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Introducing a new segment… Being Brave Abroad

Springing forward sucks. Daylight savings sucks. This is known.

Unless it falls within the realm of His Majesty King Johnny Chaz I. Everybody’s favorite vestige of Spanish Fascism is the selective (un)recognition of longitude lines. As it isn’t a slab of poured concrete, this time zone shared with Berlin doesn’t comply with La Ley de Memoria Histórica (post-Franco law condemning the regime and it’s remaining artifacts); then again, plenty of facha granite stands to this day. What a great and noble land of incongruence in judicial interpretation. By golly, it feels like home.

What do you expect, you know, when Greenwich (that Mean-est of Times) isn’t even pronounced “green” + “which”.

It’s closer to a “grin + itch”.

Contemplating Edward Gorey’s drawing, “Being Brave Abroad,” an itch and a grin prompted a split-minute decision (i tried talking myself out of it, like usual) and got me out the door. An extra hour of daylight.

Bilbao is hiding up here too.

Bilbao is hiding up here too.

Destination: Peñascal (Spanish for ‘rocky crag’ while the Basque name Iturrigori means ‘red spring’)

Method: Getting on the number seventy-something and taking it to the very end.

My bus driver has got to be a nice guy. Yeah, he’s got the look: chases chonis (affectionate name for Jersey Shore-esque ladies, but in Euskadi we spell that txoni, aight?), lifts weights and tans in a box, probably maybe all accomplished on the same city block. But he’s definitely got the look of being a nice guy.

Start: Mina del Morro, the Santutxu brink that could fall into the river, if it weren’t for the deep roots of the eucalyptus grove (any unbroken stand of trees in an urban setting is AKA feral cat piss depository, and I can’t get it out of my tennis shoes).

End: Peñascal.

Two ends of the tract, save the best for last, good hoods of a working class.

Three generations of women at the park sit facing the monkey bars and my attention goes to my ankles exposed and I’m fine.
Because, girl power.

PenascalParque

In the thin valley sliced by centuries of rain, the Peñascal sidewalk presses against a high wall, where the terracing starts staking claim up the hill. A break in the solid concrete there’s a black chihuahua doglet.

I couldn’t tell if he was puppy. Passed him, backed up (and in that simple decision and follow-through, interestingly enough, made me feel less like an outsider and more like a documenter, someone with the right and reason to be in that neighborhood… my bravery in confronting this mighty tiny thing suggests that if I start with the dogs and their jean jackets and bejeweled raincoats, surely I can end up taking shots of bipeds), and readied my camera to peek.

His screech-howl confirmed he was not a baby dog.

NotPuppy

No ma’am. This cartoonishly steep staircase is mine. Go. Now.

No ma’am. This cartoonishly steep staircase is mine. Go. Now.

In this neighborhood I expected to find gitanos and the usual marginalized state of affairs. I think to myself about how I do so enjoy the stuck-on buildings of sharp gradients, as if they were slums and slums being the first word that came to mind and my privilege won’t stop reminding me that it’s very much alive and well. The real problem with that thought is that I am not seeing what I’m in; instead, I’m imagining an elsewhere, a cloudy fold-out spread from National Geographic, vaguely São Paulo. I’ve never seen either of these places before and prejudice is boring.

Worn out debate interrupted by a valid contribution…

Statement: We are Bilbao too.  Source: these mailboxes.

Statement: We are Bilbao too.
Source: these mailboxes.

At the foot of the way to Pagasarri.

less gunk on the ground than my own damn street which is in the left hemisphere subdivision of my brain. being brave abroad turns out just fine. white girl in broad daylight, white saint of broad brush strokes.

less gunk on the ground
than my own damn street
which is in the left hemisphere
subdivision of my brain.
being brave abroad turns out just fine.
white girl in broad daylight,
white saint in broad brush strokes.

