Friday, December 21, 2007

Sounds of the Season

Jolly sounds in every store surrounding the merry shopper normally gets under my skin fairly quickly but this year not so much. I appreciate the fact that others have seemed to embrace the holiday since it has creped up on many of us this year. So go and jam out to some Mama's kissing Santa Claus that's fine. Frankly, I encourage it. Dash through the snow and all. The thing that would appreciate is my favorite bands would stop selling their souls to commercialized dregs of society.

Three now! Every time I turn on the television I hear the Supreme Beings of Leisure, Wilco or the Weepies and the madness must stop. I am sure they too need to ensure that Santa stops by their houses but come on! A little integrity is in order here. Enough is enough. If I hear the English Beat on a damn Macy's ad I might lose the bit of cool that I have left. Matter if fact, it would be a travesty, a farce if you will.

Sorry for the rant but it had to be done.

Monday, December 10, 2007

End of the Semester

Sometimes life throws you some curve balls and you really surprise yourself with the way you react as well as the way you choose to handle the whole thing. Sigh. Not always easy. And it turns out that I am not real good at staying angry or being bitchy for very long.

Luckily it is the end of the semester and a couple of weeks break is just what the doctor ordered. Evidence of high levels of angst were clear at my semifinal soccer game when I received my first yellow card for screaming at an opposing player for continuously elbowing me in the breast. Healthy rage, I suppose. It was nice to have a buddy of mine step up and have my back in the whole things as well.

We lost the game. New season starts January 13th.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Finger Paint is going to Rock!

Things have been a little busy lately and I apologize for the time that I have spent away from the blog but hopefully the advent of something so special as Rock Band. Will make up for our time apart.

XBox360 has developed a game in which an entire band can assemble: guitar, bass, drums and vocals. And then you rock! This game has revolutionized our lives. Every time we play its awesome. We play into the wee hours in the morning.

We had Battle of the Bands when there were close to 15 people hanging at the studio (aka Rohrs home) and I am proud to say that my merry band of players won! Here is my buddy Jig trying to keep the beat!

Damn this game is awesome!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Home Ownership

I bought a house. Let me tell you that buying the house was the easy part. I sat at a conference table in a room designed by Mr. 1975 with 6 people I didn't know, my parents and signed. It took about 20 minutes. My hand didn't cramp as some may have expected and all the important papers were nicely tucked into a hot pink non-flame resistant, non-water resistant folder held closed by velcro. The cute little old man that lived in the house for 41 years gleefully gave the me the keys and we all skipped along our merry way like a deleted scene from Billy Madison.

The tough part was the painting (edging sucks), carpet removal (freaking staples), cabinet removal (damn old paint) and acquiring furniture. It's still sinking in that I own a house. A whole house.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Update

A little update here and I hope that soon I will have the time to elaborate on one or more of these fine events, plus add pictures. But in the meantime this is my life for the last couple of weeks or so in forty words or less.

Soccer season. Fall play. Halloween bash. Bought house and waiting to close. Good friend got engaged (shout out to Shelly and Mike Irish!). Art festivals. Bilmar which equals beer. Craigslist surfing for furniture. Tired. Little sleep. Good times.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ol' Stomping Grounds continues


It has been a while since I have blogged appropriately. Life has been a little busy but luckily by BFF's went on a family trip to NYC and left me their palace for supervision with 3 mighty watch dogs. It was lovely to have a beautiful fairly lazy weekend. BKay and I decided to have lunch at a St. Pete treasure, The Fourth Street Shrimp Store. This place has been around as long as I can remember and as a child it looked so cool because of all its whimsical signs. It has a mighty tasty selection. I had this need to eat things that you dip...fries, onion rings, crab cakes, so I did. BKay had shrimp salad sandwich which she said was divine. We sat outside in the perfect Florida October weather and enjoyed our meal in this very laid back St. Pete hot spot.

We then decided that it had been awhile since we went to the beach and pretended that we were tourists. It doesn't take much really. You look at some fake shells and chuckle at the crude postcards with naked old people on them, what better place to do that than John's Pass. Filled with bad beach shops, greasy food and at least a dozen ice cream places line the concaved area of the inner coastal for casino boats to head out to the international waters. Since we had no real intention of purchasing a fake alligator we stumbled across JJ's Italian Ice. There was little to no decision making in this process even though the selection was insane, due to of course romanticized ideas of going to the beach for ice cream, it was the only one in the lot that accepted check cards. Luckily for us that afternoon delight was just that, delightful.

Friday, October 12, 2007

50th Wedding Anniversary



My whole family has been pretty much married for ever. My aunt and uncles are well into their 30 and 40 year celebrations, my own parents are marking their 42nd this December, my grandparents this year shared champagne over their 60th (not even lying) and the dearest people on the planet to me, which might as well be grandparents because they have always loved me as they were, this is there very wonderful and beautiful Golden Anniversary.

After 50 years it's nice to see that the silly doesn't go away nor the tender.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Best Place in Town

Located near Crescent Lake, Chef Jennifer has been sharing her wealth of culinary knowledge with us for many years, thankfully. Her food is always good, always pretty healthy and always made with love. Jeni is one of my best friends and I was privileged enough to be apart of a girls night dinner with a beautifully set table, tasty appetizers, delicious main course and a decadent dessert. You can clearly see by the glee on all our faces that we were thrilled to not only enjoy an evening together, doing the girl thing, but to share in one of Jeni's great creations. The theme this evening was French cuisine and ooo la la dear readers it was fantastic (add silly French accent here!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Real Estate!

I am in the process of finding a home to purchase. It has taken me awhile to come to the decision to purchase something either a condo or a single family house. The market is supposedly good for buyers but not that good for sellers. A friend recommended a broker and I should be all set since I have been pre-approved for a mortgage. Easy.

Not at all. There is so much to consider every step of the way. Not only the space itself, the outside space, and the neighborhood but there are things like insurance, taxes home repair that is also a factor.

St. Petersburg is a peninsula with a peninsula. Space is limited and since it is rather posh in comparison to other parts of Tampa Bay the price tags aren't quite as friendly as you may think. Between the realtor, the broker, and overwhelming amount of emailing the entire process is exhausting. Offers made and denied. Things faxed, signed and refaxed. A bit stressful the whole thing because at the end, the hope and the fear is that I will be several thousand dollars in debit but be in a space that is my very own. Me and my ulcer will be warm and cozy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Futbol

"Football" by Gaby Dellal
http://www.atomfilms.com/film/football.jsp

Between this short flick and the Zidane movie it is clear that there are those individuals in the world that do actually receive some sort of "calling." From the moment they can walk they become obsessed with footy. Their minds are always watching the proverbial ball in any given moment and on the real and actual field their are like magic becoming apparent. It is absolutely intoxicating how their lives evolve through the journey of the touch of a cylindrical object with geometric designs spattered upon it. No matter what the moment or the obstacle their hearts have been ignited with the passion for the game. This very well may be why it is deemed the beautiful game. Despite the clear obliteration of boundaries constructed by language or geo-politics the game touches the inner most parts of being human. The rhythm alone is mind bending. To me this short film is the incarnation of what passion is and even in the most egocentric moments of the Zidane movie it as well displays the same. In some ways I could claim that is where I can find the love for the game is through the eyes of those players putting aside little league, my dad, Schwaab, or any other influence of soccer in my life. It is in the simple childhood play of even the kids in the redundant world cup nike commercial that I somehow connect to a feeling that is certainly at the depth of something so much larger than any of us...the game itself.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

St. Petersburg versus Tampa

It has come to my attention that many individuals that are new to the area are not properly informed about the richness of the Tampa Bay area. Specifically, the hot spots, the highs (St. Pete) and the lows (Tampa) of the greater community. As native Floridian, a Tampa Bay resident, St. a Petersburgian, if you will I am an ambassador for the tourist and the new arrivals. I will guide you into developing an understanding of what the area has to offer and sense of belonging.

