sábado, 26 de diciembre de 2009

Una vuelta a la civilizacion

So, kids. Guess who's finally arreglado su internet?
That would be Beccaniles.
Lo cual significa que no tengo que separarme de Livingstone.

Ah - and Merry Christmas.

So yes. This means that once again, for the small fee of 27 euros, I have successfully shed my 3rd world status and reconnected with the almighty force of knowledge, communication (...i.e. facebook) and free downloads.

I would like to think that my internet-less existence has led to a more creative, motivated and focused lifestyle; but that simply is not the case.
Apart from perhaps, honing the guitar and cooking skills, let's be honest - none of that homework got finished.

Or started.

10 points for blame-elimination of the passive voice. Makes me sound a little less guilty.
Though I'm pretty sure Blue Man from the Picasso painting, who is staring at me, is still judging me.
Judge this, Blue Man. At least I get out.
So you just sit there in your frame. That's fine.

So I'll leave you all here. I now have unlimited access to deh interwebs...so I'll write later.


lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2009

Deh interwebs

Playlist: Turn the Page - Bob Seger
Medley Jack and Neal - Tom Waits
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Tunnel of Love - Dire Straits
Peace of Mind - Boston
Layla (acoustic) - Eric Clapton
White Man in Hammersmith Palais - The Clash
Sound System - Operation Ivy

Let's talk about deh interwebs.
As many of you have probably seen via the scarce and inconsistent updates on facebook, mi ordenador (Livingstone) es una mierda - y el internet solamente funciona cuando le apetece.
That's wonderful. I would like to think after our relationship of cerca de 3 years, we had finally reached a good place, Livingstone and I.

When we first met, my senior year of high school, Livingstone and I hit it right off. He's a great multi-tasker and musician, stored whatever I threw at him. I treated him well; I thought we would live happily forever. Hell. He even followed me to Bloomington and then to Madrid.
However, due to the fact that I am always pushing his buttons and he's not really one for confrontation (or any sort of dialogue, really), Livingstone, I believe has reached the end of his rope. I understand that living in a foreign country is always difficult; nevertheless, I thought he had been adjusting rather well to the language and format change.
So, as in any relationship, Livingstone and I are finding ourselves at a pivotal crossroads.
Do we go see someone who can fix our problem? Or do we just keep on ignoring it until he gets his act together or I find...someone new?
Input would be appreciated here.

Ah well. I do have one message for you, my one technological love.
In the words of Dandy Livingstone (after whom you are named) ,

"Stop your messin' around.
Better think of your future.
It's time you straightened right out.
Else you'll wind up in jail.

A message to you, Rudy."

lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2009

This existential grammar analysis brought to you (indirectly) by Chomsky, Malinowski, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky

Right now, I should be studying for a not-really-syntax midterm tomorrow.

Let's be completely honest, without the proper motivation, that was just not going to happen.
So, blogosphere, I choose you to focus my not-really-syntactic powers.

Playlist to be blasted: Especially in Michigan - Red Hot Chilipeppers
Jumper - Third Eye Blind
Disposable Teens - Manson
Maybellene - Chuck Berry
Sleep Now in the Fire - Rage Against the Machine
Mandrake Root - Bedouin Soundclash
Natural Right - " " " "
Whistlin' Past the Graveyard - Tom Waits
Behind the Mask - Goldfinger (hate the message, but it has a good beat)
Spirit of the Radio - Rush
Longshot Kick De Bucket - The Pioneers

Once again, if you don't have these tracks: grooveshark.com
Yeah. It's gonna be a long night.

Study item #1
Adjetivos - ingles y espanol.
Right. English. I think I got those.
Spanish - two different categories,
los especificativos que son necesarios - antes del sustantivo
los explicativos que consiste en informacion extra - despues del sustantivo

I think I preferred "studying" for the philosophy midterm. Por lo menos, I got to play around with the existence of my immortal soul.

Interestingly enough, los explicativos can appear in the form of epitetos and also serve to clear up ambiguity.
Know what else clears up ambiguity? Some good old fashioned x-bar theory.
...or an eraser.
That's what I'm talking about.
Not this grammar jazz.

Is it useful? Yes.
Am I still un poco decepcionada by the misnomer of the class?

