Why am I not freaked out?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been readying myself for the inevitable sci-fi movie misery that will result from the Large Hadron Collider starting up–the black holes, the tiny dragons, the fact that we can’t understand particle physics without smashing subatomic particles into each other–maybe that just puts everything in perspective. My bank just got taken over by the Fed. The economy is collapsing. A third of the world’s species are likely to become extinct in the next few years. The dumbest person in the country is a vice presidential nominee. The presidential campaign seems like a surreal clusterfuck of…well…things that oddly seem more unlikely than string theory.

So, we’re on the verge of handing over nearly a trillion dollars to a dude in our administration, which has an history of making monumentally stupid decisions, with no oversight, no process for appeal, no agreement that this is even a good idea, no idea whether this really even addresses the main problems in the economy… excuse me if I feel like we’re 37 minutes into an episode of House. Let’s start chemo, even though we don’t really think she’s got cancer, because, well, we’ve run out of other ideas. But of course we’ll figure it out by the end of the episode, right?

So maybe that’s why I’m not freaked out. Even though I know I should be. Even though Henry Paulson is clearly no Hugh Laurie. And I’m probably going to be homeless in a year when all this posturing plays out and the economy collapses and the tiny dragons release an EMP that destroys all electrical signals, thus rendering Microsoft useless and Jessica Alba a post-apocalyptic bike messenger…but for some reason I haven’t been able to internalize the peril yet. Or maybe I’m just inured by the last four years of increasing fear of iminent doom, which comes, just a bit less dramatically than a category 3 hurricane, and doesn’t seem as bad as the fear.

Oh, the heart is a bizarre muscle, ain’t she. The brain knows we’re screwed. The body can’t quite imagine life without prime time hospital soap operas. Or that life isn’t a prime time soap opera. Perhaps the Matrix is correcting itself? Or I need to stop watching so much television. Or watch more Dr. Who. Or just buy a lot more sci-fi books before I can’t afford them and stash as I’m on the run from the 21st century.

Do I sound paranoid to anyone?

Lest you think the right isn’t racist

Some rightwing nutjob I’d never heard of convinced Dunkin Donuts to pull an ad featuring Rachel Ray. Not because it featured Rachel Ray (which is a perfectly valid reason not to show an ad), but because she was wearing a scarf which said nutjob thought seemed reminiscent of something some Muslims might wear, and was therefore, somehow, supporting terrorism. (insert sounds of disbelief here)

And the DD, whose donut I have always adored, caved.

Here’s the money quote from the nutjob:

“It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists. Too many of them bend over backward in the direction of anti-American political correctness…. Fashion statements may seem insignificant, but when they lead to the mainstreaming of violence — unintentionally or not — they matter. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. In post-9/11 America, vigilance must never go out of style.”

So, in addition to not eating my favorite donuts or buying their admittedly good coffee, from tomorrow on, I will be wearing a hejab. Because fashion statements may seem insignificant, but they can lead to mainstreaming perfectly reasonable cultural values and traditions that pose no threat to a post-9/11 America other than challenging ignorance and racism.

I’m actually quite interested if you all think that my quiet protest is going to offend Muslims (which is certianly not my intention). I have tremendous respect for what the hejab represents, in that I believe it is about keeping women from being objectified by society. You might well have a different impression, and I don’t mind offending anyone who has an issue with Islam, but I don’t want to offend anyone of the Islamic faith.

Me again, after a long hiatus

Yo, kids. How´s life in the real world? I´ll start out by apologizing for the lack on postings. Matt and I have been all over southwest france and eastern spain and when we´ve come upon an internet cafe i´ve been either tired, hungry, or ready for a glass of wine, and walked past. I guess the ease of overseas phone and text messaging makes it easy enough to stay in touch that i haven´t felt the urgency of writing as much. But it´s our last day here, so I´ll at least give a few highlights.

I love windfarms. They´re actually quite graceful and all over the place here.

