourism office -- open on Sunday morning, an attractive 20-something woman behind the counter handing out great maps of local trekking possibilities -- then we took a dirt road up into hilly land, pulled over, got out of the cars to the sound of cowbells and high winds blowing through trees and brush. Followed a dirt road up a slope that led to broad expanses of land, panoramic views, the breeze at times approaching gale force, suggesting all one would need to do to take off would be extend arms and let go. The kind of conditions that clear my head, or at least induce a bracing illusion of clarity.

The cow poop in the middle of the track near the bottom of that last image? An omen. Cows roamed freely in this area, leaving poop piles of unnerving size and number, in my experience only surpassed by a truly surreal dog poop minefield along a stretch of sidewalk in Manhattan's upper east side ten or twelve years back. My mother's side of the family were upstate New York farmers, I never saw anything on their spreads that compared with the thoroughness of the cow leavings here. Like fecal carpet bombing in certain spots.

Tony and Juan Carlos disappeared together up a hillside (completely innocent, just walking/talking, nothing homoerotic about it), the rest of us continued along the path. Spectacular views, intense wind. Passed a family of Latinos out on a Sunday jaunt, looking to be an extended clan of South or Central American lineage. Passed a couple of hunters standing by a truck, rifles in hand, staring as we passed, returning a greeting with a curt head-nod. I found myself walking with Almudena not long after, her recounting a bit about a summer's-end trip to Senegal, one in which a ferry being out of service necessitated a long detour through 100 or so miles of back-country, along roads like the one we followed. Not exactly, I got the idea, the trip they'd been expecting.

A short time later we heard gunfire, not far away. Almu glanced around uncertainly, clearly not wild about our proximity to that kind of activity. Me neither, given how close by it sounded. We continued on, the loop we were on pointed us back in the direction of the car, we went with it. Reached the vehicle, called Tony/J.C., let them know we were heading to a nearby town. Mounted up, took off.

[to be continued]

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 7:39 AM [+]

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sunset light/stormy sky -- in the barrio of Chueca, Madrid:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 6:34 AM [+]

Friday, November 04, 2005

[continued from previous entry]

Something that nearly always seems to be the case here in Madrid: whatever group of people I'm hanging with, no matter how big or small, I'm generally the oldest. And often the only one with gray hair. Kind of strange, now that I think about it. There's something cultural at work there, meaning that many folks my age back in the States have a younger feel to them, seem to slip into the mindset of being old -- of experiencing physical decline, no longer feeling youthful -- later than most folks I see of that age here. There seem to be clearer divisions drawn here when it comes to the image of what it means to be a given age, the roles and self-images an individual adopts and identifies with as that number increases. People do that stateside as well, but the image of actually getting or being old has evolved, youthfulness now being a perceived quality that endures far longer than it used to. I suspect that's beginning to happen here, but it's a change only getting underway.

All of which is to say that this weekend, once again, I was the oldest. And that seemed to play a role at times in how the others interacted with me. That and the fact that they all knew each other better than they knew me, that my Spanish had limitations theirs didn't. There were times conversation went on all around me, 'around' being the operative word, dialogue curving in space around my contours of my body as it passed back and forth between speakers, leaving me in a pocket of quiet amid all the noise. Watching, listening. Happened out on the street, walking around the pueblo, happened in the bar of the pijo joint. Giving me time to absorb all the rest of the input. In the bar, a fútbol match played on the TV, a few locals hung about watching, talking, eating, drinking. Conversation flowed around our table, food appeared, got hoovered rapidly down.

And then we were outside in the brisk air, heading toward the cars. Somewhere during the evening, Juan Carlos had taken us to check out the village's castle -- the genuine article, old, impressive, shining in the darkness courtesy of discretely-placed floodlights. It loomed in the background as we mounted up, got underway, the wind giving the night a strange, wild feel.

I found myself riding with Tony, the member of the group I knew the least. 30-something, slender, close-cropped black hair, longish, pencil-thin sideburns, ears that bent outward at the top (suggesting wings), a small gold hoop hanging from one earlobe. A person whose vibe seemed to shift quite a bit, sometimes coming across as an alpha male, a bit distant, opaque, other times more open, more sympathetic, with a nice smile. I suspect he didn't know exactly what to make of me, took advantage of us sitting next to each other to ask me -- approaching it carefully, prefacing it by saying he was going to take advantage of the opportunity to lay a question on me -- how I'd come to be here. A reasonable question for which I don't have a tidy answer, so my response wandered on a while, as it tends to do when I answer that question. He listened, speaking infrequently, nighttime countryside passing outside the windows.

My response finally petered out, we pulled into a small road, parked, fell out into the brisk night air. Right outside a small compound, the house belonging to Juan Carlos' family. A large metal combo door/gate gave onto a small courtyard and the door to the house. Inside: hallway, stairs, small kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room (with fireplace, which Jorge immediately got to work on). More bedrooms upstairs, for whenever the hell people might want to get some sleep.

