When I posted my angry music recommendation last week, I alluded to feeling grumpy about a number of things that weren’t moving forward at the pace which I would like. And today I’ve decided to be brave (as promised) and tell you about one of them…

You see, I have decided I want to start dating again. Having spent a lot of time coming to know myself better, and living the life I really want, I think what I have to offer is better than ever. Rubi V.2 is wise, kind, and patient — in addition to the good stuff that Rubi V.1 had going for her, among which, being a fine cook, a smarty-pants, and a lot of fun. Hell, I’m a catch.

And yet my experiences since the beginning of the year, when I set out to meet some guys to date, have been a mixed bag at best. In the interest of expediency, I put an honest profile and a decent photo up on an online site. (Of course I know that the world of online dating is fraught with peril, but I’m being brave, remember?) The first couple of days I was bombarded with winks and likes and “So-and-so wants to meet you.” I even got a few messages, though the majority were along the lines of, “You’re really a Buddhist? How weird.” or “What is it that you really want? Do you want sex? Because I want sex!” At the risk of making MamaRubi blush, yes, I want sex. I’d also like conversation, and the odd bit of hand-holding…

Eventually, a nice man contacted me, and was patient enough to keep messaging me even though I had the plague and couldn’t meet for a while. When we did get together, we had a nice, long talk — in fact, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, which happens exactly never — but a shared liking for Baroque Spanish music was an unexpected bonus and he was willing to come to my neighborhood. We saw each other a total of three times, the conversation (monologue) lasting longer and longer at each meeting and then, poof. There he was, gone. Without so much as a thank you for letting him go on and on and on…

So I hid my profile on that site and tried somewhere different. Met a guy almost right away that was such a good match for me I might as well have ordered him from “Men by Mail.” Following a couple of weeks of messaging, we finally managed to meet up, and had what I thought was a lovely evening. After which he pretty much disappeared. (Yes, I’m starting to notice a pattern here.) But this is where it gets really odd… about a week later, he revisited my profile, and even “favorited” me. When I got in touch to ask if he’d like to give things another try, he replied was feeling a bit unnerved and that he’d like to wait a bit… Um, OK? Points to Rubi V.2 for also being unnerving?

Back to Site #1, where I unhid my profile, uploaded a couple more pictures, and sat back to see what would happen. As before, lots of winks, and likes, and so forth. No messages this time, though, not even the Hi-and-nothing-else sort that really makes a girl’s heart go pitter-patter. Nothing at all. I’ve written three messages myself, all to men who have “liked” my profile or told the site they wanted to meet me. Of course, I said more than Hi. I indicated that I’d read their profiles and was interested in meeting them. Resounding silence. Dudes, if a woman writes to tell you that your profile looks interesting, at least write back and say, “Thanks for writing. Although I’m not interesting in meeting you, I wish you all the best.” (Yes, this is what I have written when I get a message from someone I don’t want to connect with.) Generate a little good karma, if nothing else.

Still, Rubi is a firm believer in “no hay mal que por bien no venga” (nothing bad comes without bringing something good along with it). And the good thing that has come out of this decidedly less-than-satisfying series of events is that I have found a an online soul-sister, the pseudonymous Stella Grey. She writes a weekly column called “Mid Life Ex Wife” for the Guardian that gives me something like hope, when I’m not wincing in sympathy. Very worth a read, even for those of you who aren’t in the trenches.

Oh, and one more thing. Thank goodness for cats.

OK, maybe not in the Network sense, but I’m having a really angry day. The astrologically-minded among us might ascribe it to Mars in Gemini, but my take is that Rubi has been wanting some big changes in her life for months now, and they are just dragging along. (More on this in the next day or so.) Plus it’s election season and in Madrid that means yet another term for the f***king PP. Don’t get me started.

The good news is that I have a sure-fire cure for The Angries. I go back into the music library of my misspent youth and find some Angry Music (the 80s were REALLY good for Angry Music), crank it, and pogo somewhat arthritically around the living room.

