Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ok, time to play catch-up. luckily, my memory is bad enough that i've already forgotten most of what i did last week, so ill just cover the highlights.

cordoba was much less interesting than grenada. the hotel was also not as fancy, but the tradeoff was that it had a pool. then the trade-back-off was that the pool wasnt heated and as soon as we got to cordoba it dipped by about 5 degrees (celsius). i and about 4 others went for it, spent a few minutes trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we were having fun, and then eventually gave up because it was freakin cold. i think jason was in the longest, for a total of maybe an hour.

dave and i decided to go for a walk to find food, and it turns out that the neighborhood in which we stayed is pretty dead. eventually we found a mall - thats right, an actual mall in spain - with a grocery store. we sat on the patio until about 1am eating sandwhiches that either consisted of brie, ham, and avocado or just avocado and salt, and argued about right-wing fiscal policy. it was probably the most good-natured political debate ive had in years, which is especially suprising given that, despite being socially progressive, he is a pretty hardcore neo-classical capitalist (or is it neo-liberal? von mises/FA Hayek? someone help me out).

the next morning we got up early to visit another mosque, this one gigantic, arcaded, and containing within it a cathedral that was build hundreds of years later by a king, i believe charles I, who didnt want to destroy the mosque because it was pretty. i guess he was happy to just kick out all of the people that might have used it.

we then walked around the old jewish quarter, which was small and kind of depressing, compared to the resplendence of the catholic and even islamic artifacts. but anyone that knows anything about history will not be suprised. i got lost, sat on a bench for an hour thinking, wandered around, and ended up eating burger kind fries for lunch because it was the only thing i could find that was vegan and not an overpriced salad without dressing.

on monday i went to the local velodrome with juan and his/my new friend pedro. a velodrome, for those who dont know, is a track for bike racing. it is relatively short and has very steep banked turns. it was a fucking blast. pedro won the first few races when we were just messing around because he has thighs like an iron man triathalete and a higher gear ration than juan or me. however, once we started taking it a little bit more seriously, i won the last three in a row by drafting off of him until the last bank, and sprinting down it to overtake him. each time i was able to hold onto my lead just long enough to finish first. now i see why all of my friends in new york are so into this shit.

sometime early last week, i finished the wind-up bird chronicle. the first half was probably the best book ive ever read, but then, about five minutes after i told dave that so far, it was the best book i'd ever read, murakami did that thing that i sort of hate where writers start skipping around with their chronology, and i lose my grip on the character. it lost a little bit of its mystery and cohesiveness, and by the end, i was re-attatched to the fate of the protagonist but a. not quite as fiercely as before and b. the end made only a litle bit of sense. im still not really sure what happened, or what about half of the charaters and sub-plots had to do with anything else, although im suspicious that it is something. still one of the better books i've read, probably better than kafka on the shore, and mom, i recommend reading it.

a few days later i finished love in the time of cholera. i had mixed feelings. marquez is a genius of description, very lighthearted with a good sense of humor, but i think his characters are weak, and seemingly deliberately so. i remember having a similar feeling about chronicle of a death foretold. it wasnt until the very end that any of that characters started to really take shape, and even then, only fermina daza and not the supposed protagonist, although the line is a bit blurry. still, it was a nice book with a very sweet ending, and had it been a little shorter, i think i would have been entirely content without there being any characters.

thursday night i went out to dinner with a friend of a friend, who, unlike the friend, is not a vegan straightedge hardcore kid but an air force pilot ex-hardcore kid. he was really nice and i had a good time, although i got a little tired of the conspiratorial bro-talk about that girl in that restaurant or whatever.

friday night was my first european alleycat. i followed juan and pedro and got third out of maybe 10 or 15. it was really short, basically a downtown sprint, and ended in the police chasing us with sirens on for going the wrong way. we lost them in the crowd of people in plaza mayor, though i did spend the rest of the night flinching at every flashbulb because the tattoo on my leg is pretty damn identifiable.

afterward we stood on the street in lavapies drinking beer or lemonade. i ended up talking a lot of the time to a spanish kid that was raised in australia and therefore speaks english. he is an ex-messenger turned boiler room stock trader (im not really sure what that means, but i know its not exactly legal) who is currently about to make an extra hundred K with some not so legal stuff involving diamonds. he does about a bag of coke a day and talks like it.

saturday night i went out to dinner with a friend and had a fabulous time. it was the first real vegan meal ive eaten in weeks, and despite the 20€ price tag i was stoked. we walked around for a while, met up with some other people, saw oceans 13 in english (i tried to read the spanish subtitles), and then walked in the rain for hours to get home. the metro is closed after 1:30 (at this point its about 2:30) and i am too cheap for a cab, so i convinced her and the guy we were with at that point to walk home a couple of miles away in the rain. it took about an hour, and i had fun. it took me another 45 minutes of walking about half an hour on a bus to get home.

on sunday i listened to music, took a walk, and read. all day.

yesterday i went to my first day of my new job tutoring spanish kids in english. ive thought of myself for years as someone who doesnt really like young kids. i never know how to talk to them, because i had a hard time wrapping my mind around someone not being intellectually capable to have a normal conversation with me, and i also dont like how rowdy they tend to be in groups. boy was i wrong. the two boys, 13 and 14, are totally sweet, good-mannered, and attentive. but the real treat turned out to be the 6-year-old girl, clara. she is the sweetest, most shy little thing ive ever met, and i want to adopt her and take her home and spend all day every day saying the names of colors and writing them in cursive with her. i very quickly caught on to how you need to talk to a 6-year-old, and i made up a game wherein we count to three in english together and then say a word, such as "yellow", that she is too shy to say to me by herself. i cant wait to go back this afternoon. and im also getting paid 12€ an hour (which is about $16) for this. what a deal.

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