Chris G’s Best Yelp Reviews: Cementiri de Montjuic (Spanish Translation) – 4/5 Stars

Chris G’s Best Yelp Reviews: Cementiri de Montjuic (Spanish Translation) – 4/5 Stars

Cementiri de Montjuïc
Funeral Services & Cemeteries
Carrer de la Mare de Déu de Port, 56 – 58
08038 Barcelona

Los lugares donde se entierran a los muertos incluyen sitios, como Montjuïc, que tienen esculturas de figuras femeninas que representan un gran amor que conecta la vida con la muerte. Creo que los europeos tienen una mejor relación con sus antepasados que los estadounidenses porque usan sus cementerios mucho más. Muchos cementerios europeos parecen parques porque tienen grandes árboles y plantas encima de las tumbas. Aunque Montjuïc es un lugar de prostitución en algunas de sus áreas, las barceloneses usan el lugar para andar y hacer ejercicio. (¡Lo hice también!)

Después de más de mil años, miles de ciudadanos han descansan bajo tierra, y muchas de sus historias son representadas con esculturas. Las esculturas de Montjuïc incluyen obras de arquitectos y urbanistas como Leandre Albareda, Antoni M. Gallissa, Rossend Nobas, Eusebi Arnau, Rafael Atxe, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Josep Vilaseca, Josep Campeny i Santamaria, Josep Reynes, Josep Llimona y Enric Clarasó.

Como no hay mucho espacio para los muertos (o más amable – difuntos), muchos de ellos forman parte de la arquitectura de Barcelona. El cuerpo del arquitecto Antoni Gaudí, por ejemplo, se encuentra en el suelo de mármol de La Sagrada Familia. Desde hace ya unos años en esta edad moderna, muchos ciudadanos de Barcelona eligen enterrarse en los altos muros de piedras de Montjuïc. Los visitantes pueden usar las escaleras para alcanzar los cuerpos que están en las zonas superiores.


The places where the dead are buried include sites such as Montjuïc, which have sculptures of feminine figures representing a great love that connects life with death. I think Europeans have a better relationship with their ancestors than Americans because they use their cemeteries much more. Many European cemeteries look like parks because they have large trees and plants above the graves. Although Montjuïc is a place of prostitution in some of its areas, Barcelona people use the place to walk and exercise. (I did it too!)

After more than a thousand years, thousands of citizens have rested underground, and many of their stories are represented with sculptures. Montjuïc sculptures include works by architects and urban planners such as Leandre Albareda, Antoni M. Gallissa, Rossend Nobas, Eusebi Arnau, Rafael Atxe, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Josep Vilaseca, Josep Campeny i Santamaria, Josep Reynes, Josep Llimona and Enric Clarasó.

As there is not much space for the dead (or more friendly – deceased), many of them are part of the architecture of Barcelona. The body of the architect Antoni Gaudí, for example, is located on the marble floor of La Sagrada Familia. For some years now in this modern age, many citizens of Barcelona choose to be buried in the high stone walls of Montjuïc. Visitors can use the stairs to reach the bodies that are in the upper areas.

Useful:Funny:Cool: 2


Posted by Chris Girard in Languages, Yelp
The Spanish Consulate of Los Angeles Translation Disaster

The Spanish Consulate of Los Angeles Translation Disaster

Gay Marriage, Leaving the Country, Resistance to Trump-ism in a Nutshell

On 12/14/16, I got gay married to an Italian named Christian at the courthouse in Beverly Hills. We decided to move to get married to ultimately move to Europe when Trump was inaugurated as president. We didn’t want to be part of that shit show, but the move to Spain was a shit show in itself. Getting married to someone with Italian citizenship means that I was eligible to become a European citizen. So we decided to move somewhere gay-friendly and decided on Madrid.

Since Christian is already a native speaker of English with European citizenship as he was born in Italy but left for Oklahoma when he was one years old, the English teaching institutions in Europe, a particularly notorious one called BEDA that you have to ‘pay’ to teach for and does all of the Catholic schools in the Madrid vicinity, swooped him up and wanted to offer him a placement immediately. So he did it, for all of 2017. He moved and was able to glide into living in Madrid after spending a month in a pensione (a monthly budget hotel) and staying for a time with temporary roommates he met on Grindr.

The Spanish Consulate Appointment System

I had to wait a year and apply to English teaching groups more formally and I got accepted into the fanciest English teaching one called UCETAM. I also applied for the public one offered by the country, but I went for UCETAM. This got me into Europe via a student visa. With a digital letter sent from UCETAM, I had to get a student visa from the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles. There was no way of knowing that there were no appointments for three months out. I checked their website on a daily basis and finally was able to shoe myself into an appointment.

After waiting a month and shoeing myself in, I was rejected. I didn’t have the original letter from UCETAM. They had to send me the original letter and not a digital copy.

