What It’s Like To Wake Up As A Huge Loser

My novio often says “good morning little mole!” when I emerge from the bedroom half-blind and looking for coffee. At the moment, however, he is working, while I still have four weeks of vacation left and can sleep all the way in. So these days we don’t really wake up together, which means it was just me, myself, and I, alone in my sticky-eyed moleness this morning. As I reached my proverbial claws out of my proverbial burrow and sniffed around, shit got dark real quick.

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The rain had finally let up overnight and the breeze it left behind was cool and sweet. The sun was shining. Although the construction workers had been banging away for hours, I hadn’t noticed. What a beautiful day! someone who is not me might’ve said upon waking. But someone who is me, or at least sometimes me, said:

You have no purpose.

You are a loser.

And a weirdo.

You sweat too much.

You are a failure and a fake.

Shit-talking oneself first thing in the morning is really not OK. I mean it might be OK and understandable, necessary even, for someone who grossly mishandles a global pandemic or incites violence or locks humans in cages, but something tells me that the internal dialogue of a person like this looks very different than mine does.

But I woke up with these trashy mantras floating through my head anyway. Then I opened my e-mail and saw that Mary Oliver’s book of essays, Blue Pastures, had been left in the mailbox.

Great, I thought. Fantastic! Mary Oliver is a literary dime piece. She’ll probably have an essay about the simplicity of leaves or some shit to make me realize that I’m a big drama queen and that peace is possible even among all this uncertainty and existential angst.

I got dressed, took the elevator downstairs, turned the key in the mailbox, opened the tiny door, and found another dark, empty hole. No book. No salvation.

I made my way to the doorman’s office to inquire about it. In Spain, I usually have communication problems with the men at the door. It’s because of my accent, I think. And now, with the mask mandate and the whole not being able to see anyone’s mouth issue, things are worse–for both me, and them. But we made it work:

Me: Hola, I received a delivery confirmation for a book, but there’s no book in the mailbox.  Did you accept any deliveries?

Him: *blank stare*

Me: A Package. From Amazon. A package. I should have received one. Could it be the little package you have sitting on your desk right there?

Him (laughing): No, it couldn’t be this one. That’s impossible, because this one is for me.

Me: Ah… hm, I don’t know then…

Him: Well, the delivery man also had another package, but he left it in a different box. It seemed strange to me, you know, because I know those people are on vacation for the next month. He was in a hurry.

Me: Well, that sounds like it might be it.

Him: Hold on a minute, I’ll be right back.

He disappeared down the stairs and appeared a few moments later with a ruler, a long piece of metal wire, and an unidentifiable piece of plastic. He headed to the mailbox in question and I offered to shine my phone light into it, just to make sure my package was really in there before we began committing a federal crime. Sure enough, it was.

The long metal wire didn’t work, and neither did the unidentifiable plastic. In a final attempt, he slid the ruler under the bottom of the box and managed to push the package up to the slot, where someone with small hands, which the doorman does not have, might be able to grab it.

Him: What are your fingers like?

Me: Well, (*thinking*: sweaty… so, so sweaty) I think I can get it.

I felt a bizarre sense of danger and relief as I stepped into his personal space and worked my hand into the  slot, finally managing to pull out the book. It was the first time in five months that I’ve shared anything resembling space or time with a stranger, let alone a common goal.

He collected his tools and turned to me as I thanked him.

Him: He was just in such a hurry.

MeYa, las prisas no son buenas. Haste makes waste.

Him: Haste makes waste, that’s right. Hey, this never happened.

Me: I wasn’t here and I never saw you.

I haven’t started reading the essays yet. I don’t think I need to. It’s like Mary’s spirit flew out of the book, possessed the delivery man, and slapped me in the face: don’t hurry to a destination that you can’t even name. Don’t berate yourself for not being there yet, wherever there may be.

And all of this is also just to say that it is OK to wake up in a trashcan sometimes.

Love,

Seo

City of No-Shits-Taken

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New York isn’t New York without you, love.

There is a woman in this video who is bent over in pink tights and a leopard leotard, and she looks wonderful. I keep the song on repeat, although I don’t know whether the lyrics piss me off or not–is there not a sort of martydom in the lines “but for you darling, I’d do it all again.” What exactly is it, Annie? I feel like screaming yo, get a life, bitch.