Study Item # 2:
Proposiciones adjetivas o de relativo - ingles y espanol. uy.
Once again. English. Got it.
Spanish: el que, la que, que, (dentro de/mediante/según) el cual, la cual, los/las cuales, lo cual, cuyo/a/s, donde
yeah. got it.
Relativos. Relative. Yes. It is all relative.
Proposiciones gramaticales, class titles, time, space, the motives behind Raskolnikov's killing spree, consciousness, midterms...the grades one receives on said midterms

In the words of Jay Malinowski, "what's your natural right, if it's all relative to mine?"
...he later said, "no, we won't make no bread."
Which is quite indicative of my future situation if I don't pass my midterms.
I won't be makin NO bread.
Or - mejor dicho - it perfectly sums up my thoughts on this not-really-syntax final.
No, not-really-syntax. I won't make no bread (i.e. play along with your grammar under guise and disregard my love of descriptive grammar).

Prescriptivism is dead.
Prescriptivism remains dead.
And we have killed it.
(That one's dedicated to you, Michael Ewing)

Study Item #3
Brb. <--How you like THAT one, prescriptivists?!
Study Item #4
Traduccion - ingles a espanol
Well. Guess I either know that or I don't.
I'm going to be banking on the steel trap for this section.

Study Item #5 (addendum per beccaniles)
Two words (depending on which linguist you talk to):


1) adjective placement and ambiguity...check
2) proposiciones de relativo: placement, meaning, ambiguity - all resolved
3) translation...two more words: Universal Grammar.

Examen parcial de sintaxis comparada ingles-espanol
answers: existence is relative
prescriptivism is dead
X-bar theory
I think I've got this in the bag.



sábado, 21 de noviembre de 2009

El circulo entero

Playlist for this entry: 'Walk of Life' - Dire Straits, 'What it is' - Mark Knopfler, 'What goes around comes around' - Catch 22, 'Drive' - Dispatch

I would first like to apologize to Khrista Watson for not posting something sooner, as I promised her I would.
However, I hope the following will suffice as an excuse.
...and the previously mentioned promised entry.

I'm always amazed at the irony that is my life. El titulo de este blog surge de mi primer experiencia en Madrid, i.e. once upon a time in a metro...somebody jacked my money and bank cards, leaving me stranded were it not for the wonderful lifesaving presence of Laura. It seems as though now, we've come full circle.
Many of you already know the story; nevertheless, I would like at this point to recapitulate in bullet form what has happened in order to prove beyond a resonable doubt that I have at some point in my short life, angered the cosmos.

-8 hour bus ride to Barcelona from Madrid
-2 days of fun running around the entirety of Barcelona
-botelloning con Laura in the entrance of parc guell because we were too tired to actually see the park after climbing the mountain to reach it.
-sitting near the beach with blistered feet before catching the bus back to Madrid
- backpack (complete with 120 gig Zune, clothing, passport, camera, residency papers, phone, turkey sandwich, ultrasound picture of future niece/nephew, bank cards, flashdrive, homework, book for philosophy class, jar of nutella, bit of queso manchego, Complutense student id, apartment keys, toothbrush, shower items, you get the picture) jacked by man asking directions
- running to police station to file report
- running from police station to internet locutorio to print off a new bus ticket
- ending up at bus station
- boarding bus and returning to Madrid with only the shirt and pants I was currently wearing, newly opened foot blisters, money on loan from Laura and enough life examining thoughts to fill the 8 hour bus ride...almost.

So. What can we extract from this experience?
1) there is no absolutely no geographical reason it should take 8 hours to reach Madrid from Barcelona (and vice versa)
2) Barcelona is the Miami of Spain.
3) certain distractions in life (i.e. music, phone, literature) /are/ necessary for maintaining one's sanity. when those all suddenly disappear - along with the basic necessities of life, it's amazing how quickly ones hypothetical thoughts turn from topics such as:
- midterms looming in the near future
-a list of sacrifices one would make in order to have a 10 minute conversation with Dostoevsky or Borges
-"what color is that man's shirt? seriously. I don't think there's a name for that."


"that hut over there on the field looks abandoned. I could probably sleep there without being noticed...and it's far enough away from the highway and closest town that I wouldn't have to worry about being murdered in my sleep...though, if I were to be shot or stabbed or something, i have two shirts on. I could use the outer shirt to bandage my wound, while grabbing that rock and hurling it at my pursuer...and I'm wearing my keds. I can run pretty easily in my keds...not to mention, I now have no backpack...so without all of that weight, I could move and hide more easily. is that wheat? i could eat that for a while."

4) travelling with Laura Ferguson tends to follow the strict pattern of:
1 - fun, new, exciting experiences
2 - loss of (my) personal possessions
3 - owing my existence and next paycheck to Fergs
...decide for yourself whether this seems a little...suspicious. :) but seriously, thanks, Fergs.
5) Seeing la iglesia de La Sagrada Familia in person was absolutely breathtaking.

