On Saturday, I had already been in D.C. 2 days, and seriously needed to get out and find a little rabble to rouse with.

And Kaiser pissed me off when I called them about transferring my coverage from Northern California (“we don’t do that”).

I thought a health care reform organization could use my anger energy. I went online and looked up health care advocay groups and found that there was going to be a rally right over at Dupont Circle on Tuesday. Yay!

So yesterday (finally over my nasty cold) I hopped on the metro and went to go yell with people, and present a citizens arrest for the health insurance industry execs that were meeting at the Ritz Carleton.

It started at 10:30, when various groups congregated at Dupont Circle – labor groups, Moveon.org, the satirical Billionaires for Wealthcare, and others. I got me a little sign, and proclaimed my self “another citizen for the public option”, but after seeing others’ signs, I really wish I had written something more edgy.

Below are photos of the rally, and some of my favourite /the  more interesting signs.

Howard Dean addressing the crowd before before the march begins

My favourite sign all day!



I thoroughly enjoyed the lambasting of Liz Cheney for her preposterous ad, implying that justice department employees (she calls them the Al-Qaeda 7) who defended terrorism detainees might somehow legitimately be suspected to sharing their political views, and should therefore be put under suspicion.

Rachel Maddow’s segment here.

Countdown’s segment here.

Silly silly Liz Cheney. She thought she could pick on lawyers just for doing their job? As a friend of mine put it, there are too many lawyers in this country to be able to get away with that.

I also like the zinging tidbit of historical perspective brought up on countdown, pointing out that the lawyer who represented the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre was none other than future president John Adams, who considered it an important act of service to his nation.

It’s nice to see the fear-mongerers go juuuuuust too far and cross the line, and get dropped by even their supposed ideological brethren for being too crazy to excuse.

This reminded me of instances I have read about from the McCarthy era, and coincidentally I came across one today in an article, by Alexander Zaitchik in Salon about one of Glenn Beck’s ideological heroes – a super duper anti-communist called W. Cleon Skousen. This one was a nut, and he was on the government radar for disseminating rabble rousing literature. This is the part I like though:

When Skousen aligned himself with Robert Welch’s charge that Dwight Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” the last of Skousen’s dwindling corporate clients dumped him.

It comforts me somewhat, this thought that these paranoids are so so very paranoid, that eventually they won’t be able to help themselves and they’ll just go too far, all on their own. They’ll hang themselves.

Will Glenn Beck himself, the king of right wing fear-mingering do this? Unfortunately, probably not. Because he’s not sincere enough. He’s far too much of a businessman. Another article in Alternet by Zaitchik demonstrates thats “Beck’s self-image as an entertainer is rivaled only by his self-image as a businessman.” See? Neither of his first two most important roles is actually political, ethical, social crusader. His political stunts are a means to a financial end. He probably won’t let himself get that carried away. Too bad.

But at least I can enjoy watching Liz Cheney get thrown under the bus 🙂

Site of the Last Lunch

I haven’t had time to write about it, cuz I’ve been a bit busy, what with the leaving the country and six years of my life behind, but i thought I’d share a bit of my last day before heading out to Washington DC.