Below is just a quick overview of what each city has to offer. You may also refer to a local eatery and pub reviews from past posts but don't worry there will be more to come.

St. Petersburg

Tampa

Downtown is filled with great pubs, cafes, waterfront and tasty restaurants.

There are some buildings downtown.

The beach is beautiful and 10 minutes away from any where in the city.

There is a nasty river and some coastline by the Courtney Campbell but that is really about it.

The Dali Museum (One of two on the entire planet!)

There may be some art…

State Theater, Beach Theater, Jannus Landing…all particular venues for either cool musicians or indie flicks

Okay so they have Tampa Theater which is pretty cool.

There are many beautiful public parks like Lake Vista, Crescent Lake, Straub Park or Northshore where people go to picnic, walk their dogs, or lay on the lawn and read a book.

There may be some parks some where…

Parades…for just about everything. Gay Pride, MLK, Memorial Day, are a few.

There may be some marching some where…

People are nice and laid back.

People are weird.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tired

Real life is pretty darn tiring. I took a 3 hour nap today and I am still a bit tired. I would write more now but my eyes are too tired to focus. I could use the word tired one more time too. Jesus this very well may be the worst post ever.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spinning Angst

A small room oozing a plethora of body odors belonging to middle aged persons attempting to defy death is sporatically decorated with splashes of neon paint upon a black canvas. The saddle of the stationary bikes are being sprayed with toxic and wiped with sandy colored paper towels by the previous riders. Spin class. My newest athletic poison.

Several of my good friends have been attending for awhile and I joined the band wagon. Sixty minutes of intense amount of sweating and crappy techno music that makes my head spin in itself is not normally something that I volunteer for but there is something in this process that is addicting. It very well could be the adrenaline rush but with further contemplation I believe that it is my hatred for the blond bouncy instructor that fills my motivation. Perhaps this seems odd to most individuals but smarmy comments and death stares make the time fly.

Tonight the music was abominable and the instructor an idiot, more so than normally. She raced us through music that if Tipper Gore had her way would have been black listed long ago. Sexual innuendos and satanic sounding voices echoed around the room. The only way to make it through the class was to gazed through the tinted windows across the cardio gym section and attempt to make out the Jeopardy questions. Jeopardy indicates that the hell was at least half way over and when the Final Jeopardy question appeared, I sighed with relief. Only to realize that Miss Bouncy Bike was not on the same time schedule as Alex Trebek. Sprinting towards the proverbial finish line I hated her even more. And the truth is, that I kind of enjoy hating her. I have no idea about her life or her character, but I hate her. And I like it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School

Well, finally I am home. It has been a full week after my last rough flight from JFK (don't get me started) and now school is in session. I might have spent a little too much time gone this summer because I am not sure my cat (who does have hair once again, by the way)recognizes me. Here is the view from the Empire State Building. I choose the one that turned out to be artsy to share the other one is really boring, but I want to be clear that I didn't intend to be artsy, it was really divine intervention with the wind. So I call this, "the gods ny"


I believe that now that I have returned home I will continue with my exploration (rediscovery if you will) of the local fare of St. Petersburg. Just recently we went to the Garden. A fan favorite from our younger years. It has a great outdoor patio and usually has the best jazz around beginning on Thursday nights throughout the weekend. The Garden serves as a restaurant as well as a pub, though in my many years spending time at this location not once have I ever eaten there and there is a rumor that it is has been labeled as a dirty dining location. That aside if you are looking for a laid back evening with the ability to talk to your friends this is a nice place to go. The beers are cold, the drinks are tasty and the service has always been friendly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Empire Penis?



Now we are all aware of the occurrences of the phallic symbol in architecture around the world. The US seems to do this particularly well considering the Washington monument as one of the most significant images. The Chrysler building of course the location of many romantic theatrical moments in New York City, the Empire State building. But I ask one simple question, did we need to have a cookie? Really.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New York City

Ahhh, the honking of morning rush hour wakes me. I slip out of bed and gently push open the curtains, so the smog filled city can enter through the windows. The brightness that isn't muffled by pollution illuminates the room. Rooftops that are part of insignificant buildings across the alley filled with trash bags and ethnic looking workers creates the vision of the real New York. Yesterday's transfer to this city was a little rough because a 4 hour drive turned into an 8 hour one when the bus got a flat tire. We sat on the side of the road for a good chunk of time and waited for someone to bring us a new bus. A side stop of lunch in glorious North Haven and a nutty route to the hotel (the bus driver missed his turn and then decided it was a good idea to back up on the interstate)created a lengthy trip.

There very well may be some sort of trash strike in the city because it stinks. I have never seen it this way. The city usually has some element of mystique for me but today the view from my window makes it look a little depressing and the trash lined streets makes me a bit concerned. The city is so fast and theatrical in nature and when you are feeling no element of either it makes things a little rough.

This morning I will be taking my advanced class to Columbia for a couple of reasons. One, I like the campus a lot. Two, I know how to get there. As for the lesson, I am sure we can figure something out.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Salem and the End of Beantown


For the first time in my life I wonder to myself why do they call it Beantown? Why are there famous Boston bakedbeans? What is this? Someone fill me in.

Today we went on a witch hunt and instead we found a lovely park and gorgeous shore. Salem is a small tourist town which for the most part is for tourists. Some of the French were a little stressed by the local dress, mostly black and spooky attire. After a haunted house, a witch trial museum and an informative video at the tourist office about Salem trade in the 1800s the group returned happily to Boston where many hours flew by at Quincy Market.

A small group of students decided to stick around for the Boston Harbor Sunset cruise which provided a spectacular view of city. We ate some local grub and strolled home. On the way we stop at several locations along the way to appreciate some street dancers, musicians and artisans. We enjoyed a demonstration of a skirt that has over 100 different uses and is reversible to boot. It was awesome and now I am regretting now investing. Below is video I took of a child that couldn't be more than 6 years old dancing.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Harvard Bound

Teaching English to foreign students is a bit of a challenge considering I actually do not have any skills in this area, but it is moving along just fine. Yesterday we to see Hot Rod, which if you have heard nothing about it is a cinema delight. Today Harvard.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Flashback! Spain Team! Love them!

Boston!

Boston is beautiful. We went on the famous Duck Tour today which was a lovely way to see the city. The students are mostly French which helps me work on my French skills a bit but hopefully they will learn more English, than I do French. Tonight we are on our way to a Harbor Cruise.

More soon with pictures!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Home

Well I am finally on US soil. The trip was great and fairly quick over the lush Atlantic. Naps, food and Shrek 3 made time fly. There was tearful good-bye from really one of the greatest groups of students in summer history.

JFK itself is a cluster fuck. I arrived at the Delta terminal to find a line in an unairconditioned hall way for the elevator that leads you to the real cluster of check in. From the kiosk to find out that my flight was delayed, to the line to check in my baggage to then the other line to drop off my baggage, to then security and finally the last gate. After waiting for an hour, the gate was changed from 29 to 2 to 21.

