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

“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

Live from La Cuarentena

What’s up?

Here’s the tea: I’ve been trying to write a post for a couple of days now. I ended up churning out some pretty dramatic paragraphs about the time I nearly died of swine flu, because that felt relevant, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t up to the task of serious reflection. Illness is uncertainty. Some of us are more vulnerable. As a collective, we humans grossly overestimate our preparedness and immunity time and again. We should give a shit about each other every day, but we don’t. That’s about the sum of it. Talk to me in six months. I  might have a deep post ready then. At the moment, I’ve had enough of them. So here’s something I’m sure you’ve never seen before… A PERSONAL UPDATE!

My Very Madrileña Quarantine

On Monday, I decided to escape from my apartment because my flatmate had left and I am (see: previous brush with death) a high-risk bitch. That being the case, I prefer to be with my boyfriend, who can brave the outside world for any of my pharmaceutical needs and who also, it just so happens, has half of my medical supplies in his fridge. So my escape was legit, guys. Mr. Sánchez, if you’re reading this, it was justified. I covered my face with a scarf and walked down the hill with two shopping bags, bringing only the essentials and the perishables–from medicines to mascarpone. When I arrived at my destination, I washed my hands for three full ABC’s.

Truth be told, I felt bad about leaving my neighbors. For the first time in the four years I’ve called Madrid home, I saw their faces. We hung our heads  out of the windows of the interior patio on Sunday—introduced ourselves, announced pregnancies, and planned communal Bingo games. Notably absent were the 6th floor couple who my flatmate and I have taken to calling “the sex dungeon.” I support them 100% in their passion, but I think that perhaps they lacked some foresight in this matter. With the whole building home and living under this new quarantine-quiet, all of that very-audible and increasingly violent ball-slapping was bound to create some awkward tension in our nascent community. Such is life. I, for one, hope that the sex dungeon integrates themselves and that all those relative strangers will forgive me my betrayal in this bizarre time.

Do you have any questions about the quarantine coming your way? Literature suggestions? Hopes, dreams, tips, or tricks? Send them my way and, as they say these days, please keep your ass at home.

Seo

Julia Cameron Probably Wants You to Be Christian

Happy 2020, y’all!

I think this decade will be cute, even though everything is on fire and egomaniacs are ruling the world. I feel like I’ve got my priorities straight and my ass on right, at least.

A friend recently recommended “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” to me, so that will be my first project of 2020. I’m cheap but I also, like the rest of the adult world, probably need semi-extensive therapy. So, this is it.

After reading chapter one, I sort of feel like Julia Cameron wouldn’t mind if I went to bible study. There’s a lot of God talk going on. Nevertheless, Martin Scorsese endorses it and, regardless of how you feel about her particular brand of self-discovery, so does Elizabeth Gilbert. 

For those like me–uncomfortable with hippy-dippy shit and the suggestion that your ego might not be serving you as well as you’d like to believe it is, I suspect this book might be difficult to digest at times, but whatever. It’s definitely going to be more productive than psychoanalyzing Trisha Paytas.

BW Golden Hour

The Library is Open and I Am Swearing A Lot

I began July with three books half-started and I left it with two half-finished.

Are you interested in hearing about the what and why and how I felt about them? If so, you just hit the jackpot. The following reviews/recommendations/rants are all my own:

  1. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
    Cosmicomics Italo CalvinoAs soon as I cracked this one open, I felt like 8-year-old me reading the first page of The Sorcerer’s Stone againThat is not to say, of course, that Rowling and Calvino are both accessible to grade-schoolers, but that they do share the ability to captivate & mesmerize. These stories somehow manage to evoke very human pathos for characters as varied as dinosaurs in disguise, mathematical concepts, and aquatic curmudgeons.The collection opens with “The Distance of the Moon,” a tale about a time when the moon was close enough to earth that one could simply prop a ladder up against it and climb up to its craters. Darwin posited this theory more than a century ago (minus the ladder bit) and Calvino, using his creative sorcery, manipulated it into a beautiful tale about unrequited love. It may or may not have made me cry.

