December 31st, 2010 through January 1st, 2011
Happy New Year Reader!
This is me. Wishing you a Happy New year, FROM THE PAST!!!!!
For the record, the title (A Less Solo New Year) of this update has nothing to do with Han Solo’s son Lester.
So it’s officially 2011, and what does that mean? Besides two short almost years until the calendar of the Mayans resets. It also means a bunch of people are writing down a list of things that they won’t be doing for the first week or so of the year, or in some cases things they will be doing, such as responding to wedding proposals.
That’s just a general comment though. No one’s being pushed into doing anything.
Anyhow, I have 10 resolutions, let’s see how they fare.
1) Provoke someone to throw a drink in my face. [x]
2) Go to Ireland. [x]
3) Be more assertive.
4) Live in New York by 2012. (Hopefully long before.)
5) Do Directing. (Do it!)
6) Quit fibbing so often.
7) Go to Venice for Carnival. (Real Venice this time.)
8) Go to Prague or Morocco even though I am scared to do so alone. (Grab a friend!)
9) Repay Maia’s Blessing. (See Ireland Blog.)
10) Fall in love, at least one more time. [x] (Theatre Space, OMG!)
So I’ve cheated, most of these aren’t so much ‘I’m gunna be a better person’ as much as ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do this thing?’ However New York, Directing, Asserting, and Honesting are sorta your traditional resolutions.
“But Kishpike,” you are thinking “why wait to the new year to decide all these things.”
Good question-thought. I must admit my own lack of logical progression in this matter, as that my only real reason for doing so is based on an appeal to tradition.
However, to be fair, most of these things I’ve had as goals and ideas long before the New Year’s and have simply decided to write them down on this date because I wouldn’t think to do so otherwise.
For the new year, I found myself in Madrid.
Because it’s a big city and the parties are hopping?
While the statement is true, that’s not why I went.
See the internet likes to be confusing, and I like to be confused, so we work well together.
I had planned a trip to Ireland, and because plane tickets are so cheap on the first of the first, I bought a late ticket.
Not according to the Termibus Calendar.
Busses would be running all day on January First, starting with a 6:00AM bus to Madrid.
Eat dinner with Carmen and her family.
Go out to the bars packed to travel. (Parties here consist of going out to the bars.)
Stay up until 6:00 and crash hard on the bus.
Termibus wasn’t running all day on the first of the first.
Having already bought my plane ticket, and because of the bus schedule, I would have to spend new year’s in Madrid.
With Heather back stateside I didn’t really plan on meeting anyone in Madrid, and rather thought I’d be the solo weasel for new years.
Not So Solo.
On the bus I realized that I had an old text from Caterina, an actor in Madrid who I had spoken with and played futból with.
Why the hell not, thought I.
I called her at a pit stop, and asked her if she was planning on going out, and if I could tag along.
Now I realize that it is bad manners to invite oneself to something, but I think when you are randomly in a huge city you never thought you’d return to it’s okay to do so, as that the likelyhood of being extended such an invitation is highly unlikely.
She picked up and told me she’d love it if I did.
So I did.
I arrived in Madrid, and thanks to a handy map I had packed in my notebook-wallet I navigated the metro with extreme ease.
It was leaving the metro when the problems began.
Road names, building numbers, and housing letters.
Remember how I said I liked to be confused.
After a 45 minute long circle I arrived to the proper flat (not 5 meters from where I was standing when I started searching.)
I struggled a bit because over the phone I was told, in English, to go to room E.
Or was it I?
You see… in Spanish “I” sounds like “E” like meek, seek, feet, or street.
It was “E”.
The gentleman in “I” was not pleased to be disturbed.
In room E I was invited to dinner, and quite the dinner it was, Caterina and several of her friends and roommates were all preparing to celebrate the night in style.
I was dressed in my traveling Ireland Clothes (I packed SUPER light for Ireland.)
Fortunately I wasn’t the only one underdressed, so I didn’t feel too awkward.
Actually I probably should have felt very awkward, I was sitting in a person’s house, a person who I had only meet twice before, and one of those times she was “in character.” (Long Story, I may have blogged it back in the day.)
I was in this person’s house, with her 5 other friends and roommates who I’d never had meet before, eating their food, drinking their wine, and conversing with them like I was just another guy.
Fortunately I had already eaten, so I was only feeling a bit peckish, enough to enjoy the food and explain how good it was, but not enough to really want to pig out.
There was plenty of left-overs, and in traditional Spanish custom I had to haggle my way down to smaller portions.
The meal itself was an amazing mix of Southern American foods, as that the two main cooks hail from… I want to say mexico, but it could have been Ecuador. My memory does not serve well, and to be quite honest, I don’t know the cultures well enough to tell the difference in the food styles.
At the end of dinner we had a bottle of champagne, which was quite nice, but I found it better after I had subtly poured a shot or so of vodka into the glass from a small plastic bottle I had brought with me.
Vodka-Champagne, quite possibly my favorite drink ever.
At this dinner was a bilingual screenwriter who is a dual citizen in Peru and the U.S.A.
It was wild to encounter someone like her on such an odd chance situation.
We spoke a lot about theatre and cinema, and such.
She plans on producing a work in Peru, both because of her heritage there, and because of the low low costs of filming in Peru.
We left from dinner with only half an hour until the 12 bells, and booked it for Puerta De Sol.
I was given (and had brought my own) a bag of 12 grapes, to be eaten at each chiming of the bell.
From left to right: Some Tio in a leather Jacket, Ariyana, Caterina, and Aurelio.
I have a grape and I'm not afraid to eat it!
This is me and the group of people who kindly took a lost little weasel in for dinner!
These guys? They're awesome, for the record.
