American Healthcare & A Few Useless Book Reviews

Happy Saturday, from me and my bed.

Last night I was riding up Ribera de Curtidores on a Mad Bici (not sponsored), feeling on top of the world. I was zooming past the Friday night drunks and just about ready to ride that bike to the top of my five flights of stairs, except that the bike weighs 200 kilos, and is not mine, so I left it at the station.

And then I checked my phone.

I had a new message from my mother, saying something along the lines of…

“Hello dear, I’m sorry to say that a bill for 900 dollars arrived to the house for you.”

To which I responded: “I REFUSE. I WILL NEVER COME BACK TO AMERICA AGAIN.”

900 dollars for a medical test that took all of 2 seconds and involved inserting a common q-tip into my vag.

Now that I’ve got your attention, I’d like to inform y’all that I’ve been on a big reading kick recently. Here’s what I’ve been getting into for the past 21 days:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
    by Mark Haddon
    Read on a Sunday afternoon, after a 5K. Heartwarming, eye-opening, easy-to-follow, and so on, and so forth.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    by Truman Capote
    This short, seminal classic had me hooked and is perfect for morning metro rides. The word seminal sounds like it has something to do with semen and, after flipping through the dictionary, I realize that it can and does. Seminal (adj.): pertaining to, containing, or consisting of semen. Awesome! That’s a great segue into my next book….
  • The Gene: An Intimate History
    by Siddharta Mukherjee
    Did you know that, for a time, the prevailing theory of genetics was called preformism? Scientists believed that semen contained tiny pre-formed humans that, once deposited into the uterus, would simply begin inflating into their mature form, a la Magic Grow Toys:
    mdi-grow-your-own-boyfriend.jpg
    I happen to love scientific history and this book has me considering going back to school. 10/10!

Keep reading, keep biking.

Love,

Seo

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Gimme Champagne and Some Filthy Rich Lovers of Paint

Last Spring, I told anyone who would listen that I wanted to open an art gallery. I don’t know anything about the logistics of this process, but I do know that I love thick paint, tortured and methodical artists alike, and the prospect of entering a market that involves aesthetics, occasional political engagement, and investors with grossly expendable income. When my boss, who knew nothing of this dream of mine, offered my coworker and I a VIP pass to ARCO Madrid, I said YES baby, a million times yes.

I imagined it this way: I’d be welcomed with a glass of champagne, on a red carpet; under golden light, I’d rub elbows with Madrid’s elite. Maybe, I thought, if I managed to perfect an attitude of both intrigue and boredom, I might get my foot in the door of some cool Nordic gallery. In reality, the VIP pass meant we had access to a free coat-check service, a complementary rum cocktail, and an overpriced lunch. No complaints there, of course, but the nature of  my personality meant that I approached no one and networked primarily with the walls. Also, the lights were fluorescent.

By the end of the afternoon, I was no longer sure what counted as art. Was the cleaning woman part of a performance piece? weren’t the fire extinguishers arranged rather evocatively? what could that man’s bald spot possibly represent? (Defiance in the face of destiny, perhaps.) And how about that contrast between the service-woman and the suit-clad executive? Might we take a moment to reflect upon the many uses there are for hands?

I am told, anyway, that this is a rather common side effect of attending contemporary art fairs.

It’s September, I’m Twenty-Eight and Over It.

The act of writing a personal blog is, let’s face it, a little fuckin’ weird. As a chronic under-sharer, it often feels itchy.

And yet...?

Adults suck and I want to write, so this is me committing to doing more of it this year.

Fine, some adults are cool. But a lot of us are pretty much the lamest motha f*ckas on the planet, afraid of everything from true love to our own dreams.

Kids, on the other hand, are delightful. They eat glue while you’re not looking, shamelessly pick their noses, believe you when you tell them stories about flying dogs, draw human ears on worms, and boldly insist that they haven’t shit their pants while half the room faints from the fumes. I know this about children because I was once a “teacher” and also because, for a not-insignificant stretch of time, my best friend was a toddler. After Sunday lunches, I’d crouch into her kid-sized home, “purchase” plastic groceries from her, share secrets about her imaginary friend, La Narizota, invent human professions for the family dog (Walter was both a plumber and a painter), and tell her the story of my run-in with a scolopendra as many times as she asked. We were a duo, alright.

I no longer work in primary schools, my toddler bestie is now a Kid With A Youtube Channel, and I’M IN MY LATE FUGGIN’ TWENTIES, but if you’re ever feeling down, low, and crushed by THE MAN, just spend twenty minutes with a child.

That’s all I got for today.

May you never grow old or lame,

Seo

PSA and a Mantra for Malcontents

Last week the dentist refused to take the teeth out of my head.

“I could paralyze your face. Permanently.”

“Oh. That’s not great.”

The longer you put off wisdom tooth removal, as  it turns out, the more complicated the procedure will be. I’ve got roots dancing with nerves at the back of my mouth so for now, it seems, I’ma have to stay wise. Take note, teenagers of the world.

Anyway, in six years of life in Spain, I have never experienced a June that did not make me want to peel my own skin off. At the same time, June tends to be a time for reflection; I usually do that naked, spooning with a bag of ice, while marveling at the many places from which sweat can spring. This one is different. I’ve still got a comforter on my bed and I don’t feel like I’m burning. I can’t say I’m angry about the weather, but I’m worried about the earth–and myself.

What am I doing? What’s next? Where do I go? How do I find a patron to support the art of my life?

Last year I became obsessed with the idea of “running through the pain.”

I read Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and remembered nothing but this mantra: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

I began saying it to myself, sometimes while running but more often as I prepared dinner or walked home from a night out. The sweaty strangers of the disco scene often sent me on a downward spiral, though hindsight highlights the role of gin.

After a long, frenetic, gorgeous, and totally mental winter, this mantra just isn’t doing it for me anymore. Here’s what I think: suffering is not optional,  l0sers. The longer you refuse to acknowledge anguish, vulnerability, and sadness, the deeper their roots will grow. Next thing you know, you’ll find them bursting out of you in public health clinics, at cafés, and on unsuspecting waitresses.

What comes before gratitude is a lot of snot, tears, and unabashed drama.

As for mantras, I’ve been using this one:

I ain’t fuckin’ sorry.

Love,

Seo

When All Else Fails, Write Shit

I sat alone on Sunday afternoon and tried to work the words “cieno,” (mud/mire) “guadaña,” (scythe) and “amago” (feint or tricky gesture or can someone please come up with a better translation?) into a “poem.” My greatest regret in life is having thrown out the tiny camo notebook I used to hide under my pillow in grade school. In its pages I wrote poems dramatically lacking in depth and technique–in other words, not much has changed. I’m writing in Spanish lately not because I am trying to improve, but because I find comfort in my ignorance: I sense that the writing is trash but I don’t know that I’ll ever be entirely sure why.

The park in the photo above is in Suanzes. I suppose it’s the sort of neighborhood you move to after having children but, as with most things, I actually have no idea. Incidentally, it is a great place to go when you feel that you cannot physically endure one more gulp of city exhaust. I presume that much has been written about the price of metropolitan life and that many a human within Madrid’s gates has  begged for some gaddamn peace and quiet. I never thought that I would count myself among their number, but lo and behold…