What It’s Like To Wake Up As A Huge Loser

My novio often says “good morning little mole!” when I emerge from the bedroom half-blind and looking for coffee. At the moment, however, he is working, while I still have four weeks of vacation left and can sleep all the way in. So these days we don’t really wake up together, which means it was just me, myself, and I, alone in my sticky-eyed moleness this morning. As I reached my proverbial claws out of my proverbial burrow and sniffed around, shit got dark real quick.

mole

The rain had finally let up overnight and the breeze it left behind was cool and sweet. The sun was shining. Although the construction workers had been banging away for hours, I hadn’t noticed. What a beautiful day! someone who is not me might’ve said upon waking. But someone who is me, or at least sometimes me, said:

You have no purpose.

You are a loser.

And a weirdo.

You sweat too much.

You are a failure and a fake.

Shit-talking oneself first thing in the morning is really not OK. I mean it might be OK and understandable, necessary even, for someone who grossly mishandles a global pandemic or incites violence or locks humans in cages, but something tells me that the internal dialogue of a person like this looks very different than mine does.

But I woke up with these trashy mantras floating through my head anyway. Then I opened my e-mail and saw that Mary Oliver’s book of essays, Blue Pastures, had been left in the mailbox.

Great, I thought. Fantastic! Mary Oliver is a literary dime piece. She’ll probably have an essay about the simplicity of leaves or some shit to make me realize that I’m a big drama queen and that peace is possible even among all this uncertainty and existential angst.

I got dressed, took the elevator downstairs, turned the key in the mailbox, opened the tiny door, and found another dark, empty hole. No book. No salvation.

I made my way to the doorman’s office to inquire about it. In Spain, I usually have communication problems with the men at the door. It’s because of my accent, I think. And now, with the mask mandate and the whole not being able to see anyone’s mouth issue, things are worse–for both me, and them. But we made it work:

Me: Hola, I received a delivery confirmation for a book, but there’s no book in the mailbox.  Did you accept any deliveries?

Him: *blank stare*

Me: A Package. From Amazon. A package. I should have received one. Could it be the little package you have sitting on your desk right there?

Him (laughing): No, it couldn’t be this one. That’s impossible, because this one is for me.

Me: Ah… hm, I don’t know then…

Him: Well, the delivery man also had another package, but he left it in a different box. It seemed strange to me, you know, because I know those people are on vacation for the next month. He was in a hurry.

Me: Well, that sounds like it might be it.

Him: Hold on a minute, I’ll be right back.

He disappeared down the stairs and appeared a few moments later with a ruler, a long piece of metal wire, and an unidentifiable piece of plastic. He headed to the mailbox in question and I offered to shine my phone light into it, just to make sure my package was really in there before we began committing a federal crime. Sure enough, it was.

The long metal wire didn’t work, and neither did the unidentifiable plastic. In a final attempt, he slid the ruler under the bottom of the box and managed to push the package up to the slot, where someone with small hands, which the doorman does not have, might be able to grab it.

Him: What are your fingers like?

Me: Well, (*thinking*: sweaty… so, so sweaty) I think I can get it.

I felt a bizarre sense of danger and relief as I stepped into his personal space and worked my hand into the  slot, finally managing to pull out the book. It was the first time in five months that I’ve shared anything resembling space or time with a stranger, let alone a common goal.

He collected his tools and turned to me as I thanked him.

Him: He was just in such a hurry.

MeYa, las prisas no son buenas. Haste makes waste.

Him: Haste makes waste, that’s right. Hey, this never happened.

Me: I wasn’t here and I never saw you.

I haven’t started reading the essays yet. I don’t think I need to. It’s like Mary’s spirit flew out of the book, possessed the delivery man, and slapped me in the face: don’t hurry to a destination that you can’t even name. Don’t berate yourself for not being there yet, wherever there may be.

And all of this is also just to say that it is OK to wake up in a trashcan sometimes.

Love,

Seo

A Picture-Perfect Breakfast

Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen…

We counted the writhing bodies.

I know it’s necessary but…

I feel sick.

This is so sad.

This is horrific.

How are they still alive?

I will never get this image out of my head.

I will be haunted.

The holiday home hadn’t been rented since February, before total confinement began. So one, two… six months had gone by without a single human being passing through it to enjoy the expansive view of the Alpujarra mountains, or the fireplace, or the vertigo-inducing hammock.

They came out of there like cartoons

Paper wasps are social creatures, says the internet. Each spring, a few queens (“foundresses”) awake from their winter slumber, chow down on some paper, and begin to build and lay. Saliva and paper become cribs for their daughters, who will expand, maintain the home, and provide caterpillar gruel for baby boy wasps. Those boys become men whose main function is to mate and, in very rare cases (when all of the ladies are out hunting), defend the nest. New queens are raised later in the season.

As a species, they are peaceful enough. One can co-exist with the paper wasp. They do not attack unless they feel their home is threatened and they do not feel that their home is threatened unless it is located in an area, like a balcony, with regular human traffic.