[continued in entry of November 6]


Color amid the concrete and brick: a closet-sized corner flower shop on a busy, beautiful autumn afternoon -- the barrio of Chueca, Madrid

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 5:14 AM [+]

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

[continued from previous entry]

Somewhere in there my bladder decided it had reached capacity, began signaling urgently for relief. Result: much bouncing and jiggling (discretely, I hoped), me warning María that we were going to need to stop sometime soon, her refusing to pull over, saying it was too dangerous (the roadside having no shoulder, giving immediately off onto grassy earth). Got me remembering a cold, late autumn night years back, driving along Alewife Parkway on the Cambridge/Arlington, Mass. line. Me in the driver's seat, the woman I was then involved with next to me, her 6 or 7 year old boy in the back seat. Without warning, the little guy's bladder hit capacity, he began calling for relief, wild squirming about quickly escalating to writhing/squealing. Me reluctant to pull off, the road having no shoulder, just a low curb and grassy earth.

It became apparent real damn quick that if the car didn't come to a halt, the levee would burst with big consequences. I slowed (as cars behind, in the finest Boston area tradition, hit their horns), got the wheels over the curb and up onto the grass. My sweetie and her progeny were immediately outside, opening up the little guy's far too abundant cold weather clothing, cries of distress subsiding as the greenery got watered.

A memory that got me wondering if María was going to force me to disgrace myself instead of allowing me a shot at relative dignity and quick weight-loss.

At which time, the car's headlights picked out a roadsign indicating the pueblo loomed ahead. We soon arrived at the outskirts, at a crossroads with nonexistent signage, forcing us to guess which turn to take. Found ourselves heading up an incline, through a tight archway into ancient, narrow stone streets. In Pedraza, the road immediately forking, neither of us with any idea which way to go, me urging María to make a decision as I needed relief pretty damn quickly. A minute later, the car nosed its way into a small plaza -- one of the ancient buildings contained a restaurant, I was out the door and moving toward the entrance in no time flat. Miraculously, the other four members of the group appeared from the door I hurtled toward -- I said hello as I shot by, was gone before they could reply, hit a restroom seconds later where internal pressure was released, balance restored.

Post-restroom bliss: the restaurant had a small darkwood bar tucked away in the foyer with two lovely young woman waiting to cater to us. We indulged them, stood around sipping cañas, trying out the complimentary finger food -- pork rinds powdered with what tasted like a combination of nutmeg and pimentón dulce. Works better than it sounds, trust me. And even so, I didn't want more than two or three bite-sized bits. Everyone else in the group was all over them, inhaling three small platesful -- platefuls? platesfuls? I can never remember -- in rapid succession. If the expressions on the faces of the two young women were any gauge, we were an entertaining group. And after amusing them for a while, we finished up, walked out into the night, found our way through an ancient passageway into the pueblo's plaza. Which turned out to be hauntingly beautiful, the night sky above shining with stars, a strong autumn wind whipping through it all.

The others had talked about stopping briefly in at another joint before finding a place for a genuine meal. We wandered into a small, ancient watering hole off the plaza, everyone ordered a glass of something, a couple of plates of meat 'n' cheese got hoovered down. Then out back into the night for a walk outside the medieval town's walls to gaze at the nighttime countryside, Juan Carlos filling me in on some of the area's history, me learning that his parents were natives of the town where we'd be spending the night, a pueblo whose population had shrunk to, he said, about seven. Then we were back inside Pedraza, wandering old stone streets, past old stone walls (Jorge stopping to climb as many as he could manage), finally heading into a lovely, comfortable-looking restaurant with its own small plaza, a place one or two of the others called 'pijo' -- an unflattering term meaning 'yuppy,' 'overpriced,' 'pretentious.' Which should have given me a clue, so that I wouldn't have been so surprised when they all headed into the bar instead of the restaurant. I mentioned that I was looking for an actual, substantial meal, not more nibbling. They initially ignored that, then made the mistake of handing me a tapas menu, telling me to order whatever I wanted. Three big plates of excellent food showed up soon after, everyone at the table lay waste to them in short order (complaining only when the bill arrived).

[continued in following entry]


This evening: standing in a crowded rush-hour bus near la Plaza de España, traffic not moving. The sound of distant, impatient horns, the sound of streetside construction work in progress, the sound of voices around me speaking Castellano. And buried amid all that, the faint sound of Sonny & Cher singing 'I Got You, Babe' coming from the bus driver's transistor radio.

Office building/November sky -- la Plaza de España, Madrid:

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 7:46 AM [+]

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Suddenly, overnight, it's November. And I find myself asking an old, familiar question: how the hell did that happen?