  • The Freak Out. You know how sometimes you wake up before your alarm goes off and then just doze for a while? Yeah I love that. Couldn’t do it though, cuz I instantly started thinking of all the crap I was supposed to do and the fact this was my last day and omg what the f$*k am I going to do in washington dc and aaaaaaaaa! So instead of having some lazy napping, I just started at the ceiling and let my thoughts whirl about like a hamster wheel being driven by a hamster on cocaine. That was fun. And then I got up.
  • The Sorting of The Crap. One of the big things I had left to do was to go through various baggies, boxes, folders, binders, notebooks, and piles of various papers, documents, letters, handwritten notes, photos, receipts, photocopies and other bits of paper I have long since forgotten the significance of and see what, if any, needed keeping. So I sat in my big blue ridicuously oversized bathrobe (thanks Mom!) with cup of tea in hand and started sorting.
    I found interesting stuff! Like:
    *  cute cheesy cards my mom sent me along with photos of my cat 🙂
    * lots of scribbled emails addresses and phone numbers that brought back very few corresponding memories
    *funny notes I wrote to myself while I was working in a bar my first summer here, scrawled on Warsteiner brand notepad paper.
    * copies/drafts of two whole post-break up letters, always amusing to read years after the fact, and thankfully, no longer painful. In fact I was quite impressed with my compositional style, and mourned that my espistolary talents count for little in the email age .
    *lots of business cards. I think I kept, like 3.
    *a napkin with a memorable joke written on it 6 years ago in a bar in Sol.
    *the driver’s license of an Irish friend of mine who I haven’t seen since 2004, but who calls once every year and a half (sometimes after a few too many) to see what’s up.
    *ticket to Benicassim 2005. Best 5 days of pure bliss I’ve had in the past 7 years.
    *ticket to Summercase 2007. Best 2 days of pure bliss I’ve had in the past 3 years.
    *photo booth photos from when I took my pic in Feb of 2004 for my Madrid metro pass. I totally want to get one of them scanned and make it my Facebook profile picture. Toooooooooooooo funny.
    *receipts for taxis in Berlin from when I was there with MobuzzTV for 10 days for the world cup. D’oh! Forgot to get my reimbursement apparently.
  • The Depositing of the Money. I enjoyed my last instance of waiting in line at the Bank to deposit my last month’s wages, which would soon be my tiny tiny nestegg for begining a new life in DC. I am royally irritated by the crappy exchange rate. I unashamedly wish for the dollar to plummet in value against the euro sometime within the next couple of weeks, so that when I withdrawl it over here, it will have magically become more.
  • The Farewell and the Piggy Bank Money. So I had this crazy red  papier mache piggy bank that my boss at MobuzzTV gave me for secret santa years ago. And I realized acouple weeks back that now it was finally time to open the poor thing. I was discussing this with a student of mine who works at Banco de España (Spain’s central bank) and he told me they have machines in the lobby to count your coins. Yay!

    Interior of the bank, can't see beautiful stained glass ceiling 😦

    So I swept passed Banco de España and met up with my student. My coins (diminished at this point as I had already spent all the big 1 and 2 euro coins immediately after gutting my piggy bank) came to a grand total of 32 euros. And this being the Bank of Spain , I got it in super brand new crispy never been wrinklen notes, and shiny shiny shiny coins. I had a coffee with my student, said farewell and went off to buy myself a lunchtime treat.

  • The Last Lunch. This was it. My last lunch out in Madrid. Where would I go? What did I want to eat? What could possibly be special enough? What could symbolize the end of this era. And as I strolled through Sol, down toards Plaza Mayor it hit me: Botin! Madrid’s Guiness World Record holding oldest restaurant, where Hemmingway ate and Goya (I s#&t you not, Goya, washed dishes). And I had never eaten there! With good reason, its expensive. But I thought, I could have a glass of wine and some croquetas, I don’t have to get the roast suckling pig. It seemed somehow poetic to go there for my last lunch.

    Photo I found of Ricla online. Gives you an idea.

    But I got there and it looked all dark inside, and it seemed a pity to go there on such a sunny day. I looked across the street – Bar La Ricla, a little bar I’d passed a million times and had always wanted to go into, but when I went back it was always closed. It was open! So, on my last day I discovered something new. Cute, small, cozy, bright, with beautiful old tiles (the ones I love with the andalusian-style, islamic-influenced geometric patterns) cast iron columns like many buildings in the area, including my flat. Glass of tinto, a bit of chorizo, reading my book on a stool, looking out the lovely, sun-illuminated facade of Botin. Juuuuuuuuust right. And it cost less than 3 bucks!

