Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spain won their game last night!!! They are moving on and play against Uruguay on Saturday. It is getting crazy out here folks, stay tuned.

To Go Please...well, kind of.

Ordering something to go in Spain should be ordered whilst putting up the tacky quotation fingers because you should not be eating it on the go. Today I went to Starbucks on my way to work (I know, get off it) and I got a muffin. I was running late and decided to eat it on my way to the office. As I was walking I kept getting looks. "My fly is not down", I thought, "there are no I look that good today that I am turning heads?" It turns out that it was my muffin eaten on the go that drew attention. It is just not allowed here to eat on the go; it is not necessarily frowned upon but it definitely dials the "I have no friends or family" police. But in my defense and in the defense of the United States, what do you do when you're running late? I need to eat a little something to kick start my metabolism in the morning and wake myself up, am I supposed to suffer because YOU believe in meal consumption as a group therapy session?

If you are to take something to go, you take it to a park and meet up with friends or at the very least lie with a book.

Other social faux pas that are actually frowned upon heavily here:

Stretching in public (I'm screwed)
Yawning without covering your mouth (like us but way more harsh)
Walking through a door before a woman or a younger person (chivalry is not dead)
Not saying hello and goodbye in elevators (even to strangers)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Madrid Socialites? Check!

So I think Victor and Manny are Madrid socialites, or that is what Ollie and I's warped perception of reality is construing in our minds. Needless to say, they returned our call and invited us to watch Spain play at a local pub. We got ready and met them at a central plaza.

You know when you are traveling and you have to do certain cultural things. So you go out of your way to pursue these odds and ends to get a truly local experience. Like when you search for days to find the bar that gives you amazingly tasting tapas for free just after ordering a beverage. I have been to numerous place and ordered numerous tapas to get that true tapas vibe that is written about, but found myself underwhelmed at why it has become such a phenomenon. As Ollie and I ordered a beer to cheers our fellow Spaniards towards a victory in the world cup, we were given scrambled eggs with ham, seasoned potatoes and grilled onions, fried peppers and chorizo. Within 30 seconds of meeting our friends we had that tapas experience we had been chasing since the first day. A new meaning to the term friends with benefits.

So Ollie and I played our cards right that afternoon, bring the charisma and charm of the night before but with the sophisitication and entertainment to sustain a longer lasting friendship. We worked the crowd so well, that we were invited back to Manny's house to have a drink or two before going out for the night. One way ticket to local land, hop on Ollie because it's gonna be an awesome ride!!

Playing music and laughing, exchanging stories of our experiences abroad, we all noticed that we had similar personalities and joie de vivre. So why socialites you ask? Victor is going to Australia for two months just because, and Manny is going to New York for two months just because and they invited Ollie and I to meet them in Manhattan for a helicopter ride out the Hamptons for a long weekend.

I literally looked them in the eye and ESP'ed some thoughts that were along the lines of, "Don't mess with my emotions, I am fragile and will do anything for that helicopter ride". Check please!

They took us to a club opening where we were taken as guests of theirs and enjoyed the night royally.

The following day, I, in my best Spanish cultural endeavor, bought some baguettes, ham, cheese and some tinto de verano to invite our newfound friends to a lunch in the park. It was thoroughly enjoyed and my fears of diluted enjoyment of the group's company quickly dissapated into the summer Madrid heat. That night, our "socialites" had to go to a David Delfin super fashionista private party. In lamentation for the fact that they could not get two tickets last minute, we were put on a list for a hot club called Pacha as a consolation. I'm sorry, what!?

To top off the weekend in Dreamland, USA, Sunday brought us a tour of the Malaseña neighborhood, the new trendy spot in Madrid. We saw vintage shops and amazing little tiendas, a gem that is so close to my apartment but never explored. Then, dinner in a Chinese restaurant that is secretly hidden underneath Plaza de España.

We are so lucky to have met our new friends and what confidence it gives someone to embrace us so valiantly and warmly. It is almost exhausting to keep impressing and entertaining these people to keep us around. Ollie and I almost have prepped scripted conversations to make sure we keep our socialites in our good graces.

Moral of the story: Be open, receptive, kind and yourself. Be a personality, not just a person. Offer something, bring something, take something, engage, interact, exchange. All active verbs, for I believe complacence and passivity is a human's greatest vice.

