far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from previous entry]

It’s hard work writing about all this. It’s hard work thinking about all this. I’m not especially anxious to dig into it, but it’s what is happening in my little life, and with each passing day it feels more apparent that a moment is taking form that has to be engaged with now. If not for any concrete steps just yet, then for sifting through it all in advance of taking steps. I find myself waking up in the early hours, my teeny brain in motion, thoughts swirling slowly around all of what I’ve been describing. Then the daily — and lately, with the weather easing gradually toward genuine springtime, it has become a daily affair — early morning cavalcade of shouting, whistling clubbers materialize, some slowly passing through the streets in transit to other hangouts or home, others hanging about, their mission apparently to make existence less restful for neighborhood residents. (I will not bitch and moan. I will not bitch and moan. Happy happy, joy joy.)

So. Despite what I said in the last entry about generally not seeing my life as turning corners or taking big, clearly-marked turns, it may be that my life is approaching one of those big turns it’s not supposed to make, similar to the way it did eight long, yet lightning-fast years ago. Sure looks and feels that way lately, in part because what has been does not seem to workable as something that continues off into a rose-colored future. And where that leaves me right now? I’m working on that.

I found myself submerged in all this during Easter week, in a way that had me keeping to myself, not feeling much interest in anything more than gliding quietly through the days in a brooding state of meditation. (For the first time in several years, I didn’t bother to go check out the Easter processions that pass slowly through the streets of the city center. The local version doesn’t compare to what I saw in Andalucía a few years back, the thought of wading through the crowds to witness Madrid’s far less intense, far less compelling processions just did not move me.) But now and then I’d step outside for a walk, some errands, a breath of the local version of fresh air, and suddenly existence returned to something brighter, more three-dimensional. People, activity. Moments everywhere to watch and listen to. (A window washer at work, cellphone pressed to left ear with left hand, right hand on auto-pilot, squeegee passing methodically across wide expanse of glass. Couples in town from Germany, England, other places off beyond the horizon, conferring together over guidebooks, streetmaps.)

And one afternoon in the gym, a place that generally pumps out a continuous soundtrack of techno through the in-house sound system — me still half-submerged in the kind of thoughts I’ve been describing as I did my sweaty thing — the music suddenly changed to something entirely different, the long, gradual opening of a very different kind of song replacing the customary fast, hyper-repetitive tunes. And suddenly there was U2, Bono going on about a place where the streets have no name (yes, I mentioned Bono — please, no scathingly Pitchforkian comments), and I could feel the energy in the gym shift and lift, everyone visibly responding to the music. And inside me, the sun burst through, and suddenly I was with the lighter, more content me I’m more accustomed to. What a relief.

It all passes, all of this. And light returns, maybe in sympathy with the season.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Graffiti wall, Madrid:

España, te quiero

[continued from previous entry]

That all-encompassing version has underlain underloin been something I’ve felt underneath the ongoing living of what passes for my life these last months. Not something I’m overjoyed about, but it’s the way it’s been. I’ve been living by the seat of my pants since I fled the States in the summer of 2000. (Where exactly did that turn of phrase come from? How does one live by the seat of one’s pants? It’s a mysterious language, English.) Which has meant repeating the sentence “I don’t know” many hundreds of times (no, not all at once) when people have asked what I’d be doing or where I’d be x weeks/months in the future. I haven’t been able to say for sure, at least not in any long-term way. At any given point, I might know how long off in the short-term I’d be planted somewhere doing… whatever it is exactly that I do. But that’s as far as it’s gone. And though it’s worked out into a basic cross-Atlantic pattern with a vague warm-season/cold-season kind of rhythm, it’s been different every year, sometimes drastically different.

And of course I wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t include major aspects that I love. Or like. (Or like better than the other available options.) The excitement of the whole adventure, the unexpectedness of it all. Watching my life take a big veering turn, off in a direction that practically made my hair stand on end from the goofy thrill of it all. Discovering a deep, undeniable feeling of connection to places far away, with no apparent logic or explanation. Finding myself actually off exploring life in those places, learning a second language, bumping up against (metaphorically speaking, for the most part) folks from all over the map. (And me coming from parents who never strayed from the eastern U.S., from a family in which no one ever seriously took on a second language.) And confirming that I mostly like people, wherever they’re from, that I mostly enjoy people and wish them well.

