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,