Hitz eta Pitz

So far, ‘hitz eta pitz’ is the best idiomatic phrase in the light sprinkling of Basque I’ve learned. To break it down, hitz = word, eta = and, & pitz = to split, to grate, to shake, to drive crazy… As I take it, it’s just word after word, giving someone the third degree, the never-ending saga, going to down to the funny farm and taking you down with me. Also, reverentially referred to as la chapa: word that means what it tastes like and that’s chapped lips.

This past Wednesday, December 3rd was the International Day of the Basque Language. Day(s) late and dollar short, at least the Euro is still as strong as it is.

Yikes. I’ve been out there. Last post was in… October… and between now and then you bet there’s been plenty. Wrote 50,164 words for no one but me (NaNoWriMo, my first time around) and spent lots of time planning (unusual for me and perhaps, damning) a trip to Poland and Ukraine that never got taken, and investing in canine ophthalmology treatments. And sprinkled heartily around all of that, been getting me some education in the Basque language. Just the thing that’ll legitimize and get me back on track with the whole theme of Basque-ing in Reflected Glory. Fingers crossed.

Euskaraz bizi gara. We live in Basque. I’ve been busy adding case endings to the ends of nouns and the end of my rope. Surprising myself with what I can bring to class each day still knowing… like I have a working memory that’s still working but for a frozen salary and surrendered benefits. Alas, my Lingual Empathy returns and I again I’m truly feeling sorry for my English students. I mean, word order? Prepositional phrases? As a purveyor of the language arts, I’ve eaten my share of humble pie these last 2 months and sorted out where my pedagogy has surely left somethings wanting.

Una lengua esta viva

Back to getting schooled by the difficulty of a blunt beginning … when the irakaslea, la teacher, asked me about how hard it was to learn all of the conjugations in Español*, I kind of just shrugged it off in my short-term presence of mind (and flushingbeetredpleasestoplookingatme everyoneinthisclassrooomrightnow). But it was difficult and it was endless. I mean, how could one still feel the pangs of incessant effort once it’s culminated and adjusted to the ease and fluid manipulations of daily life’s second nature? It was a slow-drip of Peninsular dreaming that kept me carrying on with it for so many years. But now, since it’s an after thought, I shrug, the beginner’s mind is both painful and disorienting and still full of unprejudiced luck and willing openness. Which is cool, no lie.

So, why do it? I admit, the hitz eta pitz is mainly because I wanna get squirrely and learn how to be a Basque witch. For fun. For mental health and taming the tiger of task-switching (the mortal peril of the mind formerly known as multi-tasking) of this ADHD. For humility. And learning how to sort the pressing matters from the one’s that just have to wait for later, exempt from the label of procrastinasty.

For example, the informal second-person plural of you all, or ‘vosotros’ in Español. Never learned it in the States. In North, Central or South America, “Ahh naaaw you wont need that”. EXCEPT EVERY SINGLE DAY. In Spain, the rain is making y’all complain. Frig, ended up just putting a timorous “-ais?” on the end of every verb. So when I’m told not to worry about learning the extremely rare form of “informal ‘you” (hi*, yes, hi = meaning ‘you’ but only use with your beau and/or your truest bffffff), I get shiver of foreshadowing… But it goes away real quick, since everything else about this language takes up all my all my time and conscious attention, as Out. Of. Control. as it is. I hope to elaborate this at a later date.

All images in this post are from the 'Badu Bada' exhibit at the Alhondiga in April of 2014

All images in this post are from the ‘Badu Bada’ exhibit at the Alhondiga in Bilbao, April 2014

Fun fact: no cuss/curse words in Basque. None. You can say every last thing in this language in just about every setting; whether your audience is most the starch-collared headmistress or the most linguistically-spongy toddler, no need to fear the gasps of scandal.

Argi-argi… as much as this is clear… as for this much is clear? How do we even say that? SEE? It’s HAPPENING. There’s only so much bandwidth and I’m losing my own religion, out one ear while as I turn the other cheek. Wait, wha? I also have to wonder if the Euskera/Euskara (potato, potAto) seems to be sticking because I’m learning it in Spanish… another thought-tuber to plant and dig again later.