I tend not see my life as turning corners, moving from one phase to another in clearcut fashion. I see its fabric composed of interwoven threads, all in constant flow and evolution. Sometimes lots of those threads develop momentum in a certain direction, manifesting big changes as the life I’d been riding gradually morphs into… the same life, but with different scenery, different headlines, brand new sensory input. My birth family gradually faded away in the few years, dropping off the twig one by one, my one remaining sibling becoming decisively distant once the funerals were finished and my parents’ house down in the never-never land of mid-Atlantic coast Florida had been emptied out and sold. First distant, then impatient during our ever-briefer phone calls and 3-D visits, then opting out of exchanging Christmas gifts and finally to all contact of any substance. There have been lots of partings of ways during these years of my coss-Atlantic cavort, which is fine. People come and go, it’s a basic part of life. But the goings have far outnumbered the, er, comings. And most people I’ve met during my time here in Madrid have passed right on through, becoming part of the picture for a while then moving on. Spaniards, ex-pats from the U.K. and the States, fellow-sufferers in the far too many language classes that I’ve subjected myself to during these years.

This is not something I’m crazy about. The one and only thing I miss in any serious way about my existence back in the States is the handful of friends who feel like family. They’re a long way away. And while I have another handful on this side of the ocean, they’re mostly scattered around different parts of the European map. Which leaves me leading my life here, with a fair-sized void when it comes to companions in the daily slog.

[continued in following entry]

– runswithscissors: the raw virility of Sonny Tufts,
the timeless appeal of Zasu Pitts

España, te quiero

[continued from previous entry]

Anyway, face of pain, blah blah blah.

The café in which we sat — remember that café? — is often crowded, and the crowd sometimes brings with it little bitty critters. Babies, dogs. As S. and I sat talking, a teeny canine trotted past, happily heading toward the rear of the establishment. Its carefree passage caught my attention, brought an immediate smile to my silly face. S. saw that smile, turned and saw the reason, smiled as well. Then the dog’s owner passed by, a scary, raggedly-dressed, dentally-challenged woman, barking into a cellphone, radiating ill humor. S. saw my expression change, turned and saw why. We stared at each other, wide-eyed. “Madre mía,” said I. “¡Qué espanto!” S. could only nod in agreement.

Hours later — once again in the early, early morning — neighborhood noise woke me, I made the trip to the loo, bleary, far more than half-asleep. Sitting where people sit in the loo, lights off, I leaned forward to rest my face on my hands, my forehead hit one of the edges of the long, curved doorhandle, hard enough that I saw stars for a second. Head aching, resting in my hands for real now, me trying to figure out why something like had just happened. The pain did not subside, fingers massaged skin, I gradually realized the skin was not dry, that the blow had opened up my forehead. A look in the mirror revealed an ugly gash, blood seeping, all that. Cleaned it up, found a band-aid, covered it, eventually made the stumble back to bed.

Next morning, got a better, more awake look. A genuine gash. In my very forehead. Ugly. And uglier, more attention-getting with a bandage, given where it was. It had started to heal up, so I elected to go out sans band-aid. Not pretty, but what the hell. And as with every single haircut I’ve gotten here, no one said a word about it. Eyes stared, but no one inquired, everyone maintained absolute discretion. Even in my ongoing twice-weekly language class that night, a room full of non-Spaniards. Not a peep. (Maybe out of nerves and uneasiness more than anything else, maybe they just really did not want to know what the hell had happened.)

And so Easter week slipped by. Wednesday more waves of Madrileños fled, highways clogged with vehicles, news programs tallying up highway deaths on a daily basis. Around the country, Easter processions wound through towns and cities, ugly winter weather bringing rain, snow, sleet to some places, resulting in newsclips of tearful faithful unable to do what they’d spent the last year preparing for.

