far too much writing, far too many photos

Well. Today is a day of general strike, the two or three big unions’ response to the measures the government has been attempting to deal with la crisis, the difficult economic situation Spain has found itself in since, you know, the big financial roller-coaster ride got underway two or three years back. In some ways, it feels like a big, dumb pissing match between big institutional entities, and though I come from a union family I find myself feeling a notable lack of respect for the mucky-mucks who run the unions here and an overall feeling of resignation to having to endure big posturing that just makes things more difficult for regular folk.

On one hand, my old man was a teacher in New York City schools. During my youngest years, City school employees made hilariously poor wages and I have vague memories of the ‘rent taking part in strikes that stretched on for many weeks. Which, over time, had the effect of raising wages to something more respectable, that could keep a family of five afloat more manageably. On the other hand, I have a friend here who works in Hacienda, the Spanish version of the IRS, a place she’s worked for years, and an entity that treated its non-management employees in shamefully abusive ways, denying them basic protections and refusing their attempts to make their situation more secure. The went through a long process of confronting management in various ways, trying to secure simple, fundamental rights, and their union — one of the big entities trying to use today as a way to rattle its metaphoric sabre in intimidating fashion at the government.- did zero to help out its members. Literally, nothing, despite pleas and entreaties from its members trying to better their shaky situation. Until those workers hired their own attorneys and undertook an extended legal campaign that finally turned things around for them.

My friend told me stories during the couple of years that she suffered through all that, tales that left me open-mouthed with amazement. Stories that painted a picture of union management that didn’t give a rat’s patoot beyond their own entrenched jobs and comfort. Leaving me disgusted, jaundiced, uninterested in the self-righteous solidarity blather spouted by union leaders who regularly appear in the news here.

I went to class yesterday evening, walking through crowded city-center streets on a beautiful late September evening. When I made the return hike to the Metro in Sol, a union rally had the plaza mostly sealed off, a stage erected on which several someones yelled into microphones to a small crowd of red-flag-waving folks. An eve-of-the-general-strike gathering. It appeared, though, as I made the trip home, that today’s strike was already underway. Busses were almost nonexistent, the few that rumbled along city streets were jammed with tired travelers who had no choice but to push their way in and endure a substantially more uncomfortable than normal ride.

After today, the unions and the Socialist government will begin negotiations about certain aspects of the program of labor reforms being enacted in reaction to the country’s difficult economic state. They’ll come to agreements or they won’t. Time will tell.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

By the way, a reminder: this journal’s photo-a-day page can be found here.


Stiff little fingers — Madrid:

España, te amo

It’s September 16. I have no idea how that happened, and I have to confess that the speed at which the days are sneaking past is kind of creeping me out.

Woke up early this morning with the intention of running out to hunt photos. When I poked my head out a window, post-shower, I gray skies, rain beginning to fall. The first rainy morning in… a while. A long while. Made a swing through the near corner of El Retiro yesterday — Madrid’s version of Central Park — saw a foliage largely still green, but the ground dry as a bone (each pathway step raising white dust), some leaves going brown, beginning to curl up and fall from lack of water. Normal here at this time of year, but still – an impressive show of lack of rain. There have been autumns here when the only leaves I saw tumbling along streets and piled in gutters were brown and dry from lack of rain. None of the color I was used to from autumn in the northeast U.S. That may change now with my current squat being so close to the park and all those trees. We’ll see.

This week I began a few weeks of evening classes, two nights a week, 90 minutes at a pop. (Spanish classes, ‘cause I recently found myself making some stupid mistakes and didn’t like it.) When I emerged from the Metro in the city center this evening around 7, en route to class, the streets were absolutely packed, everyone out enjoying the tail end of a beautiful afternoon, the crowd a lively mix of locals, tourists, living statues of every possible description and hucksters shouting that they buy gold (looking like they might be disposed to grab passersby and shove them physically in the direction of a place of business that would then try to hoover all bits of suspected gold from their startled person).

The class: me and four other students — two women from the States, a male and a female from France. And the instructor, Cecilia. It’s strange doing the classroom thing again. But constructive, and I’m all for making flailing attempts in that general direction. Plus, change is good, at least for me. And something I miss about not living exactly in the city center is passing through those narrow streets, full of people, commerce, energy. Stuff like this forces me back there.

Er, where was I? Oh, right – class. You don’t want to hear about that. Or at least not right this minute. Trust me. Plus, there’s a plate of food calling my name and my bod keeps turning in that direction, which makes typing very difficult. And I’m all for trying to keep onerous tasks simple.

Anyway. Later.


Sloppy streetside abstract — Madrid:

España, te amo

So here we are, deep into September, me trying to figure out how in hell that happened. (‘Cause, seriously, it is one big honkin’ mystery. It was just June.)

The city was more or less back to normal last week, though people with suitcases and/or bigass backpacks were still everywhere, all week long. This morning, normal life has taken hold. And I seem to have adjusted, or at least am no longer quietly bitching and moaning about the passing of a beautiful, peaceful summer. Life goes on, the pages of the calendar have their time, get replaced by other calendar entries, they have their brief moment. It all passes.

Ahem. Blah blah blah.

During recent weeks, I’ve been hearing from friends and acquaintances in New England, Montana, Montreal, the U.K., Denmark, everyone talking rain, grey weather. Waiting for hurricanes, driving through storms so intense that cars began aquaplaning down the highway. I, meanwhile, sit here enjoying gorgeous weather, trying not to sound smug when I mention that to those suffering through less user-friendly conditions.

It wasn’t a very pretty winter here. Cold, dark, dank. I deserved a beautiful summer. Now I deserve a beautiful autumn. We’ll see what happens.


A bit of blue sky — Madrid:

España, te amo

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © runswithscissors. All rights reserved.