25 March 2011

Cachorro-Cachondo

Last week, I sat in Mariana Pineda Plaza at dusk and watched a medium-sized dog leap in delight while playing with an empty aluminum can. It was more than delight; it was ecstasy. 
While that dog was playing with the can like a fucking lunatic, I became temporarily distracted by the arrival of the tiniest dog I've ever seen in my life, trotting near my bench. Maura commented, "It's so small I could fit it in my mouth," which prompted an image of her stuffing a puppy in her mouth. Do you think that's possible? Is that abusive?
Speaking of abuse, Maura's new name is RODENT SLAYER, or for short, just "Slayer." We went walking by the river today and she stepped on a dead mouse. All of its guts came squishing out. Ew.
Our latest calendar theme idea (remember Babies in Danger?) is to have an Animals with Birth Defects calendar, which would feature things like cross-eyed puppies, three-legged kittens, rabid baby squirrels with chunks of fur missing, baby rabbits with tumors, etc.

Also, it should be noted that the words for "puppy" and "horny" are too similar for my liking. Puppy= Cachorro, Horny= Cachondo. I hope I never, ever, mix those up, in any situation. Imagine if you were in bed with someone and they whispered to you, "mmm, I'm so puppy right now!" Horror. Or what if you said to a little girl walking by the river with her precious newborn terrier, "What a cute horny!"? Inappropriate, all around.

21 March 2011

PRRRRRIIIITTTTT

Nerja, Spain is one of the world's treasures, and not just because one can go topless on the beach. (Though that's a plus, of course: such freedom!) I spent the weekend on the Southern coast of Spain, and let me make it clear that I feel like a huge asshole writing that on here; it sounds so glamorous.

The bus dumped us off on the side of the road in Nerja, and my friends Maura and Mary Kate and I just started walking, assuming that if we wandered in the general direction of the sea, we would make it there. We were wrong about that, but what we found along the way was perhaps even better than all of the beauty of the weekend combined: The Nerja Donkey Sanctuary.
We obviously couldn't nonchalantly walk by a Donkey Sanctuary (who do you think we are?), so we went in. I was expecting a luxurious palace with golden donkey statues, or donkey heads on the wall, but really it was just a farm at which British people take care of stray donkeys (I guess?). There were multiple pregnant pigs wandering around, too. I'm not sure if that was the place for them, but whatever-- all of the animals seemed to get along quite well. I now regret not buying a Nerja Donkey Sanctuary refrigerator magnet, button,  tshirt, or hoodie, when I had the chance.

We got back on track and made it to the shore, and wowowowoowoowow, PRRRrrrrriiiiiittt! (Side note: Maura likes to say, "Pretty," which became, "Prit," which became, "Prit-prit," which became, "Prrrrrrit!" which became a complete shit show of shouting, "PRRRRRiiiit! PRIT! PRIT! TAN BONITA! QUE GUAPA! PRRRIIITTT!") Paradise. The sound of the breathing sea was music. I hadn't expected to spend more than the day in Nerja, but the prospect of seeing the SuperLuna, the largest-appearing, brightest full moon in the past eighteen years, from the coast of Spain was too great to pass up-- I was morally obligated to stay.


Cave Photos: Courtesy of Erin Swor and her nice-ass camera
The next morning we went to a huge cave in Nerja, and it was stunning. People used to LIVE there! Isn't that cool? It also has perfect acoustics, so there are concerts there in the summer. We left right as a bus-load of elderly tourists arrived; perfect timing!

The rest of the afternoon was spent topless on the beach (god, I love Europe), which was a most delightful experience. For some reason Erin had SPF 50 sunscreen for baby skin with her, and what luck that she did. It was the perfect amount of protection. We climbed some rocks at one point (clothed), and Melissa got stabbed in the head by a plant (the details of how this happened are entirely unclear), but she found the experience delightful and kept exploring with streams of blood trickling down her face. Freak.

Mediterranean Sea, SuperLuna. For Cassieloo.

