far too much writing, far too many photos

Sitting in a house in northern Vermont, late winter landscape outside gradually shifting to early spring. Grass turning from dark green to the brighter, lighter hues of the warm season. Trees still bare, buds just beginning to poke out. When the chilly wind takes a break, the day shifts to t-shirt weather. Just a tease — the nippy edge reasserts itself, the day cool enough overall that I have the stove down in the basement going.

Four days ago, I was still in Madrid, deep into the unhappiness that usually takes over in the days before a trip back across the Atlantic. (Unhappiness hardly describes it, really. Anxiety, grief, more like that. Not much fun.) Not that my life over there is perfect, not by a long stretch. But that part of the world has a hold on me and that’s the simple truth.

This last weekend was a puente in Madrid, the holidays of May 1 and 2 providing the framework for one more long string of days off. People fled the city Friday afternoon (news programs flogging clips of highways crowded with vehicles heading toward the horizon, the media keeping count of highway fatalities, comparing the figure with a year earlier), though in nowhere near the same numbers as during Easter week. Combine that with the swelling influx of tourists and life in the city center was not tranquil. Partying got underway Friday evening, continued with little in the way of a break throughout the following nights and days. Didn’t promote wonderful nights of sleep, but that sometimes is life in a busy barrio.

Decided to get some culture during the course of the weekend, Sunday morning found me dragging ass along sunny streets surprisingly busy for a Sunday a.m. in that part of the world. That should given me a hint. Two weeks earlier, on a normal Sunday morning, I’d made the trek to la Reina Sofia to see a show of the amazing paintings of Chuck Close. Being a normal Sunday a.m., few people were about, meaning no lines and peaceful art ogling, the experience so user-friendly and the exhibition so amazing that I decided to do a second trip. This last Sunday, however, the second pilgrimage — in the middle of a busy vacation weekend — turned out to be a different experience. A long, long line extended out the museum’s front entrance, snaking across the plaza. On another occasion, I might have called it quits right there, found a local watering hole to sit and read the paper while inhaling some espresso. This time I zipped directly to the end of the line, which moved along at a brisk pace, turned out. Soon I found myself back among big honking portraits, and followed that up with a wander through another exhibit hall containing all sorts of wacky contemporary works. Including a big installation of thick filaments of plastic hanging from ceiling to floor, occupying a large space maybe 25, 30 feet square. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but watching groups of kids plow into it and wander around inside proved to be so much fun that I finally found waded in myself, moving slowly into its center where I realized that the guards couldn’t really see what anyone in there was doing (a fact that had one or two of them practically jumping out of their skin with anti-photo-taking paranoia), and I pulled out my trusty point ‘n’ shoot and stood for a while snapping excessively arty images until I had the feeling I should put it away and return to real life. An elderly security guard hurried around the corner of the installation as I emerged, him agitated, hyper, apparently looking to make a bust. Saw my camera-free hands, turned away, expression disappointed, almost disgusted. I’m a bad person.

Getting into art — literal

Getting into art — abstract

EspaƱa, te quiero.

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