Sunday, October 11, 2009

Expiration Exploration

I found this book in a shop with a picture of a sculpture. It was so disgusting I felt was imperative that I hunt this sculpture down and discuss my unsettled feelings in person. I researched a little, and learned it was in an old graveyard in the middle of the city. As long as I was going to be hanging around the graveyard, I decided to make a Day of Death out of it, get all my morbid fascinations out of the way, and hunt down the rumored funeral carriage museum as well.


After wandering around the decrepit industrial area that was the vicinity of this graveyard-thing for a half hour, asking for directions in Spanish that is apparently So Abhorrently Terrible not one person can understand me, I stumbled across it all by myself.


It's a walled fortress of concrete the size of a football field. You walk in and the first thing you see are endless hallways of stacked headstones, 7 tiers (read: bodies) high. They're slid in there, in these slots where headstones and fake flowers and glass figurines mark whose dead human-shell rests where. It's fascinatingly endless, and halls lead to doorways which open up into rooms, which unfold with benches and manicured bushes into more corridors... and there is no one else there. Really, no one. I ran into one person the whole two hours I was there, and he was a maintenance man. He didn't even notice me with his top 40 American radio station on, T.I. blaring while he plastered crumbling stone crosses back together on top of Francisco Lopez or something's tomb-house.



There were these cats who skulked around. Black cats who leer at you defiantly with crazy eyes. They were at first an odd presence, but on second thought, completely fitting, like sorority girls in bad frat movies. Both with the same seeming obliviousness to their morbid lifestyles. I tried to explain to them how they were feeding into a cliché that negatively stereotyped their whole kind, but they were skittish and unfriendly and we parted ways quickly.


In the back were gathered a whole yard of structures, little elaborately designed stone houses. They all looked like playhouses for the Adams family children. They were streaked with black mineral deposits, decorated with skulls and weeping angels and twisting black iron. Over the years, some had eroded and the angels faces were melting like in Indiana Jones, smoothed into grotesque disfiguration. Palm trees grew sporadically, pushing up through cracking stone, reaching their limbs into the tomb-houses through broken glass in neglected windows. A door was ajar on one of the tombs, and I peeked in. There was a table with a cross and dust and broken whatevers and also a GIANT CAVERN in the floor that goes down, down, down and leads to... ? Maybe some cats, some old dry bones, maybe a new arrival, though it didn't smell like it.




I was there for over an hour before I found IT, though I had been taking my time. Lot of the tombs in this place had angels, cherubs... Jesus looking peaceful, Jesus looking sincere, Jesus looking maternal, Jesus looking baller. La Pieta is popular, Jesus with wings makes an appearance or two. But this one dude. This one dude. Had the sweetest awesomest creepiest tomb ornament I've ever seen. Picture: Skeletor from He-Man, with brittle pointy wings and decaying robes, sucking the life out of Random Human Man, dementor style. It kind of takes the “P” out of the whole “RIP” idea. WTFFFFFFFFFF This is what happens when your family still has a bone to pick with you after you die.



The funeral carriage museum was an appropriate complement to the maze of graveyard. I wandered about a 20 minute walk north, until I came to the funeral services building. I walked into an office reception with beige carpeting and nametags and mints in a bowl and expressions with just the right balance of sympathy and professionalism. Seeing as there were no signs for a museum anywhere during this journey, I timidly asked the receptionist in my limited vocabulary Spanish where the 'dead car museum' was. Obviously, she didn't fucking Comprendo, so I just made confused tourist gestures and repeated “museo” (El Espanol for museum) like a retarded Pokémon. Then she Comprendoed, and she got on the phone with someone or other, and eventually a janitor appeared. He led me through the back, past a bunch of people in suits at desks and computers, past the water cooler, past the headstone samples, into a tiny little elevator in the stairwell that went slowly down, down, down.


In the basement, when you walk out of the elevator, you encounter a pristine display of about 25 funeral carriages and cars and accessories, replete with manikins and informational materials. The carriages are huge and ornate and so creepy. The white ones are for virgins and children, says the janitor. In the back, there is a door with a window, and if you look through the window there are coffins and coffins in various stages of completion. A coffin factory.   



I called my mom.  


My mom: "Oh how are you, honey?"

Me: "Oh, pretty good, today I went to a graveyard for a few hours then I went to a funeral carriage museum and coffin factory."

My mom: "Oh great sweetie, I'm glad you're having fun."  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This Boat is For Real

On October 21 I am going to fly from Barcelona to Geneva, and then from Geneva to Washington, DC, and then maybe Kat Chiasson will pick me up in a zip car because she has a membership now.


My current existence involves Not Doing Anything Productive Ever. Spain is really so cool, so this is not an Issue, but cannot actually go on being The Only Thing I Ever Do. Kris will stay here until Nov 3 at least. He also has a job teaching 4 days a week and is not as incredibly useless as me.