Waiting for the bus again at the Plaza de Errekaldi there’s a man, middle-aged and blond, with rectangular and rounded-edge light orange lenses. On the ground facing up, his longboard’s belly graphic is impeccable and recently bought, a milky turquoise and electric lavender galaxy. My best guess is that guy walked out of a cave where his flux capacitor-powered DeLorean had just landed.

Then, in the span of 3/100th of a second, I decide to move away from this dude, out from under the bus stop shelter.
I do not need to consciously recognize that this is what I’ve learned to do. As a woman.
I do not apologize to him silently. As a feminist.
I do not explain my actions to myself. As a pragmatist.
I do not wonder about seeming impolite. As a realist.
Fuck the possibility of becoming unsettled.

The low-lying center of Bilbao is on the middle of the route. In an Ensanche still with Sunday emptiness, Louis Vuitton shop windows crystallize two bags on the crooks of two arms of two ladies standing in knee high grass 50 meters in front of a giraffe. Photoshopping that has nothing to do with image manipulation.

A beige-because-it’s-not-yet-pastel-season wearing double date of coiffed retirees say agreeable and conclusive things to each other on the corner in front of the Immigration office. This is the uncluttered neighborhood.

PlazaErrekaldi

Way back now,
sitting out the afternoon,
viaduct undercarriage
a flat brightness
accomplishments and
spots of thick paint
dissolved political parties,
one offering, “una vía nueva de la izquierda
a new way left.
I left around 17:20 and
found a new way around 18:45.

Agur Alcalde Azkuna

In the dimming light of la tarde, when seven o’clockish is still considered afternoon on this peninsula, the long-serving mayor of Bilbao, Iñaki Azkuna, passed away this past Thursday after several years of deterioration due to prostate cancer. Yesterday, his family, close friends and colleagues in the political sphere attended his funeral at the Basílica de Begoña. Tomorrow a public service will be held for the mayor at the much larger capacity Catedral de Santiago in the center of Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s Old Town.

Azkuna, originally from the inland town of Durango, began his career in Paris then back in Bilbao as a physician and professor of medicine, hospital director and later served the as Health Counsel of Basque Country’s regional government before his election as Mayor.

Can’t say that I personally know very much about this man. In my year of residency, Mayor Azkuna has been too ill to make many public appearances or more than a few interviews with the press. Had he been well we would have undoubtedly run into the guy on a Saturday evening pintxos round or in commute to class. What I do know about the late mayor is from bits of commoner conversation filling the empty space of his absence. The people of Bilbao, who are known for being damn proud of their city (which hasn’t always been the prettiest thing to look at), were damn proud of their Mayor Iñaki Azkuna.

A majority of Bilbaínos, I must qualify, were happy with the policies of Azkuna. Through the grapevine I’ve heard he could be a pain in the tookus to work for. Plenty of his policies negatively affected local businesses and residents. His refusal to remove portraits of Bilbao’s Franco-era leaders from City Hall rightly angered many critics. I could go on, as the controversies and polemics surrounding (un)popular figures should, but I’d rather streamline the discussion for now, and return at a later date to analyze Azkuna’s role in Bilbao’s for-better-or-for-worse urban renaissance.

Like any politician, Azkuna had his fair share of yes-men and -women as well as plenty of vocal detractors. It’s not difficult to comprehend why we would bask in the reflected glory of Iñaki Azkuna having been voted the World’s Best Mayor in 2013. Nor would anyone deny us a little BIRGing knowing that for years Bilbao has maintained the lowest municipal debt (despite the nearly decade-long chokehold of the economic crisis, no less) of any city in Spain, no accident of Azkuna’s. In the end, Iñaki Azkuna revealed the secrets to effective community leadership in his farewell, that all he achieved was thanks to serious teamwork, walking the city to survey firsthand needs of this city affectionately known as el ‘Botxo’ (from Euskera meaning the hole or pit), and finally, that he did it all with the help and collaboration of the people of Bilbao.

To end, an observation: ‘a woman, a man of the people,’ that title and trait so elusive in contemporary politicians, is earned when one can weather all the critique and hubris of public opinion, and still have the gumption to button up, grab an umbrella and head out for a stroll to see how the neighbors are holding up.