15 March 2011

"I want to make pleasure for you for 200 durham!"- Tea set salesman

This is a little out-dated, yesyesyesyesIknowIknowIknow. I went to Marrakech, Morocco on a long weekend a while ago. On the way there, I could simultaneously see the outline of Spain, and the African continent, at the same time from the plane window, which was superchulo. ("Chulo" means something like "neat-o".)

The first thing I felt after exiting the airport was the SUN. Oh, holy baby jesus, I felt like I had been submerged in a warm, invisible bathtub, with invisible, dry water. Um. Well, something like that. It was pleasant, is what I'm trying to get across. My mother's words of "TRUST NO ONE" rang in my ears as I apprehensively got in the front seat of a taxi. (No seat belt to be found, oh well.) We were dropped off on a dusty, bustling street, entirely disoriented, and were immediately fucked over by a stranger who led us to our hostel without us asking and then charged us 20 euro. As we navigated the winding labyrinth of the zoco (the market), I wondered if I had been transported into Disney's animated feature Aladdin without giving my consent. Riff raff! Street rat!

We got much better deals in the market if we bargained in Spanish, except when they could see through our godawful accents and spoke to us in English and we were forced to resign our efforts. The salesmen like to make you feel special so that you buy their shit, and my favorite was the man who said things like, "Just for you, today! 200 durham. You a student, I know, not much money, I want to give you deal. You like this? This one? Yes, only 200 durham. I want to make pleasure for you for 200 durham."

During our time in Morocco, my travel-mates and I went on an excursion to the Ourika Valley of the Atlas Mountains, and on the way, we stopped for a camel ride. During this ride, the camel behind me began to chew on the strings of my recently-purchased backpack...made of camel-leather. In addition to this action being cannibalistic, I had to (much to my displeasure) physically remove my bag from the camel's mouth. It was dripping wet with drool for hours. I rode in fear for the remainder of the ride. If it went for my hair, I would surely die.

Speaking of hair, I discovered immediately that being a blonde (yes, fine, I admit it, I'm blonde) woman is not something I can discreetly get away with in Morocco. We ventured to the smoky, lively, color-and-sound-filled plaza for dinner and I was greeted as "Shakira" constantly. It's the hair. Shakira would be ashamed if she knew people were comparing us.

I think words would be lost if I tried to explain everything we did or saw, so look at some pictures instead:

Market by night
Travel-mates
Atlas Mountains en el fondo
Palace ruins

11 March 2011

Anniversary

If Spain were a person, we would wake up next to one another in a plush bed lined with quality goose feathers and have loud morning sex on a regular basis. We would drink cafe con leche and sample pastries and laugh until we vomit up the pastries on the unique rug we purchased together in Northern Africa. We would stroll hand in hand through the Albaicin and ignore the frequent whiffs of dog urine. We would summit mountains together and drink La Rioja wine along the way, and Spain would frequently seduce me just by speaking to me in Spanish. Cheers, mi amor.
Today marks the two month anniversary of my relationship with Spain. I can assure you that we're very happy together, and it's time to officially use the A-word: amarse. Te amo, España. Siempre. I will never leave you. Except when I legally have to do so because my Visa expires in July. BUT UNTIL THEN, it's you and me.

I had a three hour long class the other day and by hour number two, I was on the verge of desperate, bored tears. To occupy myself, I drew a recurring doodle-character named Bread Baby, who is a hybrid of a loaf of bread and a baby, taking its first steps; drew a bathtub; wrote Spanish words like "POR QUE??" (WHY??"), and MISERIA (Misery); and discreetly studied my map of Granada underneath the table. After class, I met a guy who looked kind of like a pirate (but a kind pirate). He told me that I was an angel, and Maura told him that Al Capone was her father.

I don't think my new host mother hates me after all, though she may have only been nicer than usual today because she liked the hat I was wearing. I've found that Spanish mothers like me better when I don't look so dirty. For example, Pepita (Host Mom #1) once walked into the kitchen as I was preparing my breakfast, approved of the skirt I was wearing, and proceeded to swat my butt and comment, "What a nice ass you have!" At this point, I'll take what I can get. (Another noteworthy Pepita moment is that the first time she did my laundry, a black thong was temporarily lost and she brought it to my room in the palm of her hand, impeccably folded, three days later. All I could do was awkwardly mutter, "Gracias," as she watched me put it in my drawer.) I accidentally ate a lot of fish bones the other day.


