Vincit qui patitur

31 01 2011

And, at last, the magic auxiliar princess snapped her french-manicured fingers, and – poof!– in a puff of brilliant rainbow smoke, absolutely everything was resolved. Her adoring public was fully aware of the enormity of her slew of trials/tribulations/quests/slaying-of-dragons, and immediately forgave her the brief lapse in verbal communication. For, in their collective heart of hearts, they knew she carried a little bit of each of them with her always, akin to a beautiful golden charm necklace strung thickly with love, gleaming pearls, and bits of coral from all seven seas.


Oh, non-magical-Far-Away-Land audience, how may I placate thee? For amongst your mongering hoards lies one particularly insistent, fastidious clamorer: she goes by the name of Inner Monologue, and she’s a tricky bitch to satisfy. She seems obsessed with motion, specifically, my own through space and time, and never tires of nipping at my heels with the most stinging whelps of questions – “But why? To what end? From whence have you come, and where exactly is it that you think you are going? …… eh, princess?

….. shhhhhhh. If you don’t speak a little more softly, you might miss it.


So I’ve decided to stay in Madrid another year. BAM. My coordinator’s been out the past week on personal leave, but I should be able to catch her tomorrow and declare my intentions to renew my contract. I’ll be staying at José Luis Sampedro – that’s part of the bargain, and I wouldn’t have it any other way – and will be working officially for the Comunidad de Madrid (not Fulbright). I earn just a smidgen less, which I plan on making up through teaching weekly clases particulares, and I plan to continue living with the same folks – Hector and Marta – assuming they too choose to stick around.

I waffled on this decision for a spell, unsure if staying equated to stagnancy. But even my Inner Monologue Mistress knows that one’s time is absolutely dependent on what one makes of it.

Me, I have big plans. Things I’ve wanted to do since coming to Madrid that have yet to be realized (finding a darkroom I can play in), things that are on the cusp of beginning (a massive mural project, studying German), things that come up unexpectedly all the time just waiting for me to sign up for the ride (Florence?). I continue to do freelance projects for InMadrid magazine; the January issue holds a guide I sketched out of my home barrio of Atocha, and up-to-bat is a series of articles regarding Madrid’s international ingredient scene. Fulbright’s offered to pay for a Photoshop course; now I just need to hurry up and find one that appeals.


After a month in a state of limbo, much too far away from the creation process, what I want most now is to delve back into honing my various arts, in valuing production over consumption, in being once again impressed by my own output. I am happiest when I write like a madwoman, when I use photography to play with perspective, when I stretch my technical knowledge to edit my photos into a vision of superreality previously existing only within the realm of my imagination. I find that the more I externalize all the bits and bobbles floating around in my headspace, the more complicated and compelling patterns they form the next time I look.

So, I stay. I like it here. Madrid is an excellent setting for me at this stage of my development, and I’m definitely the one mixing up the chemicals. A light leak or two might cause unexpected distortions in the anticipated image, but the magic of the darkroom lies in the ample opportunities for error. There’s no saying I can’t get back out there and shoot another roll.





best things I have cooked so far in Spain

31 01 2011

whole chicken in a pot, momma style
chipotle burgers with leah‘s guacamole
3-hour bolognese
isana’s chinese eggplant-pepper-tomato-ground meat-ginger lettuce wraps
green thai curry with basil, eggplant, peas, red bell pepper, carrots, and pork
sunday afternoon valencian paella with alex and hector
happy monday bouillabaise
chilaquiles
stuffed green pepper soup
dahl (with cardamom pods and nutmeg!)
khao soi (with pickled chinese mustard greens!)
gambas al ajillo with sam
pisto
chicken adobo – the first time I have butchered a whole chicken myself
coq au vin alla italiana
food-processor-free hummus with emily
the wednesday chef’s let-my-eggplant-go-free! sauce
smitten kitchen’s mushroom bourguignon
emeril’s chicken etouffee
ropa vieja
palak paneer (with the “burgos” cheese in place of paneer, also plus chicken)
tunisian chard and white bean stew
challah bread
fiery sweet potatoes
roasted eggplant, spinach, and cherry tomato pita

(that’s French, Spanish, Israeli, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, New Orleans, Tunisian, Arabic, Cuban, and ‘merican, in case anyone’s counting)

current food goals:
better my butchering skillz
use the frozen squid ink I found at Mercadona
make a big ole day-long pot of rice-n-beans
hold a fancy french dinner party
learn to plate
learn a few snazzy cocktail tricks
steak.
pulpo.
oh oh oh kalua porrrrrk (hmm. I may need to invest in a slow cooker.)
grill outside at La Tabacalera at the very first spit of spring

on the menu this week:
roast chicken with dijon sauce
lentil soup with spinach





Mientras Tanto

19 11 2010

The brilliant gleam of the new in Madrid has worn thin: the seductive beckon of unremarkable routine can offer too attractive a monotony to brush off like it ain’t no thang. Yet the medley of thangs continues, relentlessly, to occur, whether or not it falls subject to meticulous blogging.

The conversation of how to intermingle working with minors in a government-funded position with the Rights of the Blogger has come up several times, always concluding on a similar note: best to avoid it. I attribute part of my pause in daily wordiness to that phenomenon; this enormous part of my experience here has got to be treated as a bit of a delicate taboo. It isn’t that there’s anything specific I’m omitting – very few students ever get thrown in the Chokey, at least at José Luis Sampedro – but the weight of what I necessarily represent given my unique position can loom, heavy and ominous, when I consider regaling my clamoring international readers with sordid tales of what those sweet little beasties did this time, goddammit.

The other day, I noticed with alarm the extreme frequency with which I was talking about my job while not actually working, and made a pact with myself to immediately staunch that particular river. It grows more obvious with each day: teaching English is a means for me. That’s not what my Fulbright Personal Statement would have you believe, but let’s be straight up here (Straight BlogTalk with Torkington: Like It Ain’t No Thang). With each day, I’m allowing those myriad ingrained traditional understandings of What I Ought To Be Accomplishing With My Life to wither, and doing my damnedest to concentrate all my love and energy on unfurling leafy tendrils into self-development. I am a writer, I am a photographer, I am a chef, I am a linguist – but, more importantly, I am happy, day-to-day and long-term, in a way that makes sense for me specifically.

How ’bout THAT for stinky cheese, dear readers?

It’s okay to be a bit jealous. Let’s go out for cañas and we’ll talk about it.