So, despite its cat-scaring potential, here is today’s selection:

Feel free to pogo along.

Spring is my favorite season. It is green and fresh and new. It is also, in my New England memory of crocus pushing up through frozen mud and bright daffodils bowed down by late, wet snow — neither of which happen here — resolute and brave. Just when winter has worn you down to a nubbin, you spy something that reminds you that life is returning to earth.

And this winter, though for me neither unduly cold nor in the least snowy, wore me down mightily. Yes, it was long and brutal and dark — but emotionally rather than otherwise. That’s the reason the blog has been on radio silence so long. I just haven’t wanted to talk about any of it. There is something in my blogging persona that wants only to share the good news. Not because the bad news isn’t as important as the good, but because somehow it feels like I’m asking for empathy or help or I don’t quite know what.That’s something I’ve always been reluctant to do, asking to be heard, asking to be seen and held. It’s also something I know I need to change.

So I’ve decided to take a page from spring’s book and be brave. I have a new intention for this blog — to share a lot more, and not to be afraid of whatever reaction it may generate in my readers. What they — you — think is beyond my control anyway. I also intend for my posts to be more organic and authentic. So I’m only going to write when I feel like it. No regular schedule, but posting at will. For now, at least, I have a lot to say, so there will be plenty of posts. And then we’ll see.

Because this is still my blog, there will also be glee, and silliness, and lots of the good stuff. But I want it to be a more holistic reflection of what is going on for me. And I hope that you will hang around and share it with me, all of it.

Spotted on the poshest shopping street in Madrid, calle Serrano…

What? No ball-gag?

What? No ball-gag?

The best bit was the very elegant mother next to me, saying to her five year-old, “What a scary teddy”! Oh, and how…

My friend Lisa and I got together today to go to a jumble sale in Malasaña, where I managed to refrain from buying anything more than 1,20 worth of antique buttons to play with. Then we took a turn around the neighborhood, enjoying the brisk, breezy, sunny day before getting a bite of lunch.

One of my favorite architectural artifacts in the neighborhood is an old pharmacy — still operating as such until it closed this summer — with tile advertisements covering the façade. There used to be shops like these all over Madrid, but there aren’t many left. Usually this one is covered in graffiti. I’ve never seen it clean before.


They offered a complete range of products.


Not to mention a range of their own patent medicines.

This one is good for pretty much anything that ails you...

This one is good for pretty much anything that ails you…

Though what these ailments have to do with trees, I don't know.

Though what these ailments have to do with trees, I don’t know.

Much mystery here -- what do these things seal up? And how do they make "that pain" disappear? (You know, "lady pain"...)

Much mystery here — what do these things seal up? And how do they make “that pain” disappear? (You know, “lady pain”…)

This image is the one that gets drawn on most often. I'm sure that doesn't surprise you.

This image is the one that gets drawn on most often. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you.

The poultry shop next door is now a bar… I love looking at all the different kinds of chickens.

Want an egg with your mojito?

Want an egg with your mojito?

First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down.

-Ray Bradbury

Sometimes life offers us an opportunity that we’d never in a million years have seen coming — an amazing job, the perfect house, true love — and because we weren’t looking for it, we don’t quite know how to react.

Most people will want to have a bit of a think. After all, maybe the good thing isn’t as good as it looks. Maybe we’re running away from one thing and into something much worse. We want certainty, not risk. We want a cushioned landing pad, not a half-built parachute.

But if we wait too long, we miss out. We are left on the edge of that cliff, dreaming while looking down, fogged in by “what if.”

Or perhaps we’re lucky enough to jump before we’ve bound ourselves up in parsing all the possibilities. What we find when we hit the ground — gently, or with a bang — may bear no resemblance to what we thought we saw down there. But it’s nearly always worth it if we trust ourselves.