Breakfast in the Alpujarras

On Tuesday morning, JC took a seat below the wall lamp and we clinked coffee cups. Inside the lamp, life rustled into action–a nest. From the nest, a paper lady eyed JC’s big black curls and identified them immediately: a threat to safety, a major road-block to bacon. I speared an avocado and the peace broke with a shout– hijo de puta (son of a bitch! mother fucker!) A red welt appeared on JC’s arm as the aggressor, her bright yellow legs dangling, hovered around the chair. He peered up into the lamp: me cago en… (I shit on..!) So we began our little escape-the-pests dance. Plates and forks flew indoors. We were two city idiots dodging stingers. Soon, the fat can of Raid emerged. I  knew this because from the kitchen I heard more swearing, and a door slamming shut.

It was a massacre.

We finished our breakfast inside, watching the mountains through the anti-mosquito chain curtain, periodically checking in on the casualties. Me, half-mourning the bugs who’d made a home in our absence.

Cuidado,

Seo

Hawt Quarantine Tracks

Looking for some music for your quarantine feels? Check these out.

 1. Bettye Swann’s “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”
Great for
: shower sing-alongs, light emotional breakdowns.

2. Nina Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do”
Great for: Feeling bad and good at the same time, light emotional breakdowns.

3. Drake’s “Mob Ties”
Great for: getting angry, pretending you’re tough, remembering those times your brother would scream every time he heard you say “OK Google–play Mob Ties,” and light emotional breakdowns.

4. Mala Rodriguez and Stylo G’s “Estar Contigo”
Great for
:  Getting stuck in your head for actual days, photo-editing, imitating the choreo and feeling like a nerd.

5. The Smiths “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”
Great for: those nights when you just want to eat popcorn for dinner.

Enjoy the journey,

Seo

“Angry Girl Music” or: Callin’ Ya Bullshit

“Sometimes I just love driving around, blasting Fiona Apple, and crying.”

We used to refer to Bella’s car as Goldie Hon. It was a gold Honda. I liked imagining Bella  on Lincoln Drive scream-crying along to “Get Gone” or weeping to the tune of “Never Is A Promise.” It made me feel less insane and a little bit nostalgic for pain. Because pain, in some strange way, often meant clarity–or at least the coming of it.

Sometime in winter, I downloaded the Co-star App, and I also began following the company on Instagram. Yesterday, they uploaded a post detailing how each of the signs “reaches out.”

“Cancer,” it read: “With random Fiona Apple lyrics captioned, ‘so us‘”

This is not the first time that astrology has successfully made a caricature of me.

I remembered reaching out to an ex-boyfriend when we were in the process of tearing one another apart at the messy end of our long-distance non-relationship. I opened Facebook messenger and sent him a link to Fiona’s new song “Werewolf.” My following message read: “reminded me of you.”

He replied quickly, as usual. “Aw, you’re thinking of me!”

Later, he actually listened to the song. I knew this because I received another message in which he had written “you’re an asshole.” Breaking up was new for me, and deliciously reptilian.

Fiona Apple’s first album was released when I was six years old. I don’t think I heard it until I was ten. My cool south-Jersey cousin, or perhaps it was even my own mother, introduced my sister, then at the beginning of her own dark pubescence, to Tidal and When the Pawn… I liked the music then, found it mysterious. I imagined the riffs offered some unique meaning for moody teenage girls, as my sister and my cousin were.

When my own middle-school discontent arrived, I often laid in bed at night and listened to “Fast as You Can” on repeat on my discman. I liked that Fiona was both self-deprecating and righteous. It seemed bold to be a woman expressing anger and sadness, to be accusatory and sensitive at the same time.

Fiona accompanied me through middle and high-school and university, off and on, always giving me permission to be confusing and complete. And now she’s here for my adulthood, too, with Fetch the Bolt Cutters. She’s funnier, more confident somehow, but still 100% Fiona Apple. It’s a piece of art, the sort born of necessity and passion. It ignores marketing tactics and says, “easily-digestible narrative? the fuck is that?”

Thanks for this quarantine blessing, Fiona.

Seo

I Know. It’s Been a Minute and a Half.

Dedicated readers, all four of you, please accept my apology, although I never promised you consistency.

How OK I am with being inside worries me, albeit only slightly. In these forty-nine (?) days, I’ve read Marx and Tolstoy and Camus and Hesse and Flaubert. All great guys, really stand-up writers. But I started reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie two days ago, and now the thought of returning to Anna Karenina produces a sensation in me not unlike the one I feel when I  think about cleaning out the shower drain.

Read the book, basically. It’s real good.

Other things I’ve been into:

  • This Jeff Buckley cover of “I Know It’s Over.”

  • Wondering what my life would have been like had I stayed in America.
  • Wondering whether I could live in New York City without having a meltdown.
  • Thinking about the past.
  • Inexplicably, missing Greyhound buses.
  • Thinking that education is really, really important.
  • Feeling pessimistic and optimistic in the same breath.
  • Herbal teas.

So that’s all I’ve got for today.

Stay curious,

Seo