My second morning of new host-family life, I was sitting at my desk reading for class when I heard, from a nearby apartment, rhythmic moans. At least I wasn’t with Elena while this was happening. Hearing people fuck is not the kind of bonding activity I would choose to experience with my new host mother within forty-eight hours of living together. Four to six weeks—fine—but for now, so uncomfortable.
Living in an apartment with just Elena is a strange arrangement. It's like I have a roommate. Who happens to cook for me. And has three grandchildren.

A few of us ventured to Carnaval in Cadiz last weekend. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced-- people, drinks, costumes, the Atlantic coast, lightning, stolen glances, shattering glass, a bouncer at the door of Burger King. Oh, and an impromptu East Quad reunion!:
East Quadesses

02 March 2011

New Kid, Surprise Toilet

Two drastic changes have taken place on the pseudo-homefront lately: University of Granada classes started, and I switched host families. Instead of living forty minutes from school next to a mattress store, I now live ten minutes from school next to a relatively upscale infant clothing store.

My finger is bleeding.

Anyway, the fact that I had to switch houses was tearful, mostly because the week before I left, I took a nap, and when I woke up, there was a new toilet in the bathroom. My heart breaks when I think of all the time this toilet and I could have spent together. Alas!
But in all seriousness, though I miss Pepita, the change was for the better-- she has to deal with her own shit right now-- and my new host mother's food, which is given to me in shocking portions (7 pieces of fish on my plate yesterday), is inexpressibly good. I can't even think of an adequate metaphor to describe its quality. My new host mom also toured in the U.S. in the 60's as a Flamenco dancer, que guay!

My first day at the Universidad de Granada brought, as Emily Grubman would say, quivering bowels. I didn't know where my classes were, or what to expect. I was immediately intimidated when I realized the campus is on a massive hill; I need to begin physically training just to go to school. I approached the Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, out of breath and sweaty from a combination of the sun and being embarrassingly out of shape, and walked by groups of beautiful people clumped outside drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and staring at me in confusion. The coffee and cigarettes were familiar. The staring and feeling of sheer helplessness was not. I got there a half hour early because I'm a freak of a nature, and sat down at the upstairs study tables. To pass the time,  I tried to access the wi-fi (without success-- I need a username, which I lack), and when internet failure got boring, I picked up my notebook and wrote the following:
"everyone is staring, is everyone staring? why was I born blonde? can I cry in a bathroom? is this what the new kids always feel? I have never related more to Lindsay Lohan's character in Mean Girls. holy shit, so many beautiful men. what is happening. 20 minutes until class. I'M NOYVUSS. WORK YOU MOTHERFUCKING INTERNET, WORK!!"
I think that sums up my state of mind before classes began. My Bohemian Lit class is led by an old man who drones on and on and on and on and on and makes me contemplate creative suicides. My other class-- Inequality, Cooperation, and Sustainable Development-- is great. It may, however, give me an aneurysm because there's a new professor every class, which means I never know what to expect. I live in constant fear of being called on and forced to answer on the spot in a lecture hall full of beautiful Spaniards. But, when I look out the classroom window and see mountains, I'm soothed. Thanks, mama earth.

01 March 2011

The Lung of the Earth

Ahem. *Clears throat* I'm back.

As every cultured human should know, Katy Perry's "Firework" music video was filmed in Budapest. Without hesitation, a few friends and I made a pilgrimage when the opportunity presented itself to us in the form of Semana Blanca: a week off from school for no reason. Que guay! ("Guay" means "cool.") We even tried (without success) to shoot fireworks out of our nipples in the Buda Palace and over the Danube in KP's honor.