Here in the barrio, nighttime meant big partying out in the streets, daytime meant most stores, businesses, newsstands closed up, streets awash in cold sunshine and people looking for somewhere to go, something to do. And in the middle of it all, me, feeling strangely adrift, with a growing sense of not having somewhere to be, somewhere I belonged or people to be with. Realizing slowly that the local version of that was only the trigger for a much larger, more all-encompassing version.

[continued in following entry]

España, te quiero

[continued from previous entry]

At that point, she paused, expression showing tentative concern. “Tienes cara de pena,” she commented (literally, “you have a face of pain,” always a fine thing to say to a friend). “¿Te encuentras bien?” Part of what she saw was left over from the earlier internet ugliness, but part had to do with lack of sleep. I chose to talk about that.

Part of what I’ve loved about the barrio that’s served as home for the past (pause to count slowly on fingers) 6.5932 years: it’s filled with life. That’s how it was when I settled in at summer’s end in 2001, it’s only gotten more so since then as it became a hot neighborhood, a destination for more than a night of carousing. That means walking out the door and finding oneself in the middle of energy, voices, faces, motion — unless one is up and out before 10 on a weekend morning, when the rest of the local world is still huddled under the covers recovering from wee-hour bacchanalias. The nightly revelries are a fundamental part of the picture, and during the cooler months that’s mostly okay. When the weather warms up, the flow of bodies through the local streets spikes, the resulting drunken racket spiking with it. Which can be fine until the weather warms up enough that windows have to remain open, street soundtrack pouring directly into living space.

Two, three weeks back, during a stretch of gentle early-spring weather, daytime temperatures coasted blissfully up into the ’60’s, nudging 70, while nighttime temps. remained comfortably mild, provoking an immediately upsurge in nocturnal street life. One night around 3 a.m., some drunken geniuses discovered the empty garbage containers in the plaza down the street, resulting in sloppy, thunderous faux tribal drumming/screaming, five or ten minutes worth, with a brief reprise around 6 a.m. Two nights later, again around three, a larger crowd of 20-somethings drifted into the plaza and recommenced the drumming thing — louder this time, more insistent, going on and on until I finally surrendered, levered myself up out of bed, drifted to the loo to dump the ballast, then opened a window to get a glance at the spectacle happening down the street.

What I saw: an amorphous collection of 20-30 souls amassed around newly-emptied garbage containers, making mindless, purposely obnoxious racket, obviously indifferent to the effect it might be having on the barrio’s residents. A minute or two later, the blue light of a police car appeared out on the main drag, a block in the opposite direction from the plaza. Two policias got out, batons in hand and walked rapidly toward the plaza. Two more appeared from around the nearest sidestreet corner. The four of them walked past the end of the plaza, not yet moving to confront — going instead to a nearby building entrance to confer with some residents. Then moving purposely toward the crowd, spreading out around them, the raggedly defiant noise diminishing, finally stopping altogether. I couldn’t hear the dialogue, but I got the gist of how the police handled it — not provoking further defiance with bluntly aggressive demands. Judging by the tones of voice, they relied on a combination of reason and the quiet guarantee that drunken resistance would not end well. Individuals began drifting away from the group, followed by small clusters of 2, 3, 4, until a final handful remained, the cops closing in around them, the talk continuing until those last holdouts gave way and drifted off across the plaza into narrow streets.

Interesting? You bet. (Though not a prime formula for bitchen beauty sleep.)

The night before getting together with S., the wee hours brought one more burst of percussive hilarity –- five or ten minutes of sheer entertainment during the early hours, followed by lots of loud comings and goings. Hence my face of, er, pain the following morning. The weather gods must have grown tired of the noise as well. That same night a wave of winter weather rolled through the Iberian Peninsula, quieting everything down as revelers were driven inside by frigid conditions.

Next evening: taking advantage of the city quieting down, I skipped crosstown to see a movie, figuring the theater would be quiet, relaxed, sparsely attended. Turned out a bunch of other people had the same idea, enough to half-fill the theater, everyone there to see a Mexican film that El País have given four stars.