Nevertheless, though I am currently an individual in patriotic limbo (no passport or papers), I have by now obtained a new phone, residency card, set of apartment keys, pen, copy of Del sentimiento tragico de la vida, and am borrowing an extra ipod from un hombre buenisssssimo que se llama Cole.

Though strangely enough, my thoughts still revolve around self-preservation tactics...though the hypothetical situations demanding my self-preservation have once again returned to the realm of the extraordinary.
Never know what's gonna happen in Espain. Hell. I never thought I'd get substantially robbed 2 veces en 3 meses, ergo a sudden apocolyptic degeneration of society isn't really all that fantastical.

That said, let's count the blessings here. Upon returning to my apartment in Madrid, my computer, guitar, a half-used package of Natural American Spirit (con aviso en espanol, por supuesto) and a bottle of horrendous scottish whiskey graciously welcomed me.
Thank you, Jesus.

On a totally unrelated note, seeing the completely un-metropolitanized pueblos entre Madrid y Barcelona really sparked my curiosity and spirit of adventure. I would very much like at some point to take a little excursion alone or with a few people to a few of these towns on foot.

...with only photocopies of my important documents. Screw legality. This is getting to be un rollo.

Anyone currently in Espain interested, hit me up on facebook and we'll work something out.

Finally, while I wish I could have provided vosotros con fotos de la excursion a Barcelona, mi cámara ahora es propiedad de otra persona. Lo siento.

Buenas noches,

Becca Niles

martes, 20 de octubre de 2009

When the past comes a-knockin'

A friend of mine recently sent me, via email, a copy of a paper I had written in high school, which she had just rediscovered in her inbox. I had all but forgotten this paper; though, given the current governmental situation in America, it seems to have regained a bit of validity. Thus, I present to you a ballsy little composition from my junior year of high school.

Que disfrutéis mucho de ella.

Becca Niles

AP English 11-6

Mr. Antey

13 March 2006

A Modest Proposal Approach to Political Correctness Civic Decorum

It has come to pass over the recent decades that the American society, or rather the conglomeration of societies (all unique and individual in their own right) that form America, have found themselves oppressed by not only the Euro-descendant majority, but by the English language itself- or rather, the distinct American dialect of English. As a result of this verbal oppression, the minorities* of the united, individual societies of the United States of America have created, excuse me, adapted and evolved a certain euphemistic guide to public speech known as “Political Correctness.” This method emphasizes the intentional verbal omission of all subjects relating to traditional Western ideology and Caucasian ancestry also known as, the “majority.” Americans take great pride in Political Correctness because the key to a truly successful democratic republic lies in the complete disregard of the “popular majority.” While this method has proven extremely effective in social equalizing, it still contains one significant restriction- its name.

Consequently, my goal is to determine a new title for Political Correctness. First, the term “political” could potentially** imply that a “polity” and even a “government” are the only acceptable means of existence. To those who wish to remain outside of a nation and those who denounce government, or “anarchists,” this term may appear slightly offensive. Also, the term “correctness” could presumably imply that one’s goal in life should be to be “correct,” thereby implying that to be “not correct” is in fact incorrect and frowned upon by society…and those who choose to remain outside society- which is not incorrect. Also, if one were to oppose the “correct” party, the opposer would proceed to be incorrect thereby either disproving the “correct” party or affirming the existence of an absolute truth, both of which are completely irrelevant. Furthermore, the adapted acronym, “PC,” is the same as that of “personal computers,” which are not readily available to those who are not of an immense monetary status.

Thus, seeing no other option, I had elected (or appointed, depending on personal governmental views) the phrase “Civic Decorum.” However, after a review by Harvard sociologists, the majority voted to keep the name. Therefore, because of one sociologist’s aversion to Hondas and another’s profound distaste for cubist art of the 1920’s and rum, I changed the terminology to “The Dogmatic Repression of Progressivism.” This time, the phrase successfully received one affirmative vote out of a possible 348. May the democratic American spirit live on in the name of the Dogmatic Repression of Progressivism.

*In no way am I suggesting or condoning inferiority by the term “minority.”

** I apologize to those who harbor a hatred for physics or merely prefer kinetic energy to potential energy. By using “potentially” I am in no way endorsing one energy or the other.

martes, 13 de octubre de 2009

Varias tonterías

First, I would suggest putting on the Avett Brothers' cd "Emotionalism" as some background music for this blog - with an emphasis on the songs "salina," "paranoia in b-flat major," and "will you return?" you can find them all at grooveshark.com.

