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.

Life on wheelz.

From the archives. August 2014. Who wants to illustrate this?


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I missed the express bus to Philadelphia last week and was rescheduled on a later, longer bus. Under normal conditions (ie. no sinus pressure and plenty of snacks), a Greyhound bus ride is one of my favorite pastimes. How often do you find yourself locked inside a mobile freezer with an incredible array of strangers for 5+ hours? Not very, unless you’re traveling cross-country, or a masochist. It’s a great opportunity for people-watching and, as misery loves company, there is often a sense of community aboard.

The other night was hell, however, and I leave here a log of my SMS’ as proof (edited for context).

At 5pm, I am abusing my sudafed and thinking about Walter White.

We make a pit stop in Shady Rock, Nowhere. I pay four dollars for a slice of “New York Style” Sbarro pizza. The bus smells like cheeseburgers and cigarettes.

Someone help me.

There is a 4-month old child at the back of the bus. I know that he was born two months early because I am a professional eavesdropper. Earlier, a woman in a pink wife-beater, carrying a Wendy’s XL Frostie, commented on his “biiiiiiig eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyes!!!” for 10+ minutes.

At 9:30, we are just entering Harrisburg and I beg the lord to have mercy upon my soul.

I have to pee but I’m afraid of being left here. Our driver has used the loudspeaker to deliver the same speech at each stop. He informs us that he is not our “nice uncle,” and that he has nine nieces and nephews and a third grand-baby on the way. I will spend the rest of this ride trying to figure out how this information is relevant to his leaving us at rest-stops.

Someone has stolen the empty seat I was about to take. Life is pain and all hope has left my bones.

I’ve decided to deal with it. I am practicing zen.

My sudafed has finally kicked in, so I am awake. I learn that my seatmate is afraid of tunnels. She drinks water or whiskey to get through them. I try to distract her with questions. Our last tunnel, in her words, is a “double whammy.”

She gets off in Norristown. She is the only passenger to deboard. I like her and I know all of her daughters’ college majors, but I can’t help being angry.

It is midnight. Most people have fallen asleep. It now smells like breath and the driver keeps turning the headlights off as we pass Boathouse Row.

But the worst is over because I SEE MY CITAY. I’M IN MY CITAY.

I wait through nine taxis and one crackhead for my ride to arrive. Shwizz, Bliv and I drive to Lorenzo’s for a slice of pizza. They are bigger than I remember. A man approaches Shwizz’s window, asks for her number, and tells her that he has two pet fish and an anaconda he’d like to show her. I think this is a very poor pick-up line. We, as always, take Lincoln Drive home and Bliv acts like she’s in NASCAR, so I grip the door handle and try not to pass out.

WebMD for The Middle-class Millenial Woman

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La Tabacalera, Madrid. December 2016. Photos by Juan Manual Castro Prieto.

Symptoms

Fatigue

  • You’re tired. You want to stop, but you can’t. Lattes and sunsets and quirky glassware flash before your eyes.

Existential Unease

  • If your breakfasts aren’t beautiful… do you exist?
  • If you don’t read poetry in sunbeams, do you actually understand it?
  • If you go on vacation and don’t document every moment of it, if you don’t spread your arms wide for a photo opp in front of the sea, did you really go?
  • Is the cure for depression and anxiety as easy as reading a Top 10 Reasons to Live list?

Generalized Embarrassment About Ultimately Inconsequential Bullshit:

  • You just washed your hair with shower gel for the third day in a row (lifehack: shower gel and shampoo are almost the same thing–you won’t die if you substitute one for the other on a poor or lazy day/week/month).
  • There are three empty water bottles under your bed and the only explanation you can offer is “pure, unadulterated laziness.”
  • You drank a can of Diet Coke and ate a slice of bread “for dinner.”
  • You’ve never had a manicure.
  • You went to sleep with your asymmetrical eyeliner still on last night.
  • The socks on your feet don’t match.
  • You’d rather spend an afternoon in an old man bar than at Kelsey’s new vegan venture.

Anger:

  • WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE DRINKING SO MANY LATTES?
  • Life doesn’t look like this! Life is gross! Life is that old guy at the dark convenience store (they’re trying to save on electricity) who walked in smoking a cigar, asking for change. Life is the waiter with gnarly body odor you had today. Life is Eileen Myles writing a poem called Peanut-butter that begins I am always hungry/ & wanting to have sex. Life is that lady laying on the ground at the Paseo de Prado. Life is watching a man change into his Quixote costume. Fine, whatever, it’s gorgeous, too. Life is gorgeous, but it’s not made of pastels or lists or aerial shots of eggs Benedict.

Possible Diagnosis

You fell into a scroll-hole on a lifestyle blogger’s Instagram, didn’t you? Whatta dummy.

Treatment

Go outside. Respect the lifestyle ladies and men, anyway, for working hard and making a living marketing lives that don’t look like yours does. They must wonder what the fuck? from time to time, too. But that doesn’t sell.

How is Madrid, you ask?

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Madriz is a gorgeous place full of gorgeous people who don’t know my name. I go on long walks here, as I have done for a thousand lifetimes and will do for a thousand more. There are rose gardens and a suicide bridge and clouds the likes of which I haven’t lived under for some time. What a wonderful place to fall in love. The singer-songwriter on the metro requested no videos, please.

“You know, a flower is so beautiful to look at. But when you pick it, it becomes a thing and it dies. I don’t want to be a thing.”

Gracias, compadres. He retrieved a bottle of honey from his bag and took a swig.

The metro at 10 PM on a Tuesday is a tired place to decompress, an unlikely place to chuckle with a man who has honey in his throat.

Yes, it is Tuesday night. Yes, I am writing about the metro again. Yes, I am still young and Irish enough to revel in the absurd, to feel human and happy in a big metal tube.

And I hope you are, too.

Good night and good travels,

Seo