I don't want to tutor, and thus far it hasn't been an issue since no one wants me. Ok, well I give these two kids lessons twice a week. But. I've never met the woman who hired me and all I did was send her my resume. Which has absolutely no experience 1) with children 2) teaching. I guess they figure the parents can screen you, but the kids were home alone the first time I went. Hey... kids. They mostly fight in Spanish while I try and think up time consuming exercises and hope someone will fire me.


Unless something magical appears in the form of someone wanting to pay me a lot of Euros to perform a job that requires me to speak only English, and therefore is pointless to exist in Barcelona, I'm coming back to USA. Although, if someone wants to give me a cool real job, I would stay the crap out of Spain. You've got 12 more days, Mr. Sexy Yacht-Owner.


So lately:


We went to the RED BULL AIR RACE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. PLANES ALL FLYING THROUGH STUFF AMPED ON RED BULL YEAHHHHHHHHH. The whole time you feel really nervous for them because the announcers talk in REALLYFASTSPANISHLIKETHEYAREOH-OH-OHHHH-GOINGTOHAVEHEARTATTACKSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! And to be fair I guess they are going like 400 kph and completing these courses in 1:27 min. A British guy won. He is now the world champion of small plane flying through blowup obstacle courses. HOLLER.


Saturday night we got dressed up to go check out cocktails the new W Hotel that opened up on the beach a few days ago. 



Instead, Luiz had cute pajamas on and we had gin cocktails on, so we all did this for two hours instead:










A little over a week ago --


Keep in mind that about 70% of this blog is recorded within 2 – 14 days of Whatever Focal Entry Occurrence, but 70% the time it tends toward the '14' side of things.


– ... a little over a week ago, my ex-boss from New York City was in Spain for the San Sebastian film festival with one of her clients. While I was still functioning as her personal assistant in New York, she had told me she intended to go and I told her that, well, I'd “OBVIOUSLY come see her, wherever, if she made it to the country.” And then she did.


Oh, fancy that. How many of these plans I make... months in advance... without any research or real consideration. Anywho, after a few trysts with the google search box, I discovered that San Sebastian is 7 hours away by bus, and more Euros than I care to spend going to a place I don't care about on sub-ideal transportation. But, I went, keeping my word and all that, plus she really does love me and I feel guilty for stranding her with a terrible replacement assistant. Ever since I quit the talent management biz where I was “Sara” I've progressed (?) to “My little lovebucket”, with email correspondence signed xoxo.


7 hours on a bus and then we walked around a sleepy town for like 2 days. Spending intense quality time with someone you have technically worked for up until now... maybe you don't need 2 whole days, you know? A lunch would have cut it. We did a lot of sitting and sangria drinking and coffee drinking and shopping. I do like the boss. I was happy, in the obligated kind of way, that I went.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Eye Full of Fireeeee

Because I have such fine intellect, I have been able to infer the Spanish government's guidelines for official festival creation:
      1. Did something happen?

      2. Did nothing happen, and we need to make something happen?

      3. Do we have more than 4 non-holiday days this week?

La Mercé seems to be largely about #2. It was began in 1871 when the government organized activities to observe the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy.


According to Google Image, this is Our Lady of Mercy:


The whole thing has evolved to be the largest and longest festival in the area. Per usual, I did not understand the significance of any event going on around me, the most notable of which were:

      1. Giant paper maché people-costumes worn by regular non-maché people in constant parades around the city. I probably ran into 15 of these parades in the course of 3 days. I don't know who they are. I don't know where they are going. I don't know why. One was a serpent woman with bare breasts and a crown. She was followed by a french man with a latern. I do not know that story. I am missing something.



      2. The Correfoc.

The Correfoc would never happen in the United States because it would be really illegal and people would probably die. In the United States, fireworks are illegal in most places. If you wish to purchase the awesome ones made in China (duh), you often must travel across borders and borders to purchase them. If you buy said awesome one made in China (duh), you go home, call your neighbors over, stand a safe distance back while the least-liked family member is bestowed the 'honor' of lighting the thing. Then your mom says she doesn't think this is a good idea. Then you say “Don't worry mom, it's only Dad,” and, yeah, she admits you have a pretty fair point. Then it explodes, and everyone is like 'Whoa did you see that one that like, shot out to the side,' and then you are like 'Yeah, I did!' and then you all look at it and are like 'Cool!'. 


It's pretty fabulous.


At the Correfoc they just light fireworks at you in a 3 hour barrage-parade. If you aren't a tourist, then you know it is a good idea to wear clothes that cover your hair and skin and exposed areas. If you are a tourist, you're an idiot and no one likes you anyway. One of my friends burned his eye and went home.