That said,
Mañana es mi cumpleaños - 21. Oi.
Tontería numero 1) birthdays
Once again, here's the link to freetranslation.com...

Y porque es probable que no vaya a escribir nada mañana, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my mother for birthing me, both my parents for raising me and enduring my bullshit, and my brother, friends, and guitarra for keeping me sane - or at least facilitating and accepting my insanity.

Today, realizing the fact that my birthday is tomorrow, I was struck with my first bout of considerable nostalgia.

Tontería numero 2) nostalgia
This nostalgia seemed a bit strange to me, considering
1) I've been here over a month and this was my first attack.
2) I am never nostalgic. Period.
3) Nostalgia is an utterly INÚTIL (useless) mental state.

I suppose it was just brought on by the fact that I have always been able to spend the day of my emergence from the womb with my closest friends eating, drinking (which is now legal for me, en los Estados Unidos...), driving around listening and singing to ungodly loud music, and being rambunctious youth.
Ah well. I'm in Espain.
This birthday will be celebrated with different friends, food, more legal drinking (which, in Espain, I could do before this birthday), listening to semi-loud music - so as not to disturb the Romanians, and being angsty young adults - since 21ers can no longer really be considered "rambunctious youth."
Not to many differences on paper, eh?
Still. It's a strange feeling. Not a bad one. Not a depressing one. Solamente diferente. Hell, after college, things are going to change all over again; and the changes in my life are no different from the changes people undergo every day.

At least at that point, my guitar and I will have reunited.
Which leads me to:
Tontería numero 3) shipping costs.
Screw you, international postage. I want my guitar.

I would also like to say that CONTRARY to the schpiel of the campus shrink that we all had to attend, this is NOT my "honeymoon" stage of living en otro país wearing off. I am still quite enamorado de Madrid (and always will be) - and I wouldn't leave right now for anything (barring catastrophes).
Nonetheless, do I wish that I could directly share this experience with those closest to me?
Without a doubt.
Por lo menos tengo el Señor Camel y buenísima gente.

Nevertheless, to prove that some things will simply never change, I would like to provide you with a set of notes from my Literatura Espanola (siglos XI-XVII) class:

Yes. These notes are from two days of class.
Please note the ridiculous amount of doodling surrounding the severely disproportionate amount of written information - which I wrote just in case the professor decided to walk around the room and happened to see that I had written absolutely nothing.
I suppose, in the first paragraph, I should have also thanked my father for endowing me with his unwavering attention span.
So dad, if you managed to read this far without wandering off to do something else, thanks.

Tontería numero 4) Attention spans. So overrated.


viernes, 9 de octubre de 2009

Estados TONTOS de America... ¡¿PORQUE?!

I´m typing on a spanish keyboard right now, so you´re going to have to ignore the obvious accent marks as apostrophes. Sorry.

First, I recently scored a job with an international consultant agency teaching english. 10 pts for an income.
Second, classes are spectacular.
Third, perhaps I´ll type more about that later; because right now, I have an agenda.

Let´s talk about this Cyber Security Act of 2009 - backed by none other than the democrat from Indiana, Evan Bayh.
I´m not going to summarize the bill for you, because honestly, you should form your own opinions rather than accept mine. Before reading on, here are some informational links:


The first link is a direct link to the actual bill in congress. Interesting how they give you an obscenely optimistic and fallacious overview before requiring you to sign in and give yourself over to governmental screening before reading the ENTIRE bill - freedom of information, what? Nevertheless, the bill is in various other places online.

All I have to say is it´s a good thing I am on an international server. Though, if this bill is passed, it is very likely that this server could be blocked, you know, because of possible "misinformation" and such...
This takes me back to a wonderful time in the 20th century involving a certain soviet nation and a little thing we like to call the iron curtain.
Comrade Obama, why are you doing this to the last free nation in the world?
First off, people WILL find a way to get around these ridiculous guidelines.
Second, exactly how much of our crisis money are you pumping in to this anti-freedom crusade?
Third, I second Steve Bellovin (of the second link) in questioning 1) what exactly defines an "emergency" and 2) how on earth do you plan to obtain replacement parts for "compromised" servers without internet access?! Unless, of course, the internet is still accessible to a select few government officials...
Hmm...a society where only the government is privied to certain rights...