Hopefully, Gil made it to Atlanta and did a little matchmaking for me with an attractive chatty fellow that we met as we waited together.

At this moment I am minutes from boarding my flight to Tampa, so I can catch a tram to the baggage claim then meet friends that are taking me home. Home what a lovely relaxing thought at the moment.

***Amendment***
It is now 9:28PM and I am still at the airport. After another series of delays, they announced that some thingamagig on the plane is broken. It is something that makes the aircraft turn and without it the plane will only be able to go straight ahead. Now I am not a pilot or anything and there is a level of delirium at play at this point but I just need to go straight. I mean I can draw a fairly straight line from New York to Tampa on a map, so what is the problem? It seems like they will find us a new plane but in the meantime I need to find something to poke my eyes out with since the airport is blaring the Cranberries full album over the loud speaker.

***Final***
Well it is 4:41 AM and I just got home. A new plane was found at 10, we boarded at 10:30, we were suppose to take off at 11. Instead, we sat on the runway until 1:30 and then took off. But don't worry the gave us a granola bar so all is good. Sigh.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Series of Unfortunate Events

Last time I committed a series of unfortunate mistakes that, now leads me to believe that sometimes I am a really flighty person. I returned to my hotel room and I decided to run a bath. While the bath was filling I decided to sign up for 24hour internet service in my room. I filled out the appropriate form and hit send, as one would and nothing happened. I did it again. Nothing. I closed everything out and reopened it. Then it listed 2 purchases for online service totaling almost $35. As I picked up my phone I noticed that the bathroom was becoming my own private pool. I ran in and unplugged the tub. Desperately grabbing a million towels in order to prevent the entire room from being underwater.

After a long while of twisting soaking wet towels back into the tub, I hung all the towels up and got back on the phone with the internet people. I called and selected 2 for English, believing that it would be easier to explain my technological issues with the most akin vocabulary. The customer service person answered, "Hola, Buenas Noche." So I attempted to explain my predicament: card charged and no service. He asked me for a pin number which I didn't have. He asked me for a purchase number which I didn't have. Then he asked me if I had check my email. I explained that I couldn't check my email since I didn't actually have internet service in order to provide a way to check my email. he then referred me to another number. I called it. The hours of operation are from 10-12, 6-10 Monday thru Friday.

Leaving me with little choice, I dialed the first number again. My cell phone told me that I had no money left on my prepaid. Sigh. I went down the hall to borrow one from one of my colleagues (who were nice enough to help out during the flooding scenario) and then my room door shut, leaving me locked out. I went down stairs without shoes to ask for another key and asked the hotel receptionist for help with the internet issue. She then sold me a prepaid card that allowed me to access the appropriate service.

I learned that whatever I had done previously did not charge my credit card and that I was good to go. Exhausting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

End Times

Granada is filled with Morracans and their goods. The streets are lined with itty bitty alleys that have venders hiding within them. When in doubt of what country you are in, you may look up towards the mountain and see the Alhambra which is breath taking but that still isn´t much help since it was built by the Moors. Every corner has a tea shop or a kebab place. Of course in order to claim ownership Isabel and Fernanad are buried here in the Cathedral, so when in doubt remember that the imperialist Catholics are right around haunting the city creating a mixture of Spainish and Arab culture that is such a cool feel.

August has arrived and one of my students had us hold hands in a circle, look up into the dark sky to say goodbye to July last night at 12:05. I have officially been gone for 40 days and 40 nights, not sure if I am Noah in a flood or Moses in a desert, but either way it will be nice to get home for a bit. Even if will only be for bit. I arrive Friday night at midnight to Tampa and leave Monday morning at 11AM for the Boston/NY trip.

I am looking forward to having a couple of pints among kindred spirits in the ol´stomping grounds.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Things the US Does Well

It dawned on me yesterday that there are simply things that US does better than Spain. For instance, hamburgers. We make a damn good hamburger, even the novice griller can make one. Spain can´t make burgers. The only one I have had tasted like a falafel. The US also does censorship much better. This can be taken in both a positive and negative light. The average cable company at home won´t ever have German, French, or even British television, but we can manage to keep anime porn away from child consumption.We don´t get real news but you can have a family themed evening with little effort. The US can construct a basic functioning shower. Every shower I have been to in Spain has something a little off about it. Sevilla: super tiny. You can barely stand in there let alone shave your legs, so imagine me not shaving for like a week. Cordoba: no matter what you did water would get every where because the curtain wasn´t wide enough to cover the space. Granada: there is glass piece that is centered on the bath top, but if you go to rinse your head of flowery smelling shampoo, the water shoots over. Why? What´s the problem?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Guadix: Caves say what?

Guadix is about an hour away from Granada by bus and we thought it would be cool to see a town of caves, so we loaded up the children and headed there. Much like the white town that has plenty that wasn´t white most of the town was not cave dwellings. Matter of fact, the bus station is located at the very end of Guadix, if you pass the station you would fall off a cliff and the caves straight up a hill on the other side. It was 2PM solar time (Spain has decided to be 2 hours off of it so clock time is 4PM) the little drops of sweat dripped off and lined our path towards the caves. Now, siesta being siesta particularly in small town, everything was dead, but we walked on.

Pancho and I were dying of hunger so ditched the group and headed for the one bar we saw open on the hike up. Thrilled to be eating and sitting indoors, we didn´t take much time to approve our selection. We ordered drinks and plates of fried food, which other than the greasy after-eat feel was good. It too was decorated with wall hangings and items that came from my childhood. Even a bike that was parked in dining room was bizarrely peach and turquoise. The only conclusion to make is that Guadixians haven´t left their caves in 25 years. I was sure that any moment I was going to witness some kid with one glove on walking backwards.

There was a rather odd bathroom experience at this establishment as well. I went in and there were several cockroaches hanging out. I needed to use the facility and there was no other choice, so I avoided them. I watched them crawl into the crevices of the wall to hide. The only thing I could think of is where there is one roach there are millions. I shoved the thought out of my mind, returned to the 80´s freak room and ate my fried lunch happily chatting with Pancho.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Granada!! Oh and some other Spain things

This week has gone by quickly particularly because my good friend Shelli came to Cordoba and that made that little city much better. We took the students to Malaga for a beach day last week which was not on the original agenda but it was certainly worth getting out of the 104 degree weather and take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Being from Florida I am a bit of a beach snob and this one didn´t really score highly on beautiful or cleanliness but nevertheless it was damn awesome to swim in it. The entire Sea is filled with the most amazing looking rocks I have ever seen, well actually you can pick a bag at your local Pier1 for 10 bucks probably. I have no idea what I would have done with the rocks because I really wanted to take them all home.

Today we arrived in Granada. Hands down the coolest freaking city in Spain that I have been too. The streets are filled with young hippies that are called gitanos, every bar looks like it has the greatest vibe ever and for the first time this summer we ate Indian food across the street and saw about a zillion other ethnic food choices. Spanish food sometimes leaves you wanting for little fiestas of tastiness in your mouth, particularly for spicy. The last couple of days we have just been dumping Tabasco on everything pizza, paella, whatever crossed our paths, so you can imagine the excitement.