Agur Iñaki.

Cheers.  photo credit: Iker Merodio via photopin cc

Cheers.
photo credit: Iker Merodio via photopin cc

News links in English:
The Local -Spain
La Prensa

…and en Español:
Deia
AboutBC.info Blog

Oh Happy Day

Happy Happiness Day!
Happy Spring Equinox!

The UN calls happiness a “fundamental human goal.”
(Good stuff here: http://www.dayofhappiness.net/)

T’was surely a poet who’s declaration of independence demanded not just life and liberty, but also “…the pursuit of happiness.” And plenty more who plucked out songs that end the pursuit and deliver the goods (which are no goods at all, just goodness).

Here’s a little something to celebrate from the good folk of Pamplona in Navarra, wearing the red and white of San Fermin. I’m beyond happy today because my family is coming to visit in July; we’ll get to see people wearing these colors and running these streets in the pursuit of tradition, a precious and precarious happiness it is.

Story from: Diario de Navarra

Monologues Amongst Ourselves

Honey, you know that The English don’t make no sense.
So don’t get all wide-eyed and lip-quivery when I can’t give you no decent reason.
Yeah, we say, “all they have to do is reach for the stars,” when we talk about one dude or gal. When, you know, you don’t know if it be one or the other, them is not many, them is him or her.
It’s probably got a proper name but I like the sound of ‘ambiguous third person singular.’

So, might you guess what they do in The Spanish? What you gotta say when you ‘think out loud’ or ‘talk to yourself?’:
Pensar para tus adentros.

Who here’s taken a Spanish class?
Por y para. As a substitute or surrogate.
Por y para. Vicariously. For the benefit of.
Por y para. For some saint’s sake, enough for now.
Infinitive verb in The Spanish, flicked into The English unkempt:
Pensar – To Think…To Wonder..
Pensar – Thinking, Wondering
Pensar – Think! Wonder! (Do it. Now.)

Pensar para tus adentros.
I know. What that conjures up is out of control. Am I alone or is that some hilarious pyscholinguistics with metaphysical undertones??? I mean, like, think about it.
Think to one’s selves.
Wonder in the direction of your inner ones.
Think towards those on the inside.
Wonder through the ones within.

I’m verklempt, just, oh gawd.
Please, I need a moment.
Here’s a topic to discuss amongst your selves.

11-M, the 11th of March of 2004: 10 years after

First, the names* of those who are no longer sharing this life with their families and friends, nor with their co-workers and neighbors, nor with their fellow passengers and pedestrians:

ABAD QUIJADA EVA BELEN
ABRIL ALEGRE OSCAR
ACERO USHIÑA LILIANA GUILLERMINA
AGUADO ROJANO FLORENCIO
ALONSO RODRIGUEZ JUAN ALBERTO
ALVAREZ GONZALEZ MARIA JOSEFA
ANDRIANOV ANDRIYAN ASENOV
APARICIO SOMOLINOS MARIA NURIA
ARENAS BARROSO ALBERTO
ASTOCONDOR MASGO NEIL HEBE
AVILA JIMENEZ ANA ISABEL
BADAJOZ CANO MIGUEL ANGEL
BALLESTEROS IBARRA SUSANA
BARAHONA IMEDIO FRANCISCO JAVIER
BARAJAS DIAZ GONZALO
BEDOYA GLORIA INES
BEN SALAH IMDDAOUAN SANAE
BENITO SAMANIEGO RODOLFO
BODEA ANCA VALERIA
BOGDAN LIVIA
BRASERO MURGA FLORENCIO
BRAVO SEGOVIA TRINIDAD
BRYK ALINA MARIA
BUDAI STEFAN
BUDI TIBOR
CABREJAS BURILLO MARIA PILAR
CABRERO PEREZ RODRIGO
CALVO GARCIA MILAGROS
CANO CAMPOS SONIA
CANO MARTINEZ ALICIA
CARRILLERO BAEZA JOSE MARIA
CARRION FRANCO ALVARO
CASAS TORRESANO FRANCISCO JAVIER
CASTILLO MUÑOZ CIPRIANO
CASTILLO SEVILLANO INMACULADA
CENTENERA MONTALVO SARA
CISNEROS VILLACIS OSWALDO MANUEL
CIUDAD REAL DIAZ MARIA EUGENIA
CONTRERAS ORTIZ JACQUELINE
CONTRERAS SANCHEZ MARIA SOLEDAD
CRIADO PLEITER MARÍA PAZ
DE BENITO CABOBLANCO ESTEBAN MARTIN
DE LAS HERAS CORREA SERGIO
DE LUNA OCAÑA MIGUEL
DE MIGUEL JIMENEZ ALVARO
DEL AMO AGUADO JUAN CARLOS
DEL RIO MENENDEZ MARTA
DEL RIO MENENDEZ NURIA
DIAC NICOLETA
DIAZ HERNANDEZ BEATRIZ
DIMA GEORGETA GABRIELA
DIMITROVA PAUNOVA TINKA
DIMITROVA VASILEVA KALINA
DJOCO SAM
DOS SANTOS SILVA SERGIO
DURAN SANTIAGO MARIA DOLORES
ELAMRATI OSAMA
ENCINAS SORIANO SARA
FERNANDEZ DAVILA CARLOS MARINO
FERNANDEZ DEL AMO MARIA
FERRER REYMADO REX
FIGUEROA BRAVO HECTOR MANUEL
FRUTOS ROSIQUE JULIA
FUENTES FERNANDEZ Mª DOLORES
GALLARDO OLMO JOSE
GALLEGO TRIGUERO JOSE RAUL
GAMIZ TORRES MARIA PILAR
GARCIA ALFAGEME ABEL
GARCIA ARNAIZ JUAN LUIS
GARCIA FERNANDEZ BEATRIZ
GARCIA GARCIA-MOÑINO MARIA DE LAS NIEVES
GARCIA GONZALEZ ENRIQUE
GARCIA MARTINEZ CRISTINA AURELIA
GARCIA PRESA CARLOS ALBERTO
GARCIA SANCHEZ JOSE
GARCIA SANCHEZ JOSE MARIA
GARROTE PLAZA JAVIER
GENEVA PETRICA
GIL PEREZ (Y FETO) ANA ISABEL
GOMEZ GUDIÑA OSCAR
GONZALEZ GAGO FELIX
GONZALEZ GARCIA ANGELICA
GONZALEZ GRANDE TERESA
GONZALEZ ROQUE ELIAS
GRACIA GARCIA JUAN MIGUEL
GUERRERO CABRERA JAVIER
GUTIERREZ GARCIA BERTA MARIA
HERMIDA MARTIN PEDRO
IGLESIAS LOPEZ ALEJANDRA
ITAIBEN MOHAMED
IZQUIERDO ASANZA PABLO
JARO NARRILLOS Mª TERESA
KLADKOVOY OLEKSANDR
LAFORGA BAJON LAURA ISABEL