I was also rejected because my Spanish translation from Advanced Translation Services* was not done by a certified Spaniard. I didn’t have a ‘certified’ translation of my Apostille and FBI Background Check. It was not only any kind of translation, but it also had to be a special translation certified by only a select native Spain Spanish speaker living in the United States because Spaniards cannot decipher my clean criminal background in Latin American Spanish. It was obnoxious and unhelpful, to say the least.

Spamming The Translators for a Response

All Spanish Translators Are Not Equal

I was referred to a book of translators. There are about 20 sworn translators available in the United States who could do a translation of my background check. I emailed all of them at the same time.

Of the eighteen, eight responded back, six were on vacation and only two were able to have availability for the translation.

Sworn Translators Who Responded Back:

Tamara Cabrera could do it for $60.
Patricia López-Gay could do it for $120.
Pero Bujalance Andrés was not available.
Wawi Gorriz was not available.
Rocío Corredor was not available.
Sergi Raneda was not available.
Mercedes Oetgen was not available.
Marta Manzanares was not available.

Sworn Translators Who Didn’t Respond Back:

Celia Bravo Diaz didn’t respond back.
Eva Alonso Calero didn’t respond back.
Margarita Calvo didn’t respond back.
Eva Chaler didn’t respond back.
Angely Giambra didn’t respond back.
María Gutiérrez Rey didn’t respond back.
Irene Igualada didn’t respond back.
Mercedes Oetgen López didn’t respond back.
Silvia Aurora Oviedo didn’t respond back.

So I went with Tamera Cabrera, who was half as expensive as the other translator who responded back. She was a life saver.

Advanced Translation Service Said I Threatened to Leave a Negative Yelp Review…

…I said I was GOING to leave a negative review.

Oh my god, Marina, the lady who runs Advanced Translation Services, was so arrogant and awful to me. She took an “it’s not my problem, and how dare you even think our service has any bearing on your rejection” stance to me having to redo her translation by another translator that should have never been done. I asked if she could at least reimburse me for the $60 I spent on Tamera Cabrera. (I spent $95 on their service.) Nope!

Buyer beware. The Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles doesn’t accept their translations! And the person who I’ve been talking to is extremely crazy argumentative about not giving me a refund, even partial reimbursement for the same translation I had to redo by someone who is certified by the consulate. Their argument is that it’s my fault, essentially I should have known that I shouldn’t have come there, even though it’s listed on their website and Yelp that they provide for student visas. And I’m warning you, while there is no problems with the service of the translation, it’s at your own risk if you come here. I wish SOMEONE had let me known that their translator has no business translating for the consulate that they’re next to! But no, it’s my fault.

I’m moving to Europe yet again and I am being accepted into a work study thingamajig through an ordinary student visa. I came in and said I was applying for a student visa and dropped off an FBI Background Check and an Apostille of one. Since they’re located about a mile away from the consulate, I came directly from there and dropped off the paperwork. They told me it would be $95 and to come pick it up the next day. I thought that was reasonable and fast, so they charged my card and I left.

They didn’t call me back, so I ended up calling them back the following day. They told me it would be ready by the end of the day, so I picked it up the next day. They provided me with a translation of an FBI Background Check and the Apostille Certification of an FBI Background Check. And it looks professional and fine. No problems so far.

I finally go to my student visa appointment this morning and drop off the paperwork. The woman at the Spanish Consulate looks at the translation and immediately rejects it. She said it was because the translator at Advanced Translation Services was not listed in their international list of translators booklet. She referred to some type of book of translators, and on Pages 601 and 602, are the accredited people listed in the United States.

I was a bit floored because nobody at the Spanish Consulate or anything explicitly lists this and nobody at Advanced Translation said anything either. They claimed to help many, many people with student and work visas at the Spanish Consulate. And I did look at their website, which has links to the consulates, and the glowing reviews regarding their translations for visas.

And Marina basically has been specifically arguing that it’s my fault for not knowing about what they require prior. Honestly I don’t think that the consulate is consistent with everyone as it doesn’t list this requirement for specific translators anywhere. And I will be reviewing the consulate, once I get my stamped visa! This entire process with the consulate has been a clusterfuck of rules. Anyway they should know to warn others who need documents translated at the Spanish consulate that the translator needs to be someone who is approved by the consulate that’s located a mile from them! Apparently it was news to them too. And it’s my fault.

So two stars was FAIR. They did provide a decent translation and consistently wrote back, even to argue with me. I thought it was fair to at least request to have the $66 that I spent on a legit Spanish translator (according to the consulate) as I basically threw $95 into the recycling bin with this beautifully useless translation.

So Marina the owner responded back to this Yelp review and said that I ‘threatened’ to leave negative feedback. At the very end of these long argumentative and dismissive emails, I said I was GOING to leave negative feedback.

