America

How To Pack in 24 Self-Reflective Steps

I’ve done a lot of market research on lifestyle blogs/listicles and I’ve noticed that a lot of people seek help when it comes to putting their things in bags and then traveling with them, so I thought I’d share my own method. I’ve been packing this way for years and its always worked for me.

  1. Take your suitcase out of the closet. Open it.
  2. Walk away from the suitcase.
  3. Put a wig on.
  4. Take a casual selfie:IMG_20170702_233124_817
  5. Think: I am lookin’ like a drowned, harassed rat (then wonder who wrote that line in “Let’s Have a Kiki” and envy them).
  6. Start playing one or two songs on repeat. This year I’m listening to Rihanna’s “Love on The Brain” and “Higher.” The best lines are “What do I gotta do to get in yo’ mothafuckin’ heart?” and “I just really need your ass with me,” respectively.
  7. Receive a message from a friend with a link to Tina Turner’s  1982 performance of “Proud Mary” and then spend between ten and thirty minutes freaking out about how amazing Tina Turner and her legs are.
  8. Clean out the pockets of your winter coats and wonder why it is always in the pockets of said coats that the most bittersweet of memories live.
  9. Read your old journals and feel mildly embarrassed. Destroy between twelve and fifteen pages after you deem them too dramatic and/or dirty for public consumption in the event that you suffer an untimely death and someone has to go through your things.
  10. Take the wig off and feel a little bit sad about it.
  11. Have a brief panic attack when you think you’re a year older than you actually are.
  12. Have lunch.
  13. Have a coffee.
  14. Have a tiny mental breakdown as you compare your life today to your life at this same moment last year. Entertain the possibility that you are making all of the wrong decisions, all of the time. Realize that you feel this same way when you compare your life two weeks ago to your life today and resolve to be more carpe diem because, seriously, who cares?
  15. Think for a good bit about the absurdity of being afraid.
  16. Repeat Step # 4.
  17. Start folding and stacking clothing. Find a slim journal among a pile of t-shirts, start reading it, and begin to suspect that your past self planted emotional bombs all over your room in some kind of sick plan to thwart your departure.
  18. Start taking your books off the shelf, smelling the pages, and remembering where and why you read each of them.
  19. Wish someone would bring you a snack and a proper iced coffee.
  20. Throw all of your clothing on top of your suitcase, reasoning that, while this does not qualify as packing, at least it has gotten closer to its final destination.
  21. Repeat Step # 6.
  22. Make and eat dinner.
  23. Call your sister to inquire about how many formal dresses you’ve left in the closet at home. Although you have no plans to attend any black tie events during your visit, this feels urgent. Chat for an hour with multiple family members about eyebrows, taxes, and “Ice Cream Jerks.”
  24.  Write a stupid list about everything you just did and promise yourself that you’ll make more progress tomorrow (cuz you’re responsible as eff and started this three days early).

Luv and pride,

Seo

I will never grow so old again

Listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is exactly like living in the most painful, beautiful dream you’ve ever had. Very James Joyce. Very makes me want to dance down the metro aisles and also lay down in the middle of the road and cry and also jump into some sea, any sea, and run down an empty street with a lover or with a friend or alone, laughing until the end of time.

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Kildare, Ireland 2016

“Sweet Thing” means something different every year, but has been an especially prominent song in my life lately and often played on repeat (sorry not sorry, neighbor). It’s like being a child again. It’s like falling in love with life, with yourself, with someone new after two-million heavy nights. Like getting younger every year. Like looking at the same old world you’ve always lived in and seeing it for the first time again. Like not looking for answers, “being satisfied not to read in between the lines.” Like surrendering to a gorgeous madness. “Hey, it’s me, I’m dynamite and I don’t know why.”