For as long as he’s lived there, Keith has assured me that New York City is fucking disgusting. He can’t imagine being anywhere else for long, though. I remember the summer after he moved; from Locust Bar and onwards, he marveled at how damn tiny Philadelphia was. The gardens: tiny. The sidewalks: tiny. The row-homes: might as well have been miscroscopic.

I love New York City’s exhausting labyrinth of lives, but I’ve been told I laugh too much to live there–dangerous thing to do on the subway. Might be misinterpreted. Could end in homicide.

Last January my heart was broken and everything hurt. At any rate, I felt an unfamiliar clarity even, and perhaps especially, while puking up my feelings in a Granadino apartment that looked out on the Sierra Nevada and reminded me of being twenty. I was equal parts pathetic and bold. I wanted both my mother and to be wearing platform boots in Bed-Stuy.

On the final day of that vacation, as we prepared to pay three euros too many for a pair of coffees and toast, my brother, blessed may he be for his quiet understanding, asked: “who the hell wants to be a side character?”

“Everybody is a side character and anyone who thinks they aren’t, is a bitch” I told him, eyes swollen, nothing if not eloquent.

A few months prior, I’d stopped in for an iced coffee and a bagel at Hudson Yards. Construction of the Vessel was well underway at the time. I eavesdropped on men in hard hats discussing the details of their next Eurotrips, their wives’ pregancies.

In Manhattan, I wrote, the idea that one might never find love, or life, is absurd.

Easing Into The Asscrack of Dawn: A Lesson in Absurdity

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.

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Walkway to David Lawrence Convention Center. Pittsburgh, PA 2012

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. Suddenly, I heard chuckling and craned my head to see what was going on at the front of the bus. Looking through the massive windshield, I quickly realized what the fuss was about. There was a woman.  Her feet, shoe-less, were planted firmly on the asphalt in front of the bus, and she was posing defiantly–her hands on her hips, chin lurched towards the driver, right there in the midst of rush hour traffic. The bus-driver honked impatiently and threw his hands up. After that, things escalated quickly. Within moments, and much to the surprise, horror, and confused delight of the daily grind office workers, the woman removed her dress and triumphantly spun it above her head—no panties, no bra, 200 pounds of pure, unadulterated absurdity. She then 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 in America, and I think about tearing off my clothes.

I AM NOT A NOMAD.

There is a place that I will always call home. It’s where my family lives and where the friendships I have are ones that have survived such insurmountable things as adolescence, separation, depression, and my Phantom of the Opera phase. The sheer amount of life we have experienced both together and apart is impossible to re-create. Still, I leave those people year after year after year to come to Spain. Sometimes I know why I do this. Other times, especially in the days and weeks after I return, I don’t.

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You will likely feel a lot of things when you move and you will feel these things in part because you are too romantic for reality and because you are impatient, but mostly because that’s how humans react to change (unless you’re one of those cool nomads who just needs a couple of succulents to feel at home, I guess).

First, you might feel disappointed. I envisioned myself returning to my Spanish apartment and waltzing around in slippers and lingerie with a martini in hand, transitioning easily back into a glamorous life that I’ve never actually had. Let the record show that the only martini I’ve ever consumed is the Italian-brand vermouth. Let the record also show that my evenings have never looked like (I imagine) Rihanna’s do. Here’s what really happened: As I scrubbed my kitchen counters in a t-shirt and dusty jeans two sizes too big for me, my neighbor came to the window and asked if I was the cleaning lady and, if so, what was my rate? I, broker than I’ve been in many years, thought about saying yes.

Another thing you may also feel is loneliness. In spite of how you feel about this sort of self-help, you’ll watch a Ted Talk called “The Simple Cure for Loneliness.”  Baya Voce, the speaker, will say that the secret is to create rituals like putting on leggings and poppin’ open a bottle of rosé with your best friends! or taking a trip to Paris with your girlies! This video, although you’re sure that Baya is a lovely person, will nevertheless make you feel like eating all of your leggings and then your own hands.

You will probably feel both hopeful and hopeless, sometimes in the span of five minutes. Maybe you should chill the eff out, read this article, binge watch Cardi B’s Instagram rants, and then go on a run or pretend your empty living room is actually just a home dance studio.

En fin, I don’t always know why I do what I do, but I keep doing it. When I’m not busy questioning all of my life decisions, I try to laugh.