I’ve seen some good Mexican films in the last few years, I had no reason to think this one — called Japón (”Japan,” a title with little if any apparent connection with the story (the idea of suicide? homage to the ascetic, existential style of Kurosawa?)) — would be any different. Until the film started, that is. When I saw Juno two or three weeks ago, I knew in the film’s first minute that I was in for something I was going to like. This time, I knew in the first minute that I was in for a long, hard slog. So hard, turned out, that it inspired a haiku of four lines (three just not being enough):

interminable
incoherent script
super low budget (and how!)
freakin’ pretentious

The super low budget thing can be an asset, an advantage for clean, simple storytelling. In this case, it just felt like one more perverse, nerve-scraping, deliberately irritating element. Always at the same level, didn’t matter if the camera was tightly focused on feet shuffling through arid, stony earth or had pulled far, far away, to a point of therapeutic remove.

Whatever writer at El País decided this thing was worth four stars should be dragged into a dark projection room and beaten with rusty b-film movie reels. (Just kidding. Nerf bats would do.)

[this entry in progress]

runswithscissors — giving so much, asking so little in return

España, te quiero

I can’t really explain why, but every single year I seem to forget all over again what Semana Santa (Easter Week) is like here, so that each successive one takes me by surprise. As if I suffer from a strange Easter Week mental block, as if an Easter season during my now-comfortably-distant childhood brought the kind of terrible trauma that can trigger a super-specific protective response.

Monday morning dawned quiet, tranquil, gently low-key. The kind of peaceful that comes from lack of people and traffic. The first reminder of how seriously the Spanish take the ‘week’ part of Easter Week. The first waves of locals fleeing the city took place over the weekend, the influx of seasonal tourists masking it — unless one paid attention to news stories featuring highways filled with cars filled with bolting Spaniards. (I didn’t.)

Sweet early spring weather. Tourists with luggage. A jarring, unpleasant interaction via internet shook my tranquility, rendering me a bit more sober, more thoughtful. Spam re: lines brought brief comic relief. (”Longer! Thicker!”) During a head-clearing walk through the barrio, came across a shopping list dropped by someone. (Final entry: yogur activia — NO SOJA!! (Activia yogurt — NOT SOY!!))

Rendezvoused with a Spanish friend, S., me mentioning right off the bat urban tranquility/lack of people/etc. Her response: discouraged outrage at the Spanish tendency to stretch a vacation day into many more vacation days, labeling the country/culture as not serious, brushing off my appreciation of the comparatively relaxed, user-friendly lifestyle. If we hadn’t been surrounded by concrete, bricks, asphalt, etc., I might have been reminded of the old grass-is-greener saw. S.’s brother is nearing the end of a business master’s at Harvard, he and she are appreciating the more sophisticated, orderly aspects of the business model he’s now steeped in. I nod, I listen, I mention qualities of the life here that feel just fine to me. She’s not having any of it (though she does concede Spain’s massive advantage re: coffee superiority).

[continued in next entry]

España, te quiero

[continued from previous entry]

And in the middle of so much happening these last couple of weeks, a strange, morbid thread has run through much of it. Beginning with the suicide mentioned two or three entries back, followed out of the blue by a one-line email from my brother, the only remaining member of my biological family unit. Never writes, never calls. Two or three Christmases ago, I tried making contact various times, received no reply, gave up and accepted the silence. A week ago, out of the blue, he forwards an email he received from the wife of someone I once worked with in which she mentions that her husband caught a ride in the final taxi a few years back.

Next day: the political assassination in the Basque country, causing a countrywide uproar here.

Last night: after a mighty unattractive show of wee-hour drunken misbehavior here in the barrio by crowds of shitfaced 20-somethings — the kind of mischief that creates a whole lot of sleep-destroying racket and results in police eventually appearing to break it up — I finally sink into restless sleep as the sky is getting light. And eventually find myself in a dream with my brother, taking place somewhere I’ve never been in waking life, though in the dream it was supposed to be the area bro lives in, a place I spent lots and lots of time in years past. A vivid, clear dream, the kind that feels more real as it goes on, so real that the experience feels natural, comfortable, complete, despite aspects that would make no sense at all in waking life. The dream moves along until I’m in an urban area with bro, crossing a wide boulevard — four lanes across, two in each direction. Bro and I were talking about something as we began to cross, I don’t remember what. He was ahead of me, sprinting toward the other side, my focus was on moving vehicles as I ran, not on him, so that when I heard the sound of him running into a moving car — the sound clear and vivid enough that I could just about feel the impact myself — it caught me by surprise. My head turned, I saw his body fall back and hit the pavement, remaining perfectly still once down. I felt my heart pounding in my chest, the tuggings of the urge to vomit that can come with shock, my legs taking me at full speed to his side, my vision veering back and forth between his motionless body and approaching traffic. The oncoming vehicles showed no sign of slowing down, I positioned myself between them and my brother, arms waving in a desperate effort to get them to stop.