LEON MOYANO MARIA VICTORIA
LOMINCHAR ALONSO MARIA DEL CARMEN
LOPEZ DIAZ MIRIAM
LOPEZ PARDO Mª DEL CARMEN
LOPEZ RAMOS Mª CRISTINA
LOPEZ-MENCHERO MORAGA JOSE MARIA
MACÍAS RODRÍGUEZ MARÍA JESÚS
MANCEBO ZAFORAS FCO JAVIER
MANZANO PEREZ ANGEL
MARIN CHIVA VICENTE
MARÍN MORA ANTONIO
MARTÍN BAEZA BEGOÑA
MARTIN FERNANDEZ ANA
MARTIN PACHECO LUIS ANDRES
MARTIN REJAS MARIA PILAR
MARTINAS ALOIS
MARTINEZ RODRIGUEZ CARMEN MONICA
MELGUIZO MARTINEZ MIRIAN
MENGIBAR JIMENEZ JAVIER
MICHELL RODRIGUEZ MICHAEL
MODOL STEFAN
MOPOCITA MOPOCITA SEGUNDO VICTOR
MORA DONOSO ENCARNACION
MORA VALERO Mª TERESA
MORAL GARCIA JULIA
MORENO ARAGONES FRANCISCO
MORENO ISARCH JOSE RAMON
MORENO SANTIAGO EUGENIO
MORIS CRESPO JUAN PABLO
MUÑOZ LARA JUAN
NARVAEZ DE LA ROSA FRANCISCO JOSE
NEGRU MARIANA
NOGALES GUERRERO ISMAEL
NOVELLON MARTINEZ INES
ORGAZ ORGAZ MIGUEL ANGEL
PARDILLOS CHECA ANGEL
PARRONDO ANTON SONIA
PASTOR PEREZ JUAN FRANCISCO
PAZ MANJON DANIEL
PEDRAZA PINO JOSEFA
PEDRAZA RIVERO MIRIAN
PELLICARI LOPEZOSA ROBERTO
PEREZ MATEO Mª PILAR
PINEL ALONSO FELIPE
PLASENCIA HERNANDEZ MARTHA SCARLETT
PLES ELENA
POLO REMARTINEZ MARIA LUISA
POPA IONUT
POPESCU EMILIAN
PRIETO HUMANES MIGUEL ANGEL
QUESADA BUENO FRANCISCO ANTONIO
RAMIREZ BEDOYA JOHN JAIRO
RAMOS LOZANO LAURA
REYES MATEOS MIGUEL
RODRIGUEZ CASANOVA JORGE
RODRIGUEZ CASTELL LUIS
RODRIGUEZ DE LA TORRE Mª SOLEDAD
RODRIGUEZ RODRIGUEZ ANGEL LUIS
RODRIGUEZ SANCHEZ FRANCISCO JAVIER
ROGADO ESCRIBANO AMBROSIO
ROMERO SANCHEZ CRISTINA
RZACA PATRICIA
RZACA WIESLAW
SABALETE SANCHEZ ANTONIO
SANCHEZ LOPEZ SERGIO
SANCHEZ MAMAJON MARÍA ISABEL
SANCHEZ QUISPE JUAN ANTONIO
SANCHEZ-DEHESA FRANCES BALBINA
SANTAMARIA GARCIA DAVID
SANZ MORALES JUAN CARLOS
SANZ PEREZ EDUARDO
SENENT PALLAROLA GUILLERMO
SERRANO LASTRA MIGUEL ANTONIO
SERRANO LOPEZ RAFAEL
SFEATLU PAULA MIHAELA
SIERRA SERON FEDERICO MIGUEL
SIMON GONZALEZ DOMNINO
SOLER INIESTA MARIA SUSANA
SOTO ARRANZ CARLOS
STAYKOVA MARIA IVANOVA
SUBERVIELLE MARION CINTIA
SUCIU ANLEXANDRU HORACIU
SZPILA DANUTA TERESA
TENESACA BETANCOURT JOSE LUIS
TORIBIO PASCUAL IRIS
TORRES MENDOZA NEIL FERNANDO
TORTOSA GARCIA CARLOS
TUDANCA HERNANDEZ MARIA TERESA
UTRILLA ESCRIBANO JESUS
VALDERRAMA LOPEZ JOSE MIGEL
VALDES RUIZ SAUL
VEGA MINGO MERCEDES
VILELA FERNANDEZ DAVID
ZAMORA GUTIERREZ JUAN RAMON
ZOKHNYUK YAROSLAV
ZSIGOVSZKI CSABA