Last Week at a Glance

As certain impending deadlines accumulate at my desk, I have been shying away from the self-inflicting pressure of staying up to date with my faithful readers. The fact is that the more I stay and the more I am around, the quicker my phone battery dies and the faster my minutes run out. I have found myself becoming more and more engrained in the culture here that the time left to expound on my experiences and perform has been the first luxury to suffer. So here is a week at a glance (not including weekends or holidays):

WORK: So my presentation was Monday and I think it went fairly well. I had prepared this amazing presentation on Keynote for macs and had animation and great slide transitions. Then, a half hour before the presentation, I went to my conference room and tried to do a test run of the slides, and low and behold it was not compatible. I called the IT desk and I guess every word after I said, "Hi, I am an intern" became "yadda yadda, don't help me". I walked into the IT office to see if there was ANY way to get this project through. One member of the team, an awesome guy named Javier with whom I had the pleasure of lunching with later on that week, ran around the entire building trying to find a solution. Luckily for me, we were able to export the slides to Powerpoint. My transitions were reduced to mediocrity and my animation became an 80's Disney flip book, but at least something appeared on the screen.

So everyone gathered in the room and the presentation had begun. I chugged a Red Bull right before so that I was almost too awake and aware and so as to better promote my Spanish. Language-wise, I think it went really well. Just a couple of screw ups but leaps and bounds better than my final presentation in Argentina. Where I was stumbling over my words like a prepubescent boy at the Pumpkin Patch Halloween dance talking to Alexa Peppercorn, the most beautiful girl in the fifth grade. Content-wise it may have been a little misguided since we decided half way through to change strategies. The slides looked great and flowed well. I saw the litigators and my boss jot some notes down, so at least I had one helpful nugget of information.

The rest of the work week passed by pretty royally, lunching with different people around the office and chatting about the US's soccer performance as I threw out any marginal knowledge I had about the sport and/or our team. When the US team won in the last minute, there was a mini-celebration from those with American ties in the office. Short-lived but well-needed.

HOME: I am using the idea that my apartment is a mess and I am out of groceries as a sign of my true assimilation. The more people I meet and obligations I have, the less I feel a foreigner and therefore the less time I have to putz around my apartment. I have since cleaned since Oprah once said a clean house is a clean mind. Also, I find myself leaving work around 8:00 and since my gym closes at 10:30, I have to rush in and out and miss the opening hours of my supermarket.

My neighbors are doing so well. We now have an open door policy so my apartment has doubled in size and same with my refrigerator space. Naps in the other's beds and dinner across the hall have become a staple. As my reader's well know, I was resistent to becoming too involved with Americans as it would deter from my ultimate goal. But to have such comfort, support and, not to mention, entertainment, is something of which to be appreciative.

LIFE: Is good! On Thursday night, I went out with the neighbors for a beverage or two, celebrating the close of another week. It was getting late and I had to wake up early for work so I rounded up the troops to head home. Ollie was engaged in a hilarious conversation with some locals so I stepped in to linguistically lubricate the situation. And that is when we met Victor and Manuel Sanchez Sanchez (not a typo, legit name). I use the term hilarious not as an adjective to describe the content because I stepped in too late to judge such measures, but I read the conversation through body language, gesticulation and laughter. It seemed organic, it seemed almost overdue, it seemed as though this was something that could stick. We meet tons of locals (and it does not help that I roll with two exuberant girls of African American descent in the middle of downtown Madrid), but it has never become a kindred spirit type of moment. A laugh and smile but nothing on another level. But Victor and Manuel spoke Brianish, that's for sure.

Victor went to an international school and speaks great English, Cuban and Canary Islander but long-time Madrid resident, offensively on top of his fashion game and an attitude that says he runs Madrid. I'm sorry, have we met? I am Dpty. Furious George.

Manuel, the fashionista counterpart, sporting tortise-shell, 50's spectacles and a posteriorally placed fedora is from a town outside Madrid but long-time Madrid resident as well.

The music was loud so conversation was minimal but that did not hinder mutual engagement. Exchanging numbers happened, they seemed TOO cool, could we have found our native group of friends. I hoped they would answer my all too eager phone call the following day?