And came to consciousness, my head jerking up from the pillow. Mouth dry, heart pumping. Feeling like I’d experienced something that verged on real-life real. Lay still for a minute, trying to shake the grip of the dream, finally got that the only way to get loose of it was to get up, get moving, immerse myself in this life here, in the waking moment unfolding around me in this flat in this city on this continent on this planet Earth.

Did that. Showered, pulled on clothes, hurried out into a beautiful morning, sunshine pouring down from a pure blue sky, a cool early spring breeze blowing. Feet took me down the street, lungs pulled in air. A Saturday morning in March slowly took form, life going on all around.

One espresso and one croissant later, I stumbled into the door of my piso, cranked my long-suffering laptop, and as I waited for it to come to life my eyes fixed on a 3″ x 3″ square of paper that’s been languishing on the table by my keyboard, an advertising handbill that can be found all over Madrid. A super-sincere ad from PROFESSOR SADOI, Auténtico Vidente Africano (Authentic African Medium — results rapid and effective, 100% guaranteed) assuring me that NO HAY PROBLEMA SIN SOLUCIÓN — there is no problem without a solution. Which is a lovely thought, one I think may actually be true (though sadly, not one likely to bring the Professor any business from me).

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Twilight, mid-March, Madrid:

España, te quiero

[continued from last entry]

I mostly enjoy the influx of tourists. A city this large and sprawling can absorb waves of furriners without losing its basic feel and character. (Not my experience in Barcelona.) Even this excessively-popular barrio manages to hold its own against the onslaught, maybe because the mix of people here is already so colorful and the flow of natives passing through to party most nights of the week dilutes the seasonal tsunamis of guiris.

The mild weather brings out all kinds of individuals, including a fair sampling of self-talkers. One gent with tanned, leathery skin and Andean features passed me as I stepped out of a morning espresso joint, dressed in rugged traveling clothes, a bulging pack and bedroll strapped to his back, carrying a large walking staff — mumbling to himself, too softly for me to be able to make it out. A teeny, elderly woman walked slowly along a sidewalk, wearing thick, grandmotherly high-heels and a neat cloth cold weather coat, complaining out loud in a tired voice about, well, everything apparently. Now and then cars with loudspeakers pass through the barrio going on about a candidate or political party, a different kind of self-talking — not a conversation, an advertising monologue, often receiving shouted abuse in response.

Two weekends ago, on a lovely Saturday night, the sound of drums started up down the street from here. Loud, percussive, lots of drummers participating, cheers from bystanders erupting any time the playing reached a pause. I pulled on a jacket, went down to enjoy the show, and found out it was one more campaign event, this one staged by la Izquierda Unida (the United Left), one of the various small political parties strewn around Spain’s political landscape. One I’ve had trouble taking seriously, almost entirely because of its leader/point person, Gaspar Llamazares. During my first year here, any time I happened across a clip of him or a bit about him in the media, he was invariably bitching about something, in a way that offered nothing constructive and portraying him (to me) as an unpleasant guy with little substance. By the end of that first year, I’d learned to ignore him. Part of the reason for the Socialist victory in the post-bombing elections in 2004 was due to many IU voters doing the same, casting their ballots for Zapatero and the Socialists instead.

The parade streamed past my building, lots of folks trailing behind, peace descending as the sound of drums receded with distance. I walked to one of the main drags with the thought of finding something to eat, found the parade out there, drums pounding, whistles being blown, cops holding traffic back until the parade turned off onto a side street and moved away. And that, thought I, was that. Found food, returned home, heard the sound of drums again, slowly realized that the parade was limited to this barrio and that they weren´t anywhere near running out of steam. For hours they tramped through the narrow streets, well past the point when their welcome had been worn out, finally calling it a night three or four hours after starting. A long enough time to grow real damn tiresome.