It's easy for me to lose track of time's slipping forward here at this time of the year, given the lack of Stateside seasonal affect. Halloween? Not much of a cultural touchstone, barely puts in an appearance, and what there is seems largely to be a function the occasional store window display or a bar looking for an angle to bring in customers, at least here in the city center. A recent arrival as holidays go, carrying little weight, especially compared to, say, today (All Saints Day, el Día de Todos los Santos), or even tomorrow. A national holiday, many businesses closed, many folks away for the four-day weekend. Huge numbers of people bolted on Friday, causing massive traffic jams that groups from the agricultural sector took advantage of, blocking a major highway or two to call attention to their unhappiness with spiraling gasoline prices and the current level of government support. (News reports showed footage of swarms of men clustered across a highway, stalled traffic extending off into the distance, police trying to clear away uncooperative protestors.)

My friend Jorge invited me to join a group of friends heading off into the mountains for much of the weekend, I decided to do an overnight, returning to the city with a woman from the group late on Sunday. Packed a bag late Saturday afternoon, made the ten-minute walk to rendezvous with Jorge and a friend of his, Tony, waited while they crammed bags, bicycles, related detritus into Tony's tiny Kia, found myself stuffed into what free space remained of the back seat, trying to peer out through darkly tinted windows at the passing streets of Madrid. Windows tinted darkly enough that I finally gave up, settling for the teeny slice of untinted view I could see through the windshield.

A rendezvous followed in one of Madrid's new northern 'burbs, construction happening everywhere, blocks of flats and office buildings being thrown together along newly created thoroughfares, shopping centers sprouting up amid it all, traffic around the rendezvous point bumper to bumper, moving at a crawl.

Jorge spotted one of the group, parked in a service station/convenience store island, directed Tony into that compact zone, through cars, gas pumps, pulling up by a concrete barrier, Tony complaining the entire time. A slender 30ish woman got out of the other vehicle (María), came over for hellos, stood by Jorge's window chatting until we got out to stretch legs, when a third car appeared, containing the group's final two members (Juan Carlos, Almudena), folks I knew from excursions and evenings out last spring. Greetings, conversation, then individuals re-distributed themselves among the three vehicles, me ending up with María, happy to be in a front seat, surrounded by undarkened windows.

We were to follow Tony/Juan Carlos, that plan fell apart once out on the highway, between María's lack of driving testosterone and her car's modest horsepower compared to Tony's, who floored it, disappearing off into the distance as we headed northwest, evening falling as the mountains gradually drew near. We're driving along, making conversation, my Spanish feeling a bit sloppy, me realizing it was because I was tired (my bod dreaming about getting horizontal, me knowing that wasn't in the cards for many hours). María had spent a month traveling around the States a year, year and a half ago, we talked about that for a while. Time passed, it became clear that we'd truly been left in the dust, neither of us had any idea how to get to our destination. María's mobile phone got dug out of her shoulder bag, I found myself on the horn with Juan Carlos, whose family's country place we were going to. He began reeling off directions, enumerating names of exits, towns, landmarks to look for -- I knew within seconds that I'd never remember any of it without having it on paper. With no writing implements in easy range, I shoved the phone at María, she gave JC some heartfelt shit about them leaving us behind, went through directions with him, seemed to do all right.

Seemed to. But suffered from a certain vagueness, a chronic uncertainty that took us off the highway too soon, through a pueblo whose points of reference were not a match to Juan Carlos' directions. We bumbled along, eventually finding what seemed to be a correct turn, winding up on a country two-lane, no lights anywhere, the occasional car that came up behind us riding the rear bumper, passing as soon as they could, immediately impatient with Maria's slow, vacillating pace. Her headlights were out of adjustment, illuminating little of the pavement ahead on low-beam, she clicked back and forth between high-beam and low with nervous frequency.

Juan Carlos had told her, she said, that the village we sought would appear quickly. Twenty, twenty-five minutes later, we continued bumbling along, finding no mention of the village on road signs to that point.

[continued in next entry]


Someone at El País, Spain's largest-selling daily, may be trying to channel Raymond Chandler.

From an article on the Italian fútbol league in yesterday's edition:

"The fury of the melancholy is usually terrible, because it's a cold, methodical fury, born of will. Milan, the most melancholy team in Italy, ran over Juventus in San Siro, they hammered them to death and only refrained from tossing the body into the river because the law doesn't allow it...."

Madrid, te quiero.

rws 7:48 AM [+]


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

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


London '01
Italy '03
U.K. '03
Italy '04
La Sierra

Madrid -- arrival
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

JOE ROCCO, a novella:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3

a screenplay:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3
-- Part 4

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

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

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


fudge it
fear not
idle words
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:
dave barry
human clock
internet archive
self-portrait day
my cat hates you
out of context quotes
surrealist compliment
strindberg and helium

Makin' Musical Whoopee:
last fm
soma fm

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


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