Tomorrow we are going to Guadix for a bit which is known for its cave dwellings. At some point we are going to the beach again and of course the Alhambra. Sorry for the lack of pictures but my camera is completely shot. I actually had to throw it out. But I will see what I can do.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cine a la luz de la Luna (Movies by Moonlight)

If it wasn't super clear before Cordoba is not a happening town in the evenings for youth that are supposed to remain alcohol free, so finding activities that allow them to be out late but not in a bar is sometimes a bit of a struggle. Currently there is a summer series in which movie theaters around town sponsor outdoor flicks in plazas. One prime location is the Plaza de Toros. Normally summer isn't a good season to see bulls being stabbed to their death by a guy in a funny suit, so they put up a giant movie screen, set out some chairs, threw in concession stand and poof! Presto, instant cool venue to watch a really old flick.

Old in US standards, Dejavu came out months ago on DVD because I watched it with my dad. Luckily, I did because the dubbed films are not just funny when it's a Japanese action film with English overlay of voices, but often frustrating because a complex movie such as this Denzel masterpiece is simply rough to follow. I served as the annoying American in the seats talking in order to clarify major plot twists for the students.

One student lean over and said "I think the moon has moved since we have been here."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ronda


A tiny little pueblo in the middle of windy country roads usually described as a "white town" not because of its inhabitants (though most are) but because all the buildings are painted in that colored, called Ronda, was our destination for the day. We all rolled out of bed at 7am and met the bus way down the streets because of some silly historic preservation laws set in Cordoba. The two hours jaunt to Ronda was an easy way to catch up on some sleep.

We arrived to Ronda and made a beeline for the tourist office to get our maps. We set the students free to explore and we were off to find some tasty morsels. Sunday in Spain is like Christmas is most of the States. Everything is closed and surely people are at church or with their families, supposedly. Every establishment that we passed was closed and our grumbling tummies were getting louder. As we approached what appeared to be the end of the road a warm, delicious scent crossed our path. With little other leads we decided to play bloodhounds and follow it. A mere two blocks away a small rotisserie chicken place was the source. The decision was easily made to buy a chicken. They cut it up into small pieces for us, threw in some napkins and drinks and sent us on our way since eating in was not an option.

Looking for a shady place to pop a squat and finally ingest some food, a unbelievable view drew us into a dead ended street. Ronda is built on top of a cliff. There is an old bridge near the center that crosses a massive drop into a deep valley. It is absolutely breathtaking. The view was our magnetic so we decided to sit on the side of the road in some shade and what may have been someone's front porch to eat. An older short Spanish man entered the house from the other side and later on exited, as he passed us, giving us a slightly curious look, he said, "Buen approvecho!"

We ate, we drank, we were pretty merry and continued on our tour of Ronda. One of the tour books had recommended free Arab baths. Earlier in the week as a group we experienced Arab baths that were relaxing and quite enjoyable, so we had told the students to bring their swimmies and towels. After our lunch we headed for a relaxing bath. After walking up and down very slippy cobble stone roads we entered the baths to find a group of students sitting in what used to be Arab bath ruins. No baths at all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yellow


Usually when I think of yellow I think of sunshines, bananas, sometimes even yellow submarines. It is my mom's favorite color which normally makes me smile, but not once in my 31 years of living have I ever thought about a full meal being yellow until I arrived in Spain. In Sevilla, the residence gave us for dinner one night eggs, yellow rice with corn, and French fries. I figured it was an anomaly but tonight, in Cordoba we had another yellow meal. This time squash soup, pork meatballs in a yellowish sauce and once again, French Fries. Curious this yellow food. Just plain curious.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh Dear Cordoba

Cordoba is a small town and to be honest the first 24 hours have been a pain in the ass. In minds eye, it's like the entire city is tapping their feet in a small confined space and if you know me well you know how tapping drives me batty. It has been a series of small issues one after the other. No one is out right trying to be annoying but its the little things that add up. For example, I went to the bank today to withdraw money. The first thing I ask is for them not to give me big bills. No ones accepts them and it makes things difficult. The woman looks at my passport a million times, makes a 3 copies of it and finally approves me for the withdraw. She hands me 2 bills, both 500 and 5 bills of 200. I ask her, " don't you have anything smaller?" She replies, "Well, no." I look at her a second and say, "But you're the bank, if you don't have change who else will?" She rolls her eyes at me and gives me a stack of fifties. It's those little things that have been fairly consistent through the first day or so, but the tides did turn when I found this Tourist shack thing in the middle of a plaza. The guy there was so helpful that even though he was unattractive and much older than I, I still want to marry him. I bought tickets to several different events all at the same place at the same time.

Other than that, we saw Harry Potter last night and it's true that everything is funnier in Spanish. The movie was a hit with the students and with me. I can't help it. I admit it freely, I love Harry Potter.

We also found a local pool that we are going to check out this afternoon which will be nice because the heat is fairly significant. We found out at some point that Spain has some wacky time change thing, so solar time is actually 2 hours off. Therefore, when it is 7PM here and the sun is beaming down upon us it's really 5PM in traditional non-daylight savings time. I don't know the reasons but it is what it is.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bull Fight

Witnessing the slaughtering of 4 bulls is quite an impact on the psyche. At first I was doing pretty well distancing myself from the battle on the perfectly circular yellow sand. My banter distracted me from the violence. When in doubt always make funny voices and pretend to be the bull or another tactic is mocking the Easter egg colored super tight outfits (there is no way these people are wearing any underwear) with sparkles that the idiot waving the red flag at the big ass bull wears. Both equally successful.

There was the one bullfighter while I was there that was flipped upside down by the bull. He couldn't get on his feet. The bull was charging for him but the team of folks that dress up and taunt the bull first jump in to help. The guy wobbled to his feet and decided to continue fighting. Idiot. Occasionally you could see him rubbing his eyes, I am assuming because he was trying to focus. (There may be a video added to this part. The flip was impressive.)

The last run that I witnessed before getting my fill of this spectacle, the bullfighter just sucked. When it came down time to kill the bull, he just couldn't do it. The bull would fall. The fighter couldn't hit the spot. It was awful. After being repeatedly pierced, the bull slowly walked along the wall of the ring. He went to his knees. He put his head down. It was over.

Cadiz

My boyz here in Sevilla encouraged me to take a day off and go to Cadiz where my good friend Shelli is working her ass off. Cadiz is the small coastal city where I spent all of last summer and its quaint nature provides a strong feeling of home. I woke up early in the morning and arrived a short two hours later. Shelli and I spent a great day catching up and chatting with persons that are working with other programs. We were being oddly watched by pigeons for a long time. Apparently the pigeon community is not particularly happy with Shelli because of some traumatic issues in Manhattan and the ones in Cadiz have gotten word.

We had a lush dinner with the president of the company, the web designer and one of the new program directors. The visit was great. I decided to stay the night and leave very early the next morning to be in Sevilla before 10am.

I set the alarm for 6:30 am. It gave me enough time to roll out of bed, call a taxi and brush my teeth with my finger and toothpaste since I hadn't originally anticipated staying the night. I made it to the train station and hopped the 7:40 train to Sevilla. I love the train. I think it is the best way to travel in this country. It is easy, smooth and dependable. You don't have to do much. There are beautiful landscapes to gaze off to in southern Spain.
I read for about 2 seconds and fell asleep warmly in the fetal position in my seat and the one adjacent to me. The train jolted a bit and I was awakened. I glanced up and just as if I was in a bad movie I look out the window and see the sign that says "Sevilla, Santa Justa" fading before me. I asked the woman behind me, "Was this THE Sevilla stop?" She nodds. I curse. In both languages. A lot. I call my buddy to tell him what happened and I was about to lose it. He just laughed at me which made me feel infinitely better.