This obvious historical cycle of fascist blunders makes perfect sense to me after taking a few classes over here. No, I am not favoring one form of education over another here, nor am I flaunting international experience. I´m merely stating an observation.
However, when the liberal arts, politics, and the like are consistently taught from a historically critical point of view, rather than the American introspective point view, the obvious trends in governmental and philosophical mistakes become apparent. If the United States put more of an emphasis on world history, this blatant disregard of personal freedoms would be a little more apparent to the masses.

And now I have to go to class.
I hope this post makes it across the Atlantic without being censored.


lunes, 5 de octubre de 2009

Syntax schmyntax

Since I am still getting complaints - yes. There will be pictures in this entry. Even if they are hijacked from facebook (courtesy of L. Fergs).

Hmmmm classes began today. And if that sentence wasn't anticlimactic enough...I only have one class on Mondays and Tuesdays; that class happens to be Sintaxis comparada ingles/espanol.

Sounds cool enough, in theory; but, our professor has told us on many occasions that there won't actually be any formal linguistic "syntax" - which is kind of a downer for those of us who signed up for a class called "comparative syntax..."
Instead, it is essentially a translation class - which is useful, but not syntax. Come on now.
If nothing else, it gave me a reason to buy a spanish translation of Crime and Punishment. :)

For something a little more exciting: L. Fergs came to visit me in Madrid this weekend. I finally got to do some relatively touristy (but not too touristy...) things in this amazing city - this amazing city that will NOT be hosting the olympics, HAHAHA Aaaah.

Madrid fail.

They took down the olympic ads in record speed, by the way. If only everything else were as efficient.

So. Visitamos el museo de Prado and saw some pretty spectacular paintings. It's breathtaking to see works of art in real life that you have really only seen in textbooks for the past 6 years. We couldn't actually take pictures inside the museum (ner), but here's the next best thing, the Prado library:
If only we could have actually gone in. Somehow, I think we weren't exactly internationally renowned library material.

We also chilled for a while at el Parque de Buen Retiro, where I decided to climb some trees. I don't know. Seemed like a good idea.

Aaaand here's a nice example of the arcos that are placed strategically throughout the city:

Ah! And then there is this one:

This gate, ladies and gentlemen, is no ordinary gate. This gate just happens to belong to some of the first grammar nazis in the history of philology- La Real Academia Española. Unfortunately, there were so many freaking trees in the way, we couldn't even get a legitimate picture of the building. Accident? I think not.

Oye, if there is one building in all of Madrid that i WILL enter before the end of my stay here, it is this one. Escuchad a estas palabras - va a ocurrir.

Well, I suppose that's really it. There were some bars and cafes in there, but you can just Google search pictures of Spanish cafes and put in some top 40s cassettes from the late 90s if you want the full experience. I mean, I'm pretty sure I've heard "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba more times since I've been here than I ever did in the States.

On that note, I'm going to leave.



miércoles, 23 de septiembre de 2009

Congress, communism and snotrockets:

Two days ago, our group of wippers visited the Congress building in downtown Madrid. As i'm a linguistics major and not particularly enraptured by guided historical tours full of dates and names, I was a little skeptical about this one. Nevertheless, it turned out to be quite interesante - mostly because in the 'salon de sesiones,' where all the important meetings take place, there were a few bullet holes in the ceiling from an attempted golpe del estado. Pretty awesome. I was really digging it until they stopped talking, took our pictures and kicked us out.

Earlier that same day, I suffered the third most horrendous experience in my life. I had to give a presentation in my grammar class. That wasn't the horrendous part - only one of the lame facts of life. As I stepped up to the board, I dropped the chalk. I kind of laughed a little when I went to pick it up - and because I had been sick for a little while - I blew an unbearably noticeable snot rocket. Yes. Right in front of the class. I was obviously mortified and a bit flustered so I kind of flew through my presentation and didn't do the topic justice, but whatever. My grade was the least of my worries at that point.
My goodness. That kind of thing doesn't just happen.
I'm trying to comfort myself and explain it away as perhaps I was just caught in the wake of a cosmic pride-equalizing pulse or something. Unreal.

On a completely unrelated topic, I'm (putting off) writing a paper today about the transformation comunismo en eSpain. I guess I've never really studied comunismo outside of Latin Americam, Germany or the Soviet Union, so it's a really enlightening experience.
I find it rather depressing that the most globally accepted ideological revolution occured bajo la bandera roja de comunismo.
There have really only been a couple, maybe 4 major global shifts of that level, and none of them really that spectacular.