[List source: El Mundo]
*Note: Names are listed in the following order, 1st Last Name – 2nd Last Name – First Name

photo credit: arquitextonica via photopin cc

Atocha Station Monument (the subterranean perspective of the glass cylinder) inscribed with messages left by mourners in the days after the attacks – photo credit: arquitextonica via photopin cc

This is not an opportunity to take advantage of towards some end. Having said that, it is a moment set apart and deserving of reflection.

On March 11, 2004 beginning at 7:37AM, multiple explosions on 4 commuter trains arriving and in route to Madrid’s Atocha Central Station killed 192 people from 14 countries and wounded nearly 2,000 more.

Today is, in light of it’s significance, the deadline for me to broach the broad motif of political violence. Despite my absorptions of and reflections on the societies (Spain, Basque Country and USA) in which I interact, there remains in me a deep temptation to leave analysis and interpretation for later, to procrastinate and push off this endlessly complicated and sociolinguistically-loaded topic, for another day down the road, for some impossible moment in which I conclude that I am completely, thoroughly and objectively informed.

Such an omission, however, would do no justice to the victims of a history of violence that has spanned over 100 years; insecurity of conscience offers no hand to the people caught in cycles of action and reaction; perfectionist inaction fails to reveal the diverse persuasions and identities entwined in conflict. To exclude any additional narratives to the Big Story of History is an easy and often unnoticeable form of injustice.

Without being able to quote my source, the definition of the word that I find most clear is that terrorism is the use of the tactics of war in a civil setting, against civilian targets. I would add one thing: terrorists act with symbolic purpose against a symbolic target, in attempts to communicate a message.

The World Trade Center buildings and those occupying them stood and fell to acts of terrorism, symbols of sociocultural values manifest in physical targets. The terrorists of 11-M saw a symbolic target in the peoples’ trust of public transportation, specifically in a rail system whose great expansion began in the first years of Franco’s dictatorship. That fruit of fascism, reclaimed as a tool of democracy and plurality, contributed to the multicultural makeup of contemporary Iberia. Striking the center of these values (not to mention similar patterns in the London attacks a year later) was, I suspect, an attempt to halt social progress by obscuring it beneath bloodshed. Public transport acts as an equalizer of individuals and its existence implies freedom of movement, a basic right of any free people. The preservation of liberty requires the active use of the rights and responsibilities it imparts. I am not alone in witnessing these societies fulfill said responsibilities by rejecting the use of violence. I am not alone in witnessing these societies exercise said rights by expressing the narratives that allow for peace.

I do not take the use of the term terrorism lightly. The word and it’s variants have been overused, underused, politicized and disguised. From here on out, at some points I will find it necessary to invoke it and at others I will refuse to do so. It’s a puzzle that adds new pieces on a nearly daily basis and thus requires careful consideration that will inevitably evolve as well.

What does not change is the finality of trauma in body and mind. And I am reminded in concluding that despite my best intentions and all the words I can muster, I also owe some silence to the voices that never caught the train back home.

photo credit: frado76 via photopin cc

photo credit: frado76 via photopin cc

Bilboren grisak, Bilbao en gris, Bilbao in grey

Translation: Bilbao in grey reminds us of the transience carried off by time’s vortex; reminds us of the immortal that has had it’s start but will never have an end; reminds us of the eternal that has not yet began and will never finish. -Azorin

Translation: Bilbao in grey reminds us of the transience carried off by time’s vortex; reminds us of the immortal that has had it’s start but will never have an end; reminds us of the eternal that has not yet began and will never finish. –Azorín

Now that it isn’t raining, I can write about the rain.

Supposedly Hemingway couldn’t write about Michigan until he made it to Paris.

I just went there, probably angered the gods and hexed myself by glancing all too soon towards that E.H., Ernesto the Besto, the one my gent calls Heuminghwey y su puta madre. I assume my chico doesn’t slant this way but I do wonder if certain grudges have been held (not to mention some basking in the reflected glory of said author’s residency here by many in the same camp) because Mr. H called a spade a spade and a Spain a Spain, to the likely chagrin of a few Basques, particularly those in Pamplona, Navarra (Iruñea, Nafarroa in Euskera) where Uncle Ernie got bulled.