Argi = light. Meaning, clearly. Meaning, of course. Meaning, obv, duh, right.

Call me romántica*, but this is the discovery that really satisfies, the possibility to communicate but a darling side effect. Even if it’s enough to give a high 5. Eman bostekoa, “crash them 5’s”. I shit you not, that is the literal translation. I’m straight nerding out on this one.

I need a nap with a twofold end, and especially after the more taxing classes: to swallow the thickness of mental fatigue and properly digest the contents of the lesson.

It’s totally worth it, all of it, just to hear the tune of saying something completely new in the oldest way one knows how. Even if it’s just to comment on the weather, or how to get to the bakery from the ballet school, a giggle crawls out from the click and cordiality, community spirit comes out of accepting limits instead of what lacks. Learning a language is hard, but the brain knows better than we do, and figures itself out eventually. Immersion doesn’t hurt to get the tongue rolling. And we can get lucky enough to find ourselves in a mood that appreciates fleeting but oh so fulfilling success. Like when you’re able to yell at your kid who’s wandering too close to the street and sound like you’re summoning a high-level Pokemon in Japanese. Or something.

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Aside

Water Seeks Its Own (Lowest) Level

Account based on true events. But this is obviously not my address.

Witness/Defendant Testimony

Between September 1st and September 8th, three puddles of indeterminate source composition and authorship were discovered in the right-stairwell elevator of #7 Orchard Lane.

Initial puddle consisted of a transparent liquid, lacking an identifiable scent. Covered over 50% of the floor space. Rain that day could have been a cause.

The second instance of fluid without containment occurred a few days later, very small surface coverage accompanied a stench of extreme decomposition. Likely source: a ruptured trash bag.

The final unwanted water deposit appeared on the afternoon of September 8th. A medium-sized pool of slightly foul aroma was discovered. Within several hours, several pages of colored newsprint (a Los Testigos de Jehovah publication or similar info-advert) were laid over the wet spot.

The next morning, a note had appeared (Exhibit A), translation following:

Uncensored 'Acensor'

Uncensored ‘Acensor

 

NOTICE

We have a filthy neighbor that leaves pee in the elevator.

If anybody knows who it is, put their name down here so that we can all go piss on their door.

YOU MUST REALLY BE A PIG!!


 

Shortly after noon of the same day, I leave the house again. Rereading the note, I see the most recent addition. With a blue pen this time, in skinny text, just barely visible in the corner, someone else (amateur hour handwriting analysis, just an FYI on this Exhibit B) had written: 12*- F

OH. HELL. NO.

That’s us.

En serio?

I pondered the matter, discussed an appropriate response with Amatxu and the Cohabiter, and finally wrote the following on a yellow post it (that never ended up sticking so well to the mirror), translation following:

La persona que nos ha nominado tiene MUCHOS COJONES y nada de evidencia. También queremos una comunidad limpia y civil [sic]. Por favor, sé responsable.

Gracias,

L@s de 12*-F

The person who nominated us [as the culprits] has a LOT OF BALLS and little evidence. We also want a clean and civil community [building]. Please, be responsible.

Thanks,

Us from 12*-F

The next morning, an unknown agent(s) had removed both notes.

 


 

 

Note: My original error, civil should have been cívica.

Also, L@s – This is how feminists (of all genders, whaddya know!?) deal with gendered nouns and articles when their plurals default to the masculine… for example, él and ella, pronouns for one man and one woman, would go to ellos (‘them/they’), taking the masculine form. This default is a type of semantic markedness in linguistics and we use the ‘@’ (arroba!) when we’d really rather it didn’t exist. Like puddles and hostile accusations.