Sol was crowded, and the vendors were out selling cualquier cosa, wigs, beers, grapes, sparklers, glasses, hats, flowers, anything you’d find drunk people holding in their hands you could buy from a street vender, besides maybe a camera.
It was so incredibly loud no-one could hear the chiming of the bells, and we more or less ate the grapes on at a time when we were certain it was the New Year.
Funny thing about Madrid, the Ball drops before Midnight.
I have no idea what the ball signifies if it stops falling before the countdown.
Wigs, Lights, and a clock somewhere in the distance, are we new yet?
Some crazy tio was trying to light the tree on fire! No!!!!! Don't!
This kid was super excited.
After the grapes there were a few bottle rockets shot off, and I had a healthy nip of my Vodka and busted out a special treat for myself.
Not a person, you see, Spain doesn’t have an embargo with Cuba like the U.S.A does.
Not everyone knows, and I’ve been keeping it relatively on the D.L. but I smoke the occasional cigar, and somewhat more frequently I have a pipe.
Not that kind of a pipe.
A genuine wooden tobacco pipe.
The New Year is one of those times I’d consider a special enough occasion to have a cigar.
I only had half of the thing, because my tobacco tolerance level isn’t terribly high, and I didn’t feel like getting sick before flying to Ireland.
But I can certainly see the appeal to Cuban cigars now.
Silly weasel, you're supposed to be between the tree and clock...
After wandering around amongst the drunks in the square, shooting pictures, and laughing at the stupid things people were doing, we left for a night club.
This night club had a very expensive cover charge.
$60, roughly depending on the exchange rate.
The trade off?
Between that, and the very few people inside I didn’t feel terrible for spending so much on the entry fee.
There was also free snacks.
(by very few I mean it was a club, in Madrid, on New Year’s, and we had elbow room. Elbow room doesn’t exist in the clubs in Bilbao on an ordinary Saturday night)
There was a game at this club, everyone was given a name, and had to look for their counter-part name. All sorts of combination. Apparently there were prizes. I wouldn't know, the Vodka Red Bull was prize enough.
I was Bardem. So I was obviously looking for...uhm, who again?
So drinking, dancing, and discussing theatre/cinema was my new year’s eve.
The dancing was alright, I tried dancing with some strangers, but I couldn’t really get them to commit to the dance. They could have thought it weird that I, a stranger was trying to dance with them, or they could have been embarrassed. Either way I couldn’t bust out my half-drunk swing moves to their full potential… which is terribly small compared to some of my readers.
You know who you are and I’m shaking a fist at you.
Around 3 or 4 am the group I was left the party, and my first travel casualty occurred, I had lost my cell phone. No big deal, it’s a free phone with a monthly payment plan, so I’m not worried about replacing it, and I have facebook to regain my Spanish Contact numbers.
I followed the group to their house, and the heavy conversation occurred ‘Where are you staying tonight?’
I hadn’t planned on sleeping and had consumed many vodka-red bulls and red bulls.
I explained this, and Ariyana told me that I could stay with them until my plane headed out.
You know what you are supposed to say when someone offers you a place to stay for the night?
“Yes, that would be a good idea. Thanks! I’m not putting anyone out am I?”
What did I say?
“Naw, it’s fine, I wanna wander the city anyway. I didn’t plan on sleeping.”
I think once or twice more that transaction occurred.
Sometimes I am an idiot.
These looked a lot cooler with 3-4 vodka red bulls swimming around in my blood.
Madrid was still alive long into the night, I remember some drunken fool threw a beer at a random stranger on the street 3 stories below, thinking he was funny. This beer was in a can, and unopened.
The person on the street was not amused.
I was most literally handed a woman.
I was walking along the street, and a group of very drunk people were walking along, on of them, a male, was holding a female.
He saw me and shouted ‘Hey tio take this’ and handed her off to me.
That was weird.
I, of course, set her back on her feet and kept walking.
Tio means both uncle and something akin to dude or man.
Same goes for tia (aunt/dudette)
Of Fallen Angels.
I really love the statue ‘Angel Caido’ and hadn’t gotten a picture of it, because the last time I went to Madrid I lost my camera.
So I made my way out to the park where the Fallen Angel stands.
After half an hour or so of wandering around in the creepy city darkness of a the park, I found the right path, right off the road.
As I walked into the path I passed a tall man walking the other way.
I kept my fierce and weasely aware eyes on him, a couple of meters after passing me, he turned around.
My gut then sank.
Animal mode, escape plan.
There were three paths in front of me, one, the main path lead deeper into the park, and would not be ideal for an escape.
The second veered to the left, and I could have used it to double back to the street… except there was another large figure walking towards me down that path. My chest is tensing up thinking about it.
Third path, veered right, quicker double to the street, large figure.
I was between the three of them.
Best option was to turn around and walk past the tall man again, with a hastened pace, and use the advantage of the wide path to keep my distance.
I did that.
Got on the street and headed towards the city lights with a fierce power-walk.
Maybe I was paranoid.
Maybe three large blokes were simply all walking down paths that chanced to flank me.
Perhaps tall man had forgotten something and needed to go back for it.
Maybe he kept his beady eyes on me for the same reasons I kept mine on him.
The statue will still be there later on in my life.
There was no way that situation was worth seeing some stone cut into a pretty shape.
I got to the city, and found a place to sit down, and let it out.
The adrenaline was not helping my already over stimulated body.
I may have cried.
I don’t honestly know if I have ever been that terrified before.
Creepy Night-light park picture, before my encounter.
This was like the road that the encounter took place on.
The path to the Fallen Angel is ominous at night.
I hang about in Madrid long enough to have a breakfast tea, and see the world come back to life for its global hangover day.
I hopped a metro to the Airport, passed through security, and jumped on a plane to Ireland.