On Poetry and Culture Shock


News: festivals

The first weekend in June (June 2nd to June 5th) is time for lots of good street shows in my hometown and also here in Ithaca.

La segunda edición de la Feria LaTeatral tiene una pinta estupenda. Con que sea igual de buena que la primera edición, del año pasado, es algo que nadie que viva en los alrededores debería perderse. Ahí tenéis el link para más información.

The Ithaca Festival doesn't have a theme that I know of; it gets together a bunch of performers of very different things. Including June Seaney three bellydancing troupes. It's going to be a great show, and I'm not just saying that because I'm dancing with them.

Changes in the Link section

A little announcement here. I'm very conservative with the right margin of the blog; now that there are a few changes here is a comment on it. So that you know why I link what I link.

First blogs, then useful things, then my other sites. If you are frustrated by the mixing of languages, don't worry, that is the way it is supposed to be. Comments in English for sites in English, and in Spanish for sites in Spanish.

Gapingvoid started as a cartoon website. Then it became a cartoon blog. Then it slowly became a marketing blog that sometimes posts cartoons. Its creator has some good ideas about making creativity compatible with making money.

La Vidriera Irrespetuosa es el blog de Zifra (se hace llamar como el personaje de Matrix). Es temático, más o menos; me interesa cuando habla de política, de educación laica, y de chistes frikis.

Carboanion es amiga mía. Se supone que su blog no es temático; habla de literatura, de manga, y de cosas que le sorprenden o le molestan.

Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer. The function of his blog is to keep his fans informed of what is going on in his professional life; the blog is only a section inside his personal site, which has plenty of information about his books.

Eduardo Haro Tecglen pone todas sus columnas de prensa juntas en un blog. Aquí no hay nada que no se pueda leer en los periódicos.

Knickers in a knot is a very new blog about American politics, with an emphasis in feminism, reproductory rights, and education.

La Teatral es un portal con información y recursos sobre teatro, ya sea en España o en español. Creada por los organizadores de la Feria La Teatral de teatro de calle (no os la perdáis).

I don't want to have more than one link about Middle Eastern dance. It is next to impossible to find websites that are more informative than promotional. Morocco´s site is the closest I have found to a sit that explains what "bellydance" is, instead of just trying to sell you classes or DVDs. And I've had the privilege of seeing her lecture, teach, and dance, so I can efinitely recommend anything that comes with her name on it.

My Amazon Wish List
once made a complete stranger give me a book she no longer wanted, so I like to keep it visible. You never know. My birthday is in December.

Nia's Jewelry is more a shop window than a shop. Now with photographs of some lovely Cornellians wearing my earrings, to give a better idea of how everything looks. My thanks to the models.

The Spanish Republic

I’ll tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a country ruled by a king that was neither very old, very rich, or very wise. And there were elections to the City Councils of this country (to save time and paperwork, all Town Councils were elected at the same time) and the Republican party (meaning the anti-monarchy, absolutely nothing to do with American republicans) won the elections. Technically, to overthrow the king they would have had to win the Parliament elections, but the king thought he had overstayed his welcome and left the country (cowardice or good sense? who knows). Soon after, the Republican Party, which was a lot more lefty that socialdemocrats nowadays and a bit less radical that communists, won the Parliament and Presidential elections. They changed the Constitution and dedicated themselves to the task of improving the national school system. They had two pillars: good quality public education for all, and some hostility to religion. In this country, there had been a privileged religion that was not happy at all with its loss of status and with the new secular schools.

The Republic lasted only a few years, very few, until some very rich people, together with most of the military and with the official approval of the religion I mentioned, made a coup d’état. Then there was a war and the country’s economy and its people’s quality of life went down for decades afterwards.

When the country had a one-in-a-lifetime chance of becoming democratic and peaceful again, the grandson of the king who was neither old nor wise seemed to be an unavoidable figure that had to be put at the centre of the game board as a handful of men tried to decide the future of us all. There were a lot of compromises and the only thing that made a majority of people happy was that we were indeed a democracy –not a very peaceful one, but still. The Republicans old enough to have actually lived through all four political regimes (the old king, the Republic, the dictator, the new democracy) were probably the ones that compromised the most. After all, they had been stripped of more legitimate rights than any one else.

I’m not Republican, because I’m not against the fact that there is a king in Spain. To me, the royal family are like honorary ambassadors that didn’t need to major in Political Science at college. I don’t care one way or the other. If they are there, they might as well do a good PR job and deserve their salaries (yes, they receive a salary out of people’s taxes because they don’t have a private fortune, like, for example, the English queen). I like everything else about republicans: the importance of freedom, of public education, of secular public life, and keeping religion well off politics. And they have had better reasons than other people to make their demands by force, but we have never had Republican terrorists in Spain. Of that, I’m thankful.

Today is the anniversary of the Republican Constitution. So, Happy Birthday, Republic.

The Jewelry Shop is ready for spring colours.

See that link there? It takes you to my online jewelry shop, which is more a shop window than a shop because I have so many different things that if I showed them all you’d get tired of browsing.

A note on the prices: I have been making a selling jewelry for about nine years. In my hometown, you get the same quality from shops, from authorised street vendors and from unlicensed ones. I like to keep the prices a little bit below the prices of shops; most people that I know that sell more or less as a hobby have always done the same as me. Also, I want to be inexpensive for students out of principle. So, when I came to the US I worked on the same principle. I could easily double my prices and still be cheaper than most shops. Buying the beads yourself might be even more expensive than buying from me (definitely so, if it’s one of my pieces with real semiprecious stones). I don’t care. I can afford to sell at students prices, so I don’t have any reasons not to. But I would hate it if anyone suspected that there something wrong with my jewelry or the materials I use just because I keep things affordable.

Belly Dancing! Yay!

Precisely after the server has been down for a whole day, now I'm abandoning you to go to a Middle Eastern Dance seminar. 12 hours of workshops and four hours of shows in two days. If Plan A (for Academia) doesn't work, I can always give a try to Belly Dancing...

If you are reading this from in Ithaca, the Saturday show is open to the public. Unmissable.

March Eleventh

I could talk about my experience of March 11th, 2004. I could write a little meditation about the value of poetry, art, in times of mourning or desperation. I could talk about the political implications but I’m not going to. I’m going to talk about blood.

Early March last year I had teeth pulled out, which meant I was not allowed to donate blood until June. I had a good cry over that, feeling impotent I could not do my bit to help. Then in June I was sick, I can’t remember what of, and then I had minor surgery. In the United States, Europeans cannot donate blood. I haven’t donated in a year and a half and I really want to. So it’s my mission to make others donate.

Blood is always necessary. Even the victims of the terrorist attack last year need it now because some of them still need surgery. Blood cannot be synthesised yet there is nothing to substitute it. You never know when you will need someone else’s blood (I had two relatives in hospital days after the second-to-last time I gave blood, which was sad and scary).

Almost everyone can donate. It hurts very little or nothing at all: if it hurts it is not done properly, like so many things in life. You probably live close to a donation centre (just google your town’s name and either Red Cross or blood donation). All it takes is a few minutes, drinking lots of liquid before and after, and if it is your first time, making sure you will not have to drive back home, just in case you’re a bit sleepy. That’s it.