far too much writing, far too many photos

Something that’s been happening frequently in recent weeks: three or so hours after I fall asleep at night, I wake up. Feeling warm. Way too warm — hot, even. If I’m wearing anything — socks, sometimes a lightweight pair of thermal bottoms — I pull ‘em off. Usually makes no difference. I generally have to turn on the light and read or get up and sit at the computer for a bit before heading back to bed/sleep. It’s as if my body’s got a cycle of some sort going in which the inner thermostat gets turned up during the wee hours. If I drag myself out from under the covers for a while, I can usually get a few hours of sleep afterwards. Strange, but there it is. Or maybe it’s not so strange. Maybe plenty of people experience something similar.

So, last night: fell asleep just before midnight — bear with me, I swear I won’t go on endlessly with this — woke up around three. Got up, turned on the ‘puter. Went back to bed sometime later, read a bit, drifted off. Hammering woke me up around 8:30 — both in the building to the rear of this one (rehabbing, from old apartments to new condos) and in the soon-to-be ex-empty lot across the street.

In fact, on opening my eyes yesterday morning I noted the tink-tinking of hammers at work across the street. After several weeks of nonactivity [see entry of January 10], two or three workmen had shown up and were (a) working the soil, digging out debris, burning any chunks of wood they came across and (b) working on the walls of the neighboring buildings, hammering away all plaster and concrete until they reached the underlying bricks. Readying those surfaces for the soon-to-be-abutting walls of the coming building.

This morning when I left the building (one of my few vaguely Elvis-like moments), there were six or seven workmen out there working around the lot. If the builders have held off ’til now on the assumption that the Madrid weather would be doing its usual second-half-of-February-warming thing, they may have to re-think that. Winter has crept back in over the last few days under cover of skies blue enough and sunlight brilliant enough that the early to mid-afternoon hours supplied the illusion of vaguely spring-like weather. Weather with the teasing promise of something spring-like. The air today is genuinely cold, the sky a heavy, uniform gray, a kind of sky that often heralds snowfall in the northeast U.S.

Went out, did some stuff, stopped in the plaza on the way back to pick up a newspaper. The friendly old coot dealing with me stopped suddenly mid-deal, looked worriedly up at the gray above. “¡Jo!” he said. “Creo que he sentido una gota de agua.” (”Bugger! I think I felt a drop of water.”) “Puede ser,” I said, also looking up at the sky. Went out to lunch a bit later, when I emerged back out into the street afterwards, snow had started up. Light as could be, individual flakes drifting down here and there. It’s intensified a bit since then, though still not enough to threaten any accumulation — the first time I’ve seen snow fall here during the day.

But enough about the *^$@#!! weather. It’s time to talk about

What I Did This Weekend

What I did? Lots. Tons. Plenty. All sorts of stuff.

Friday: went to see “About Schmidt” (here called “A Propósito De Schmidt”). Bwaaaahaha! What a hoot! A fairly dark hoot, to be sure, but a hoot nonetheless. Some seriously funny stuff, along with some seriously poignant stuff, along with some seriously uncomfortable stuff. All kinds of stuff tied up in one entertaining package. (End of review.)

Saturday: spent a lot of time out in the cold, sunlit air enjoying the city, watching its people. Late afternoon, went to another movie, “Al Sur de Granada” (”South of Granada”). Like most of the Spanish films I’ve seen here, a high-quality production. Beautifully made, good acting. The problem was the story’s protagonist, an English 20-something git, a young writer from a wealthy family, ‘roughing it’ for a year in a poor town in the south of Spain, to experience some real life. Has adventures of all sorts with the locals, gets involved with a beautiful, intelligent (though uneducated) young woman. Gets her pregnant, spews a lot of high-minded blather about love and nothing being more important than their relationship and the coming birth. Goes back to England to attend to things with family/friends, promising to return soon. Returns three years later, married. Married, but concerned, so concerned about his child and ex-life-partner, in a way that’s supposed to seem sensitive and high-minded. Blah blah blah. Pillock.

The theater was a few blocks from la Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, one of the three concentration points of the anti-war mobilization taking place that evening. The demonstrations here in Spain — a country that is heavily against the war (anywhere from 80% to 90% of the population, depending on which poll you consult) despite the actions of its ruling party in support of the Bush Administration — promised to be huge and high-energy, something I’d decided to experience and observe. So that when I left the theater, I walked the few blocks to Sol where I found myself in the middle of a quickly-swelling ocean of people. An ocean that, it turned out, stretched a mile eastward to the huge traffic circle in front of the main Post Office building, then a further mile to the south from there to Atocha, another major traffic circle. An immense showing of people — nearly a million according to the Spanish media; closer to 600,000 according to the ruling party, the only political faction from the current Congress that did not take part in the turnout. Once in the middle of the crowd, it was nearly impossible to move. The main avenues were clogged with people streaming into the plaza, most of the rest of the space was fenced in. The only recourse was to attach oneself to the few lines of people snaking their way through the crowd in search of ways out. Which I did, people-watching the entire time.

The crowd seemed to consist largely of families, cutting across the spectrum of age/economic standing/political orientation in a startlingly balanced representation of Spanish society. A kind of universal, all-inclusive gathering of people that I don’t think I’ve ever seen at what might be called a political gathering, most sporting NO A LA GUERRA stickers or signs. Banners flew, along with Spanish flags. Waves of chanting broke out, moved across the plaza, then faded away. The energy seemed mostly positive, maybe rejoicing in the coming together of all parts of the political spectrum, though loudly, vociferously making the underlying point of the mobilization.

Quite a scene.

I finally found a line of people that successfully made its way to the edges of the scene. Once free to move around, I decided to grab the Metro down to Atocha. Down in the Metro station, I discovered I’d left my $$$ and my Metro pass at home, so that leaving Sol was not an option unless I wanted to walk north toward home. Not what I was looking to do just yet. I followed the periphery of the plaza east, until the volume of people arriving from that direction made it impossible to go any further, where a wide, nearly-empty doorway presented itself, looking to be a good vantage point. And once I’d parked myself there, I found that it was indeed a good vantage spot, with clear lines of sight, situated only 70 or 80 feet from a north-south street that could take me in the direction of home when I wanted to bolt. So there I remained for the next hour and a half, as darkness fell and the tide of people moving into the plaza steadily intensified.

For the hour and a half, I watched Madrid take to the streets in a massive show of unanimity.

[continued in next entry]

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Just went over to myway.com to check mail. Following are two of the four featured Entertainment headlines in the portal’s news rundown:

Baywatch Women Say They’re Back On Track
Johnny Cash Covers Nine Inch Nails Song

I’m at a loss for words. (Probably a good thing.)

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