What do you guys think? Did they pick up? Did they call back? Was it awkward? DOES ANYONE CARE!? haha.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Night/Morning Out on the Town

After resting up, Saturday night came all too fast. We dressed in our raver's best and headed out to Kapitol, famous in Madrid for it's 8 story venue and sublime music. We hop out of the cab with the ravenous hunger for fun and mischief and pay the insane cover and enter the venue.


In true, Ibiza style, the club boasts a huge dance area with luxurious seating and a shrine of a DJ booth. As if that was not enough, as you progressively traverse the expanse of Kapitol and scale its wonderous stairs, each floor offers something new. From hip-hop to Latin, from packed bar to low-key lounge, I finally realized that paying the cover to Kapitol was basically free admission to 8 different clubs in one. We met up with Nena and Ollie's friend from their study abroad program, a Boulder-alum by the name of Chris. Good dude, down to emit a good vibe and can Dina Lohan better than the best of us, just to get the night started. He was showing his girlfriend around, so we had to make this night extra special. The night proceeded royally, with stage-dancing and local shmoozing.

We ended our night in true Madrid fashion, with some chocolate and churros at a local hole-in-the-wall before heading to bed. We met some characters that night, some still continue to haunt the girls, but "part of the experience" right?

A lazy Sunday is defined by a Kebab on a white blanket at Templo Debod, sitting over the outskirts of Madrid and relaxing next to a melodic fountain. Locals pour in as the afternoon tolls, providing that perfect amount of Spanish white noise, just loud enough to lull you into a deep relaxation. An afternoon to reflect, recap, and restore.

That night I had to prepare for my presentation on my research for Monday afternoon. The boss wanted a presentation on what I had been working on. In Argentina, a project like this was prepared over a third of my summer, making sure I could fill a half-hour with solid material and coherent Spanish. I worked all afternoon and night preparing my powerpoint and taking notes on slides I wanted to highlight. The nerves were coming, the ones before battle, the ones that make you subconsciously grit your teeth and growl.

Not until tomorrow young gladiator, when the sand is fresh and the crowd anxiously awaits your display.

Next stop: Ollie town!

So after fervently fighting with my blackout curtains that for some reason extremely enjoy staying shut until 3pm, I dragged myself out of bed to take advantage of the Madrid summer sunshine. Saturday morning, my neighbors and I were going to meet up with a local friend of mine and hit the shopping district. You know when you hit one of those moods and a voice enters your head desparately seeking material validation? That was Saturday.

Anyways, we cruise around calle Fuerrencal in the Chueca neighborhood, hopping into and out of stores like we were an accessory on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Disneyland. For those of you that do not know, that ride has cardboard cutouts stuck to a track that go in and out of spaces in an eerily mechanical routine, like a string of guards riding around the face of a Cuckoo clock on the hour. Anyways, the day was progressing nicely, as our hands weighed heavier with merchandise. We decide to stop for a bite to eat and low and behold, we see an Umami burger. This restaurant is famous in Hollywood for the best burger in town and I had no shame bringing myself back to the home land just for one meal. We had an amazing meal and had the most engaging waiter with a rat tail that hanged down to his lower back. He made us all surprise cocktails and I felt like a Lady Who Lunches.

Just as Nena says she has to go home to study and our local yocal has to head home to siesta, Ollie began to unfurl her freak flag as my one-on-one with her was just about to begin. We pay the bill and the two of us cruise around looking for some more therapeudic entertainment. After a little while, we head past a tatooo-piercing place and Ollie starts hyperventilating. She had wanted a certain piercing for over a year but was just too afraid to get it. I enabled her like Dina Lohan and said, "Let's just wait outside the front door to think about it". She stares at the door, stares at me and within 30 seconds she heads inside. After an in-depth description and a diagram of the subject to be pierced, I Dina her some more "just to check out the needle". That got her on the bed. I was holding her hand and the guy said he would warn her when he...BAM! PIERCED! My hand nearly disengaged, fell lifeless to my side as my dream of becoming a World Needlepoint Champion vanished. But she did it, and the walk home was a little bit brighter.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Weekend for the Books

Friday afternoon, the bell's final toll rings at 4pm and they're off!! Cue horse race anthem, for I am headed home for a local weekend, a chance to experience Madrid tranquilly. The afternoon passed as I took a cultural excursion to see a siesta and a couple hours later I cooked myself a solid meal to prepare my body and soul for the night. Tonight's plan: Nena, myself and no Ollie. Instead of referring to a couple of posts earlier, I am talking about my roommates. I had always wanted to get a one on one with both of them. Since I am here alone I have no inhibitions and am able to let my freak flag fly without the festering fear of fumbling your fortitude. Breath. Luckily, in only some respects, Ollie wanted to stay in for the night, which allowed me to enable Nena in any freaky endeavor she wanted to pursue.

