Babies and Mead: Life Before Quarantine

Before Christmas, I took a flight to Prague to meet Keith, my virtual husband and best college boyfriend. When his sister, who lives in the Czech countryside, gave birth to two precious twins, I knew that it was high time to confront my fear of newborns. What type of woman is afraid of babies, you ask? Well, it’s really their necks that scare me–the fact that they can’t support their own skulls yet. Also, their whole I don’t know how to speak thing is a bit of a snag for me. I’m a hardcore verbal learner, you know? All jokes aside though, holding a tiny, delicate human just seems like a whole lot of responsibility for someone who rarely gets through a day without running into an inanimate object.

I learned quite a bit about babies during my trip, however, and even overcame my fear. Generally speaking, infants want just a few things: food, sleep, or a good puke. Do you know what it feels like to have hot, regurgitated breast milk run down your cleavage? No? Well, I do. That’s just another part of the logistics of newborn-rearing, I hear. Other than that, everything else they say is true. Babies are sweet, they smell good, and they bring the circle of life just that much closer.

Keith y Bebe

After I’d spent a few days perfecting my burping skills, I left the gray Czech hills and headed for the big city again. A wonderful little detail: the regional bus between the pueblo and Prague not only employed attendants, but those same hot-pink-uniformed attendants also served complimentary coffee and provided newspapers to those who wanted them. The coffee was a bit shite, of course, but the gesture did not go unappreciated.

I’ve always felt that Spain is much too ebullient during the holiday season. Fully grown human beings parade around town in towering Christmas-tree hats made of tinsel. They glisten. They glitter. The Navi-Bus rides by twice an hour blasting los peces en el rio. I don’t know what fish in a river have to do with Christmas, probably because I never went to church. Wigs are also a big thing and the bars are fuller than usual, with company dinners spilling out of doorways, and various HR Josés gearing up to hook up with various Juanas from accounting. There’s a lot of shouting, like always.

Prague at Christmastime was different, though, something I could identify with: a little dark, sweet, sour, weird, and vaguely dangerous. It was all mead and mulled wine. I carried around a cup (or three) for hours, stopping only to marvel at the beautiful architecture, the rain falling in Old Town Square.  I kid you not, I nearly cried watching those drops fall. Unfortunately, you can’t really see them on my phone camera.

Old Town Square Prague
Another fantastic thing about Prague were these TRDELNÍKS! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I would have eaten a dozen of them. They’re simple: dough wrapped around a thick, wooden stick and slowly rotated and roasted until it is ready to be coated in sugar and almond. Reluctantly, I walked myself back to my hotel after eating this one.

trdelnik
Hawt trdelník and cider

I flew back to Spain on the morning of Christmas Eve and jumped into M’s car immediately upon landing in order to spend the evening with JC’s family and friends. M dropped me directly at the bar, where it is customary to have aperitivo (see: 2 wines and 1 tapa), with friends. Aperitivo turned into lunch, where we met a group of boys who were enjoying one of their new Christmas gifts: a small plastic toilet that, when “flushed,” would eject a cartoon turd. Whoever caught it first was the winner. Lunch turned into cocktails in the middle of the damn day in a bar with no windows and lots of men wearing ties. By 9 o’clock I was hiding in JC’s childhood bedroom, realizing that Spain’s jubilance had played me yet again: noche buena dinner still needed to be eaten, extended family kissed, and gifts opened. And there I was, disheveled as hell, sending frantic messages to Tuna to tell her I don’t think I can doooo thissss.

Happy belated holidays,

Seo

Existential Angst & Lingerie

Mornings go like this.

JC (not Chasez, former *NSYNC member, but the moniker that I will henceforth be using to refer to my novio, who is extra suss about sharing things online), asks me how I’ve slept and tells me something that I will never remember because I am still 97% asleep.

I always wake up later than he does. I know that I don’t actually need the extra thirty minutes of sleep. I am just lazy and I like waking up to coffee that is already brewed, bread that is already toasted.

I read the news before I get out of bed. 2/10, do not recommend. This morning’s hottest headlines are “Nursing Homes Turning into Morgues,” “The Worst Has Yet to Come,” and “Young People, You Are At Risk, Too!”

Today’s sponsored Facebook ad is this one:

Sponsored Publicity

Lingerie in sterilized packages, y’all! I’m worried about humanity. Let’s just be regular-naked and worry more about the trees.

Today, as an alternative to the news cycle and Zuckerberg’s trashy advertising, I offer you some classical music:

Listen to some Bach piano music. It’s like little constellations being formed, or like an aerial view of people walking through streets. — Bars, my brother, horticulturalist & Bach enthusiast.

Blessed be thy quarantine,

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

Nude Trees and the Life Beneath Them

We missed the cherry blossoms.

Blown away they were, the lot of ’em.

Mornings now are like the autumn of my arrival: cool, suggestive, empty and full.

This park has become a sacred place for me, a pilgrimage.

Year 1: I sat here and wrote lists. Reasons to wake up. Things to do before dying.

Year 2: I wrote a poem in Spanish, using words I’d learned in bed.

Year 3: I zoomed my way North on a city bike, promising JC that our destination was fairy-tale-esque. Everything had changed, though. We could hardly move for selfie-taking couples and fresh-faced parents balancing new babies on tree-limbs. A field of Instagrammable branches, an intro to social media for infants.  The smell of roast chicken wafting about Quintana made me happy to be alive, anyway, and we didn’t take any photos.

Year 4: I broke a month-long alcohol fast with a tiny bottle of beer and a few gulps of wine. We played word-games, which bring out the best and the worst in me. The sun hid itself away and reappeared when it wanted to. Things were better without the blossoms.

Holaaaa Chiqui,

I’m late in writing again. Sorry about that. You’re getting hipper by the day and I, come fall, may find myself priced out. 1100+ days between us and many of my worries are the same. I wonder at the bags beneath my eyes, my ill-fitting clothes and my adequacy. We are still a lop-sided pair.

On Saturday morning, the upstairs tenants are fucking away. I blast meditation music and laugh. This is the longest I’ve ever spent in any one place and I know things now: how to fix a toilet, the best time of day for a sun-drenched nap, the way that woman sometimes screams jooooodeeeeer. I know how to keep the wind out–most of it, at least. I know when my wall-mates change, their sleeping habits and favorite songs.

Down on the street, however, I’m having trouble getting used to the new additions: yellow lights, frequent vocal fry. Come on, let’s get whoppers, a Kelly or a Hannah says. I’m aware that I may be part of this problem, OK? So you don’t need to say anything about it. The newsman is still there every morning at least, and likely long before I think of opening my eyes.

Things change, of course, and many of them for the better. Now, I work in a place where people are familiar to me. They worry about money and they wash their own clothing. Last week, a child told a story about the gorillas living in her grandparents’ garage–no one questioned the verity of this, and the presentation moved smoothly along. Well, as long as they are familiar gorillas, of course it is OK to approach them.

Tirso’s blooms are perennial but I mostly forget about them in the winter. Their openings and closings are measured, unlike mine. This is something that I am working on. Many are the mornings, afternoons, evenings that I have crossed this part of you. Sadly, happily, alone, accompanied, barely there. Today I bought a bunch of leaves and a bouquet of purple and white flowers. I don’t know their genera. I was also carrying a bag of groceries and a two-foot tall calathea.

“¿Puedes con todo?” the attendant asked me. “Can you handle everything?”

I think so. If you could just hand me the plant…”

On mornings like this one, it is a privilege to handle all of this.

Happy 3rd anniversary, Madrid. It is good to really see you again.

Love,

Seo