1) The Renaissance
2) The Enlightenment
3) Marxism
4) Post-Modernism

I suppose the one with the least amount of damage in its wake would be the Renaissance. Then again, technically, the Renaissance paved the way for the following movements, so it's just as culpable.

Nevertheless, the Marxist revolution was different. It had more heart, I suppose, than the others. Keep in mind I am not talking about the actual (failed) manifestation of Communism in global governments leading to mass murders and the like; I simply mean the unifying effect of the idea.
The Renaissance and Enlightenment were elitist, Post-Modernism is empty; but the global Communist sentiment at least began with a respectable purpose. I suppose the end of the Communist era was also the end of balls-to-the-walls ideological battles. Military takeovers are no longer respected. Nations play nice by forming coalitions to ensure safety, all the while sinking in to a rut of mediocrity and numbness. All very nice for saving lives - which is vital; but fatal for the human psyche. Generation X and following have grown up never having to fight -literally fight- for a cause - actually, the majority don't even have causes (apart from saving a seagull or a tree). In essence, humanity no longer has to think about humanity; thus it is abandoning itself.

Pues, history is a cycle, yes?
That gives us what, about 20,40 years until the next great revolution?

Hmm. Too bad I'll be past my fighting prime.

domingo, 20 de septiembre de 2009

Nunca voy a salir de españa.

Hola todos.

First off, to the masses of you who continue to complain about the español usage in this blog, there is - and has been - a link to freetranslation.com on the left side of the page. It says something like "i don't understand all this spanish jazz." Use it. Cause no voy a dejar de usar el español. Actually, the longer I'm here, the worse it will probably become.
So there's a heads up. :)

Getting situated in the piso has been easier than I expected.
The toilet works, we have a microwave and deh interwebs, and the view is great. What else could one possibly need?
Además, a couple friends and the compañeros de piso (roomates) y yo had a nice night of getting to know eachother with some pizza and legally purchased alcohol on our roof. Finally, we were all put into a position where we HAD to hablar español, because if we reverted to ingles, poor Tarek had no idea what we were saying.
Y luckily, he was very helpful with and understanding of our spoken errors...
Fue divertido.

Last night was the (I'm assuming) annual street festival La Noche en Blanco, which pretty much consists of getting hammered and dancing in the streets of Madrid until the sun comes up. I'm not really sure what distinguishes esta noche from el resto de las noches in eSpain... but whatever. Well, I take that back. There are free cultural workshops durante La Noche. Details.
Nevertheless, the change of diet had finally caught up to me last night and I partook in a cookie tossing session for the majority of the evening; so, needless to say, I did not experience La Noche en Blanco. Eh. Whatevs. Had to get up early today and I have several things due for this coming week of classes. Así que no pasa nada.

The reason for getting up early today:
I finally made my way to one of two iglesias luteranas in all of eSpain. It was about an hour's metro ride to the south in a town called Móstoles. I'm pretty sure Móstoles is a college town...but I'm not completely sure. It had that feel - and there was indeed a university there.
Anyway, it took me a little while to find the location of the church because the address I was given was c/Pintor Velazquez 5. Which was a building which housed several businesses. Turns out the services are held in a room in the swimming pool building. It was really wonderful to be amongst fellow LCMSers again. Sad it took me travelling 6000 miles away to really appreciate the need for fellowship.

The congregation of this church is about 15? I believe? And today it consisted of the pastor, his wife and two kids, his parents from Argentina, a family of four from Toledo, and myself. Nice and cozy. While I appreciate sitting amongst a mass of Lutherans on a Sunday morning with the organ blairing A Mighty Fortress, I definitely prefer a smaller, more personal service these days (while abroad, I mean).

As I was speaking with the pastor before the service (which didn't start until 11...take a hint Americans), he was describing to me the relationships between the various churches in eSpain. Apparently the LCMSers in eSpain have more amiable relations with the Catholic church than with the ELCAs and other evangelicals. Makes perfect sense to me. The Catholics and LCMSers realize the need for maintaining a strict doctrine and really aren't actively trying to convert eachother, while the ELCAvangelicals simply fight for numbers in an anti-doctrinal crusade.
What a universal sentiment.

Well. I guess I've fulfilled my quota of religiously offensive statements for the day; so I'm off to prepare a presentation on a topic that no one really cares about.



martes, 15 de septiembre de 2009

Para la audencia visual:

Hey e'rbody.
Got some batries, got some piso.
Here the pitchas.

So there's a pretty lengthy hallway upon entering the piso.
After passing the tv room, the kitchen/laundry room, and the bathroom (with a bidet...), you stumble upon common room (first 2 pitchas)

Aaand here's that tv room. Complete with a 12 volume set of the History of the Humanities. Yes. My landlord was a professor.