We dressed ourselves in our freaky best and headed out for the night, with nothing but some euros, a smile and mentality for never saying no. We walk in only to notice a severe Robert Pattinson look-a-like, we take our pictures of course and I absurdly explain to him why and we continue on. Arriving a little early we get a lay of the land and plan our attack for the night. Dancing on multiple stories and bumping into multiple people, our night was turning into a great success. We were a good tag team, a duo, playing off each other and entertaining crowds. The night was so successful in fact, we got a stalker!!

So we dash to the back as our new "friend" is following us and I duck into the women's bathroom with Nena so as to avoid any potential run-ins but allow time to heal the situation. A couple of minutes later, and 100 awkward stares, we make our way out to the dance floor again. It was as if Amy Smart appeared and then looked up the park neighboring the most registered sex offenders and then went there at sundown. It was not smart. So we shake a hip or two and BAM! Stalker. Finally, a girl came to our aid and tried to diffuse the situation. She brought us upstairs after hearing the tale of the Man that Never Left, but then quickly directed a sequel called The Woman Who Never Left While Helping Diffuse the Problem of the Man that Never Left! The night was nearing an end and by that I mean it literally was as the sun started to blow its morning breath down the shameful alleys of Morning After Lane.

At such an hour, one always just wants to zap themselves from Point A to Point B(ed) and forget the commute. However, in some odd circle of G-d's blueprints for my life, I hear a yell behind me. Turn around, NOT the stalker. I look closer. It is a random person I became friends with while living in New York six years ago that I have never spoken to since. We became friends after I talked to him in Spanish outside of some restaurant and spent a day later on attending a friend's birthday party. BIZARRE RIGHT!

Such a small world, such an interesting night, I love to be internationally known on the microphone. Street run-ins with people you know in a foreign place is like local GOLD!

Spanish Soccer and the Workplace

Email chains were rushing through my inbox and everyone was frantic to find out that Spain's first World Cup game would be played at 4pm, in the middle of the workday!! What are we going to do? Who can we call? We CANNOT work for heaven's sake!! To see all genders and ages fanatic about a sporting event was an amazing spectacle. So what ended up happening was that they imported in a projector and a white board and the IT geniuses set it up for our personal enjoyment. So no one really took a lunch that day considering that everyone was going to be a little distracted with a national monument projected in the cafeteria.

As the suits and the skirts rushed upstairs at the first sound of the tick of 4pm, everyone sat glued to the white board and watched their team. They cheered and cursed and jested with their co-workers. I purposefully sat in the back to observe it all as a moving picture, that OR I am not the most popular person in the office. You decide.

My second favorite part of the game, aside of the childish anticipation of grown adults was halftime. At halftime, the suits and skirts shuffled their feet out to the elevator almost mimicking the morning foot traffic to the metro. The rush hour was in order to squeeze in some work in between halves, to make sure that the entire two hours was not a total loss.

Though I wasn't knee-deep in a sweat infested local bar, pouring water over head at the thought of a penalty against our pride, España, I saw another side of the fence. The grass was pretty green on my side.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I feel as though I am a cultural tranny. As they should not have been born a man...I should not have been born in the United States.

Real Househusband

My boss, colleague and I had a conference call with NBC to discuss our progress with the show. It is hard to believe not to believe in destiny when something like this happens to you. I have been barraged and ridiculed for watching such horrible television. But then, when I have the opportunity to work a dream job, my big assignment is to become an expert on the aforementioned abhorrance. What are the chances that my guilty pleasure becomes my most powerful arsenal?

During the conference call, my boss comments that I am in the room and that I happen to "have a lot of experience" with the show. The call went well, and today was a very positive work day for me. I was able to show personality, contrast it with business expertise and display it in a session that I would have otherwise not been invited to partake in. In the midst of revealing disappointing grade after disappointing grade for this past semester of law school, it is nice to see that it is not always about what's between the book ends that counts.

