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

Top 6.5 Reasons Why August is Madrid’s Best Month

In few words: it is the city I never knew I needed.

In more: This month is hands down Spain’s best kept secret and these are the reasons why:

  1. There are actually seats on the metro. That means that you can easily escape both unsavory body odors and screaming infants.
  2. Grocery shopping is no longer a fight against stressed-out parents, guiris, and self-righteous abuelos*. It is a luxurious experience, in which one can ponder lemons and compare pastas without being pushed.
    *I love my elders, but they cut in line all the time.
  3. Temperatures are way more comfortable than they were in July. Think: going from suffocating in Satan’s armpit, to dancing nude on the tippy-top of Jesus’ index finger.
  4. Lavapies and La Latina have street parties. That means that you may see any combination of the following: full-on suckling pigs roasting next to the post-office, men dressed like lady chulapas and dancing chotis, a gypsy selling melons from a wheelbarrow with the following invitation: “wow, I have huge melons here,” and more.
  5. The sunsets are sexy as fuck. Sunrises, though? No idea. Never seen one.
  6. People seem calmer and more open. As in city-wide blackouts or massive snowstorms, there is a sense of implicit community between those who have stayed behind.  –> 6.5. On the flipside, though, some people have just gone completely mad. Yesterday the supermarket security guy was frisking a man and, upon pulling a bottle of rosé out of his pants, began a very intense interrogation which consisted of just one question: “you’re hungry for wine, are you? hungry for WINE?” I dont’ know if this is a positive thing, but you won’t want for people-watching at any time in Madrid.
mercado de las cebada
An empty Mercado de la Cebada, August 2019.

I Just Wanna Walk Around

I was sent to the outskirts on an errand on Friday, where I was gawked at by a large man in a straw hat (twice), witnessed one fight, observed three oldies gossiping in front of neighborhood graffiti, and then reluctantly returned to posh-ville.

Suspicion re-affirmed: I’m not made for the office life, and you probably aren’t either.

bpilar
Headless hunchback in bell-bottoms, Barrio del Pilar

Pachamama in Flames

Last week I woke up to old news that the arctic is ON FIRE. Since my most recent birthday, I’ve fallen deep into existential anxiety, so that tidbit really got me worried: about myself, my family, my friends, my friends’ children, and the children that my friends or family might someday have.

To avoid exploring that (for now), here’s a brief weather report from Madrid:

In July, the words most commonly used to describe the city were “hellish”, “insufferable”, “miserable”, “disgusting”, “dangerous”, and “unbearable.” Common folklore says that hell is located below our feet; one must descend into its depths. Hell for many, however, is higher up: a fifth floor apartment atop a hill in a mid-July heatwave, summer-camp classrooms and convenience stores that “smell like humanity.” Siberia turning to ash.

August is just a day away, and things are finally cooling down here-but who knows for how long? I am looking forward to the month, hoping the mass vacation exodus isn’t just a myth, and that I’ll get to enjoy empty buses and quiet terrazas.

Reina Sofia Madrid
Saturday night in front of Reina Sofia, Madrid.

I’m also dedicating this month to treating my body with some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I want to be physically prepared for the September uncertainty that awaits me (more on that l8r), and also a middle-aged  muscle-man recently told me that it’s now or never.  I also want to think about things other than myself, such as the earth.

This is what I’ve come up with so far:

Stop using plastic straws. Quit your Starbucks habit.

Set up an organized & sustainable recyling system at home. Truly make a space for it in both your home and your heart.

Buy local (I am failing so hard at this one).

Share bath-water… and your own tips, if you have any!

City Pissues: Brushed by a Wing

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.

Retiro  Trees 2.jpg
Their home.

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.