I think we liked Biarritz and a mountain town in France called Mendes best. We´re in Sitjes, just outside Barcelona right now, and it´s lovely, but the call of an early morning flight is looming.

We´ve eaten so well. The hotel we stayed at in Mendes had a two star restaurant and the food was incredible. The mountain air was amazing. And the next day was the Saturday market so we walked around and bought some saucisson sec and cheese, though later Matt wouldn´t eat the sausage because it smelled like Yogi´s feet. Go figure.

We´ve stayed for the last 5 nights with rooms looking out onto the beach. Last night it was the Mediterranean, the 4 nights before it was the Atlantic. Two in France, and two in Spain.

We´ve seen so many sites, churches, cathedrals, castles, walled cities, roman arenas, etc, that by the time we got to Biarritz we were ready to just relax and hang out in seaside resort places, which is so not what we were expecting. But we did get to have lunch in a cave inside an old Templars´fort from the 14th century or so. Carcassonne was really cool too.

The tally of towns we´ve stopped or stayed in is dizzying: Barcelona, Blanes, Balyieu sur Mer, Arles, Avignon, Mendes, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Biarritz, Hondarribia, San Sebastian, Biboa, and Sitjes. We have yet to get the car towed (knock on wood), cuz we´ve figured out the parking payment system.

We drove coast to coast yesterday. From the Atlantic to to the Med Sea, at least.

The dogs of Spain and France are so well behaved, and there are so many of them we´ve really missed our Yogi.

Anyway, I´ve left Matt on the beach and he´ll probably melt if I don´t rescue him soon. We head to London tomorrow morning early, and hopefully after a few hours in town, back to Seattle. We miss you all, and can´t wait to see you. I´ll see if I can´t think of a few good anecdotes.

Ms. McKay and Mr. Sand drive out to see a view; Paulette drives them

Or rather, they drove off the highway because Matt said the Dali Museum was off a certain exit. Which, apparently was not the case, however it did give us anple opportunity to drive along the sea, which is lovely, and the roads are narrow and twisty and many hundreds of feet above anything else, and largely without guardrails.

And have I mentioned yet that Matt is afraid of heights? Which is likely why, as we rounded a corner on a one-lane street, high above the cute little beach town we were traversing, and a truck came barreling toward us, forcing us to swerve ever so slightly to the right, Matt let out a terrified yelp of “oh, fuck me” and then upon looking down at what he assumed would be our landing place after the nonexistent guardrail failed to stop our fall, he let out an even more panic-stricken “oh, fuck me twice!”

Is it bad that I enjoyed that moment so much?

Anyway, when we had turned off the highway, having made excellent time out of Barcelona, I should not have said “hey, we’ll be in France in half an hour” since it then took another 4 hours of nearly single lane roads well above the sea and switchbacking around mountains before we reached the French border. Not long after, we decided to call it a night, found a nice little town and a hotel on a beach in it’s own little cove where the cost of a delicious dinner (lentils with seared foie gras, grilled dorade with eggplant pancakes, and tarte tatin), as well as breakfast were included in the price of the room.

At the moment we’re in Arles, where van Gogh did his thing (including the ear thing) and wandering around, likely heading to Avignon sometime later this afternoon.

Love all around!

you didn´t think i´d ever get around to writing, did you?

And all because I haven´t in like three years. Silly, silly people.

Well, Matt and I are in Barçelona, and I am going to start off by answering the question so many have put to me in the days leading up to our offgoing. “How different will it be for Paulette traveling with Matt than alone?” Let´s see…we´ve gotten lost nearly everyday, walked a bunch (mostly in the wrong direction) and eaten well. So not really all that different, except I have someone else to blame for getting lost, especially since Mr. Sand claims to be able to read maps (and I know I can´t) and he thinks he can navigate by the sun, which is either just showing off, or the effects of the Horatio Hornblower book he´s reading.