At first I thought that the next stop would be Madrid, which is pretty freaking far but luckily it was Cordoba which is only 45 minutes away. I arrived in Cordoba bought a ticket on the next train back to Sevilla. I managed to run into a tourist office which was handy because we will be there for two weeks as of Sunday, had a coffee and headed to my original destination managing to be very alert the entire trip.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Grrrr Portuguese!!!

We are living in a university dorm which is luxurious to traditional Spain standards because there is air conditioning and television in every room. It is divine. All of the adults are in rooms next to each other on the top floor and the students are randomly placed on lower levels. We have the Spanish version of Ralph Kramden as the night watchman which means there is no way these kids are sneaking out. The meals have been great (this evening there was a yellow theme to the meal: eggs, french fries, rice mixed with corn.) The only negative thing is the Portuguese.

Since we are sharing this building with college students there is a small group of Portuguese people that must seriously be the loudest individuals to walk in the streets of Sevilla. They sit and smoke in the marble stairwell and the sound echoes up and down the building. Now my Spanish blood gets a little annoyed at the fact that this occurs during siesta, because damn it is a necessary and sacred ritual as far as I am concerned, but nevertheless it is the middle of the day and there is little that can be done. At three, four, or five in the morning when they arrive from "la marcha" there is a literal vein in my neck that explodes except I hate confrontation and I am way to lazy to get up and complain or bitch at them. So I lay there and pray to the sleep angels to make it go away.

My room is pitch dark but around the Portuguese arrival time, there is a slight glow that comes though the shade and curtain that blocks my window. Last night, I popped up and I saw Ralph pacing the center corridor of the building; ready to pounce on any Portuguese college student that dares threaten the peace of the Santa Ana residence.

There are many other descriptions of these folks that I could provide but some would be derogatory and I refuse to further any stereotypes of slurred speech smelly Portuguese young adults.

We did manage to take the kids to the most amazing Flamenco show that I have ever seen in all my life. It was unreal. I am not really a huge fan. I just can't usually get behind the singing. The guitar is great. The clapping thing I can take or leave. But tonight it literally was an unbelievable narrative played out between a female and then male dancer took you into another world. The Portuguese don't have anything that noteworthy.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Overseas Chaos

Overseas programs suffer sometimes because no matter how hard the administrative offices work there are a few crazies that sneak through the multi-level interview process and background checks. This summer is not any different and it seems that the Spain programs are the ones that are feeling the hit.

An instructor for Barcelona apparently lost her marbles when she arrived at the airport. She was stopped by the "guardia civil" (which is like the national police) and she refused to show them her passport. She then tried to kiss them and finished off the show by dancing on a pile of her clothes. She is now in a mental institution in northern Spain and her parents aren't coming to get the young (23 year old) co-ed. The director of this program, who has a PhD in Spanish refuses to teach the class that is missing an instructor. She really can't be bothered. (Who are these people?)

The coordinator of another program ended up being the dictator of the program and after a ton of conversation and interventions, she was fired for her inability to be a team player. Not to mention that in the same program, another teacher fell down a flight of stairs and broke her arm, she admitted later that she is very accident prone and has frequently broken bones.

Luckily, our program is solid as a rock (knock on wood, pull your ear, whatever superstitious ritual you would like to do to help the cause.) Major props go out to my girl that is coordinating the entire country because it has certainly been one thing after another.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sevilla

Sevilla is hot as hell. It is close to 100 degrees everyday and by 3pm it is unbearable to be outside. No wonder the Spaniards nap for so long. The students arrived yesterday and so far things have been going well.

The night before they arrived Pancho and I went out to dinner along the river where we had some Albanian guys make us the best tabouli I have ever had. We walked back checking out a couple of things and stopped to eat some ice cream. As we were enjoying our tasty desserts we crossed through a plaza and noticed this really young kid who appeared unconscious. We exchanged a look and decided to eat our ice cream and see if anything changed in his condition. It did not.

As we approached the kid, his pulse was hard to find but he was clearly breathing, reeking of alcohol and perspiring a cold sweat. We tried several times to wake him but to no avail. Pancho called the equivalent to the US 911. We quickly learned that the emergency vehicles are in no real hurry. It took about 40 minutes and two phone calls from additional passersbys for them to arrive. As we waited, a crowd began to form. Young kids trying to smack the guy, one kid even kicked him, two older women went threw his pockets and found his passport. We learned he was Russian and about 24 years old. People mumbled about not knowing any Russian so there would be no way that he could understand us anyway. They returned the passport to the front pocket of his shorts just as a girl´s parents arrived to pick her up. She called over her father who apparently is a doctor. The doctor leaves his car running in the middle of intersection and comes to do the first evaluation of this drunken character. This entire time the guy never indicated that he was conscious. The circus clowns continued to surround him (add appropriate music here.) Some left, others stopped to add their two cents.

Finally, the ambulance arrived. They approached the guy and they began to punch him in the chest. The Russian only then began to stir. They did nothing. They decided that he didn´t need to be taken to the hospital. They waited. For what? For the police to arrive which took another 25 minutes after the arrival of the paramedics. (Spain is not the place to need speedy assistance in any area of life.)

The police arrived and it was a female and male partner team. Immediately, the female cop clearly had something to prove because she went right into his face and started yelling at him tell him to stand up. "Stand up! Don´t make me tell you again. I said stand up!" The guy barely was able to sit up, let alone stand up. She takes out her baton! And makes like she is going to swing but she places it under is arm and lifts him up. The male cop helps her hold him and they toss him into the ambulance for questioning.

The "Good" Samaritans wandered back to the hotel.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Frankfurt

Mother f@#^@ing airports man! So I arrive to Germany, this time with a nice slumber in the air. They push us onto a bus, which always gets my feathers ruffled then through a weird doorway that leads up a set of stairs. When you arrive at the top there is a security terminal attempting to check more than 100 people at this point and I glance at my watch to notice that I have about 45 minutes to get through this, go through passport control and find my next gate so I can catch my flight to Madrid.

The cracker jack team here only has a guy with a set of wands and one security thingamabob that looks into your baggage, just as I am approaching the front of the roaring grumbles of the crowd some small airline woman ushers in a small Indian family. First of all, it wasn't like she nicely explain their circumstances, she is German afterall, but I can't help if they are racial profiling this family as well or if they are diplomats of some kind and if they are, why are they in this line?

After getting felt up, I made a mad dash for my connecting gate since it was on the other side of Guatemala and it was about to leave and all just to encounter another security check point. What the hell were they thinking? I bought the water bottle bomb from their airport quickie stand! As I make it though I realize that I have 5 minutes. 5 precious minutes to Madrid and I must get on that damn plane if it is the last thing I ever do in Germany, that is. So I sprinted. I sprinted as I was about to be killed or desperately trying to take down a striker headed towards the goal. On my last breath, I made it. I made it to the gate only to learn that the plane had been delayed by an hour. I sat and had a smoke. I love Germany.