Through the common room, there are three other rooms. Two are my roommates, Richard and Tarek. The third is mine. Here's the view from mah window.
I'm not going to put any pictures up of my room yet, because it's not quite all unpacked - but, here's the best part:

You can tell alot about your neighbors from their laundry.
Apparently mine are all dudes.
Yeah. That's all part of the view from the roof. I'd be pretty content pitching a tent up there for 10 months.
Well. I'm actually going to go back up on the roof now.

Hasta lu,


lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2009

El piso de los sueños y la generación que ha perdido la metáfora

Hola todos.

Ayer, visité la ciudad de Segovia con el grupo de WIPpers (Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue group - there are casi 24 of us).
The town was quite surreal, to say the least. Between el castillo, the fortified town walls, the quasi-gothic cathedral and the acueducto romano, it was almost as if the whole place was a museum, or stuck in some sort of mountainous time capsule.
Pretty awesome.
Our guía de visita, who is also our profesor de arte español, was quite verbose.

Knowledgable, but verbose.

The Segovians were quite different from the Madrileños also. Everyone smiled, no one picked your pocket, and the waiters and bar tenders in the small, backroad cafés were eager to explain anything to us - as were the locals sitting at the bar. I don't know if I would want to spend a year there, but it was certainly a welcome reprieve.

Many of the older (we're talking 15th/16th century, here) houses and buildings displayed the old codes of arms of the families who built them, each with animals, patterns, and scenes which portrayed some personality or historical trait of the family lines. The cathedral was also llena de imagenes, from the Bible of course, but even the very structure of the building as well as the lighting scheme of the windows held some deeper representation of the Trinity, faith, or Christian life.

Embarrasingly, even though I have attended a church with stained glass windows my entire life, I never consciously put together the reasoning behind stained glass.
If one imagines the sun as a representation of the glory of God, direct contact with our sinful selves would be a fatal. You can pretty much fill in the rest; but, the abstractness of the simbols in/on/of the cathedral implied that people - "uneducated" as they were, lived their lives in the constant presence of their religious simbols, which were taken from/seen in nature on a daily basis.

Quite beautiful.
Also quite sad for the present.

No one takes the time to educate through metaphors anymore.
They are not beyond our mental capabilities, they are merely ignored and stigmatized as folklore or childish tales.
If humans learn through metaphors, and we presently disregard them, we are in a sense disregarding humanity.
Not so far from the truth.

On a lighter note, I will soon be living in the piso I mentioned earlier.
The awesome apartment in el barrio Puerta del Ángel with the absolutely amazing view of las montañas and downtown madrid.
Mi amigo Richard and I met with the arrendadores to go over the contract today.
Tomorrow, it's ours (along with some other Spanish dude).
Pictures will soon follow.


This was a welcome relief after classes today.
9-13:30 isn't obscenely long for classes, but when one is a history class, one is taught by Verbose McWordyson (a great guy, nonetheless), and one is a two hour grammar class, it makes for a lengthy little day en el campus Complutense.
Pues, está bien.
Estoy en España. No me importa.

Que tengaís un buen lunes,


sábado, 5 de septiembre de 2009

Un dia para descansar. Pues...más o menos

Saturday numero uno en Madrid.

F I N A L M E N T E, a day to sleep in a little.
Nevertheless, I woke up at about 9:30 this morning in order to get some mahnies to put down a possible payment en un piso que visité ayer.
This place is absolutely phenomenal. Está ubicado en el barrio de Puerta del Ángel, which is about 5 metro stops from campus on línea 6 - in other words, a pretty reasonable commute.
The apartment is inexpensive, clean and relatively spacious, but I could care less about that at the moment.
The selling point?

El techo.

From the roof (to which we will have a key) there is a simply amazing view of not only the mountains, but of downtown Madrid.

And the landlords are wonderful people as well.
This place is seriously the whole package.

If possible, I plan on buying some batteries for my camera to take pictures of the place and post them here. Unbelievable. If this apartment doesn't work out for some reason, I'm going to be pretty disheartened returning to the piso search, but I'm sure I'll be perfectly happy wherever I end up.

No me importa - ESTOY EN MADRID.

A couple kids from my group and I plan on checking out the area tonight after our appointment a las 17:00. I've completely given up on trying to convert time, temperature (centigrade), and euros at this point.

converting time - useless
temperature - too much math
y euros? too depressing.