I would have been happy to ‘return’ the useless Advanced Translation Services translation but I ended up throwing it out.

Posted by Chris Girard in Dual Citizenship, Languages
Collaborative Video Comics with ESL Students in Spain

Collaborative Video Comics with ESL Students in Spain

I joined a tiny school in Madrid, Spain in 2018 with an English teaching organization called UCETAM and began working with an English and Art teacher named Juan Antonio Osuna. I discovered he likes working on comic book projects with his students and story comes from his creative genius. These kids are learning English and I wanted to bring my background in digital media into the mix. We immediately began to work on video projects. These videos were made by the students at Colegio Dos Parques in Madrid who provided the voices and drawings. The audio and video editing is by yours truly, Chris Girard, the English speaking and digital technology extraordinaire.

One of the projects, We Are on a Chicken Dragon, began the prior year. It is the quintessential crazy American road trip story but told from the perspective of the kids. They are riding on a half-chicken and half-dragon that’s wearing a pair of underpants from IKEA. This story is probably the most controversial for its criticism of the pervasive phenomenon in Madrid known as reggaeton.

The story goes that the second graders at Colegio Dos Parques are unhappy after a very important person from the city council tells them there there will be a reggaeton and El Puma concert on the rooftop of their school. They seek Chicken Dragon to help them to go California and convince the Red Hot Chili Peppers to play on top of their school instead. Lots of adventures happen along the way!

Watch We Are on a Chicken Dragon, 2019, on YouTube:

Another story called Story of a Caveman, began in 2017, when the kids (in third grade when the story was completed) were in first grade. It is a story about importance of friendship and the friendship that was formed between the caveman and a T-Rex. The Story of a Caveman is about a Caveman who goes on a wild adventure and befriends the T-Rex who was chasing him. They learn to help each other.

Watch The Story of a Caveman, 2019, on YouTube:

We began working on a brand new story called Manotenis. It is about a boy who discovers he has superpowers with his tennis ball hand. He discovers this after he finds a tennis ball inside the turkey during Thanksgiving. Manotenis can bounce and shoot evil villains with his tennis ball. He soon discovers that an evil villain is living in a secret lair behind the smartboard of his classroom at school. This evil villain is spying on the kids from a hidden camera inside their old fat-back television in the classroom. Can Manotenis save the day?

Watch The Shocking Stories of Manotenis (Season 1), 2019, on YouTube:

We then created a second season of Manotenis. Manotenis, the boy with a tennis ball hand, gets by with a little help from his friends. In this season, Manotenis travels to Catalonia to solve the mystery of the stolen calçots. Meanwhile, an unexpected surprise awaits him and his friends at the wild animal safari. Finally, he discovers he has a potential new friend or arch nemesis when he helps his friend get out of a very sticky situation. If Manotenis can’t save the day, can his friends?

Watch The Adventures of Manotenis and Friends (Season 2), 2020, on YouTube:

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Justificante Quilt

Justificante Fever

When I presented this project to the American Embassy in Madrid in Spring 2019, I was thinking oh man, how am I ever going to be able to get artist grants? I do worthwhile projects but I am never ever the model person to ever get grants or continue jobs.

UCETAM, this English program in Madrid run by waspy New Englanders, was at best ambivalent about what I was doing. I wasn’t doing the type of English that they ‘subtly’ pushed – getting the kids ready for the Cambridge Exams nor did I care to. And generally, the ‘work’ was a combination of tedious and a waste of time for me as reflected by my many justificantes from various medical and governmental facilities. Justificantes are Spain’s answer to a paid sick day. You get a stamped and signed form giving you a free hall pass. The school administrator, secretary or whatever she was, got tired of me and I got tired of myself for having to photograph these things.

Spare Justificante But after I went to the Dentista, Urgencia, Dermatólogo and Traumatólogo, I used this free time to work on my other projects. At the school, I usually would literally sit and stare at the class while the head of the school had me sit during her boring English classes. I already knew if I told UCETAM about how much of a big waste of my time this was, their response would be the typical “do more work on your end, talk to the teacher.”

I used the justificantes to make up for the waste of time and work with teachers and on projects that I wanted to work with. And something beautiful came out of it. Fortunately and unfortunately for the school I worked with, they double-dipped with English auxiliaries that were used as substitute teachers for the lack of teachers at the school and found an Australian woman who was over-enthusiastic about teaching. She was so enthusiastic that there was a power struggle with this head of the school’s English classes. The head of the school liked having full control over her classes but this Australian woman had a fervent desire to teach and rightfully wanted to practice. So the head of the school got what she deserved.

Anyway, I did my own thing, and it was to keep me from going insane. This is what it produced. After presenting my last justificante for the last day of school, and presenting these videos, my last word to them was, “adios!” Nobody wrote back.