Finally, I am in Sevilla now after planes trains and automobiles. All is well. More soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The End of Prague

I am sitting in the tiny laundry room waiting for my cab to arrive to take me to the airport. It is 3 AM my time and it has arrived. More later.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Stupid American

A stupid American story starring...me! I ventured out a bit today on my own because I was feeling a little introverted and wanted to explore some of the real Prague, or at least at was the goal. I set out south of my hostel because we usually travel north also with expectation to find a major city park that was depicted in the guide book. After crossing the equivalent of I-275. the park I found was shady to say the least. It was built up on a hill and every 50 yards or so there was a large set of concrete stairs that would take you deeper into the park. Since my gut was tell me that it was probably best not to trust the blind man and the cracked out looking woman that I had passed I retreated back the area that I began this journey only after spending about 45 minutes exploring this particular park.

Upon my return I noticed a nice enclosed park that had many of shady benches which would be perfect for sitting and reading. I look around and all the benches seemed taken, so I walked through some giant engraved doors attached to a building that in my Czech reading abilities said it was the Police Museum. And in fact it was exactly that. The inner courtyard had charming fake streets with vintage street signs and old cop cars displayed proudly. I found a bench and sat. A while passed and I noticed that it was about to be 5pm on a Sunday and surely a museum would be closing at any moment. Not to mentioned that there was no one else in there. So I got up towards the same door I had entered only to find that it was tightly shut. I tried the handle and to no avail, I was trapped inside the museum.

I turned and followed a couple of Czech voices. There were two young individuals that were in the process of cleaning up the concession stand which clearly they had been working for many hours. I approached the baby-faced lad and asked him where the exit was. He replied, "We are closed." I said, "Yes see that so I was hoping to leave?" He said, "You wait." I really didn't have much of a choice so I sat down and waited. The girl that was actually cleaning and throwing out the trash was yelling at baby-face with anger in Czech.

I kept telling myself that it had nothing to do with me, but I have no idea. I just sat there and tried not to stare, so I looked at the ground which was only inches aways since I was sitting on a tiny curb that lined the walkways. In my gazing towards the earth, I noticed a tiny black and red bug that I had seen before elsewhere that must be kin to our ladybug but it was slightly different. I almost took out my camera but I feared that if the Czech bitching had something to do with me that I better sit still and not aggravate the situation by documenting Prague bugs in that very moment.

Suddenly the girl locked up the ajar doors and stomped over to sit on a bench. Baby-face grabbed his laptop bag, backpack, bag of tomatoes, two packages of Sam's club like cheese, a spindle of cds and a magazine that featured a prominent zippo advertisement on the back. He shuffled over and sat next to her. Both completely ignoring the fact that I am sitting inches away looking at bugs. He says something to her and she gets up and stomps away. He gathers all of his things and I look at him and say, "I am so sorry." He saids, "It is OK. We go now to exit." I am thinking why didn't you tell me where this was to begin with but instead I smile and nod my head.

The girl that is a few yards away makes it through the first set of doors but is stopped when she reaches the second because of a giant pad lock. She is still angrily ranting in Czech as she walks towards a building, to get a key which I assume. Baby-face sets everything down again and follows her as I once again am standing not knowing what exactly I should do in yet another part of the closed Police museum. Suddenly, an old man sporting a silk white shirt that is open allowing his large beer belly to breath comes through the first set of doors. He is carrying a trash bag and looks at me, rightfully so, with a "who the hell are you?" expression.

I call out to baby-face and say, "hey!"
He turns and asks, "a man?"
I say, "yes."

At this moment, the girl return and baby-face speaks Czech to the man who simply walks over and releases us all. I thank them profusely and return to the safety of my hostel.

A bit more Prague

In light of some new laptop issues I write once again without visual aides, so you visual learners forgive me and keep your fingers crossed that at some point I will be able to add those. These photos here were borrowed from the internet.

Today marks a week that I have been in Prague. Even though, I have enjoyed the city a great deal and my travel companions along the way, I am feel rather ready to go on to the Spain. I have 4 days left in the Czech Republic and all that is left for me to see is the spectacular Castle district which I have reserved to do on the first full day free after the class is over.

There is much to process about this art course and I suppose one of the greatest triumphs is that I have been writing nonstop. It has been a long time since I have allowed my imagination to take me into the world of created characters and place them in stories. Yesterday (after skipping out of class early in a huff, which is a totally different train of thought that you may enjoy at some point) I sat at a cafe for 2 hours, sipped on a cappuccino and sketched and wrote vigorously. Matter of fact, I can't even remember the last time I wrote with pen and paper.

Anywho....

Last night, my friends and I went to the Blacklight Theater which is a huge thing here and saw a show called the "Aspects of Alice" based on Alice in Wonderland. Parts of it were sorta creepy, others were mind blowing and some may be considered pornographic by Southern Christian conservatives. The imagery was a philosophy teacher's wet dream. There is no dialogue only music and was described in our reflection conversation as "Old World" like. In the image on the right, Alice (a live actor) is flying over the life size city that illuminates the entire stage.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

So the Creativity Class...

I have waited a full 4 days before opening these flood gates knowing full well that I can be a little cynical about my worldview at times, but after several different conversations it appears that I am not insane and it is in fact a bit of a frustration that is shared across the board.

The course begins with a thin skeletal looking woman draped in over sized linen clothing, to me immediately screaming insecurity and eating disorder. She speaks to us in a soft condescending voice and asks us to take our towels and lay on the ground for the opening relaxation exercise. With the same intonation she begins the narration, "Feel your toes. Feel the stress in your toes. Tighten up your toes...tight... (it is usually around here that my head explodes or sometimes my foot cramps up, either way, not good.) tight...tight...with a big breath release. Woof. Feel the stress in your buttox..." After feeling the stress and tightening up every possible appendage her voice leads us into a visualization, sometimes we are walking on water and then drowning (I always worry at this point because I feel that the stress of drowning will lead back to the relaxation thing and that it will be a vicious cycle of anxiety.) Sometimes we have bodies filled with eyes and we can see things and THEN, we walk on water (which also stressed me out because I would continuously have water in my eyes but couldn't swipe it away fast enough because there are too many of them and once again I feel tight...tight...tight."

This exercise usually leads to drawing what you see or writing about it which they (ah yes there is a partner to the over dramatic waif playwright, the ambiguous Argentinian painter with the sensitive ponytail look also wearing free flowing linen clothing) allow you to do for about a split second and then move on to the next thing which usually is an attempt to tap into your childhood traumas so conversations with your Grandmother, letters from your father when you were 16, you know that sort of thing. Forced intimacy with a group of people from all over the world that you don't really know but, the worst part of this is that the leaders never facilitated introductions on the first day, so we are expected to share our innermost thoughts with people that don't even have names.

There may be a revolution in class today, but more on this whole thing later.

Sensitive ponytail guy will drop names such as Jung, Miro, Melville and his associations, as hers as well, are surface level and provide no sense of connectivity to anything, whether it is the understanding of the exercise philosophically or pedagogically.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mozart is Resurrected!

At some point I will share a bit about my art class (which I am trying to maintain an open mind) and about the characters that are sharing it with me. For now, because of time constraints, I will simply recount my evening. We attended a classical string concert at St. Martin's in the Wall (this is the actual name of the church.) it was built in the 12th century but for a Catholic worship space during that time it was humble and appears as if Zwingli had come in as the interior designer. (For those who have no idea who that guy is all you really need to know is that he like things super simple. The other thing is you must know is that I am a nerd.) The music was superb, even for the novice Classical music connoisseur. Who doesn't like Vivaldi's Four Season or Schubert's Ave Maria?