The fireworks-aggressors come in waves. They are followed by really intense drummers wading through thick foggy smoke and screaming and a million little kids who are way more daring than you and run around in the fire like it ain't no thang, while their mothers smile wanly and smoke cigarettes. It's incredibly loud too, kind of sounds like really really abrasive bubble wrap intermittent with a lot of people yelling and coughing.


It's totally awesome.





No, I'm not even kidding, it's totally awesome. We could only handle it for about an hour, then our ears were bleeding and we left. We could see it from far away, though, glowing kind of like you would think Really Intense Riots get. 



That first wave of fire-dudes, it kind of makes you nervous. I have not been exposed to a lot of other situations where men dressed in devil costumes run at me waving sticks spewing fire that will Obviously Kill Me with a bunch of people screaming and yelling in a language I don't Comprendo.   Maybe because I can't understand anyone, but it seems most Spanish festivals are some version of “Fun Ways to Have a Riot!”. Festivals make me nervous. 


I have no idea what the Correfoc means or why it exists, but I hopped around in fire energized and terrified and totally ignorant.  


Another way they celebrate this festival is by making human castles:


That is a 7 year old child on top.


I think festivals are the Spanish way to prune the child population in a cheap, effective, fun, and not totally obvious way.  


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Staples of a Barcelona Existence



1.  Maoz Falafel
Vegetarian.  Even if you're not vegetarian, it doesn't matter.  Unlimited toppings.  Unlimited toppings as many times as you need to go back up, at 3am, post-clubbing, bits of falafel stuck to your face, heading back up to the counter to get more garlic mayo and tabouli and cucumber sauce.  All this for 4,30 Euro.  Nom nom.  You never really liked that shirt anyway. 


2.  The Baguette



Absolutely the staple of 90% of your at-home food creations once your first week of "Let's Cook Together!!" enthusiasm wears off.  Baguette and cheese.  Baguette and meat.  Baguette and nutella.  Baguette and eggs.
 
3. FCB
If you don't like soccer, pretend to.  Just nod and cheer when everyone else does.  Doing otherwise is risking your life in a serious way.

4.  THE Tomato
The other staple of the at-home diet.  Tomato and eggs.  Tomato and cheese. Tomato and baguette.  Tomato smeared on baguette to eat baguette and cheese/baguette and meat/baguette cheese and meat.

5.  Cafe Con Leche
Like a cappuchino, but better because you're in Spain and it's 1,20 Euro.

6. Chocolate Croissant
Best breakfast.  Filling is like nutella without the hazelnuts.  Best served by boyfriend who goes out to get them fresh while you sleep in until 11.

7.  Estrella Damm
Estrella = Star.  Star-beer.  Preferred beer of Rainbo-Brite.  So cheap.  Sponsors everything.  Tastes terrible.  Embrace it.

8.  Gelato
I'm averaging about 2 a day.  Favorites = stracciatella and Kinder egg.  Not so much = 'quark', the cheese-flavored one, or 'nata', the no-flavor one.

9.  Patatas Bravas
Fried potatos with spicy ketchup and mayo.  Some sports bar somewhere will one day realize how Awesome these are, and then I will have an excuse to watch sports too.

10.  Jamon
Dry-cured Spanish ham.  Sold by entire legs.  Disgusting.  Everywhere.  Bleghhhh.

11.  Pintxos
Love affair.

12.  Sangria
Love affair #2.

13. Cigarettes
Everyone.  Everywhere.  Sometimes on the subway.  Bars, restaurants.  The warnings don't mess around though.  US Cigarettes:  'Cigarettes have been shown to be harmful to your health'.  Spain Cigarettes:  'Cigarettes will cause you to die a long and very painful death.'

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Night Out With Gigi

Step 1:  Let's Go Clubbing?



Sara:  "Omg, let's!  I want to wear my fringy dress that gets caught on everything like velcro because that is sooo adorable and such a good way to meet strangers."

Kris:  "Omg, let's!  Omg, did I just say 'omg'? (He did)   Yes, we should totally go clubbing"


Sara:  "Yes, we totally should."


Kris: "Yes, we totally should."



Step 2:  Let's Get Tipsy


Sara:  "Ok, let's go get some gin.  We should drink obscene amounts before we go so that we don't have to buy tons of drinks, yo"


Kris: "Yayyyy Let's listen to MJ."


Sara: "We are so original!!!!"


*Insert background music of 'Beat It', and ridiculously immature 20something year-olds hopping around a living room in various stages of undress and intoxication"


Sara:  "Partyyyyyyyy!!!! Woooooo."



Step 3: Gigi is Coming


Kris:  "Gigi is coming."


Sara: "Gigi is coming?"


Kris:  "Yeah, Gigi is coming.  She said something to me earlier and I couldn't really understand it but she's got her dress on and is all ready to go and I think she thinks she's coming with us....."