Thoughts regarding precipitation: after a year in, every thought will regard precipitation and every thought will reflect the precipitation.

Water that falls from heaven and loving it. But even the most pluviphilous of them all too get tired of it, blowing in askance from the the sheer valley bend and over the low side towards the sea. Precip imminence eventually isn’t a good enough reason to change your beach plans.

When it doesn’t rain, it’s probably viento sur, the Southern Wind, and what it’ll make you feel is strange. Hospitals and law enforcement report an upsurge of incidents on par with the Full Moon phenomenon. Wind of the South picks up all the misery and coffee breaks and political sausagery (chorizo, slang for theft, to be exact) from the rest of the peninsula. But that’s Murphy’s law carried to the power of unfounded conspiracy, because the wind may come from everywhere and go nowhere. Kinda like scheisty politicians. Mostly, the ration of fresh air caravans in with the breeze that carries tuna and krill and blue whale spirits from the northwest.

Good morning to all the flying things and the shuffling things and the 1-gallon plastic shopping bag blown aloft in a perfect arch, gliding over the 10 story building flats.

Another puzzlement of mine, when the rain comes in sideways: how the heck is that laundry supposed to dry and how do these launderers not lose their marbles? Clue #3 to demonstrate that I’m obviously not from here is because I can’t figure out for the life of me how they know the wind comes from the single source when it barges through the grid of streets the right slight north and the left slight south. That kind of wind fills eyelids with fiberglass and long brunette hairs and you bow your head with palms pressing at the forehead and begin to pray for rain, please knock this devilry back down.

There’s one kind of rain that is, depending on your mental health quotient that day, the absolute best or worst of all. Sirimiri is an onomatopoeia, like many terms in Euskera, and it requires humor to stick it out without your sanity spilling out. Sirimiri is the primordial mist of a hundred billion drops, each one only a handful of molecules, coming down so very lightly and forming a near tissue paper-like sheet of water. Sirimiri, rain that does not drip but soaks right on through.

Muscles memorize where the puddlings tend to gather. In various levels of consciousness art thou learnt in the best of lessons: watch your back. I wonder if crime is reduced simply by downpours. Too much hassle José.

The convicts and I’ve decided to buy decent boots and shoes from here on out so the seeping doesn’t get into the core, past tolerance’s electrified fence. That’s how the water gets to your head, through wet socks. Wool is conduit enough but cotton is the quick stick intravenous way to ruin your gatdamned mood, and your maldito dia as well.

Investments in footwear must be compensated somewhere; crappy umbrellas have been lifted from the the kinfolk, yes. But don’t you dare feel guilty about it or do something silly like go and buy an umbrella. Your turn to ride the pay-it-forward merry-go-round will end with your paraguas, for-waters, on the other side of the closing train doors.

Pete limberly hops over them puddles when necessary – when? – always as it’s absolutely necessary. Little macho coursing with adolescence, sure, whatever, but Petey sure hates his little booty to touch the chill and damp when he’s gotta do his thing.

Puddles like windexed coffee table glass, clean and static suspending underneath mudprints of boots and paws, giving away no reflection of the open midnight sky.

Damp schnauzer in a red rain jacket and her human wants know and outright asks, “hey you, why you have your dog out at this time in the dark and humid chill?” They are out there too, you think, but they just have to say something. Let the cup overflow, liquids seeking the low points.

Ongi Etorri

Ongi etorri!

That’s how we say bienvenidos and make yerself at home in these parts.

Today is the day of Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, which I tried to explain in my ESL classes last week about our version of Carnaval; translating it into Martes Gordo and going on about beads and boobs and French fur-trapper settlements, I mostly confused a few folks.

Today is the day that PeteyTxiki (pronounce that second half ‘cheeky,’ meaning wee one) marks his first successful circle around the sun.

And to celebrate such joyous occasions, today is the day that pull the trigger and go public with this cramping pinky finger parade of a blog, Basque-ing in Reflected Glory.