Two or three months back, the IU went through a bout of self-examination, briefly considering the idea of running a different candidate. A woman, someone who sounded interesting, someone who might present a fresh face and different energy. For some reason, the party wound up trashing that possibility, leaving Himself at the helm, making silly pronouncements from time to time. (Days before the election, he suggested that the Socialists seriously consider sharing power with the IU, maybe because el Partido Popular, the country’s big right-wing party, was running such an intense, aggressive campaign. Llamazares produced a list of 25 conditions the Socialists would have to meet in order for the IU to agree to the alliance — not a move likely to convince anyone take him seriously. And not surprisingly, the IU lost a huge amount of voters this time around, their seats in el Congreso de Diputados reduced from five to two. Since then, Llamazares has accepted ‘the responsibility, but not the blame’ for the beating they took at the polls. Ah, well.

[continued in following entry]

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Parking garage, Madrid:

España, te quiero

It’s election day in Spain and the neighborhood has been strangely quiet. Disorientingly low-key for a Sunday in early spring. Almost sober. (I say almost, this not being a barrio known for sobriety.) As if a collective breath is being held, as if many are keeping a cautiously low profile until they see how things work out. (Though I admit I may be projecting with that last bit.)

It might have been like this in any case, given how intense the campaign season was. But once again, a last-minute happening roiled already muddy waters.

Elections take place on Sunday. By law, all campaigning comes to a close Friday at midnight, leaving Saturday as a day of reflection. Friday afternoon, the terrorist/separatist group ETA assassinated someone associated with the Socialist party in a town in the Basque Country, an ex-councilor — immediately throwing the last day of campaigning off its axis. An army of media folk descended on the town, political types abandoned their big staged political mitins to hurry north where all attention was focused.

Even without strange developments like that, I find this a poignant, slightly melancholy time of year, this period between the cold season and the warm season. Spring does not impose itself all at once here. It slips slowly in via spells of sweet, teasingly mild weather, punctuated by sudden backslidings to less user-friendly conditions. And once Carnival has passed in a burst of music and confetti, the year’s first wave of tourism gets cranking as school vacations happen in Europe and North America, bringing a resurgence of furriners. Germans formed most of this year’s initial wave, followed by Americans, Brits, and a sprinkling of folks from the country on the other side of the Pyranees. (That would be France, for the geographically challenged.) I know it remains perennially popular to dump on the French, but for what it’s worth my experience with them has always — well, mostly — been good, and the music they bring to the mix of languages here feels just fine to me.

It’s become normal to see people dragging wheeled luggage, the sound of plastic wheels on pavement part of the season’s soundtrack. As I descended into the Metro yesterday evening, a young male bounded up the stairs past me, followed slowly by a 40ish male — guardian? parent? — loaded down with luggage, grunting with effort, expression revealing someone surprised and a teeny bit desperate at his situation.

[continued in next entry]

España, te quiero

[continued from previous entry]

One good thing about campaign season: it makes reading the newspaper much easier, much faster. Skip over the ever-increasing number of pages devoted to politicians, manufactured campaign events, and hot gas disguised as polls, predictions, etc. Wade through everything else in slightly more leisurely fashion. Meaning, essentially, I end up with the arts, sports and a few other stray bits.

The gun went off for the official local campaign season about ten days ago, but since the pre-official season had been underway for many weeks, the only real difference I noticed was the sudden appearance of television ads for candidates/parties. Normal commercials are bad — political ads are so bad that they could drive me to beg loved ones to pick up the nearest implement of destruction and end my suffering.

The last two weeks brought two different political debates. The first: a match between the current Minister of the Economy, Pedro Solbes, and he who would like to elbow Solbes aside, Manuel Pizarro. As far as I can tell, the dislike and disrespect that the opposition — the national right-wing party, el Partido Popular — feels for Solbes is second only to the outright loathing they manifest toward the current president, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Pizarro had been announced with big fanfare by the PP, like he was the ace up their collective sleeve, their new star, an addition to their team big enough to push them over the top. Which must have made their disappointment especially bitter when he didn’t hold up in the debate. The day after the event, the media declared Solbes the clear, incontestable winner, and the folks from the PP responded by mentioning nothing about Pizarro or the debate for the next 2-3 days. (Confirming what they have shown on a daily basis since being kicked out of office in 2004: they are not good losers.)