We then dined at a local microbrewery. Though, the intention was to sample the lot of odd brews it was prime dinner time and the waitress shared with us that they had no more sampling sets available. Though we managed to spread the joy a bit a mixed, a pale ale and ordered by me a wheat. all very good. You can purchase the beers to take home, plus an assortment of mugs, pilsner glasses, beer jam as souvenirs. I have the hope of return to figure out what the hell Banana or Coffee beer may taste like.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Architecture in Prague.

The interesting thing about this city is that you can be walking down any random street and see very traditional buildings that to be honest look like every other old European city but suddenly out of no where there will be something that is spectacular. On the left is a very modern building called "Fred and Ginger" because it looks like a dancing couple. Pretty freaking cool particularly when you look towards your right and see the series of bridges that cross the river. One being the Charles Bridge, which I am standing on here, which dates back to the 14th century.

Prague has a weight to it. It is afterall the home of Kafka and Kundera who are not known for their chick-lit but it is clear that the suffering that has been done on this land is such a deep part of the identity that is manifested in the city itself. Its beauty is almost tainted by it. Until the sunsets and a softness crashes onto to the city. The buildings seem a little kinder. The need for restoration fades; the marks that have been acquired in battle are no longer noticeable and heart of what Prague really is resurrected.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prague Day 1


I have taken a few pictures and as soon as I figure out my laptop wi-fi connection I will add them to these pages until then I will continue to sit in a tiny laundry room at the Hostel use the Internet. It is quite cozy really and it provides an opportunity to chat with the British blokes that are on vaca. It is the thing to do when at the University there to take off in Europe for a bit (or at least I am told.)

The early morning dew awoke me from my slumber this morning at 7AM, so I as gently as possible slid off the top bunk and FINALLY took a shower. I should have showered twice just to be sure I was clean, but anywho. I enjoyed a nice continental breakfast with an assortment of fresh breads and spreads in the garden area that is the center hub of the hostel. I checked out of the dorm style room and moved into the more intimate apartment style rooms that the Art class set us up in. The dorm room cost less then having to purchase a plug adapter today, crazy. I set off to explore the city and after a slight turn down a major road I was stopped in my tracks by a gorgeous building, the National Museum.

There is little I dig more than a cool museum so I made a b-line for it. The architecture as you may image is outstanding the exhibits inside made me think of my favorite Egyptologist; lots of excavated this and thats, 7 rooms filled with just minerals (Why do we need this? I don't know.) The best part was by far the anthropological exhibit. Then I jaunted down a major road with no actual plan at hand until it started to rain. Ah, weather...it's cold here. Glad I packed a sweater and jeans. Of course cold being 70 degrees, which I will surely be craving once I am in the suffocating climates of landlocked Spain. Where was I? Right...rain.

It started to rain so I popped into a pub. I don't speak a lick of Czech but I had already learned the word for thank you and beer. So I ordered a peevo, sat at the bar and read The Fountainhead. After a bit I ate some Goulash which was super tasty and told the barkeep, De-q for his hospitality. I returned to my room for a nap and few hours later colleagues arrived. We headed to share a meal together.

Finally Prague!

Well I have finally arrived in the Czech Republic. After an eternity in Frankfurt which I had originally planned to check out but between exhaustion and pouring rain just napped in the airport. As you may imagine, the Germans are very orderly and the airport is equally as so, but it serves as a fine stop. The flight to Prague mind you was anything put fine. It was my 4th flight within 48 hour period, it was the shortest flight but I wished I had learned the rosary because I was about to piss myself. The flight was only 45 minutes long so we couldn't, according to the pilot, go over the storms that were crashing over us...really all around us. It was a consistent drop every other second of at least 10 feet.

Luckily, the folks sitting next to be were a couple. She is Czech and he is American. The live half the year in Prague and the other half in West Palm Beach. Floridians unite in near death experience on that German craft. These folks befriended me to the point that they road with me to my hostel and refused to allow me to pay the meter. They had taken the one thing that I was the most anxious about arriving to a foreign country at midnight and made it into a generous and overwhelming moment.

The Hostel is near the Uni and this is the first time I have been in a dorm room style. Most folks were asleep when I arrived to crawl into the top bunk, in the second room of this tiny garden building that sleeps like 15. Good thing I was a camp counselor because I have no idea the last time I was in a pace like that. Everyone was friendly and crashed, stinky and all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Madrid

My heart lives in Madrid sadly not so much in the airport, which is where I am residing at the moment. All flights were good so far just two more planes and I will hopefully be in Prague in one piece and ready to sleep. It is 5 AM stateside and I haven't gotten a wink yet.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I'm Off!

Tomorrow I leave for the summer. My first stop is the glorious JFK and then off to Madrid. Eventually, I will make it to Prague by Monday night. Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Appalling!

I have thought long and hard about this particular entry due to the nature of the photograph above. Certainly there is no desire to perpetuate such a racist and disgusting perspective. Nevertheless, the impact was necessary to convey my total and utter disbelief when I arrived at our habitual watering hole and I slid into my parking space just to see this written on the vehicle to my left.

There are many things that I could say and likely even many more moral high grounds that I could take instead I would rather state that the current state of global affairs in which this country is taking part in has caused a misappropriation of funds, poor straTEgy that has led to many unneeded deaths, and a series of untruths regarding our Muslim brethren.

Fucking appalling.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ol' Stomping Grounds

Hooks

Asian food and sushi restaurant, Hooks, located on 9th Street has Wednesday $1 sushi night. BKay and I decided to check it out. We ordered ginger side salads and edimame to start. The $1 sushi only applied to the plain old raw kind which we didn't really know when we ordered a couple of shrimp and conch style pieces. We threw in a couple of other favorite rolls and put together a tasty and relatively inexpensive meal. The wait was a little long but it was a super deal night, so it was certainly tolerable.


The Martini Bar


BKay and I casually went the movies on Saturday and as we were leaving the BayWalk area we decided to stop by and wish a friend Happy Birthday. She was suppose to be at the Martini Bar. By name alone the assumption would be snooty little place with soft jazz playing and a colorful menu filled with things new words like Berrytini or Mmmtini. It turns out the Martini Bar was none of that. It was a full on dance club with young hoodlums clustered all over and that music that they call booty music blaring.

As we stood in the middle of this establishment, we looked at each other, not knowing exactly how we found ourselves there in that moment and our friend was no where to be found. The only way to survive is the secret code word of : Long Island Ice Tea. So we quickly slammed one and ordered another and headed to the dance floor.

It was so much fun to dance. Dance and not give a shit about trying to hook up or trying to maintain...just full on dancing! My hair was dripping with sweat which is only really hot in other circumstances but it didn't matter. BKay danced like a rock star and managed to score a shake or two from the super hot air force captain. The music got better as the evening turned in to early morning and the drinks grew from 2 to 4.

Series of nonsequiturs

  • A few days ago I read in the obituaries that a 31 year old guy named Jason Prenn had died. He apparently went to my high school and I guiltily had no memory of him at all. I grabbed my yearbook to search and much to my surprise and partial relief he wasn't in my graduating class. So I looked at the juniors and he didn't appear there either. So I grabbed the year before and he wasn't there. I looked through every index and no one by that name existed at Lakewood from 1990-1994. Who was Jason Prenn?
  • Looking through yearbooks only does two things (at least for me), it makes me realize that I am so happy that adolescence is way over and that every awkward moment filled with irrational emotions is in the past (at least for the most part). The second is that, we, in the early 90's, still had really really bad hair; grunge didn't help.
  • My high school English teacher inscribed to me "Keep writing!" Maybe it's because she believed I needed the practice or very well may have been the standard English teacher thing to write, considering this lot base their entire profession on reading things that people have written its probably pretty important to encourage people to keep writing. But I suppose I took it to heart because I have somehow managed to write this blog today with that in mind, so major props to Ms. Palmer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bike Butt

Summer inspiration set in yesterday. I filled a small backpack with water, a book, my camera and my trusty phone then hopped on Tracy's bike and headed downtown. The ride there was nice, leisurely. It is always cool to notice the things that I forgotten about Central Ave, tons of galleries, thrift stores, coffee shops and pubs.

