far too much writing, far too many photos

This morning: awoke around 4 a.m., levered myself out of warm, comfy bed, made the long shuffle to the loo for a quick deposit. Turned on the bathroom’s overhead light, heard a loud pop, saw the light come briefly on then go dark. Stared blearily up at it, some part of my teeny, sleepy brain absorbed the unfortunate shift in reality, finally coming out with the mental equivalent of, “Oh.” After which I noticed the rest of the flat was not only dark, it was silent. No refrigerator running, no nothing. Flicked the switch for the hallway light. Darkness Hit the switch for the overhead light in the kitchen. More darkness. Slowly swung into what, at 4 a.m., passes for action.

Located the breaker box, buried behind dishes in a kitchen cabinet. Carefully pulled out dishes, stacked them on counter. Pulled open breaker box: sure enough, the main breaker was off. Clicked it on, checked lights. Hallway light produced wonderful, joy-inducing illumination. Refrigerator began running. (I tripped it to keep it from getting too far.) Brief half-awake jubilation. Then tried kitchen light: nothing doing. Tried bathroom lights: nothing doing. Half-awake mumbling of foul words.

Returned to kitchen cabinet, stared in at breaker box — the switches stared back, all in the ON position. I checked each one by hand, pushing them firmly up, all seemed to be solidly where they should be. Tried kitchen light. Tried bathroom lights. Nothing. Found replacements for two of the three bulbs in the bog, flicked the switch with tentative hope. Further nothing. Gave up for the night, shuffled back to bed — pausing long enough to turn on laptop and send an email to sainted landlords, informing them of the sitch, asking for suggestions. Turned on bedside light (smirking at the small victory of a working lamp in the face of the universe’s attempt to leave me totally screwed), read until teeny brain had calmed down and drowsiness loomed, stuffed earplugs into ears in anticipation weekday morning street noise, drifted off to lovely sleep.

Woke up at a far more reasonable hour, the world outside slowly gearing up for a Monday. Pulled out earplugs, found myself being serenaded by a backhoe-mounted jackhammer down in the street, part of the soundtrack for the ongoing rebuilding of Madrid, crews working their way through the barrio’s narrow calles, ripping up asphalt, replacing it with brick. Pretty when done, loud, dusty and not much fun before then.

Apart from the rainfall that greeted me when I arrived last Wednesday a.m., the days here have been like a return to summer — warm, flooded with sunshine, as close to perfect as one could ask. The kind of conditions that bring everyone outside. In this barrio, that means night-long partying on the weekends, waves of noise coming and going until dawn when the celebrating gives way to the sound of city cleaning crews sweeping up overabundant refuse and hosing down streets. Just part of the cycle of life. Last night, being Sunday, was much more tranquil, much more suited to a good, long stretch of shuteye. At lest it is when I finally fall into bed — I tend to fall into the local rhythms automatically once here, so even if I’m not out wading through the city’s nightlife, I’m up late online, watching the tube, reading.

Part of daily reading includes the morning El Pais, me attempting to be selective about the parts of the paper I spend time on. Less political hooha, less world news ugliness, more sports, arts, etc. The idea being the cultivation of something that might pass as mental health. Or a teeny bit of inner peace. (States not generally promoted by catching up on the goofy doings of politicians and the folks currently the subject of gossip and celeb blather.) Which means paying minimal attention to the ongoing hyperaggressive ravings of el Partido Popular (the party tossed out of power in the wake of the Madrid bombings in March, 2004), minimal attention to the toxic political grandstanding and maneuvering that has become the norm here and in the States, etc. Which does leave me feeling a bit lighter as I stumble through my day.

And speaking of lighter: sainted landlords responded to my email with a suggestion to actually turn the various breaker switches on and off a few times. I did (as opposed to my half-awake, early-hour prodding, poking, pushing), it did the trick, immediately turning darkened corners of the flat much, er, lighter. When I skipped out the door to enjoy the spectacular weather, I left behind a fully functional living space.

I do love a happy ending.

EspaƱa, te quiero.

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