My Spanish Update

Today was and still is a great Spanish day for me. Some days the fluency finally catches up with your tongue. As a second language, your mouth just isn't used to forming such words in such a sequence. But today I recognized progress. Confidence for another tomorrow.

OHHH! We're going to IBIZA!

I hate superlatives, I rarely use them, and this past weekend could have been one of my favorites ever and Ibiza could quite possibly be my favorite place ever. Imagine me lying on a towel, in my slightly-more-European-than-usual bathing suit. I have my hands behind my head, my sunglasses as the only article that is blocking my skin from absorbing the perfectly warmed sunshine. White sand in between my toes, as a two topless young girlfriends are playing paddle in the surf. Biggie is telling me "it was all a dream" as I lie motionless, in awe of what life has given me.

That is a morning in Ibiza.

I touched down after a small delay at the Ibiza airport on Friday, anxious to meet up with Nick who was waiting for me at the hotel. I hop in a cab and arrive at our apartment and it was not more than five seconds that I put my bag down that Nick offers me a drink. Since I landed so late, we had to get ready to go out for the night. I would say rush, but I think that page was torn out of the Ibizan dictionary. I put on my ravers best and we head down the beach boardwalk with only one worry in the world, do we go to Space or Pacha tonight. Considering I may have personally funded a family vacation for the Pacha family by attending their Buenos Aires, New York and Madrid locales, we decided to switch up the plan and go to Space. Not too many Euros later, we enter into this massive warehouse. Rooms upon rooms, the main one having ceilings at least 100 feet high and a DJ booth more ornate than Cleopatra's hootinany. I felt like a child in at a new playground, having to touch and see every inch of it before I picked a place to start playing. Nick and I cut a rug, forbidding the cessation of such a party.

6am ROLLS around and we decide to head home, just enough for tonight, we don't want to overdue it. But as they say, when in Ibiza...swim in the Mediterranean before you go to sleep. Right? Nick and I run to the beach front by our hotel and leap in with reckless abandon. Nick said it was warm, it wasn't. While I was slowly removing enamel from my teeth from all the chattering, Nick is perfecting his backstoke up to the Pass Or Die buoys.

I yell, "Nick, what are you doing!? Come back!"

To which he responds, "It's chiiiiiiiiiilllllllll!"

Bueno, lo que tu quieras Nick.

We woke up too early the next morning, but Eagerness pulled both my legs over the side of the bed and lifted me upright. After a quick meal, we set down at the beach for the day. Heading back we decide to rent scooters and explore the downtown areas, plus it being the World Cup, we wanted to find a local restaurant to have a bite and cheer with some Spaniards. After I revealed the fact that the Scooter rental lady was having an affair with the previous customer (married), she shooed us out of the store and we rode downtown. The downtown intrigued me almost as much as the club/beach scene. It had a sufer town, west-coast, Laguna Beach vibe, with unique retail stores and hippie accessories. I impromptu shopped for about an hour finding some amazing shirts and jackets, perfectly complimenting my style. We sit for some Sangria and futbol and whine and moan about how difficult our lives have become.

Tonight we go to the Opening Party for Amnesia, as if the massive warehouse was not "opening party" enough. We return to the house for a shower and a change, then prepare ourselves for an Ibiza Saturday. Now after hearing about 20 years filled with fairy tales and cartoon dreams of what Ibiza had to offer, I pulled my skeptic hat out of my bad and fastened it, though loosely, atop my head. Our cab pulls up to this shopping-center of a place with thousands of people outside. We step into the pre-purchased tickets line like good little tourists and await our turn to become prophets of the romanticized land of Ibiza. I walk in to three stories, masses of people, bartenders, security guards, dancers, light shows, whistles, vibrations and chaos. They had a man playing a lit-up neon violin, perfectly harmonizing with the insane electronica. They had dancers of all races, genders or gender bends as humanly possible. Multiple screens and thousands of lights... you know what...see for yourself. click Galerías and roll with me. (Caution: Mute volume if playing at work because a party may automatically start in your office if you do not heed this warning.)