  • Lunch, cont’d….. A bit of chorizo wasn’t really a lunch, and all the other things they offered were my less than favourites (lots of fish out of tins, in vinegar, in oil, etc…) so I thought I’d make lunch a 2-parter. So I ambled down Cava Baja towards home and just before I got there, stopped at Tempranillo. Wine bar extraordinaire. With really good yummy food things.

    Pic found online of the wall of wine at Tempranillo. I am unworthy.

    If I had money and decided to become a serious alcoholic wine connoisseur, this is where I would spend my life. They have a wall of wine. A wall. Someday I will have a wine rack like that. We all need goals. Anywho. So I had a glass of priorat (nope, dunno what that means either) and a tosta with salmorejo (this amaaaaaaazing tomato garlic thick cold gazpacho tasting stuff) and quail breast. Didn’t cost less than 3 euros. And so I finished the first part of my last day!

Luuuuuuv this one!

This is the kind of journalism I’d love to be involved in. Bold, not afraid to take a stand, hands-on type story telling.Instead of continuing to bicker over unreliable and often unavailable statistics about the impact of immigration, which everyone’s twists to their own argument, they’re going out and just directly asking the question: Well, what if the immigrants did leave? Would the unemployed suddenly find themselves perfectly contented?

In the UK, BBC1 has produced a show called “The Day The Immigrants Left” (not to be confused with the horrible psuedo-comedy-with-a-message “A Day Without a Mexican“) in which journalist Evan Davis will follow a set of jobless Britons in an area heavy hit by unemployment as they are offered the jobs of various immigrants against whom people typically rail during such economic hard times.

The jobs span agricultural, construction and even an Indian restaurant.

From the Guardian, on Feb 12:

Wisbech, near Peterborough, was chosen by the programme’s makers, the independent production company Leopard Films, because of the large number of immigrants who live in the area, many of them from central and eastern Europe. It has also suffered from a big rise in unemployment over the past year.

“Of course immigration is a topic that arouses complex emotions and unwanted tensions,” said Davis, the BBC’s former economics editor and a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Today. “But that is why broadcasters should tackle it and not avoid it. This programme is an attempt to get beyond the abstract arguments one hears for or against immigration, and to illustrate why it occurs and what it means in human terms.”

The programme was filmed over a three-month period in the spring and summer of last year. Producers sought volunteers with a broad range of views to take part, and put them in jobs that were typically filled by the town’s immigrant population. Davis will also look at how the town’s public services are performing, including its schools.

Well, it seems the program’s under way, and one Independent writer (and immigrant herself) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown weighs in. This is priceless:

Half the British workers either failed to show up or turned up late on the first day. Thereafter, the tasks proved to be beyond the endurance of most of them. I sympathised with them initially – especially with Terry and Paul, mates who used to repair water mains, and Terry’s wife who wept as she described how she feared they could lose their home. Paul, a single father, was learning maths from his 11-year-old daughter. It didn’t seem fair, their suffering.

I wanted them to do well but couldn’t stand the self-pity and anti-migrant bitterness. Paul refused to call his co-worker by his Portuguese name, he wouldn’t respect a “foreign” supervisor. In the end they did shape up thanks to a feisty, young female English manager who didn’t put up with their rubbish.

A resentful builder also started off badly but came right. But most of the rest failed miserably even with kind bosses. A chef at the Indian restaurant given the job of taking orders didn’t survive a single morning. The owner graciously invited him to have a meal before leaving. The youngest lads were the most useless. My English husband couldn’t bear to see what the working classes had become – his own class in fact.

Wow. What a surprise! And what a great project! Way to make people reexamine their complaints and xenophobic ranting. “They’re taking your jobs? Really? Ok, well here, have them back then. Oh, not so much eh?”

I really wish I could find the video to this somewhere, does anyone know if there’s a way to access BBC programming online?

Always up for a good Top Ten list, this one by Henry Sutton at the Guardian caught my eye:

Top 10 Unreliable Narrators: From Huck Finn to Holden Caulfield and Humbert Humbert, the novelist provides an entirely trustworthy guide to some of literature’s slipperiest characters.