If I return from this trip with 0 euros, the exchange should give me at least a few dollars. I'm pretty sure that's about fair.

Ah well. So goes life in a crap global economy.

Hasta luego,


viernes, 4 de septiembre de 2009

El triunfo tecnologico

Yes, world.
I'm back.
Tengo finalmente un telefono.
Because incoming calls and texts are free, and because I most likely know everyone who is reading this, the number is 34.622.137.905
Dame una llamada.

Had clase numero uno de gramatica intensiva today. Wasn't very intensiva.
But I suspect this will change very quickly.

Nevertheless, considering it's friday, I don't have class again until lunes. Giving me the weekend to crack down on the apartment hunt. A little intimidating, I must admit. I can converse moderately successfully in person, but on the phone, all bets are off. I can barely understand people on the phone in ingles most of the time.
Should be interesting.
I'm probably just going to end up pissing off a load of Spaniards.

Ah well.
I'm now going with one of the kids here to check out an apartment (not for me. I'm still a little behind).

More later,


jueves, 3 de septiembre de 2009

Y el cuento empieza:

I have been in Madrid now for four days, give or take, and I have waited until now to relay mis aventuras in order to zen out a bit and allow the jet lag and series of crises to subside un poco.

1) I would very much like to attribute any mental instability in the past few days to jet lag; but in reality, I'm beginning to see strong similarities between concepts such as jet lag and say, peer pressure. They're both what you make them - and for some people, they simply don't exist.
2) Perhaps "crisis" fits into that category as well.

That said,
here's how the first few days went down.

August 30th, 2009: Beccaniles's first flight.
Assessment: Uncomfortable as hell. Free wine. Not so shabby.

The take off was, while a bit unnerving, quite exhilarating. It's really strange (and liberating, really) knowing that if something goes wrong, you really have no option but a swift plummet to your death. To the 99% of those reading this who have flown before, sorry I'm so late coming to this realization.

Long story short, Chicago -> London -> Madrid.
London to Madrid was quite interesting considering our flight was full of Spanish high schoolers (just as restless as Laura and I) who had just come from Canada.
They all had I heart Canada t-shirts on. To which we thought, "what the hell? America's three feet away, guys..."
They stared alot and talked about my tattoos.

As we finally entered Madrid, Laura and I carried our ridiculously awkward suitcases all over the aeropuerto until we found the metro and took it to the hostel (Cat's). At this point, I realized that my wallet with the 200 euros I had just changed, as well as my debit card, license and suitcase keys had been jacked.
Story of my life. I would like to point out that this is first time I've ever lost a wallet/license. Good thing the passport was safe.

Another long story short, I flipped shit, Laura was awesome, the hostel was pretty tight, the potatoes were awesome, my parents and bro were on bank control back en los estados unidos, I flipped more shit, Laura was mas awesome, and I ended up here at this university housing at Colegio Mayor.
All I have to say is thank you, Mr. Camel, for being with me through all of this.
(The familia and Laura too.)

Today, 4 WesternUnion and Post Office trips later, I finally have some money.

As I walked triumphantly from the Western Union today, euros tightly shoved into a thief-proof corner of my bag, I was able to really take in Spain for the first time since the night of the 31st when Laura and I got some mystery sauced potatoes.
Today was absolutely brilliant - not too hot (I'm not even going to try converting centegrade for you), totally clear, no humidity, and for once I was completely alone with my thoughts walking down Calle de Bravo Murillo - and for once, I wasn't automatically pegged as an americana perdida. I stopped in a hole-in-the-wall libreria (all stores are pretty much holes in walls in Madrid) to purchase a Callejero (street guide) to Madrid and had a really awesome conversation with the lady at the counter. After we were done talking, she grabbed the 5 euro 2009 guide from me and handed me the 2008 guide for free. That right there is customer service. She's got my business from now on, man.

Which brings up an interesting cultural difference. Spaniards DO NOT participate in phatic speech and "polite" introductions in places of business - or elsewhere, really. No pleases or could-yous. No thank-yous. It took some time before I realized they really didn't hate life, they're just vocally efficient. Pretty awesome social characteristic which, in my own mind, I would like to attribute to not only the fast pace of the language, but the dropping of irrelevant or minor parts of speech. Maybe the dropping came before the social practice. Whatever. Chicken or egg.
(p.s. there are eggs on cheeseburgers here. also awesome.)

I suppose I'll close with this point.
The apartment hunt must begin.
I'm only housed here at Colegio Mayor until el 16 de septiembre.

Hasta la proxima vez,