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

Advertisements

America, Part 6, Day 2

New York City’s immensity is never more apparent than when navigating the thousand-lane road from JFK to Philadelphia, PA on a Saturday afternoon. Twenty-eight years of knowing the Northeast and I’m still shocked to find out that this airport is not, in fact, just across the road from Newark.

“Shit is entrenched,” says Scott.

Once passed the Holland tunnel and ten minutes of marveling at man’s ambition, the road is ours.

newyork1

It’s good to be back.

At Heathrow, the Brits were on their best behavior, gifting smiles and biscuits.

At JFK, the line-master instructed:

“If ya customs form ain’t finished, get outta the line. Ya wasting peoples time.”

Any other welcome would have been a lie.

“Nowadays, all these girls are singing about their encounters and their dresses.”

When my mother says “encounters” she is referring, of course, to sex. When she says “dresses” she is likely thinking about that Selena Gomez song that wouldn’t stop playing some two or three summers ago.

“People have always sung about that, though…”

“Yeah but today it’s stupid: ‘he’s so tall and handsome as hell,’” she gestures at the radio, “what the hell is that shit?”

She’s complaining about Taylor Swift now, whose song “Wildest Dreams” is playing in the car.

Whether I think Taylor’s art is revolutionary or enriching is irrelevant because creating music that underwhelms me—creating anything, really—is still way more than most people do. I’m not proud to admit it but I once sobbed in a Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot when the song “You Belong with Me” came on the radio. Then, dry heaves and all, I leaned on my steering wheel and started laughing (because first “heartbreaks” are fucking hilarious). It was a time when listening to anything other than pop trash probably would have made me roll off my roof.

Even so, you won’t find me arguing for the lyrical ingenuity or emotional depth of lines like “I can feel my heart, it’s beating in my chest.”

I skip the explanation and agree with my mother: “RIGHT? Like, what happened to Etta James? Let’s talk about ‘Damn Your Eyes.’ I mean, DAAAAAMMMMMNN!”

Now there’s an angry, lusty love that I can understand.

Be careful with ya eyes,

Seo

Disconnecting From City Life in Woodstock, Vermont

Although I live in Spain most of the year, I’ve partnered with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove project to highlight some amazing American cities. Today, we travel north to The Green Mountain State.

As a child, I was afraid of the forest and its accompanying silence, which made family trips to the Pocono Mountains nightmarish. Wedged between my brother and sister in a tent, I would allegedly spend all night kicking their shins with a steady chorus of “shut up, shut up!” to boot. What was I so angry at? Perhaps it was the rustling leaves, or imagined grizzly bears. I assumed no responsibility for those late-night tirades. If anyone was responsible for them, it was my parents. They should have known better than to bring the family into the mountains and think it would be fun, right? But times have changed. I have grown, not into a nature lover exactly, but into someone who appreciates peace and quiet more than most things. I’ve learned to love a good hike, to embrace the beauty of mountain summits. To my surprise, I’ve become someone who enjoys artisan cheese and wine.

Since my sister lives in Vermont and my family still loves the outdoors, we make the trek to New England, where all the former are found in abundance, every summer. Woodstock, Vermont is excellent for anyone who enjoys cute towns, quiet, and adventure. Plus, you can reap all the benefits the mountains have to offer while sleeping in a real bed!

What Does Woodstock, Vermont Have to Offer?

As it turns out, a lot. The darkness that once frightened me as a child makes spectacular views of the night sky common.

16532518782_9fb7bc7a9f_z (1)

Image via Flickr by Steven Valkenberg

It’s easy to forget that there are stars in the sky when you live in an area with lots of light pollution. Upon seeing the Milky Way in Vermont, my Spanish boyfriend exclaimed that it was “freaking amazing.” I can’t argue with that. But the best part? It’s free! All you have to do is find a dark spot on a clear night. There are plenty of those in Woodstock. From there, sit back, relax, and wonder about possible life on other planets.

For the daytime, there is an extensive choice of trails in Woodstock, many of which are accessible from Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Park, which also features a working dairy farm.

marshbillings

Photo by Jessie Festa via Trover.com

At nearby Quechee State Park, tourists can visit popular Quechee Gorge, also known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon.” With stunning views of the Ottauquechee River, it is well worth the short drive from Woodstock. After spending a day outdoors, you can stock up on the famous Vermont cheddar cheese and other specialty goods at Cabot Quechee Store.

What About Winter?

I can’t talk about Vermont without mentioning its ski culture. In Woodstock, it’s worth checking out Suicide Six Ski Area which, despite its ominous name, offers great fun and trails for all skill levels.

suicidesix

Photo by Ed Gaffny via Trover.com

So, are you looking for an escape from the city sounds and lights? Go to Woodstock, Vermont. Fancy a long hike through the hills and the opportunity to commune with cows? Go to Woodstock, Vermont. Hoping to reconnect with your hippie past at a world-famous concert venue? Sorry, you’ve got the wrong state.