Posted by Chris Girard in Projects, Video

Learning Italian for Spanish Speakers on Duolingo

This phallic reference on the left is not from the “flirting” bonus add-on that you buy with lingots on Duolingo. But it could have been. The “flirting” app did have “I want to try something sweet, can I taste your lips? / ¿Quiero probar algo dulce, podría saborear tus labios?” and it was worth the lingots or gems or whatever.

I have to thank my ex-coworker at The Echo, Vickki Acuna, who criticized my tattoos as being “mismatched”, but recommended me this cool language learning app called Duolingo. Duolingo teaches you a very basic list of words that are commonly used in the language of your choice. For every language, you begin at the first levels with very simple words and, in the case of Spanish, learn how to use subjunctive past. I played Duolingo every day for a year until I mastered all of the levels of Spanish back in 2017. Eventually, Duolingo introduced group speaking events. There was a friendly guy named Danny Sims who likes the Spanish language as second language but doesn’t do Duolingo himself that began hosting group events in Los Angeles. After trying to order drinks on the Duolingo tab, which was actually his tab, I learned he was just a language geek and does this stuff for free. I eventually learned Duolingo runs mostly everything on a volunteer basis.

Christian Pelleschi and Chris Girard (top left) attend the first Duolingo event in Downtown Los Angeles at Casey's Irish Pub in August 2017.

My spouse and I (second to top left) attended the first ever Duolingo event at Casey’s Irish Pub in August 2017. At these events, you get to practice speaking the language, rather than listening to and filling in blanks of sentences delivered by cartoon people. It was a lot of fun, and I have gone to quite a few more “intercambios” since 2017. Most of the time, the people who come to the Duolingo events are at a very beginning conversational level like I was in 2017 before I moved to Spain. Now I am usually the more advanced speaker, not because of Duolingo events, but because I have taken Spanish 4, 5, a conversation course and an immersion course since then. And I am conversationally still like gelatin next to a native Spanish speaker.

After using Duolingo for a few years, it will prepare you well for Spanish 1 through 4 at an American college. Duolingo will not prepare you for using the language in casual conversations with native speakers, classes conducted in other languages, writing assignments, bureaucratic things like getting citizenship in another country, cursing at people, hooking up or understanding cinema and tv shows. This, you have to rely on actually practicing. When confronted with not understanding someone, I usually rely on the person’s body language conveying more than what I grasped at what they’ve said.

It is easy not to practice speaking or listening on the app since you can always disable it. I usually disabled speaking and listening on Duolingo because I practiced almost exclusively not at home. Over the years, I have practiced at a job, waiting in line, on the metro or otherwise waiting for something or someone. After you learn the basic verbs and context, it becomes very predictable and an almost lazy activity. So I stepped it up.

Learning Two Languages at Once on Duolingo

When I taught English at a private cooperative bilingual school in Madrid, I was inspired by a teacher named Juanan who taught his kids Chinese through English. He would show funny videos from a YouTube channel called ChineseBuddy. The songs would be sung in Chinese and have English subtitles. It was impressive how Spanish kids learned how to speak Chinese through a trilingual approach from English.

I felt inspired to learn another language as practicing on Duolingo became too easy, so I began learning Italian from Spanish for Spanish speakers on the app. Both languages use the same bank of words, which helped me remember common words in English that I wasn’t too familiar with.

Both Spanish and Italian are romance languages with sentence structures that are mostly the same. The difference is mostly in the treatment of articles and plural words. But! There are certain common words that you realize you didn’t know one language, that are really common in English and another language.

To become, for example, is the simple diventare in Italian but there is no simple way to easily become something in Spanish. Convertirse en, ugh…

You have one word in English:

I become a man.

You have one word in Italian (hai una parola in italiano):

Io divento un uomo.

But, you have three words in Spanish (tienes tres palabras en español):

Yo me convierto en un hombre.

You have to do the reflexive romantic word, plus add to.

The direct translation to English is like saying I get converted to a man.

So, doing the trilingual approach makes me learn words that I didn’t realize I didn’t know and then it helps strengthen everything else.

The New Duolingo: Error-Shaming You to Use Premium!

The green Duolingo owl has become quite the Starbucks siren. Ever since a Duolingo update in December 2019, Duolingo has radically changed the way in which the game is played. You are very limited to taking on new levels now. You don’t have unlimited play anymore. You have ‘hearts’ to lose and ‘gems’ to earn. You will not be able to test out of levels without paying in ‘gems’. You will be restricted game play to levels that you already completed if you lose all of your ‘hearts’.

So, in the meantime, some people are switching over to the Duolingo website now since it doesn’t have ‘hearts’ and ‘gems’ to lose. The website still lives in the past with ‘lingots’. Considering that the app is volunteer-run and people are actively improving the app without being compensated, where is all the money for buying premium membership going?