Me? I jump every time.

For some people, winter is the season that is the most difficult. For many who suffer from depression, spring is their nemesis. (Hence “April is the cruellest month”?)

For me, it’s fall. I’m almost always struck with nostalgia, and a desire to go somewhere — anywhere — other than where I am. Even living in a city I love as much as I do Madrid, I find that my feet are getting itchy.

Where would I go? Good question… being as close as I am to North Africa, a Bowlesian interlude is one possibility, assuming that it is still possible to live as they did way back when. Or perhaps to the Central Coast of California, where the summer gloom should have loosened its grip by now. Looking back at the photos I shot when I lived there, there is certainly plenty to recommend. All of these were taken around this time of year…

Little Sur river at Andrew Molera State Park.

Little Sur river at Andrew Molera State Park.

November sunset at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

November sunset at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Point Lobos whaling station

Point Lobos whaling station

Giant kelp at Lover's Point beach

Giant kelp at Lover’s Point beach

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas.

He was the first “adult” poet* whose work I fell in love with — though the relationship started when I was a kid. We would go to Aunt Sal´s house and flop belly-down on the floor to scribble-illustrate “A Child´s Christmas in Wales” as Uncle Perry read it aloud in his sonorous voice, doing all the characters. Miss Prothero was my favorite. ¨Would you like anything to read?”

Later, in high school, I found my way to his other work. My junior year English lit teacher asked if anyone had read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and I replied that I hadn´t, but had read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. She jumped down off her desk, crowing with delight, and came to plant a big kiss on my cheek. (This was in the Dark Ages, when teachers could do such things.)

*I had discovered e.e. cummings when I was quite young, but only the safe stuff. The really good, raunchy stuff didn´t come over my transom until I was at university.

And this is his poem that I loved most, and will love always.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

I enjoyed Roger Cohen’s opinion piece about life in France in the NYT today. Here’s my comment on it:

Mr. Cohen, I know exactly what you mean. I lived in Spain for six years when I was in my 20s, way back when. In 1991, I decided to return to the U.S., finally fed up with some of the less-delightful aspects of Spanish life — the noise, the disorder, the inefficiency.

Fast forward 20 years to 2011. After two decades of professional success, serious consumption, and something verging on workaholism, I decided to move back to Madrid. A number of visits over the years I was living in the States showed me that there was more to love about Spain than I had remembered — the focus on family and friends (and the fact that the line between them is often blurred), the ease of connection with the people around you (bus driver, pharmacist, fishmonger, whoever), and the fact that people work to live rather than the other way around are chief among them.

I gave up a lot as a result of my return. I don’t own a car anymore, and I earn about one-third of what I used to. I travel less and stay closer to home. But I am happier than I have been in years, and I finally have the perspective to revel in the little joys of my day-to-day life.

Efficiency and productivity are to be valued, up to a point. When they cause us to lose sight of our common humanity, however, it’s time to re-evaluate them, and perhaps to make a change.


In the time I’ve been away from the blog, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about writing a memoir of my two bouts of expat life, and using this forum as a proving ground. (I’ve also been working and sewing and entertaining and going to PT for my blasted shoulder that makes me feel 1,000 years old on a regular basis — but we’ll talk about those things another time.)

So the question is, should I write it? Would you read it?

Where does the time go?! I hadn’t intended to leave the blog unattended for so long, but, well, I blame this little beauty:


It’s an Alfa, a Spanish brand, though a “model twin” for the Janome 2160. And here’s the first FO I’ve made with the new machine, for a certain beloved 101 year-old. (Liberty fabric brought by Sister #2 when she popped down from London over Easter.) Always stylish, my Gram!

Gram Bday Blouse

I may manage another post next week, between work and vacation wardrobe sewing, and then I’m off to San Sebastian for a week. I need to unmelt and unwind! But I’ll fill you in on my adventures when I get back.

Hope you’re all having a good summer…

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