There were several room but Nick and I did not make it past the main room, too much to see. The best way to describe what happened that night is to describe how we looked at the end. Nick had a pile of sweat accumulating under himself like the Silver Surfer on sabattical in the Sahara and a smile on his face like a Jack-o-lantern. I had multiple silver streamers, ones that shot out of some celebratory explosion coming from the ceiling, hanging all over my body. My feet were hurting from jumping and I was vibrating my body with my head dangled back just trying to expose enough surface area of my skin to take in all the fun that surrounded me. We walked out of the club at about 7am (standard leaving time) and into a shameful sunrise. As if my Mom had just pulled back the bedroom curtains 5 hours before I was ready. We get a ride home from locals and hang out for a bit before I crash.

Getting home on Sunday was hilarious considering Nick required 14 naps (I counted) and had to lean against a wall while I ran down streets looking for a cab to take us to the airport. Our silent cab ride to the airport was just fine considering my ears will still reverberating to the over-sensationalized weekend.

On our cab ride back to my apartment in madrid, our conversation with the driver went as follows:

"Fiesta, chicos?"
"Sí, Demasiada."

Friday, June 11, 2010

A week told by the characters within it...

It has been a whole week since my last posting and therefore I have a lot to tell. And it is all going to be in the context of the characters that have entered my life.

My neighbors:

As I was moving in a couple of weeks ago, hauling my massive manifestations of overpacking up five flights of stairs without an elevator, a black girl with headphones, sunglasses and a Moroccan tunic is coming down the stairs. Since I provided this nothing-less-than-annoying roadblock for the fellow stairstepper, we had a chat. Low and behold, her and her friend live next door to me and are American too. At first blush, my heart dipped a little as the complete immersion fantasy was slipping through destiny-given cracks, but these girls seemed very full of life and boy was I right. We went to a tango show, very authentic and it was the tango version of Carmen and these two sistahs were singing along and giving comedic running commentary. If any of you have ever sat next to me in a movie, I tend to provide a 3D feel to the movie's audio given my consistent banter about the plot, characters, etc. For example, the female dancers had a scene where they had to appear brutish, legs wide, leaning forward with their arms on their thighs like Harlem street huslters in the 70's. They had fans waving, but it had coincidently been waving between all these girls legs. Ollie "whispers", "that girl be waving out her chlamydia". Gold.

Anyways, now it is a custom for me to come home and yell, "Lucy's, I'm hoooome". They open the door and we recap our days. I usually cook something and bring it over to their place. It is developing a comfortable routine, a nice situation to come home to.

Clara, my office mate:

I have never understood why people stress the importance of a smile. I employ the smile like a pagent-queen doused in vaseline in Georgia, but I just did it out of habit and a certain joie-de-vivre. But Clara employs the smile and I notice the ease and comfort that undoubtedly comes over me. Socially, the best thing to do is to make your counterpart as comfortable as you can, it gives them a sense of security and allows them to open up and gain a positive impression of your co-existence. That may extend as far as doing something you don't want to do in an effort to have them do something they love. You try something new, they enjoy the day, and you move up on their list of favorites with hardly any sacrifice.

Clara and I have become good friends I think, well office friends (you know the difference). We put up a Pulp Fiction poster in our office and our now collecting Coke cans with different countries' flags on them, a promotion for the World Cup. I ask her advice on work and she is always a great help. She's a Spanish red-head by the way. Why didn't I mention that earlier? Idiot. One day, doing "research" for my Housewives assignment I had to watch an episode. Me and my love for reality, Clara called me out for getting couch-potato face. We had a laugh, we both employed smiles, we're comfortable, we lunch.

Yesterday, I presented my research to my boss and I was involved in the most interesting meeting. It was a "How are we going to get these guys" brainstorm. In presenting my efforts, I stumbled a bit and didn't convey the breadth of my knowledge. They went on long tangential discussions of things I knew but didn't want to insert. At this point, it's not my place, wait a while. Wait his guard to go down and he's tired and upper-cut him in the jaw, right?

Well this weekend I go to Ibiza, the holy land for some. Two days, two nights, zero memories. I can't wait to go and explore, dip my feet in hot, white sand and stare at a painted horizon. I can't wait to star in my own Corona commercial. I can't wait to hear the vibrations from the DJ ruffle the sand grains as I approach, sifting into and commanding my heart palpitations.

The Deputy can't wait to tell you how it goes.

Gay or Spanish?