In the airport, we met a three-year-old named Penelope who danced like her young life depended on it in front of the RyanAir check-in desk (she's an inspiration to the world, really...a firework, if you will), and within an hour of being in the city, a young man dressed in a priest costume halted my friends and me on the street and muttered to us in rapid Hungarian while pointing his cigarette at each of us in turn. Creepy? Funny? Your choice. Our hostel deserves the highest praise, mostly because in the kitchen there were informational leaflets on Mandrakes taped to the wall. "Oh, like the Mandrakes, or Mandragora, that revive petrified Basilisk victims in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?", you may ask. Yes, the very same! Near the hostel were weird establishments like what I thought was a cafe but was just a room with a single wooden swing in it, and a creepy alleyway lined with mirrors and colored lights. What else happened in Budapest? Oh, the guy working the Metro ticket booth got irrationally furious that we didn't speak Hungarian and that we didn't know how to ask for tickets, so he quite literally SCREAMED at us in rage. All we could do was whimper and bask in the shame of being stupid Americans.

Plies over the Danube River
Our trip was overall very educational, and it included visits to museums like the House of Terror, which is about the Nazi occupation in Hungary, and commemorates its victims. Heavy stuff, my friends. To lighten the mood, we took a train to Croatia.

Valentine's Day 2011 entailed a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is a museum in Zagreb that's full of objects that people from all over the world donate that represent their ruined relationship. I loved it. I was actually jealous of the couples visiting the museum hand-in-hand that day, too, because if I am ever in a relationship, that is precisely the type of activity I would want to pursue on V-day. Also, Zagreb has cool grafitti. And when we went to lunch, we met a pregnant dog.




We stayed two dreamy days in Split, Croatia, and I felt overwhelming tranquility as we walked along cliffsides that lined the Adriatic Sea. There was a little inlet of land that was shaped too similarly to a penis to be ignored; we've dubbed it Cape Cock. Appropriately, on the way to Cape Cock, we encountered an area of the beach that was full of used condoms and wrappers. (Durex is apparently the preferred brand of Croatia.) The ruins of the ancient city were beautiful and enchanting and mysterious and other similar adjectives, as was the labyrinth below it. I hate to reference Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets twice in a single post (wait, no I don't), but I honestly felt as though I had stepped into the Chamber of Secrets itself. It was a very spiritual experience, I would say. We also went to a boring museum-- the Split City Museum--which luckily Maura made more enjoyable by loudly humming the United States national anthem in the stairwell. Most importantly, cats run amok like squirrels in Croatia, and I watched one piss on a car parked outside the city walls. This would be entirely uninteresting if not for the fact that this cat's body shook violently the whole time it was peeing. It was unlike anything I've ever seen.

There was a wig in this tree.

Cape Cock at Sunset



I couldn't sleep on the bus ride to Dubrovnik because everything was so achingly beautiful. Good god. Mountains! Sea! Salty air! The hostel we stayed in was the upstairs apartment of this nice but crazy Croatian family. When we got there, the mother of the house apologized constantly while wiping off chairs so we could sit and eat chocolate wafer cookies.
At sunset our first night there, I battled heartburn all evening because my body didn't know how to contain or absorb so much beauty. I was in physical pain, so I hugged a tree to feel better.
While exploring the ancient castle walls the following morning, we were greeted by a much appreciated, unruly, wild wind. I've missed wind greatly-- it's mysteriously absent in Granada-- and our reunion was a joy. Everything seemed to be breathing. The pulsing sea moved up and down like a lover's tummy, and when I closed my eyes, the sound of the waves was indistinguishable from human breath. The wind and heaving sea and dancing trees were nice, necessary reminders that the Earth is ALIVE, as am I, and that I (and you) are part of this collective breathing process. The Earth's lung is a happy place.


Side Note: Throughout the journey, Maura took hundreds of pictures of me doing mundane tasks like buttoning my pants, climbing stairs, and pelvic thrusting on the balcony.  Examples:




Somebody please explain this to me
An hour before our scheduled departure, we heard music and the sound of clanging pots and pans coming from the Old Town, so we ventured down to the castle to see what was a-happenin'. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw when we peered over the wall. Illuminated by the light of the full moon was a collection of grown men (and a few children) in plump feathered chicken suits with golden pans attached to their waists, hopping up and down in a circle. What?