These Duolingo feedback emails used to list the volunteers like “SaraGalesa” and “sanio” who helped add and correct errors to the translation bank. Eventually sometime after 2017, Duolingo made these countless number of volunteers anonymous to the public.

Money is being made from Duolingo incentivizing people into buying premium memberships by error-shaming and restricting them from learning. Some of these tireless unpaid volunteers like “SaraGalesa” and “sanio” who help approved a few of my many translation suggestions on Spanish Duolingo over the years should be getting paid and not in lingots (or gems).

So if anyone should be getting that Premium Membership money being raked in, please give it to the many volunteers who have vastly improved the translations on Duolingo and then the global ambassadors like Danny Sims from Los Angeles who have been bringing us together.

Posted by Chris Girard in Apps, Personal

All But Dissertation / Todo menos la tesis

All But Dissertation (ABD) is an Edgar Allan Poe inspired story (and dirge) offered in Spanish and English. Santa Cruz is haunted by an earthquake and my dead radical ex-lover.

Todos menos la tesis es una historia (e endecha) inspirada en Edgar Allan Poe que se ofrece en español e inglés. Santa Cruz está embrujada por un terremoto y mi ex amante radical y muerto.

All But Dissertation

Hercules from 1958 I have lived in San Francisco before and I have visited Santa Cruz often from this city. I am now a teaching assistant and a graduate student there. As you go down the two way road from the big city, the intensely green bushes continue up the hill on top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The huge redwoods hide each of the buildings. There are bridges that connect each of the buildings because the campus buildings are not closely connected to each other. Within the university bubble, there is a radical political life. An hourly public bus takes the radical students back to the city center. The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 fractured the city center and the green trees on the campus hide the destruction of the earthquake. Roads are also like tectonic plates. There are new signs in front of pale and old buildings that lean towards where the earth sinks through the faults, and where the buildings of the past, due to the lack of the structure, crumble.

On a bus to campus, I met his eyes that were staring at me. I didn’t know who he was, but I remember those blue eyes like ice that kept me hypnotized. Those blue eyes that attract and light up like a cold fire in a burning bus full of students. I barely remembered anything else, the high line of his hair under curly blond hair. The social network followed the small town from the algorithm on Facebook and made a small digital town. Quickly, through a friend of a friend, I found those eyes on Facebook.

I titled the subject of the email, Awkward, but …

How do I explain what I wrote? How do I explain the word for “awkward” in Spanish? There is not a word uncomfortable enough to describe what I want to do to you in Spanish. There is no word for “uncomfortable.” Awkward, but I want to meet you. Awkward, but I remember your eyes like a cold fire. Awkward, but I don’t believe in monogamy, do you?

But the word “awkward” broke the ice. He wanted us to meet.

The only place in the city center open until late at night for a chat was a cafeteria with fluorescent lights next to the bus stop. It was like a solitary moon in the dark night. There was no one in the dark the night we met, there was no one in the light. The cold of January night penetrated through the glass windows and the metal chairs and tables beside him. The only sound at night was the horrible noise of the bus exhaust pipes. He did not come. I waited for two hours and then went home.

I wrote to him. He apologized and said he was very busy completing a series of translations of Michel Foucault from the French. He was a radical Marxist and was finishing an experimental doctorate. My university was famous and notorious for having an abstract subject of study called “History of Consciousness” that brought radical activists from around the world. I missed Angela Davis’ Black Panther activism, who was imprisoned in the 1970s and teaches there. His disobedience did not make him famous either. He would never leave the program, unlike the famous student whose rejected dissertation was published and distributed in bookstores. It seemed that one dropped out or stayed.

I had seen a guy from the same program five years before, he was an Anarchist and not a Marxist. He was still in the program five years later because they continued to grant his student scholarships for his apartment in San Francisco. I never saw him in Santa Cruz.

I tried a second time. He invited me to his house. He lived in a guest house behind a gray single-story house, near the center of town. He had placed cut flowers around the windows and many open books. The light from the windows overwhelmed and formed silhouettes of vases with freshly decapitated flowers. His cat was very old and slept in the closet. We quickly started kissing when we entered. We walked to the shower and when I touched him, he had an orgasm almost immediately, almost a minute. As soon as he finished, it was time to leave, but I washed his dishes and slept there.

The second time we met, we talked about politics. I told him I was a Libertarian in an Afghan restaurant. I thought I only believed in autonomy. My art studies made me unconscious around me and aware of myself. His studies of post-structural philosophy made him more politically aware than self-aware. He grimaced behind my plate of chana masala. But he followed me uphill through the dense redwoods to the campus apartment and the double bed. We lay together in bed under a bright fluorescent light and stared into his eyes. The darkness of the windows at night was shaded by the thick trunks of the redwoods. They couldn’t eliminate the bright light from the eyes that wanted to leave mine. And he left.

