Archive | August, 2011

Summer in the city

Posted on 29 August 2011 by American expat!

 

August in Barcelona feels like it’s three months long

Muggy, still days with the sun burning into the evening hours, until it finally relents and turns into the most gorgeous evening light you have ever seen. A glimmering soft pink that is a photographers dream, hanging in the air for far longer than should possible, making you check your watch over and over to see if time has actually slowed.

Laundry takes ages to dry in the humidity, unless you are lucky enough to live high enough that your clothes hanging off your balcony get a few hours of direct sunlight. Each day is much like the next, hot and as slow as the street cleaners shuffling off to a bit of shade for a siesta. I work in the mornings, then later take dips in the buoyant Mediterranean, too salty to hold in your mouth but far more easy to float on than the Pacific Ocean, to periodically cool off while slowly broiling on the beach. Or I find some shade in the park and swat at the bugs while I read. It’s far too hot to bike ride, other than to get somewhere to cool off, until the sun is close to setting, which seemingly takes hours for it to do.

I feel like the fact that I even go to work makes me strange. My friends have weeks and weeks of time off. Half the businesses are closed for nearly the whole month, and shorter work hours are in place for those businesses that remain open, if it wasn’t for the hoards of tourists week to week, the city would feel empty.  This is when all the Spaniards leave the city and go spend the month at their small cabins on the Costa Brava and the expats residents, like me, go home for a  visit.  Which is what I want to do, should be doing – but work prevents me from taking enough time off to make the expensive and extremely long flight worthwhile.

Closed for August

So this summer I walked through the streets, studying the “closed for August” signs and wondering where these people might spend each August, and where I might spend mine next year.

 

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Open letter to squatters who took over the building near me

Posted on 16 August 2011 by American expat!

 

Dear squatters who took over the building in the plaza near where I live:

I have a few bones to pick with you.

First, I know you think you are making a statement by breaking into and occupying private property. I know this because I actually dated a few boys who squatted when I went to University in England oh so very long ago. I thought they were cool and edgy and sometimes I even stayed in them with said boyfriends and the rest of the punk rockers or otherwise who lived in such establishments.

But I can forgive the old me for these beliefs and actions because I was 17 and liberal and, it goes without saying, ignorant. Sure, many of you may be in your early or mid twenties, but more than a handful of you appear to be well beyond that.

sqatters flat in barcelona

I understand the feelings of camaraderie and maybe even power of a group that believes it is “beating the system”. But you guys, you are too old for this. You don’t even have any system here to beat. The state gives you money every month even though you have never had a job in your life (at least not that you told the government about) and your healthcare (albeit at standards far too low for my taste) is free. You will also get retirement money, having never paid taxes in your life. It won’t be much but enough to buy that nasty beer I always see you drinking and the occasional baguette that you will share with your dog on a rope.

You steal electricity and water and even hang your laundry out–so that we see you actually DO laundry–but the entire neighborhood still thinks that you are dirty and an eyesore and are pissed that you just lowered their property value by hanging those ridiculous signs off your balconies. Like any of us in the neighborhood give a shit what you think you stand for. All we notice are the booze bottles and trash piled outside your doors every day.

Second. A word about your adopted hair-dos. I know you believe you are being edgy with the business in the front, party in the back hair, but I hate to break it to you (OK that’s a lie, I’ve been dying to tell every single one of you this) –mullets are not progressive. You did not invent this hair-do. The Germans have embraced this contemptible look for nearly 30 years. Mullets are, in fact, passe. They have had their heyday, and just because you were little kids during it’s near decade in the spotlight, you can’t lay claim.

Oh sure, you fancy them up by making them more disgusting than a straightforward, brushable shag by adding dreadlocks to the party in the back. Sometimes, you only have a clump growing out of the middle of the back of your head. I have to tell you that either way, the dirty clumps of hair sprouting out the back of your cranium resemble sprouting long, uncoiled poops. Hiding beads and metal bits in the them does not distinguish from plain old poop coming out of the back of your head, it just adds to the effect.

And that is really all the time I have for you.

Sincerely, Me.

Edit: here is a shining example of the hair style in this post…

the popular catalan mullet

And here is a spy shot I took while waiting in line at the market of one the squatters nasty feet:

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