27 February 2007

city mouse coughing

lately i've been feeling a little bit polluted by city living. maybe it's this cough that i can't seem to get rid of, but the air seems a little poisonous. i'm always breathing car exhaust of stale subway air or second-hand smoke. last weekend i came home friday and saturday feeling as if i'd smoked a carton of cigarettes. i think after i'm done here in madrid, my next home will be in the country somewhere.

i've been living in cities since 1999 and in a way it has seemed the only sensible place for a single girl to live. i love cities. i love walking everywhere, i love the plethora of social options. i love that any time of day or night there is something to do, even if it's just walking around under the street lights. i love the idea of a neighborhood and the simultaneous feelings of closeness and anonymity with the people around you. i love having an airport nearby.

yet i loved living in the country as well, i was never bored. granted, it was college and i was surrounded by people my own age in a town with plenty of cultural activities. also, at that point in my life i had only ever lived in the suburbs, so city life wasn't there for me to miss yet. i just worry that if i moved to the country -- back to new england for example -- i would be staring at the four walls every night with nothing to do. but at least i would have fresh air!

in the short term, i'm absolutely taking a day trip this weekend to somewhere outdoors and unpolluted by cars and smokers.

25 February 2007

bonobo birthday

as i mentioned, keeping in touch with my exes is not my strong suit. keeping in touching with other people's exes, however, i can handle. case in point: bonobo, whose birthday is today.

and in the days where forgetting birthdays is impossible if you are connected to the internet, the thoughtfulness of a happy birthday email or (shudder) ecard is even more diminished from its already tenuous position. and real cards are reserved for grandparents. thus the birthday blog post.

jeff is funny and he's a thinker. he's got this very complete cynicism that i suspect has a small kernel of idealism wrapped up inside. and most importantly, he's lots of fun. so happy birthday.

and incidentally, jeff is not that drag racer guy pictured above, although he shares the same name, and if you ask me an uncanny resemblance. he must be a cousin, or an evil twin.

23 February 2007


twice this week emails from ex-boyfriends have dropped out of the ether into my unsuspecting inbox. eek. i'm not one of those people who stays in contact with exes; there is only one who i could honestly call a friend -- meaning when we are in the same city we have lunch. which happens once every couple of years.

so i'm wondering if it's a pattern. and basically, if there are any others of you out there, this is the week to send me a random email. just saying hi has been done, so has inviting me to your wedding. maybe you could send me a flickr album of your new baby? or solicit a donation for a charitable walk/run/bike ride you're doing? or some spam about how barack-ing the vote? i know you're out there, and you obviously know my email address...

in other news, my roommate just came back after being gone for 5 weeks. my apartment is suddenly no longer my private enclave. back to the toilet seat being up. and conversations. but he's leaving in a week, moving back to the states. so i found a new guy, named fan, who is spanish and will be living here for the next six months until sky returns.

here's a list, because it's friday and i like you:
  • bonobo's site has a fun collection of freaky muppet videos. hey, you don't feel like working anyway.
  • a pretty animation of flight patterns over the us. um, it's cooler than it sounds.
  • redesigns: whatevs and imdb. but you already knew that.
  • islamic artists: avant garde mathematicians?

21 February 2007

lucky pig

with chinese new year we enter the year of the pig, a supposedly fortuitous year whose luck is only increased by this being a year of the golden pig. it is a good year to bear children, which has many chinese women stalking the hong kong border trying to avoid their country's one child policy.

i was born in the year of the snake, which according to some sources is the unluckiest year. but according to other sources, snakes are "perhaps the wisest and most enigmatic of all." doesn't sound so bad...

not that i believe in astrology, chinese or otherwise. actually, i don't believe in lucky or unlucky either. there's too much fate for me, it would be too much like believing in god.

however, if i did believe in luck i cannot imagine myself much luckier than i already am. i live a life unoppressed, enjoying myself, safe, doing pretty much exactly what i feel like. i have amazing family and friends. i have enough money to support my whims and travel and enough free time to spend my money. i am healthy, smart and educated. most importantly, i'm happy.

but teaching english i have realized that much of our language assumes bad luck. statements like "as luck should have it..." and "with my luck..." imply that we all think we are quite unlucky. how can this be? i would be willing to bet that most people who use these phrases are among the luckiest in the world.

today's question: do you believe in luck?

20 February 2007

lessons from scotland

i'm back from my weekend in scotland. here are some things i learned, and didn't learn, presented for you in my favorite format - a list.

  • scottish history. this is comprised of many wars with england, as the brits came marching up every hundred years or so to storm the castle and lay siege and perform other forms of bloody warfare. when the british weren't around, the scots would massacre each other, clan vs. clan. i'm surprised there are any of them left.
  • scottish geography. what a small country. you can drive across it in a few hours.
  • scottish weather. not as cold or as dark as expected. and according to one guy, you used to be able to ski in the north, before the americans ruined the environment. sorry, mates!
  • how to use my camera. my friend marisa has the same one and she actually read the manual. my new knowledge ranges from simple things such as how to shut off the flash to snazzy tricks such as how to use the underwater functions to take cool pictures inside clubs at night.
  • how people are impressed by "new york." throw that word around, and people will let you do just about anything, convinced that you are somehow famous and so will they be by proximity. embarassing, but true.
didn't learn:
  • how scotch whiskey is made. all the distilleries were closed. this did not prevent me from drinking lots of whiskey. some missions know no defeat!
  • how to understand or be understood by the scottish. at least it was mutual.
  • what haggis tastes like. or kippers. or tatties. i usually make a point of eating the local dish but this time i avoided
more to come soon, including my photo documentary.