The Basque Renaissance Typeface

La letra vasca, Basque Lettering, seems as if it were stamped out of stone, modeled upon the flayed tops and bottoms of boulders that were sought out or intentionally shaped to stand on their ends… or found that way, like the hilltop dolmens found all over Euskadi, shaped by some anonymous ancestor. In fact, this typography, deliberately designed to be perceived as very old, likely became commonplace less than 100 years ago. Hence, I use the term Basque Renaissance Typeface, in reference to it’s popularization within a relatively recent social-historical context (albeit a very long history) which I will soon clarify.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Font: a complete set or assortment of a type of a particular face and size – almost…

Typeface: a set of printing type of a particular design – bullseye

lauburu euskera batua

“A united Euskadi will never be defeated.” Source: Monografica.org

I see a Gothic style, but warmed and friendlier. I see both the sharp – authoritarian and Romantic -and the smoothed – commonly accessible, plebeian, even pastoral. The serifs (i.e. ends and corners of letters that point or flit out, as opposed to cleanly cut in a sans-serif font like used in this blog) stand firm on the ground while collecting rainwater in heavenward basins. Or are they people? With hands outstretched from broad arms, short torsos held by thick thighs steady and planted? Like anthropomorphs, the lower limbs of R’s and K’s splay out and circle back in, executing the sharp, rapid-fire kicks of the dantza and echoing the fans of the lauburu, the ever-present Basque symbol of the Sun.

Dantza, traditional Basque dance, performed at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Begoña

Dantza, traditional Basque dance, performed at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Begoña

Hence, ‘it just feels old’… Limited may be my initial observations; I just ain’t up to speed on typography like any self-respecting ‘creative-type’ of my generation ought to be… and that Helvetica documentary is still on my ‘To Watch’ list… So, a certain ‘aesthetic intuition’ drives my reasoning here. And that, perhaps, is telling of what the Basque Renaissance Typeface was molded to evoke in the viewer – an intuited, mytho-historical perspective.

 


Like most research towards the goal of Basque-ing In Reflected Glory, web searches in English rarely come back with the same depth and diversity as Google-ando en español. I was surprised and overjoyed to discover this frank observation, found here:

Why is such an ugly font ubiquitous in Basque Country?

It is ugly.

It looks like Comic Sans had a less attractive older brother, with huge “look at me” serifs and a weird capstone on of [sic] A that looks like a wonky Stonehenge… My suspicion is that when Basques were repressed this was a safe way to show solidarity. Would that make sense?

This commentator finds the Basque Renaissance Typeface less than pleasing, and laudably he or she still got the gist of the situation in a single sentence. Whether you like it or loathe it, this Basque Lettering is, like Comic Sans, much too exhausting to the reader for use in extended text. But as a title, name, slogan or short announcement, great.

It’s best to pause and regroup for a second, to review the history required to understand the designs’ social and political implications. I unapologetically fear I must copy-paste a few observations from folks better acquainted with the subject at hand. I think the points made by Eduardo Herrera Fernández in his article, “La letra vasca. Etnicidad y cultura tipográfica,” in the design magazine, Monográfica, are best translated and interpreted as follows; but do bear with me, as this is considerably dense, academic writing.

“La cuestión sobre la existencia de un carácter tipográfico vasco tiene sus orígenes a principios del siglo XX, coincidiendo con el movimiento denominado Euzko Pizkundea («Renacimiento Vasco») desarrollado hasta la Guerra Civil española. Tras esta confrontación y sus consecuencias de silencio y represión, comenzará un periodo de reivindicación por la preservación y exaltación de la identidad nacional y de la conciencia lingüística del País Vasco. Es por ello que los agentes sociales y de la cultura contribuyeron, con sentido práctico, a certificar una aspiración colectiva de recuperación. Se desarrollaron un conjunto de actividades creativas basadas en formas de uso y de expresión cultural.”

The existence of a Basque typographic character has its origins in the beginning of the 20th century, coinciding with the movement known as “Eusko Pizkundea” (The Basque Renaissance) that developed up until the Spanish Civil War. After this violent confrontation and its consequences of silence and repression, the Basque Country begins a rehabilitative period of preservation and exaltation of the nationalist identity and linguistic conscience. It is for that reason that social and cultural agents contributed, pragmatically, to validate a collective aspiration of recuperation. An array of creative activities were developed with the intention of communal participation in and expression of Basque culture.