It was a hard week. I went to boring parties hoping to see him. After he rejected my attempts to see him again, I sent him one last invitation to attend a boring art party of my classmates. I went to the guest house behind the gray house and the lights were on. I knocked on the door. He opened the door, but partially. He was sweaty and the sweat remained on his face. His mouth opened, which fell from fatigue rather than the surprise of seeing me. He smiled as if exhausted but not exhausted by me before closing the door. I walked home alone.

A few months later, the redwoods of the campus on top of the mountain whispered the music of the occupation. To accompany the occupants, the occupation inspired a night dance party in front of the buildings. Under the redwood trees, music exploded. The Anarchists and Marxists of Santa Cruz joined, the Anarchists stormed the buildings and the Marxists helped develop a plan. A graduate student building is blocked. The sofas surrounded the door to prevent the police from entering. They went up the first night, during the occupation dance party, to talk to the lookouts sleeping on the concrete slabs under the trees.

They turned off the music and went home. Under the tall whispering trees, I protected the other Marxists and Anarchists that first night while sleeping on the ground with a guy I was dating, a former student. But I didn’t sleep with him before giving him an A. The Marxists and the Anarchists were locked together when the police escorted us out of the building.

The sofas remained in front of the door for three months while the building collapsed internally. But the building collapsed internally because the Anarchists and Marxists did not get along. It was a class struggle within the broader class struggle they were fighting for. Many of the Anarchists did not go to university and lived in the city. Almost all Marxists were exclusively graduate students.

I stopped taking the bus. I got off by bicycle from the campus. In the background, the ocean felt as small as each of the small buildings. I had my unremarkable exhibition. I graduated with a degree in art. I never saw him again.

I never talked to anyone about him, even though he talked to many people about me. He described me as crazy. He described me in detail to people at parties. There was an expectation in my lovers to compare what he described with what they saw when my pants fell off. I called him a douchebag and said something about his privilege before he blocked me on Facebook. This was many years ago.

I returned to campus five years later. I was invited to give a speech among many of the alumni about my achievements. I was poor and didn’t have many achievements. I stayed in a hostel and made false receipts for airline tickets and hotels where I didn’t stay to get more money from the university. Almost all of my former classmates showed up to their own speeches. So I gave my ten-minute speech early in the morning to an audience of chairs and the cameraman.

The guy never finished his doctorate. I had nothing to say to him. As far as I knew at the time, as I walked towards the city and climbed to the top of the hill along the steep road. I saw a friend or whatever she was of his, a woman who talked too much who was also the roommate of my former student slash ex-boyfriend. She had a lovechild with a former Anarchist classmate who was still in Santa Cruz and pushed the sleeping lovechild. I didn’t smile or talk to her, but I saw the top of the baby’s bald head. It reminded me of the hairline I ran my finger through. The winding road like the baby’s blond curls went down another hill. I went towards the beach until I didn’t see the baby. I was walking towards the cold gray ocean. The still water of the beach had no emotion. There were no walruses. There were no people.

Another five years later, I got married. I told my spouse about this person. He searched his name on Google and discovered his obituary. It was hard to believe he had killed himself. He never left Santa Cruz and never left his endless doctoral studies. The creepy thing was that he died at the same time that I went to campus! I never knew.

I remember him as one of the people who stayed in Santa Cruz like the ancient redwood trees. Those blue eyes that attracted me turned into the gray ocean and the white sky of Santa Cruz. I ruled out his death for being existential and philosophical because he translated so many French philosophers. But I wondered about him. I barely remember what he said behind the redwoods because the blocked screen blocked my memory too and closed the blinds of something I didn’t want to see. I can’t remember his eyes beyond the gray of the Pacific Ocean because a dead body cannot unblock on Facebook.

Todo menos la tesis

Blurry Santa Cruz He vivido en San Francisco anteriormente y a menudo he visitado Santa Cruz desde esta ciudad. Ahora soy asistente de enseñanza y estudiante de posgrado allí. Cuando vas por el pequeño camino desde la gran ciudad, los arbustos intensamente verdes continúan hasta la colina en la cima de una montaña que domina el océano Pacífico. Las secoyas enormes esconden cada uno de los edificios. Hay puentes que conectan cada uno de los edificios porque los edificios del campus no están estrechamente conectados entre sí. Dentro de la burbuja de la universidad existe una radical vida política. Un autobús público cada hora lleva a los estudiantes radicales de vuelta al centro de la ciudad. El terremoto de Loma Prieta en 1989 fracturó el centro de la ciudad y los árboles verdes en el campus ocultan la destrucción del terremoto. Las carreteras también son como las placas tectónicas. Hay nuevas señales frente a pálidos y viejos edificios que se inclinan hacia donde la tierra se hunde por las fallas, y donde los edificios del pasado, por la falta de la estructura se desmoronan.

