far too much writing, far too many photos

This being back here has turned out to be deeply emotional for me. Didn’t expect that.

Got to bed late last night, slept more fitfully than the night before last. Went to sleep without covers, didn’t rouse myself enough to grab a blanket as the temperature dropped in the early hours. When I dragged myself blearily out of bed around 9:30, my body seemed less than pleased, overall. Had to get up to go to my bank to take care of some administrative biz -– the bastards weren’t open, but I siphoned enough €€€ out of an ATM that I could give my landlords what I owe them when they show up in an hour or so.

And it’s another beautiful morning. Streets quiet after an active Friday night, cleaning crews rounding up the abundant debris, a cool breeze blowing through it all. Sunlight, skies slightly hazy. Shops of all kinds open for Saturday business.

Went to pick up something at the butcher’s, found myself with a strong impulse to continue shopping at the usual tiendas (fruit, produce, etc.) and investigate some others (clothing, books, household doodads). Resisted that urge (being here only until Tuesday), aimed myself instead at the neighborhood cafetería/café next door to my building. Where the owner smiled on seeing me, shook my hand, brought me a café cortado and a plateful of churros. I read the papers, let the sounds of the place wash over me. People drank coffee, ate morning toast, one or two worked their way through a beer. Customers came and went, those leaving calling out, “Hasta luego!” Someone stood putting money into the local version of a one-armed bandit found in many cafés, a machine that produces overabundant music and sound samples. When I stepped back out into the street, my head had cleared a bit.

I noticed yesterday that someone –- the city or a private owner -– has finally taken steps to break the cycle of posters/poster removal associated with the wall across the street. On Thursday, it stood in its normal state, covered with posters. Sometime yesterday, they were removed, the words “Prohibido Fijar Carteles” (”Post No Bills”) were left stencilled in their place, along with a warning noting that the businesses advertising would be charged with the cost of poster removal. Down at one end, some rebellious poster paster slapped up four new ones, including an ad for the current issue of Rolling Stone’s Spanish edition. The rest of the wall had been cleaned off, though not as thoroughly as in the past — as if now that the game has changed so decisively, the city crew lost interest. Used to be they’d clean off every single scrap of paper, no matter how minute, scrubbing the wall clean, often finishing the process with a new coat of gray paint. Currently, there are remnants of old posters everywhere, the gray paint looking faded and patchy. Disspirited, ragged. Many of the neighborhood’s little dogs still pause to lift a leg against it, though, as their owners have them out for walkies and a breath of air.

Last night, on my way back to the piso, I passed through the plaza, crowded with people out enjoying the night. In the flow of revelers moving past me I saw a group of seven nuns in full black and white regalia — all seven suspiciously young, three of them male.

Chueca –- a sacrilegious barrio.

Yesterday: went to the movies (”Monster’s Ball” -– in English with Spanish subtitles). When I entered the theater, the Beatles’ White Album blared from the in-house P.A. “Helter Skelter” started up as the ticket-taker handed me back my ticket stub. They had it playing everywhere –- in the lobby, in the hallways, in the men’s room, in the theater before the film. Talk about setting a mood.

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