I feel that the idea of the unreliable narrator is a good one to contemplate mainly because numero uno on the list is Humbert Humbert from Nabokov’s Lolita, which, distressingly, is probably one of the books I’ve most often seen misinterpreted and misread, all because of it’s narrator’s unreliability-

It seems a lot of people were never introduced to the concept of an unreliable narrator, and therefore take Humbert at face-value.  Sadly for women everywhere who are sick of dirty old men, this means that people often take his descriptions of little Lolita as some hussy who wanted it as an accurate portrayal, unfortunately disregarding the fact that she is a child, and obviously a victim, and Humbert himself is totally sick.

This misreading is so prevalent in fact that a “Lolita” in common parlance certainly does not refer to a young victim of a nasty pedophile, but rather a young seductress. Surely Nabokov is spinning over that one, right?

Anywho – did a little surfing and found this vid (via boingboing) of an interview of Nabokov discussing Lolita.

Interesting discussion. Also interesting to see the way the interviewer is trying to see the book as autobiographical, he can’t seem to understand the idea of an unreliable narrator either. Also odd – to describe it as a “love story.” Listen to how the other interviewee (who I think is Lionel Trilling) talks about this as a tender and compassionate love. Wha? Apparently, Nabokovs wife once commented on this saying “She cries every night and the critics are deaf to her sobs.” And they are deaf because Humbert is deaf, and people can’t see past his slanted telling of his own tale.

Things are not going as planned.

I have accumulated a giant ridiculous list of links I’ve wanted to blog about but it turns out that trying to sort of the moving of 6 years of life by March 4 takes up a lot of time (what with all the partying , er packing, that needs to be done).

I really don’t see how I’m going to get my ass on a plane on March 4 in any sort of orderly manner. It feels like the recent chaos is getting bigger not smaller. Instead of solving problems, or getting things done, I’m really just eliminating things from my list altogether like “well, its not essential so I guess I just won’t do that.”

And I had envisioned some cool blog about the whole process – I wanted to have a series of posts under the categories “Things I’ll Miss About Madrid”, “Things I Won’t Miss About Madrid”, “Things To Do Before I Leave”, etc…

No, not really happening, would require much too much time to sit, and contemplate what is happening. Once again, I have not been able to take my most intense personal experiences here (like when I was doing my long tortured application for residency) and turn it into a blog. I guess I just need distance or something.

Todays list of things to do:

  • Teach three English classes I have no desire to teach but I so desperately need every penny that I have to do it.
  • Do a second sorting through of my books, to see really, I mean really, which I can leave and which I must must must take with me even though it will cost a fortune to send them.
  • Start sorting through my clothes, eliminating all but the most essential/ practical (big lacy red party dress stays, sniffle).
  • Have a little cry as I go through all the things I will be leaving behind.
  • Feel guilty about my materialism and try  to lecture myself  about being a little more Zen about the whole situation, object are only objects, etc….
  • Give up, have a glass of wine, eat cheese and quietly panic.

Ran across this little vid on the Independent’s site about how Spain is taking a harder stance on immigration.

Socialist Spain Takes “Right Wing” Stance on Immigration

Nothing really new or strange here. Europe in general is moving right, as is most of the “rich” world. Especially when the economy has troubles, its normal to see immigration rules tightened.

What I thought was interesting about this was the first interviewee’s comment about the policeman who took him in one night. He says the cop told him that they had a quota for the number of people they all had to pick up for being “sin papeles.”  Man. What assholes. Ok, not the cop, he’s just doing what he’s been told to do, but the whole system that would set up quotas like that is sick.

Also makes me realize once again how unfairly lucky I am to be a white American chick, unlikely to be stopped on the street and asked for my papers (though it did happen once, and I almost vomited with panic).

Also cool in the vid – they do an interview with someone from CEAR – the Spanish NGO that helps refugees with whom I did a training program and was going to volunteer for before my papers went to crap and I ended up in the hospital with gall stones. Boo. One more thing I wish I’d done in Spain.