Shall we start with the eating? Last night was dinner at a place Hisop, which is near our hotel, does neuvo Catalan cuisine, and was recommended by JT´s friend Terry. Awesome choice. The place was all white with one wall of red cabinets and the white highlighted only by red roses on the walls. The food was outstanding. I had an octopus salad with tomatoes, mizuna, and avocado ice cream, garnished with tomato consume. Matt had a sea cucumber and mushroom salad with blood sausage appetizer. Both fantastic.

Oh, I almost forgot the amuses. First was an oyster, lightly marinated in thyme and lemon, served with mango sorbet and a wasabi pea. Second was tuna belly with a tarragon and reduced balsamic bonbon. Both yum.

Main courses-I had the scallops, lightly seared, with zucchini flowers, a zuchini slaw, and a sauce of pumpkin soup, garnished with pomegranate seeds. Matt had braised veal shank with a red wine reduction and a turnip pudding. I can´t claim a favorite. They were both outstanding.

Yesterday we saw the Gaudi church and the Castillo Battli which was expensive to get into, but incredible. Especially the “courtyard of light” with is in the middle of the seven story building. It´s made of wavy blue tiles that get darker the higher the floor, but following a progression fo the same pattern. Thent he overlook from each landing into the courtyard has this very wavy glass you look into, giving the impression that you are under water and that the higher you climb, the deeper into the water you go. It´s the closest thing i can imagine to what it must be like to be a fish!

The church is amazing too, though far, far from finished, even though it was started 125 years ago. The people funding this massive undertaking better hope that Barçelona is not on a fault line!

The day before we walked the Rambla, kind of the big tourist street with a pedestrian way leading toward the Boqueria market. It´s lined with news stands, and people who paint themselves up in elaborate monochromatic and probably toxic paint to stand on a box and hope people will put money in their buckets. It also seems to be the equivalent of an outdoor pet flea market, with stands selling all manner of birds (from adorable tiny pink finchy things to parrots, pigeons and chickens) as well as rabbits, mice, gerbils, itty bitty little frogs and much larger tortugas with bumpy shells on their backs, and of all things, hedgehogs and chipmunks). It was, well, odd. But the animals were cute.

First night we ate at a Sicilian restaurant near the hotel because the place we wanted to go was full and a lot of things didn´t seem like the right atmosphere. They´d been open a week, but the food was delicious and homey. Matt had homemade tagliatelle with ham, peas, and mushrooms. I had linguine frutti di mare. Turns out the owner is from near Messina, where my brther and I will be going with my mother in six months time.

While we were there, some very chic chick sat at the bar and managed to kick one of the wine bottles ont he ledge below used for decor (bad, bad planning) which knocked two more down, for a spray of red wine and glass all over us, a lot of embarrassment on their part, and a topic for conversation to get started with our waiter, who turned out to be Tunisian, though he and the owner spent the night in lively conversation easily switching between Italian, Spanish, and French.

The next night we ate a small restaurant with a loud television, but delicous croquettes and ham and olives and mushrooms and fried herring that were then pickled in olive oil, vinegar, and paprika. One of the waiters dropped a bunch of salt and pepper shakers, so they moved us away from the mess. So you can imagine we were rather relieved that our three hour 5-star dinner last night didn´t result in any broken anything.

Today, I think we´re going closer to the water adn taking a funicular, or some such thing. Kind of depends on whether we can find it. Although we did atleast manage to get a pretty good idea of how to get to the nearest metro station without getting lost.

Talk to you all soon!


et tu, mickey mouse?

Hey nonfamosi,

ABC is planning on showing a “documentary” on Sunday night called “Path to 9/11” which is apparently just more Bush administration propaganda, this time blaming Clinton for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. The democrats, bless ’em, have a petition going to send off to Disney to say this is most definitely not cool, and violates the responsibility to the public. Please send off a note too.

Do any of you know how to find out who ABC’s Sunday night sponsors are. It might be worth letting them know that some of us would hold them responsible for airing bullshit like this that panders to the Lying Bastard in Chief and his jihad to take the middle east, one oil-producing nation at a time. I smell a boycott in the air.