Once I rode all the way down to the water, I found a shady bench with a gorgeous view of the Yacht club pier. I read my book for awhile. Enjoyed people watching.

I jumped back on the bike but the ride home was not as lovely. The heat was brutal. My ass started to ache. The seat was up my butt so badly. I tried to ride as fast as I could home because the throbbing was getting worse. The heat intensified and I thought I was going to fall out somewhere.

I did make it home. I fell on the couch. My rear isn't so pleased since I can swear that I have a bruise about the size of a bike seat on my seat.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Ft. Myers Fun

I am an only child. Most of my extended family is extended all over the place and since the Cuban diaspora I didn't grow up with all my cousins in my daily life. What I have always had was friends; good friends; lifetime friends. This weekend I went to Ft. Myers with my roommate to not only visit her folks but also Bri-guy, one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Bri-guy married one of the greatest people on the planet and that luckily came with the greatest families ever. We started off with a cook out. Bri made homemade hummus, green salsa and spicy chicken. It was a treat to eat his cooking because it is damn good. We sat and ate and talked and chilled. It had been a long time since we were able to really do that.


Evening set in and the many beers led us to hit the town. Meredith, our guide, took us to Nick and Stella's and Valerie's. We drank. We listened to local music. We played pool. Adam bought us flowers, then left with the flower girl.

The entire day and night was so much fun. It was so great to spend time with all of them.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Envy me!

The summer is a lovely time where teachers everywhere have a licence to sleep late, watch lots of television and read things beyond crappy sophomore papers. This can be wonderful for the first 48 hours or so then the inevitable guilt of time suckage kicks in and one is charged with ways to make the days more fulfilling. With various lunches planned with friends that have real jobs and gym workouts that needless to say often get skipped, I decided it was time to have a massage.

I scheduled an appointment for midday at Massage Envy, new chain of masseurs in the Bay Area. The first full hour Swedish massage is only $39 which is great. The idea is that you fall so in love with the place that you become a member and pay $49 a month which gets you a monthly massage and as many additional ones that you would like for the original low price. It is actually not a bad deal.

After arriving at my appointment and filling out paperwork explaining that I have no strange ailments that will impair my luxurious experience, Robin an older woman from Levittown New York escorts me to the private dim lighted room where she asks me to strip down and slip under a warm sheet. When she returns from her momentary disappearance she asks me if I would like my face and scalped down. I figured what the hell.

The soothing music and firm touch of Robin were great until she got to my legs. The idea is that I am to lay there like a rag doll and allow her to manipulate my body as needed. In the middle of her moving my legs around she stops and says "Are you a control freak?" Coming out of my relaxing trance replied, "Not really." You seem to be having trouble letting your legs go." I of course think to myself the array of witty comments that many of my friends would snicker in this moment but with little explanation to provide to her inquisitive mind, I say, "I am not meaning to." Now, Robin is the one that snickers and without missing a beat she says, "Ah a passive aggressive one, well try your best to make like Raggedy Ann then, and I will work around it."

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ol' Stomping Grounds

Since summer has started, sort of, I have gotten the chance to go out a lot and rediscovered the glorious city in which I reside. Therefore, I have decided to start a reoccurring segment called "Ol' Stomping Grounds" that will cover local cuisine, cool pubs and anything else that comes to mind. Today, I have a handful and perhaps I am being over zealous with looking at 3 great places.


Chattaway

The last time I remember being there was with my grandfather when I was about 12 years old. In the last couple of weeks, I have been there twice. I still can't believe that it took me so long to return. Hands down the best burger in the 'Burg. It's cheap and a within the last decade has been designated a historical monument. Located in south St. Pete on a shabby little corner, this family owned place is an outdoor eatery that is lined with pink bath tubs filled with great greenery that creates intimacy along with the funky umbrellas to eliminate the blazing sun. There is usually a hippie guy on a guitar playing some folk music. It has incredible sweet tea and cheap grub.


Bella Brava

Mojito! Mojito! Mojito! Tasty and Expensive. One of these fantastic drinks will cost you 10 bucks, if you are willing to drop the cash you will not be disappointed. Bella's also has good fancy food, but if you are looking to balance your tab I recommend the Pear Spinanch Salad or the Hummus, both delicious. The lighting at this restaurant is always dim for that romantic atmosphere. There is outdoor seatting which I always prefer because it is a little less "Let's Shag" feel. The only negative thing is pricing, so if you want a long evening out it will put a nice hole in your pocket, but if you want to give it a shot, the drink specials everyday between 4-7 are worth it.


The Taste of Wine
Who knew? This place is located in the prime of downtown, above some of the most frequented establishments. Matter of fact, this was the first time I had every been, but loved it. New Orleans like style with a rod iron adorned balcony and tiny little tables with ridiculously heavy but comfortable chairs. It seemed like you could sit there forever. The array of fancy beers and luscious wines is substantial. You can also pick up a nice bottle of wine here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Joy of Soma

Bra shopping is always annoying. It takes time, the right frame of mind and energy to find the right fit and in the seconds that you try them on you really have no idea if it will work out, so that is even a bigger pain. Today I found the joy of Soma.

This little shop if a subsidiary of Chicos, a Florida based store. I arrived there upon recommendation from Wagner. She spoke so highly of it that I had to go check it out myself. First off the material that these products are made from is just divine. It makes you feel like your boobs are being held up by fairies. So light and soft. But the best part is that a professional Bra Master assists you with you sizing, trial and choosing process.

This is certainly not for the weak at heart. You must leave all shyness at the door when Eleanor approaches you with her tape measure and quickly escorts you to the dressing room. In this moment there was, at least for me, a moment of hesitation. I wasn't even encouraged to browse. Eleanor simply turned me around, look at me and returned minutes later with handfuls of perfect options.

Eleanor, roughly around 50 years old or so, would give me the privacy of trying them on alone but then her kind knock would quickly lead to her coming in and making all the necessary adjustments. She would give me her opinion and then tell me to put on my shirt again so she could make sure there wouldn't me any funny bumps showing through the shirt. After a pleasant hour or so, I couldn't ween my choices down further than 4 new bras! Luckily, there was great sale and buying one gave me one free. It was great and I can't wait to shower and slip into one of my new ones.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Day at the Farm!






Quantum Leap isn't just a great television show with the hottie Scott Bakula. It is also a horse farm that works with physically and mentally handicapped individuals. Today I spent the day with a group of high school seniors giving back to their community before graduating and going out into the world. Well, at least that is the idea.

The farm was beautiful and it was nice to get my hands dirty and work. I groomed a horse, cleaned a couple of stables, and filled holes in a field. I even broke out into song a few times. The donkey's name is Eugene. He really wasn't too camera friendly and he sorta of wanted to eat it. I had to bob and weeve a bit to get away. Paparazzi is no ones favorite I suppose.