Tuesday, June 5, 2007

in case you were in suspense, i did not get a job as a messenger here. im only in town for 6 weeks and i speak very little spanish. plus there are only 20 messengers in this town, so even if i was better qualified, the likelihood of there being an opening would be low.

so back to... where was i, sunday?
in the morning i walked to school to use the computers, but it was closed, so i walked back. i spent about 5 hours reading, and then went down to lavapiés to meet up with juan.
juan is a messenger here that i met while he was living in new york for three months and working there. he was following me during the haloween alleycat and we started talking. fast forward 8 months and im living in his city. given that the only other people i know here are nyu students, and im not going to learn to speak spanish by hanging out with them, it seemed like a good idea to get in touch.
i met him at his house, where, not for the first time, i had to explain that i dont drink without looking like i was refusing an offer to hang out. we sat on his deck and i drank pineapple juice while he drank beer and smoked cigarettes. you know that part of hanging out with a relatively new friend when you dont really know what to talk about? well its even harder in spanish. but i managed to deal with it. after a while we went with his girlfriend to a falafel shop so i could eat, and then to a bar where i had another pineapple juice and he had more beers.
i asked him to accompany me to the welding shop the next day to translate, and not only did he say yes but he lent me his spare bike to use in the meantime. it felt good to ride again.
monday was the first day of class. its long - 4 hours - but not that difficult. so far we have just been reviewing, but i already feel like my spanish is better than a good portion of the class, so i dont expect to struggle. plus, no one else (to my knowledge) has a madrileño friend to practice with. at least not yet.
after class i wrote my last entry, but had to leave in a hurry to meet juan at work.

after leaving his work, we biked back to my place to get my bike. we went to the welder, who said that his son, the one who did the welding, wouldnt be back until later or possibly tomorrow. he also said it would probable cost 15€. we went to a bar. more pineapple juice and beer. we nerded out about bike parts. ah, the universal language of bike nerddom! he knows a guy that is selling some old italian stuff and might have some cheap cinelli track drops for me. it then occurred to me that i could buy a regular seat collar from the bike shop and use that to keep my seatpost in place until i took care of the welding. that solution was perfectly serviceable and cheaper. plus i didnt have to wait.

we rode to a neighborhood in central madrid where are the young people hang out (up until now i had been wondering where the nikes where hiding). we found an italian place that would make pizza without cheese, and sat in a plaza eating and drinking... pineapple juice and beer. i swear the guy drinks like 15 beers a day - yesterday he drank about 7 over the course of about 5 hours) - and never gets even the slightest bit drunk.

i biked home, which felt fucking great, and finished what is the what. after an hour or so of feeling nihilistic and hopeless (the picture that eggars paints of humanity and civilization is not a positive one), i ate some food, took a shower, clipped my toenails and flossed. i sat back down at my desk wearing a bathrobe and realized that even though nothing matters and all of life is suffering, its not really so bad. then i did my spanish homework.

after class today, i walked with an nyu kid to a retrospective of the photographer sebastiao salgado´s work in africa, which, coincidentally, included a lot of photos of the dinka tribe, a member of which is the main character in what is the what. my mind is still spinning with questions about eurocentrism, paternalism/cultural relativism, and human "rights". im also very new at trying to appreciate visual arts, and im not yet very good at appreciating or criticizing documentary photography. if i have any great epiphanies later today, ill be sure to let you know.

in two hours i have to meet nyu for a mandatory visit to the prado. i think that until then ill sit on the patio and read.

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