    Disclaimer: “A Sign in Space” is essentially an ode to semiotics, and a few other stories require some similarly dense wading-through, but this is by far the most original, creative collection of stories I’ve ever read on Life’s Big Questions, and I can’t wait to re-read them in English.

    SHOULD YOU READ IT? If you are at all intrigued by what a mollusk might have to say about passion, yes.

     

  2. el libro de las aguas by Eduard Limónov (I can’t find it in English, so maybe it doesn’t exist).
    Limonov Shelf
    Limónov’s memoir-ish work el libro de las aguas is about war, politics, and a rotating set of women whose vaginas (and souls, supposedly) have played a part in his life.  He wrote it while in prison, expecting to live out his last days there. All of the events discussed, battles fought, and women boned, are centered around bodies of water–oceans, rivers, swamps, you get the idea. Founder of the National Bolshevik Party, guerrilla fighter, and unapologetic misogynist, Limónov certainly has a lot to say. I really wanted to enjoy his autobiography, and I did want him to be the sort of asshole I’d hate to love.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t, and he wasn’t.

    I’ve taken some liberty in my interpretation of Limonóvs writing on women. However poetic it may have actually been, this is what it sounded like to me:

    “Little tiny Nastia was 19 and wrote furiously. People probably thought that I was her grandfather, but little did they know we fucked the shit out of each other at home. I also would like to let you all know, again, that she had a young, very young body, which was pure art. Also,  it is important for me to let you know that many people have been jealous of and impressed by the number of perfect butts that I have bedded over my lifetime. I am going to prison now and I am so sad, because I do not know what this 19-year-old will do without my dick. Surely, she will never find another one like it.”

    These types of sentences made me want to roll myself onto the metro floor and invite the masses to stampede me. I was more interested in hearing Nastia’s story and I tired rather quickly of Limónov’s appraisal of female body parts. It is not not by any means the bulk of the book’s content — I have, however, had it up to my EARLOBES with tedious analyses of the perfect curve, breast, loin, and so on, so I decided to move on with my life. Dear Men Who Write, I do not want to castrate you — I would just like for you to stop boring my tits off.

    I will give the book another shot once I’ve brushed up on my eastern European history because yes, I will admit, there may be something more there. For now, however, she’s going back on the shelf.

    BUT SHOULD YOU READ IT? If you are into guns, dicks, and the male ego, this memoir will get you hot & bothered in all the right ways.

  3. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
    david foster wallace
    Consider the Lobster begins with “Big Red Son,” an exposé on the American pornography industry told through the vehicle of the AVN awards (the adult movie industry’s Oscars).

    Holy
    Effin’
    Shit.

    I tried to read Infinite Jest at 20 and I ended up leaving it in Granada because I was too busy being nasty-happy to indulge Wallace’s love for the footnote. This essay, and a great majority of the following ones, however, were a joy to read. To be honest, I could have done without “Authority and American Usage.” If you’ve read any of this blog, it should be obvious that I’m not particularly fond of grammar rules.

    IS IT WORTH READING THO? If you love a well-crafted, humorous, borderline manic argument and/or exploring America’s wacko cultural phenomena, these essays will not disappoint. Although they were written in the late nighties and early aughts, it’s shocking and just a little bit disturbing to see how relevant many of them continue to be, especially where media and politics are concerned.

Well, would-be finger-waggers, please take that final glowing review as evidence that I can indeed appreciate art even when it is made or written by misogynistic trolls. I’ve been having an issue with this lately, because I still feel like I need to apologize for wanting to read about female characters who are more than “perfect” curves or owners of astoundingly gorgeous asses that YOU CAN HARDLY BELIEVE ARE OVER THIRTY! I don’t understand why part of me feels that I am being “too harsh” on this topic. A very heterosexual friend of mine recently complained to me that it’s just, like, men can’t do or say anything anymore!

I don’t know. I love beauty as much as the next idiot, but as soon as I realized that I was an actual person, these sort of descriptors got real old, real quick. Any competent editor will tell a writer to dig deeper, but these butt-ballads are as surface level as it gets.

So, women and men: have you any wisdom? What have you been reading?

Love,

Seo