En un autobús al campus, me encontré con sus ojos que me miraban fijamente. No sabía quién era ella, pero recuerdo aquellos ojos azules como el hielo que me mantenían hipnotizados. Esos ojos azules que atraen y se iluminan como un fuego frío en un autobús ardiente lleno de estudiantes. Apenas recordaba otra cosa, la alta línea de su cabello, bajo el cabello rubio rizado. La red social siguió el pequeño pueblo a partir del algoritmo en Facebook e hizo un pequeño pueblo digital. Rápidamente, a través de un amigo de un amigo, encontré esos ojos en Facebook.

Titulé el asunto del correo electrónico, Incómodo, pero…

¿Cómo explico lo que escribí? ¿Cómo explico la palabra inglesa para “awkward” en español? No hay una palabra lo suficientemente incómoda como para describir lo que quiero hacerte en español. No hay una palabra para “incómodo”. Qué incómodo, pero quiero conocerte. Qué incomodo, pero recuerdo tus ojos como un fuego frío. Qué incómodo, pero yo no creo en la monogamia, ¿y tú?

Pero la palabra “incómodo” rompió el hielo. Él quería que nos conociéramos.

El único lugar en el centro de la ciudad abierto hasta altas horas de la noche para charlas informales era una cafetería con luces fluorescentes al lado de la parada del autobús. Era como la luna solitaria en la noche oscura. Había nadie en la oscuridad la noche que nos conocimos, había nadie a la luz. El frío de la noche de enero penetraba a través de las ventanas de cristal y las sillas y mesas de metal a su lado. El único sonido en la noche era el horrible ruido de los tubos de escape de los autobuses. Él no vino. Esperé dos horas y me fui a casa.

Le escribí. Se disculpó y dijo que estaba muy ocupada completando una serie de traducciones de Michel Foucault del francés. Era una Marxista radical y estaba terminando un doctorado experimental. Mi universidad era famosa y notoria por tener un tema abstracto de estudio que se llamaba “La Historia de la Conciencia” que trajo activistas radicales de todo el mundo. Extrañaba el activismo de Pantera Negra de Angela Davis, quien fue encarcelada en la década de 1970 y enseña allí. Su desobediencia tampoco la hizo famosa. Él nunca abandonaría el programa, a diferencia del famoso estudiante cuya disertación rechazada se publicó y distribuyó en librerías. Parecía que uno renunciaba o se quedaba.

Había salido con un chico del mismo programa cinco años antes, que era Anarquista y no Marxista. Él seguía en el programa cinco años más tarde porque continuaban otorgándole becas estudiantiles para su apartamento en San Francisco. Nunca la vi en Santa Cruz.

Lo intenté por segunda vez. Me invitó a su casa. Vivía en una casa de huéspedes detrás de una casa gris de un solo piso, cerca del centro del pueblo. Había colocado flores cortadas alrededor de las ventanas y muchos libros abiertos. La luz de las ventanas abrumaba y formaba siluetas de los jarrones con flores recién decapitadas. Su gato era muy viejo y dormía en el armario. Rápidamente empezamos a besarnos cuando entramos. Caminamos hacia la ducha y cuando le toqué, él tuvo un orgasmo casi inmediatamente, casi al minuto. Tan pronto como él terminó, era hora de irme, pero yo lavé sus platos y dormí allí.

La segunda vez que nos vimos, hablamos de política. Le dije que era una Libertaria en un restaurante afgano. Pensé que solo creía en la autonomía. Mis estudios de arte me hicieron inconsciente de mi alrededor y consciente de mí mismo. Sus estudios de filosofía posestructural le hicieron más políticamente consciente que consciente de sí misma. Hizo una mueca detrás de mi plato de chana masala. Pero él me siguió cuesta arriba a través de las densas secuoyas hasta el departamento del campus y la cama doble. Nos acostamos juntos en la cama debajo de una brillante luz fluorescente y le miré fijamente a los ojos. La oscuridad de las ventanas en la noche se sombreaban por los gruesos troncos de las secoyas. No podían eliminar la luz brillante de los ojos que querían dejar los míos. Y él se fue.

Fue una semana dura. Fui a fiestas aburridas con la esperanza de verle. Después de que rechazó mis intentos de volver a verle, le envié una última invitación para que asistiera a una aburrida fiesta de arte de mis compañeros. Fui a la casa de huéspedes detrás de la casa gris y las luces estaban encendidas. Llamé a la puerta. Él abrió la puerta, pero parcialmente. Estaba sudorosa y el sudor permanecía en su rostro. Su boca se abrió, que se cayó por el cansancio más que la sorpresa de verme. Él sonrió como si agotada pero no estuviera agotada por mí antes de cerrar la puerta. Caminé a casa solo.