Why, you might ask in an attempt to keep me from starting in on the second debate, am I going on about all this? My pathetic reply: it’s a simple, blatant attempt to get my wheels turning again, because since I coughed up the last paragraph of that last entry, I’ve avoided producing anything more. I’ve known I’ve been avoiding, at times I’ve tried gently prodding myself to sit down and dig into it, but the feeling of not wanting to has been so strong that I have not pushed too hard.

In earlier years of this life, I likely would not have been so patient. More likely, I would have told myself to buck up, would have plowed ahead and churned out a bunch of blather. (This in line with my birth-family’s mode of living: when facing a situation that produces lots of emotion, don’t take time to feel your way through it — put your head down and stumble forward. An excellent way, I realized a while back, to accumulate a whole lot of scar tissue.)

My perspective on the suicide thing is not in line with the conventional wisdom. I recently saw something out on the web written by a smug half-wit that affirmed (1) we all go through times of considering suicide, meaning, (2) it’s not only not the big deal it’s made out to be, it’s the easy way out, and (3) it’s not only the easy way out, it’s the act of a coward. My feeling: we may all pass through moments when we toy wishfully with the idea of getting the hell out of this loony bin (and i say that with affection) we call life, but we do not all pass through the place of seriously considering the real item. Once you go through the kind of intense passage that could actually lead one to consider shuffling the hell off this mortal clownshow, it should leave you with an increased capacity for empathy/understanding and an intimate knowledge of an especially deep, often very dark, species of life evaluation. “Easy” is not a word a sane individual would apply to any of that, much less to the act of severing one’s tether to this life. Calling it the act of a coward is the kind of facile, kneejerk b.s. that often gets spewed about individuals who have chosen to punch their last timecard. The major buzzword is ’selfish,’ and my experience has generally been that when someone trots out that word what they really mean is ‘you’re not behaving the way I want you to behave.’ Yes, I know this is a complex issue, so deep that it can’t be easily quantified. A suicide impacts family, friends, acquaintances in enormous ways. Some see it as a big ‘fuck you,’ and there may be times when that’s the case. Other times it’s a gauge of indescribable pain. And other times it may simply be the result of a process of evaluation, leading to a decision most see as inconceivable.

Blah, blah blah.

The strange, simple truth: learning that I.’s death had been a deliberate choice on his part felt better to me than if it had been something more apparently random — cancer, getting flattened by a truck or hit by an errant golf ball, etc. In many ways it squared with things I knew about him, things we’d talked about, and things I’d felt from him, not expressed verbally. He was no dummy, he was no coward. He went through a process and came to a decision, and whatever the ripple effects, I cared for and respected the person he was, and I respect the process he would have gone through in arriving at that big, final choice.

This is too huge a subject to deal with in a handful of paragraphs — a better writer might be able to go more deeply into it and produce something worth wading through. I would just bore the bejeezis out of everyone. So I’ll leave it at this.

And the first presidential debate? Mariano Rajoy, the PP’s candidate, came out of the corner like a bearded attack dog, dropping the pretense of smiling congeniality he’d adopted for the campaign season, reverting to the politician of the last four years who rarely smiled and did nothing but attack, attack, attack. Zapatero countered with not especially inspiring equilibrium, responding to Rajoy’s continuous claims of national crisis/catastrophe with talk of economic strength, social progress, forward movement. Both apparently fudged figures and facts. Next day, polls and the media proclaimed Zapatero the winner by a slim margin. Enough that his side could claim victory, slim enough that the other side could see it as a pyrrhic victory they could ride until the second debate.

That second dabete happened last night. The general consensus: Rajoy crapped out, Zapatero prevailed.

The elections take place on Sunday. Can’t wait until it’s all over.

– runswithscissors: young, tender, with such an adorable bum

España, te quiero

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