The Lisp

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My next assignment is WHAT?!

This past weekend brought nostalgia to the Deputy in Madrid as Nick Zebrow and Olivia D came to visit. Nicholas first arrived Thursday night after I had finished having a drink with co-workers. I am slowly starting to take the necessary steps of social assimilation in the office. By applying the social lubricant to the coarse traction of being the new kid, I hope to create a more noticeable impact both in and out of the office. We had drinks at a really nice tavern in Chueca, just chatting about office politics and our respective home lives. Obviously, there were the routine questions of how I came to arrive at Spain, but the tact was lost in translation as one co-worker asked me, "What are you doing here?" We had a great conversation and the other co-worker was kind enough to invite me to the reception of his brother's wedding. I couldn't, in good conscience, accept such an amazing invitation in order to ensure that it wasn't an impromptu gesture of cordiality. I had to terminate the rendez-vous in order to head home and connect with Nick's arrival.

To save our energy for Olivia's arrival, I took Nick through a leisurely stroll of the La Latina neighborhood. It is a quaint neighborhood with a lot of character and strip of bars with terrazas (outdoor seating) and a vibrant mix of locals. We sat at a central spot, ordering croquetas and sangria, catching up on his travels and our anticipations of this weekend's plans. After, we spent an hour just cruising down a street hopping into and out of spots, stress free and working off vibes. I had work the next day, so I had to end the night there.

Work on Fridays are half-days and casual dress. I however knew of neither as I entered with a full suit and tie and a large coffee in the morning. Making rounds, asking "qué tal?" to my fellow legal team, I sat to work. My bosses gave me a couple of projects to work on, that I welcomed with open arms to wet my intellectual palette. The candor of the assignments as they are given and the assignments themselves are interesting to note. The responsibility is greater, the initiation is quicker, the explanations are fewer but the importance is greater. My first assignment was just a read/review of a contract with a movie distribution company. The second assignment was a memorandum to our client, Estée Lauder of the new developments regarding the status of counterfeit material of their projects in Madrid.

The final assignment was the most comical. Spain recently released a series that basically mimics a reality series in the U.S. and the company are trying to end the show under an infringement claim. My job...wait for to show the similarities between the two. I don't know if you know about how the Deputy operates, but he is an aficionado of the television arts and more specifically those of a reality genre. It was as if Baker McKenzie hired a specific expert to research this series because my product that I will produce is going to be of such an excellent quality and profound depth, it may be seen as wholly overproduced. Pero bueno, I am loving the job so far.

OCD and NAZ come from LCF and PCY to MAD to visit

I hurry home to meet with Nick and change out of my suit and into my tour guide uniform. We take scenic routes of the streets just to show him a bit around. We end up at Retiro park with some Casera wine and music, relaxing and reflecting. Nick commented that he hops country to country and experiences the parks more than anything. There is something to be said for running like a chicken with your head chopped off, plunging your head into museums and maps. But what about the way the country relaxes, what about taking some bread, ham and cheese into the park and kicking a soccer ball around with the locals? There is something there as well. The afternoon passed and provided us a tour of the Lavapie neighborhood, full of immigrants and patrolled by cameras. Then off to meet up with Olivia.

Olivia arrived, with her bouncy step and her curly hair, fresh off an English luxury tour and into the hands of the madrileño working class. We set her stuff down and head off to my favorite, hole-in-the-wall restaurant I have found so far. It is affordable, very cheap wine, a great atmosphere. The white noise of surrounding conversation is of a deeper octave, properly reflecting the predominately male (and a she-male, seriously) audience. After some steak, tortilla española and chicken wings, we head back to get ready for the night. Tonight we go to Pacha.

Pacha is a circuit of clubs around the world, providing its party-goers with phenomenal class and neurotic beats. The couches were black and lush, and Nick, Olivia and I, pushed aside some "Reserved" signs as the main stage filled up. There was a line out front to get in, but I told the doorman that my friends had flew in from Los Angeles and were here to evaluate the Madrid nightlife. He immediately opened the red, velvet ropes, an offering of respect from ambassadors to a major world city. Hilarious and will be used again. It was used later that night, abused actually, when I slipped the DJ my California license to see how far our reputation could carry us. It didn't go that far, just a smile and nod, I don't know why I did it in the first place. The night went by quickly, with great music and table-top dancing.