“No se trata de obras individuales efímeras en el tiempo, sino de obras populares y anónimas, cuyo estilo se transmite generacionalmente, en un proceso mimético.”

The Basque Typeface is… a communal work of art, anonymous rather than having one or more ephemeral authors, and whose style, through a memetic process, has been transmitted throughout generations.

From the Alhóndiga Bilbao exhibit, "badu, bada: Euskera in a Multilingual World"

From the Alhóndiga Bilbao exhibit, “badu, bada: Euskera in a Multilingual World”

What I thought looked like the stampings of stones as the writing implement (for example, the pen), actually came from stone as media (the paper). Herrera and other sources consider the modern inception (after the Carlist War ended in 1876) of the Basque Typeface to the re-adoption of the style of funerary carvings and motifs of 17th- and 18th-century burial stones (the oldest artifacts dating back to the 9th century).

The logical follow-up to that would be… so what’s the source of that style?

My aesthetic intuition (and the objectivity of many researchers) would call on the theory of sharing, mixing and transmitting of cultural elements (AKA memetics!): this alphabet came from elsewhere and so the shapes of the letters must have too, undoubtedly Roman.

With this in mind, consider: the Basque language, Euskera, was an exclusively oral language – save a few religious writings and mercantile records – until about this same time. And so, for the first time in history, the words of this culture were now routinely expressed in a visual form. Euskera now employed no longer just the power of the ear and mouth to convey the individual and collective Self, but also the eyes. Considering what we know now about the power of images and visual clues…

“…una grafía particular, que es reconocida y denominada popularmente como «letra vasca», donde se pueden constatar motivaciones de identidad con valores específicos, de carácter político, social y cultural, y su aplicación como recurso gráfico de proyección de toda una seña de identidad nacional y reivindicativa que ha generado su propia expresión. Este tipo de letra se ha convertido en la «marca» de un grupo social y del área territorial en la que vive, reforzando la identidad social mediante la confirmación romántica del origen.”

Encapsulated in the the Basque Typeface, writes Herrera, “one can find motives for the identification with specific set of values of a political, social and cultural character, and it’s dissemination as a graphic resource results in the very distillation of the nationalism of those identified with protest. This lettering has become the “brand” of a social group and the territory in which it lives, reinforcing a social identity through the confirmation of romanticized origins.”

 

So I’ve wondered…why don’t we see the Basque Renaissance script on few-to-no modern day posters, handouts or graffiti? Despite the proliferation of the typeface used by businesses, mark trails and printed on the odd ‘Euskal Herria’ t-shirt, why do the variety of places it’s seen seem to be dwindling? Why hasn’t the script been taken up as readily by the most Euskera-fluent generation in modern history?

Before researching this piece I thought, again nudged by the imprecise compass of aesthetic intuition: Nowadays, the Basque Renaissance Typeface must evoke a sense of political conservatism, as it must be considered the lovechild (really, an adopted child) of the social democratic party (read: centrist Catholic PNV, the Basque Nationalist Party, which today pales in comparison to other social conservatisms) that initially rallied a large cross-section of the Basque population to the nationalist cause, and continues holding the regional majority to this day. That fact remains much to the chagrin of the more leftist (and typically younger) groups that continue to garner a reasonable chunk of the remaining nationalist demographic. The typeface thus must appeal, wax nostalgic even, to those who were raised around the social axis of the PNV’s batzoki meeting houses and still frequent cafes with this lettering above the entrance. But those children, now grown, could have as much resentment towards that symbology as admiration and gratitude, for their now grandfathered-in sense of identity in something no longer a novelty as it was to their parents and parents’ parents.