Sara:  "Why would we bring Gigi?  We are going to a club to drink expensive drinks and grind on each other.  Gigi is the middle-aged housekeeper/nanny from Brazil.  Why would Gigi have any interest in that?


Kris:  "I don't know.  We don't really understand each other."


Sara:  "Maybe it was a misunderstanding."


Kris:  "No."


Gigi:  (Appears in doorway with shiny black knee-high boots + corset-y top.)  akldsh caofihaeoiru naeirnn.  (Looks expectant.)


Sara:  "No, yeah.  Gigi is coming."


*Insert background music of 'Billy Jean', and ridiculously immature 20something year-olds + middle-aged housekeeper/nanny hopping around a living room in various stages of undress and intoxication."



Step 4: We Are In The Subway


Sara:  "Yo, Gigi just took the rest of my gin and juice and drank it."


Kris:  "Hmmm?  Yo, Gigi just shotgunned that beer."


Sara:  "Where did Gigi get that beer."


Kris:  "Hey, Gigi just took that cigarette from that kid who is smoking on the train."


Sara:  "Geez, I don't blame her.  Who smokes on the train?"


Kris:  "No, she's smoking it."


Sara:  "She's patting his face. 



Step 5: We Are At the Club


Sara:  "Oh, boy-from-Denmark you are just Tooooo Funny!  You're a bonds trader, you say.  Ahh, yes.  I'm a bonds trader MYSELF!  Oh... well... haha let's not dwell on the shop talk, shall we?  Tell me more about YOU.  Oh, over there?  That's my... that's my friend Kris..  Kris...tian.  Christian.  The woman shimming on him... ahh... yes... that's Gigi... she's another... Bonds trader."


Gigi comes over


Gigi:  fiaesufhai afklasdhfil adjhfkljashdfklj!


Sara:  "Gigi! Gigi my friend, meet my friend... and what did you say your name was!?  Dooooo forgive me.


Gigi:  dkahilfuh dlkfjhadlkfh lajdh


Sara:  "Ahh.. *pause*... haha she's just really too funny, right!?"


Gigi pounds some shots and smiles.



Step 6: Where is Gigi?


The club is packed now.  There is a giant circle of people in the middle of the floor.  In the middle of the circle Gigi is grinding on an attractive young fellow.  Gigi is on the floor spinning herself in circles with her legs.  Gigi is Ridiculous.



Step 7: The Circle Is Getting Bigger.



Step 8:  The Circle Is Getting Bigger.



Step 9:  In Which I Have Been Reduced to a Spectator in the Circle Holding Gigi's Purse and Cell Phone


(That happened like this:)


Sara:  "Well Hello Gigi!  What a pleasant evening we're having, yes?"


Gigi: "lds askdfhlau uadhiuh!"  Shoves purse in my hands and disappears to entertain the masses.  



Step 10:  A Great Idea


Sara: "Let's go make out!  On the beach!"


Kris: "OK"


Sand.  Surf.  Waves.  Moon.  Quiet.


...


And then I... uhh.  Have Difficulties.  Kris is not happy when the Difficulties get on his new shoes.


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:   "Ok.  Ok I'm taking you home."


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:  "I am"


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:  "I am"



Step 11: We are in a cab.


Kris:  "Sorry, man, but can you please drive a little more slowly."


Cabbie:  "Hahahahaha, Claro, Claro!  You know, when my girlfriend gets like that, I just call her friends and have them come pick her up."


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:  "I am"


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:  "I am"


Sara:  "I'm getting out of the cab.  Please take me home."


Difficulties happen.... again, and I stop to consider the merits of a storefront entrance as a final resting place for the evening, 10 blocks from home.


Sara:  "Kris, please take me home.  Just piggy-back me.  We're so close."  (Untrue)



Step 12: We are in a NEW cab


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:  "I am"


Sara:  "Please take me home."


Kris:  "I am"



Step 13: We Are Home


I in the twenty second walk to our building, I... have difficulties... one more time.


Kris (embarrassed, to hot Spanish girls walking by...): Well, at least BCNeta (the nightly street cleaning service) will be here soon!




Sara:  (momentarily attentive) "Who is that?"  


Sara: (relapse) "Please take me home."



Step 14:  In Which We Get OWNED By Gigi's Superior Nightlife Skills and Cab Home in Shame, To Wake Up the Next Day With Hangovers That Will Keep Us Bedridden Until 5.  And Where Gigi Will See Me in the Kitchen in the Morning at 10 and Report Through Sign Language That She Got Home at 6am.  And Then She Will Take Baby Luiz For A Walk Cheerfully and Be Productive and I Will Be In Awe.  And Where I Still Have Yet To Understand One Word She is Saying.


Fail.


* Kris would like me to say that where I reported him as saying "omg", it was a stylistic choice and not entirely based in reality.