The next day was a tour for Olivia, taking a vaguely guided tour of the city's streets and plazas. We ended up lunching at Plaza Santa Ana at a terraza restaurant where we had the best cheese and leaks sandwiches. Then, I heard from my local friend Jaime that a lot of madrileños go to hotel rooftops to have a beverage during the hot summer days. I had done some research and lead our clan to the Hotel Oscar rooftop. After "losing our card key", we were let up to a rooftop with the most breathtaking views of the city. The panorama spanned red and religious, with tiles and churches lining the bottom of the horizon. We laid on some cushions and decompressed. I must relax during my weekends here, and it helps that the city is a bit more manageable. But it is just another aspect of full immersion, I do not need to run around or flee the city when I can find other means to enjoy time abroad.

Then, as three rag-tag friends must in Madrid, we went to a bullfight. My second in two weeks and perhaps a start of a tradition for me here in town. For 15 Euros, a bag of sunflower seeds and a sunny day, why shouldn't I frequent the corridas as a hobby. I love spitting out a seed's shell while squinting past the setting sun, watching as Spanish flags waive and general cheer erupts at artistic intervals of a sporting event. They enjoyed themselves as well, very local, very Spanish. After the sun set and we lethargically peeled ourselves from the cement benches, so set our endurance and our drive to continue charging on. We all showered and laid in bed for the remainder of the night. No need to push the time and spend the money, when the quality lies within the four walls of Martin de los Heros, 30.

We spent the lazy Sunday at the park, throwing the frisbee and laying on the grass. Olivia just departed and so too will Nick tomorrow. But I will see Nick next weekend as the Deputy takes on Ibiza. Oy vey and pray, because this Jew and Pole combination shall be a scary duo to be unleashed into the secret aura of the Iberian Sea.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Everyone Needs a Little K.I.T.

"[Three] little words just to get me along
It's a difficulty and I'm biting on my tongue, uh
I keep stalling and keeping me together,
People around gotta find something to say now"
Ting Tings, "That's Not My Name"

The reference is a little random but I think it is applicable to the topic of this post and those three words are KEEP IN TOUCH. I think that this act causes such a distinct polarization between the masses, there are those that absolutely do and those that absolutely do NOT. The Deputy finds it imperative to constantly be in touch, be in contact, maintain friendships, maintain relationships and be relevant in someone's life as much as you can. Extending a network and nurturing it can be the most rewarding experience but at the same time it can be the most daunting task.

The proponents of keeping in touch are always involved in the present but definitely bring the past and future into their world at the same time. I am reading the Alchemist right now by Paulo Coelho and it was recommended to me by a very bright friend of mine. The book basically parallels my specific thought process when I travel and it will be referenced numerous times in this blog. (See, already thinking in the future, you can tell I love keeping in touch). There is a distinct dialogue that really references this point about living in the present versus thinking towards the future. An Englishman reads book of Alchemy to prepare for his future travels while a boy listens to the caravan and the desert and the wind. The Englishman argues that reading the books provide him with knowledge for the future and is a good way to pass the time as they traverse the desert. Whereas the kid rebuts that by listening to the sand and the wind he is able to feel and hear the desert and what it has to say. Both are right, but which is more important? In life, we must all possess a unique balance of the two.

The reason I promote keeping in touch is that though it may detract slightly from the present enjoyment of your life by worrying about someone somewhere else, the benefits later on are priceless. Just the other day I met up with a friend that I kept in touch with from Argentina. She's from Britain, but working in Scotland, and was passing through Madrid. She called me up and invited me over to her cousin's place. The apartment was top-floor, high-end, luxurious and with views that could rival anyone else's in the entire city. We had some wine, spoke in a hundred languages, had some tapas and it rounded out to be an excellent night, one for the locals. Without staying in contact, it would have never happened, that door would have never opened. "You never know who has a house in Aspen", I always say.

But it's true, the constant glances at the telephone screen, flooded with the anxiety of MISSING A CALL or worse yet MISSING AN INVITATION, is distracting and rude at points. When true liberty is the freedom from our possessions that hold us back, staying in contact is another mere possession. We must allow it to be intangible, fleeting, happen-chance but consistent. We must whittle down the relationships comparable to trinkets and only dote around our relationships of the finest China.