From 1968 with love,

Seo

Mysteries of the Mind, Part 2

Last week I saw In The Same Boat, a documentary about how technology and job automation have led to monstrous wealth inequality and how one might confront the problem moving forward. It was followed by an open forum debate with Rudy Gnutti (the director), Yayo Herrero (premier eco-feminist), Jorge Moruno (Podemos representative and “lover of gnocchi”), and Iñigo Errejón (Podemos’ poster-baby and serial gesticulator). I was interested in the subject matter, but it would be dishonest of me to say that my facetious goal of dancing a chotis with Errejón didn’t have just a little bit to do with my decision to buy tickets. At the time of writing that goal remains unrealized, but I can tell you that in person Errejón looks younger than most of my middle-school students. I can also tell you that, after telling said students about the documentary, a few of them informed me that if I was a Podemista, I should leave class. Others warned me that my “pants were turning purple” and one incredulous girl asked “so, what, you think everyone should have jobs?” More on this later. Or never.

Getting ready for bed I thought mostly about how I should study economy and take a public speaking class. I also thought about the Amazon executive from the documentary, whose interview included a really amusing line in which he talked about how truly awful he really felt about getting on his private jet after seeing poverty in the streets! Finally, head on my pillow, eyes closed, my thoughts drifted not to neo-liberalism nor to Spain’s new political party, but to… Nino friggin’ Bravo, Spanish crooner and eyebrow idol.

Musical insomnia, again.

What was the song this time? “Un Beso y Una Flor.”

And the lines that wouldn’t leave my mind?

De día viviré pensando en tus sonrisas
De noche las estrellas me acompañarán

A beautiful, romantic goodbye song.

Why? And for what?

Y’all didn’t think I was about to analyze economics, did you?

Sunday Reflections: Old Post, New Day

Did you ever go somewhere and realize it used to be a different place? And it dawns on you that some things are not there anymore. Of course, some other things are not here yet. And nothing seems to be where it used to be; everything’s been moved. Sometimes I think if we could just put everything back where it originally was, we might be all right.”

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I like having a regular bar, waiters who know my order, and friends and family who are not confused by my Jersey Housewife impression (new friends are always welcome, however, so long as they find it mildly amusing). I am, likewise, a traveler of habit. I like to re-visit places. I like to see how they’ve changed, to remember how I felt in them then and appreciate (or lament) the now. Location is powerful. If it weren’t, we’d have no opinions on going or staying.

There are ghosts on every corner, I wrote of an impending return to Pittsburgh in 2011. That was during my Sylvia Plath stage, so I was really into writing stuff like that and, as much I didn’t want to, back indeed I had to go. One does not accrue student debt in order to leave without a diploma, I am told. So I returned. I made new memories in the old places and they all started to look a little bit different, even though they weren’t. (more…)

New Views, Old Thoughts

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For the love of the metro and the sake of my mind, I moved to Madrid. In Bodas de Sangre, Leonardo (the home-wrecking heartthrob) tells his lover: “cuando las cosas llegan a los centros, no hay quien las arranque!” When things reach deep inside you, nothing can pull them out! I sang that line into my steering wheel all summer long, knowing its truth better than most other things. It was a truth that I knew when I left home for the first time, when I escaped to Granada, and again 4 years later, having learned to live and love in another place, when I began to think mostly of metro cars, mostly at night, especially after wine. Not a single part of my body would shut up about it, so with some fear and plenty of nausea, I accepted the impossibility of quieting my feet.

So here I am. I live here now. “Madame George” lasts about exactly as long as the ride from my home to Alonso Martinez. I dream myself onto platforms, at the right station, onto the wrong train. I think I share a wall with an American. I can always tell us by our laughs. Strangers touch my ass every morning and I find myself staring into the backs of heads on the metro ride, which isn’t as romantic as I’d imagined it would be, but certainly has its charm, too (it’s that sense of community that comes from inhabiting somebody’s 8AM body odor).

When people ask “why?” I say:

“I just needed a change.”

Which is, of course, true. Still, my real life is not nearly dramatic as the one I live in my head. I suppose that is for the best, but this all felt very serious and necessary. Serious enough to take a Lorca quote completely out of context, at least.