Bear with me as I’m likely to be farting around with design and other bits backstage in the coming days and weeks. Peek at the about pages, leave comments, send me an email (biscaydossier@gmail.com) if so inclined, especially if you want to see a future post on something specific.

– Kindest regards, un saludo, eskerrik asko

C. Rhea

On the Table

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Loneliness is harder to come by, and aloneness even more so. Lack of aloneness does imply a lessening loneliness, even though the Buddha-quoters and the life coaches of the Northwestern hemisphere would tell you otherwise. You simply must interact. That is, you must look at every multitudinous, flat-lining city mouth with the same stoic judgment discernment and measured appreciation that you’d give the every-once-in-a-while smile of the low-density burb-hood. Because in each case, that’s all you’re gonna get. The eyes may not smile, because that’s something momma didn’t teach the little one. She may have, instead, given lessons in omission. You, alone, simply must know when not to interact.

The southerners ask me of the northerners, “are they all so cold?” and I admit to turning away from that question from elder’s end of the New Year’s eve dinner table – an answer I couldn’t formulate, having concentrated all awe on soaking up Valencian townie accent and rhythm – turning to listen instead to the children of my era’s discourse on the current interpersonal drama, the crimes and conclusions. Tertulia, the debate of evidence and considerations, also counts as sobremesa, ‘above the table, on the table’ conversation lingering after completing the task of eat. I spy with my Midwest-eye, two concepts we might practice, at most, during a couple holidays a year. I spy with my Anglo-eye, two words we don’t have in English for sitting around and shooting the shit.

Sitting, staying put for long enough to talk, even if the TV is still on. Eating slowly and deliberately enough to have some and then some more, before all those plates are taken away and replaced with half a dozen more. That’s the reason for the season, if you count it all up, we’re all even; just delivering it in different tempos to the blood barrier, tripe into tripe, dissolving into little more than our capacity to keep speaking up about aching, cathartic truths. Pain manifesting as gas manifesting as shoving questions down into the belly of the server warehouse, the hard drive of all the things we’ve come to know instantly, streaming.

like a winery, but with all the hard apple cider you can manage

like a winery, but with all the hard apple cider you can manage

Lonely can still find me in the peninsula that never leaves well enough alone. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the frank-speak and brutal exactitude. I adore how the folks here invest time in percentages astounding in the bar and out on the sidewalk blocking passersby as they burn Lucky Strikes and and hurry nowhere, not even to the bottom of the glass. I relish witnessing the Tao of priority these people ride and their mindful presence regarding the dire implications of everyday crap: of the constant threats of water damage and thieves that enter sliding doors after scaling buildings by balconies; of the ugliness of a good cook and of the outrageousness of prescriptions costing more than $5 a month.

Maybe 3 year old on the bus tells you about her dog-cousin, Lana (Spanish for ‘wool’) the boxer that’s reached menarche, saying le ha bajada de la regla, ‘her bleeding cycle has descended.’ The little lady knows more about a woman’s blood than many North American 13 year olds. Her accompanying auntie, a neighbor of ours, called a policeman a chulo (close enough to ‘pompous, tough guy’ in this sense) while walking against a red light, which the officers took unkindly enough to park and follow her into the Spanish equivalent of a Gap flagship store.

These novelties observed and cherished could just be, might just be compelling in contrast to lingering vestiges of good ol’ protestant work ethic. These saturated images stand out against the distorted backdrop of my don’t-complain-get-on-lil-doggies puritanism.

Things here are clear enough though, and unlike that hinting and subtlety that evaporates from the grasp of the visitor to the US of A, nearly all is knowable in Iberia. Because sooner or later, someone will be “rude” or “direct” or “relaxed” enough to paint a decently vivid picture of what the reality really is. For real. Our 1st amendment ain’t got nothin’ on these people’s birthright. Don’t ask me though, about regional differences, for I is not quite yet done documenting.

spillage photo credit: nep via photopin cc