Again, Herrera in Monografica:

“En un proceso de desarrollo político tan complejo como el que se vive actualmente en el País Vasco, este aspecto de atribución nacionalista de la letra manifiesta una politización de la escritura que falsea la realidad social cotidiana. Así, la letra vasca implica la justificación del valor de la resistencia rural frente al cosmopolitismo, del romanticismo frente a la racionalidad, de la reacción contra el progreso. Habiéndose conformado en un verdadero símbolo, hoy en día, el carácter tipográfico vasco supone una de las manifestaciones visuales más acérrimas de una reivindicación del conservadurismo y provincialismo más recalcitrante.”

In a process of political change as complicated as is currently developing in the Basque Country, this aspect – the attribution of nationalism to the Basque Lettering – manifests as a politicization of writing which falsifies the daily social reality lived here. In this way, the Basque Typeface implies a justification of a rural-minded resistance against cosmopolitan modernity, a romanticism of origins against rationalism, and a reactionary [ultraconservative] politik against the progressive. Having been solidified as a true symbol, today, the Basque typographic character can be considered one of the most relentless visual declarations to reclaim conservatism and an even more entrenched provincialism of discrimination.

The chaotic, violent narrative of repression and marginalization lived by the old-timers pushed the pendulum of history to swing again to the other side, lighting the rebirth of a culture backed by participation and free expression. They had their great expansion of autonomy and identity, and matched it with song, symbol, and story. And now, their children and grandchildren, with visceral but increasingly indirect stories of 4+ decades of fear are now fighting their own battles, leveraging their own peace and power with the increased capacities for action and redaction… this implies a new design. To match the age, a design that is dispersed, plural. To keep up with it, returning to the past and scouting a future, simultaneously.

Ultimately, they’re continuing the political work of their foremothers and fathers, and in doing so point out the shortsighted philosophies (and often sexist, racist and xenophobic prejudices) that refuse to coexist with the reality of 21st century and social progress. Their entire universe is post-Civil War and post-Franco and it leads them to distinct conclusions that have to have a distinctive visual representation.

Could this have something to do with the young person’s exposure to a wider variety of aesthetic choices? I would say that thanks to the Internet and social media, the dissemination of hippy/friki/heavy/jipster-dom is prompting a Basque Renaissance 2.0… and not necessarily in the polar opposite direction of the pastoral romanticism that the Letra Vasca enshrines. It’s altogether something else, having it both ways, the juxtaposition of progress and preservation, like the last couple decades of Basque architecture, shoved together. In peace and conviviality.

The typeface, often spotted carved in a relief, foreground letters projecting out from a deep brown oak woods with blond highlights, looks as though it was rubbed away at, worn down, and finally, sealed into permanency by the swelling of humidity and the drying of the sun… sometimes a light olive wood made dark, polished by the constant fumes of cooking and consuming the oil from the fruit of that same tree.

Olive trees do not grow where I live. They require much more sun and prefer much less rain. But, the territorial reaches of Euskera – and thus the territorial reaches of Euskal Herria – do include regions like Navarra that can produce this so-called liquid gold.

The non-Basqueness of olive oil and it’s pervasiveness in local cuisine speaks to the Basque-ness of cultural processes of differential definition and subsequently, appropriation = what came here from elsewhere is now ours too.

This is Basque-ing in Reflected Glory – reworking of models of the known social universe: ours is what we have re-purposed as our own.

The Basque Renaissance Typeface will, I suspect, continuously cycle through the redo’s and undo’s of ownership and authorship, and signal the precarity of a language only written down until just recently.

A good corn isn’t hard to find

We bought us this day our daily bread, like most days.
And then on the other days we just buy a loaf of slices,
brand named Bimbo, for some others days to come.

A good corn isn’t hard to find.
Nor is cornbread.
It is a plant of dark green, those leaves,
fabled to be an
ancient grass writ large in the New World
doubling the size of the known world
carried here and eaten
with zest and confidence
that the Basques waited
before applying such consideration
and enthusiasm
to the potato*[fnote].               the things
we believe and wait to
fear even as we eat blood sausages
filled with rice or cardoon
soaking in it’s swamp of
those things humble
tried and true, the pig
manageable under
the recognizable, an awareness (if you must know, awareness+comfort = tradition)
of a particular beast
and the products we
can assume from it.