14 February 2007


valentine's day finds me happy to live in europe. it passes without much notice, as it should. i guess this balances out superbowl sunday.

a friend said it best a few years ago when he said 'every day is valentine's day.' they should have a holiday to celebrate single people.

well, enough on that, lest i begin to sound bitter.

i'm going to edinburgh tomorrow to drink scotch and drink more scotch. and go to the highlands, where, apparently, the movie highlander takes place. i feel as if i should have watched it in preparation. instead i watched the last king of scotland.

be my valentine. i love you.

guitar heroine

my latest hobby is the guitar. i was lucky enough to be semi-permanently loaned a classical guitar from a friend and it has been my constant occupation for the last week or so. i used to play a bit in college and i had forgotten how fun it is.

i specialize in springsteen, the slow jams. i like to mix in a few acoustic renditions of guns 'n' roses tunes and the occasional joni mitchell, when i can handle it. i have some elvis costello in the works as well as a couple by the decemberists. i like singers with low voices that i can almost approximate. i'm a rockstar alone in my room, yet am incredibly shy to play in front of people. i invision sing-alongs on the terrace this spring.

anybody have any other recommendations for what i should play?

10 February 2007


today is my spaniversary. two years since i arrived here with a stick over my shoulder and a kerchief tied around it containing all my belongings. i spent the first few months shining shoes for pennies in the rastro before getting an apartment among the gypsies. they taught me their secrets and i stole their tears.

more or less...

07 February 2007

novel read

so, i've read my novel. i started it yesterday afternoon and finished it a few moments ago. somehow this was such a hurdle for me, picking it up to read again was in a way more difficult than writing it. i guess i was scared that it would suck, or that i wouldn't know what to do with it. i liked basking in the accomplishment of just finishing it and was unsure of the next step.

so, next step taken, i was surprised to discover that i really like what i wrote. i like the story, i'm still engaged in the characters and parts made me smile and even laugh a little. the last 40 pages or so aren't as good, they need work. so i'm going to work on it.

unrelated: i like lists. here are a few more:
  • apparently i'm not alone. here are 8 reasons why internerds like lists. my favorite: they are skimmable (she notes, while skimming the article)
  • the morning news is doing a series of "best of" lists for every year since 1978
  • kevin smith's top ten films of 2006
  • another good spin on usual list....top ten discovered albums

06 February 2007

potty mouth

how can i say this delicately? well, it's as simple as this: i'm doing a colon cleanse. i'm on day 5 of what will be a two-month process designed to evacuate the impacted fecal matter from the inside of my colon.

i first heard about the cleanse from the coolest girl in michigan, "cousin" susan, while we were sipping margaritas and floating around the big fat boat at big star lake last summer. and, as is natural in such situations, the conversation drifted to colons. she testified that dr. natura changed her life in various amazing ways, and with that i was sold.

fast forward to january, where mr. michael and i perused the website, and were taken with such phrases as "death begins in the colon" and statistics claiming that the average person has 10-20 pounds of impacted fecal matter weighing them down. and don't even get me started on the photo gallery! (not for the squeamish)

so it has arrived, and i have diligently been cleansing for five days. this consists of 4 pills and a scoop of fiber powder in the morning, 2litres of water during the day and a tea at night. other than that you eat and live your life as normal, although what happens in the bathroom is promised to be anything but ordinary.

so far my life hasn't been changed, but i have 55 days left to go! i'll keep you updated.

and, in other less shitty news:
today's question: after the colon is squeaky clean, what should i cleanse next?

05 February 2007

sore loser

one thing i really miss about living in the us is superbowl sunday. the excitement, the office pools, the commercials. here the superbowl starts after midnight and can be watched only in irish pubs full of studying abroad american college students. but the absolute worst part is what happens when the football isn't being played. instead of commercials starring keven federline or even intelligent commentary, skysports, the broadcasting company that shows american football in europe, cuts to their all-white studio that resembles a high-school av room. there sit three british guys who attempt to discuss the game.

i don't know what's worse, the fact that it's these same three guys over and over - no replays, no shots of the field, no stats, no graphics - or the fact that they're british. somehow, hearing brits talk about american football seems sacreligious. sometimes they even go so far as to identify these blokes, and two of the three are actually soccer commentators. they couldn't rustle up three americans to discuss the nfl? i'm sure you could mine any 3 american drunks out of the irish pub and come up with a better commentary.

but the real reason i didn't watch the superbowl last night is that my heart just wasn't in it after the conference championship games. my team, the patriots, lost in the 4th quarter to their rival and eventual superbowl champs the colts. the second team i was rooting for, the new orleans saints, lost to the chicago bears, who i still hate from beating the pats in the superbowl in 1985. so the nfl season ended for me two weeks ago, and as much as i love the superbowl i just couldn't drag myself to the irish pub at midnight to see some brits discussing two teams i hate.