I ducked, narrowly dodging one Captain Sparrow and two medieval wenches. Gray-bluish-white flashed before my eyes, I uttered a single “dammit,” and pedalled on.
Thirty minutes later, I parked the bike and began making my way up the street. Madrid was uncharacteristically breezy this evening, Plaza de los Carros was full of mid-week drinkers, and seeing San Isidro Church pressed up against the sky got me thinking about a cheesy quote I saw recently: “remember when you wanted what you currently have.”
And it was happening again! This time there were three of them, all in a row: a flourish of fat, monochrome bodies rising off the ground, and the distinct brush of dirty feathers against my bare shoulder.
If hating pigeons is generic, I am basic bitch #1. There isn’t room enough for the both of us in this city.
Anyway, I suppose that this is, along with impatient metro-patrons and post-Saturday piss-whiffs on public streets, part of what I signed up for when moving to the capital. I wanted this, really, as much as anything else.
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:
I happen to love scientific history and this book has me considering going back to school. 10/10!
As recourse to life crises and generalized discontent, I like to pull journals at random. Nine times out of ten I find a younger version of myself who, much to my surprise, has something insightful to share. More often than not her lesson is this one: you have been better and you have also been worse. Additionally: Nudity, in its many diverse forms, may save you.
Philadelphia August 2013
In my temporary job as a nanny, I care for two boys aged 4 and 7. This means that come 9:00 am I have usually acted in upwards of fifteen death scenes. Given the work hours and my suburban exile, it also means that I have to wake up at 5 a.m. to prepare for and make the commute downtown. Most people would call this “hell on earth.” Sometimes when I am sipping cold coffee at noon and running on 3 hours of sleep, I use that phrase, too. Commutes, on the other hand, have always calmed me.
To get to my dual-screened corporate hell of a cubicle job in Green Tree last summer, I ran through summer mornings on a 1 hour, 2-bus commute. I would catch the bus in Oakland, walk a few blocks in dahntahn Pittsburgh, then hit the highway on the 38 and pop off at my office building: a big brown concrete monster next to a K-Mart where I’d often eat lunch alone in a windowless Little Caesars. After spending eight hours with a phone glued to my head, I’d make the trek back, usually stopping to sit in Station Square or by the Allegheny River before going home.
One evening, however, I didn’t stop. I got right back on the bus to Oakland. Somewhere along Fifth Avenue, we got stuck in traffic. Horns blared, passengers sighed, heat waves danced along the highway. I heard chuckles and craned my head to see what was going on at the front of the bus. There she was: a woman, teetering on the edge of sanity, feet planted firmly on the asphalt in front of the bus, in the midst of rush hour traffic. Then, to the surprise, horror, and confused delight of the daily grind office workers, she removed her dress and triumphantly spun it above her head—no panties, no bra, 200 pounds of pure, unadulterated absurdity. She proceeded to flip the bus driver off and make her way back to the sidewalk, dress covering her most intimate lady bits and giant breasts still swinging along.
Nothing has rivaled that sighting since, but I still enjoy my commutes. When I arrive in Center City Philadelphia, it’s still too early for the Market East morning Saxophonist and all of us–temporary and permanent members of the Dawn Club–file up the first escalator and onto the street. I walk among the blue-scrubbed, the corporate climbers, and the construction workers. By the time I get to Lombard Street, I’m mostly alone. It’s a quiet hour and I get why you might want to do yoga in it, if yoga was something you did.
By the time I head back home at 5 o’clock, surrounded by drooping lids and skewed ties, I understand why there are so few revolutions and I think about tearing off my clothes.
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.
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.
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.
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.”