Corn Spaghetti

A good corn is not
hard to find, unless you are looking for it in
the sweetener in your soda or
cereal
unless you like it GMO’d
because this is the
EuroUnion of regulatory emancipation from worry
and that ≠ what you’d
consider a mercantile straitjacket or a welfare fare-thee-well state
unless you really need
that squeak only found in cornstarch to
complete a DNA sequence or
to iron a shirt or to
placate a toddler with said dust, water and food dye goop
or to
take an exception to
the rule and find it
in the pasta section, made into
spaghetti or paying
4 dollars americanos
for a ‘medium’ sized bag
of ‘mexican’
tortilla chips

(here ‘tortillas’ being the stuff of eggs
in the form of cakes, often holding potatoes together
and what you might call
by a most detestable term, ‘frittata’
– still, you can’t argue with
common usage)

turkeytorti

There’s only one size bag.
So goes history
and corn abundant in
a flat fried bread here,
a ‘tortilla’ sure, locally known as ‘talo’
and paired often with
a thinner
chorizo known as chistorratxorizo, txistorra
Corn, welcome to not Kansas.
Spelling, welcome to not Spanish.


In his stellar and highly-recommended book, The Basque History of the World, Mark Kurlansky offers the follow observation: “An indication of the Basque regard for corn is the fact that rather than adopt a Castilian word, they gave the grain it’s own name in Euskera, arto.”

Arto, the Basque noun for ‘corn’, sounds just like harto, the Spanish adjective for ‘sick of/tired of something’.

A vestige, perhaps, of the high regard afforded to corn in the Basqueland, I often hear the same response when I compliment the particularly rich taste, color or texture of a meat, poultry, or egg: “Because the animal ate corn! And not just any old shit, it was fed corn!”

Corn is for me, now, a thing few and far between. I don’t have much of a chance to get sick of it. It does not take on 13 dozen different forms, somehow finding its way into everything from ice cream to balloons (factoid: cornstarch used to keep the inside from sticking to itself). And unless the thing sitting in front of you is actually cornbread, cornflakes, popcorn, corn on the cob, or canned corn, you’re probably not eating corn.

Kurlansky writes that, “even aftermost Europeans had given in and were eating potatoes, though still feeding corn only to pigs, the Basques were doing just the reverse. Basque do [read: did (in the past)] not seem to like any tubers. They feed turnips to pigs and seldom eat beets. In 1783, a Bayonne chemist wrote to Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, the French nutritionist who finally persuaded his country to eat potatoes, informing him that the Basques eat corn, not potatoes, and ‘no province produces healthier, more vigorous people.'”

Here, the corn-fed boys, and in my corner of the world, go to baseball camp and football practice. And those walking on 4 legs, to slaughter. Times change. Potato, potatoe. I can’t help but intuit that reversed trend with potatoes in the Basque country today. With no qualms whatsoever, they’re stuck on nearly every plate I’ve ordered out. However, I would say there still is a general look of mystification in the eyes of people learning that we grow and eat tubers like turnips and radish (and glares of disgust and abject terror when I extol the virtues of peanut butter).

Nowadays, little suspicion of the potato remains, especially considering the proliferation of the tortilla de patata. A dish so prized that many Basques considered it both a staple and a treat… and unsurprisingly (or not?) it fails to escape language and identity politics – elsewhere on the continent, this same egg-potato ‘cake’ is usually known as tortilla española.

In the past, “Europeans believed that the physical appearance of food indicated hidden properties…Walnuts enhanced intelligence because they resembled the brain. The potato, it was reasoned, caused leprosy,” notes Kurlansky.

The yolks of the eggs we buy from the little old countryfolk are an impenetrably deep mustard orange color, almost an ocher. You’re damn right those chickens eat corn. And those potatoes, from the southern Basque province of Alava-you bet-the best in Spain. The tortillas made from these two ingredients, can awaken the dead and overwhelm (in a good way) the living.

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.

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.