Unos meses más tarde, las secuoyas del campus en la cima de la montaña susurraron la música de la ocupación. Para acompañar a los ocupantes, la ocupación inspiró una fiesta de baile nocturna frente a los edificios. Debajo de los árboles de secuoyas, la música estalló. Los Anarquistas Marxistas de Santa Cruz se unieron, los Anarquistas irrumpieron en los edificios y los Marxistas ayudaron a desarrollar un plan. Se bloquea un edificio de estudiantes de posgrado. Los sofás rodearon la puerta para evitar que entrara la policía. Subieron la primera noche, durante la fiesta de baile de la ocupación, para hablar con los vigías que dormían en las losas de concreto debajo de los árboles.

Apagaron la música y se fueron a casa. Debajo de los altos árboles que susurraban, protegí a los otros Marxistas y Anarquistas esa primera noche mientras dormía en el suelo con una chica con la que estaba saliendo: una antigua estudiante. Pero no me acosté con él antes de darle la A. Los Marxistas y los Anarquistas se quedaron encerrados juntos cuando la policía nos escoltó fuera del edificio.

Los sofás permanecieron frente a la puerta durante tres meses mientras el edificio se derrumbaba internamente. Pero el edificio se derrumbó internamente porque los Anarquistas y Marxistas no se llevaban bien. Fue una lucha de clases dentro de la lucha de clases más amplia por la que estaban luchando. Muchos de los Anarquistas no fueron a la universidad y vivían en la ciudad. Casi todos los Marxistas eran exclusivamente estudiantes de posgrado.

Dejé de tomar el autobús. Bajé en bicicleta desde el campus. Al fondo, el océano se sentía tan pequeño como cada uno de los pequeños edificios. Tuve mi exposición poco notable. Me gradué con una licenciatura en arte. Nunca la volví a ver.

Nunca hablé con nadie sobre él, a pesar de que habló con muchas personas sobre mí. Él me describió como loco. Él me describió en detalle a las personas en las fiestas. Había una expectativa en mis amantes por comparar lo que él describió con lo que vieron cuando se caían mis pantalones. Le llamé puta y le dije algo sobre su privilegio antes de que me bloqueara en Facebook. Esto fue hace muchos años.

Volví al campus cinco años después. Fui invitado a dar un discurso entre muchos de los exalumnos sobre mis logros. Yo era pobre y no tenía muchos logros. Me alojé en un albergue e hice recibos falsos de los billetes de avión y de los hoteles en los que no me quedé para conseguir más dinero de la universidad. Casi todos de mis antiguos compañeros de clase se presentó a sus propios discursos. Así que di mi discurso de diez minutos por la mañana temprano a una audiencia de las sillas y la camarógrafa.

El chico nunca terminó su doctorado. No tenía nada que decirle a él. Por lo que yo sabía en ese momento, mientras caminaba hacia la ciudad y subía a la cima de la colina a lo largo del camino inclinado. Vi a la amiga o lo que sea, una mujer que hablaba demasiado y al compañero de cuarto de mi ex estudiante y el ex novio. Ella todavía estaba allí también. Ella empujó el carruaje de su bebe dormido. El padre era un ex compañero de clase Anarquista. No sonreí ni hablé con ella, pero vi la parte superior de la cabeza calva del bebé. Me recordó la línea del cabello por la que pasé el dedo. La sinuosa carretera como sus rizos rubios bajaba otra colina y hacia la playa y no vi el bebe. Caminaba hacia el frío océano gris. El agua quieta de la playa no tenía emoción. No había morsas. No había gente.

Otros cinco años después, me casé. Le conté a mi esposo sobre esta persona. Buscó su nombre en Google y descubrió su esquela. Era difícil creer que se había suicidado. Nunca dejó Santa Cruz y nunca dejó sus interminables estudios de doctorado. ¡Lo espeluznante era que él murió al mismo tiempo que yo fui al campus! Nunca lo supe.

La recuerdo a él como de las personas que se quedaban en Santa Cruz como los árboles secuoyas milenarios. Esos ojos azules que me atraían se volvieron en el océano gris y el cielo blanco de Santa Cruz. Descarté su muerte por ser existencial y filosófica porque él tradujo a tantos filósofos franceses. Pero me preguntaba por él. Apenas recuerdo lo que dijo detrás de las secuoyas porque la pantalla bloqueada bloqueaba mi memoria también y cerraba las persianas de algo que no quiero ver. No puedo recordar sus ojos más allá del gris del océano Pacífico porque un cadáver no puede desbloquear en Facebook.

Posted by Chris Girard in Personal, Poetry & Writing, Projects