Dusk, Darkness, & Daylight in La Manga

La Manga Salinas

Las salinas: where the flamingos live. It smells sulphuric and, in some parts, looks like snow. I felt at peace here. I also wished for an ancient man to saunter out of the abandoned saltworks — to no avail.

Mar Menor de Noche

El Mar Menor:  “Large pond.” “Small sea.” “Lagoon.” At its deepest, it doesn’t surpass seven meters. It’s warm, concerningly so, like bath water, and determined to remain beautiful despite the buckets of sunscreen floating through her.

La Managa Watermelon

Playa Paraíso: Equal parts Spaniard & Brit and so humid that you will be wet whether you are in or outside of the water.

The Library is Open and I Am Swearing A Lot

I began July with three books half-started and I left it with two half-finished.

Are you interested in hearing about the what and why and how I felt about them? If so, you just hit the jackpot. The following reviews/recommendations/rants are all my own:

  1. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
    Cosmicomics Italo CalvinoAs soon as I cracked this one open, I felt like 8-year-old me reading the first page of The Sorcerer’s Stone againThat is not to say, of course, that Rowling and Calvino are both accessible to grade-schoolers, but that they do share the ability to captivate & mesmerize. These stories somehow manage to evoke very human pathos for characters as varied as dinosaurs in disguise, mathematical concepts, and aquatic curmudgeons.The collection opens with “The Distance of the Moon,” a tale about a time when the moon was close enough to earth that one could simply prop a ladder up against it and climb up to its craters. Darwin posited this theory more than a century ago (minus the ladder bit) and Calvino, using his creative sorcery, manipulated it into a beautiful tale about unrequited love. It may or may not have made me cry.

    Disclaimer: “A Sign in Space” is essentially an ode to semiotics, and a few other stories require some similarly dense wading-through, but this is by far the most original, creative collection of stories I’ve ever read on Life’s Big Questions, and I can’t wait to re-read them in English.

    SHOULD YOU READ IT? If you are at all intrigued by what a mollusk might have to say about passion, yes.

     

  2. el libro de las aguas by Eduard Limónov (I can’t find it in English, so maybe it doesn’t exist).
    Limonov Shelf
    Limónov’s memoir-ish work el libro de las aguas is about war, politics, and a rotating set of women whose vaginas (and souls, supposedly) have played a part in his life.  He wrote it while in prison, expecting to live out his last days there. All of the events discussed, battles fought, and women boned, are centered around bodies of water–oceans, rivers, swamps, you get the idea. Founder of the National Bolshevik Party, guerrilla fighter, and unapologetic misogynist, Limónov certainly has a lot to say. I really wanted to enjoy his autobiography, and I did want him to be the sort of asshole I’d hate to love.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t, and he wasn’t.

    I’ve taken some liberty in my interpretation of Limonóvs writing on women. However poetic it may have actually been, this is what it sounded like to me:

    “Little tiny Nastia was 19 and wrote furiously. People probably thought that I was her grandfather, but little did they know we fucked the shit out of each other at home. I also would like to let you all know, again, that she had a young, very young body, which was pure art. Also,  it is important for me to let you know that many people have been jealous of and impressed by the number of perfect butts that I have bedded over my lifetime. I am going to prison now and I am so sad, because I do not know what this 19-year-old will do without my dick. Surely, she will never find another one like it.”

    These types of sentences made me want to roll myself onto the metro floor and invite the masses to stampede me. I was more interested in hearing Nastia’s story and I tired rather quickly of Limónov’s appraisal of female body parts. It is not not by any means the bulk of the book’s content — I have, however, had it up to my EARLOBES with tedious analyses of the perfect curve, breast, loin, and so on, so I decided to move on with my life. Dear Men Who Write, I do not want to castrate you — I would just like for you to stop boring my tits off.

    I will give the book another shot once I’ve brushed up on my eastern European history because yes, I will admit, there may be something more there. For now, however, she’s going back on the shelf.

    BUT SHOULD YOU READ IT? If you are into guns, dicks, and the male ego, this memoir will get you hot & bothered in all the right ways.

  3. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
    david foster wallace
    Consider the Lobster begins with “Big Red Son,” an exposé on the American pornography industry told through the vehicle of the AVN awards (the adult movie industry’s Oscars).

    Holy
    Effin’
    Shit.

    I tried to read Infinite Jest at 20 and I ended up leaving it in Granada because I was too busy being nasty-happy to indulge Wallace’s love for the footnote. This essay, and a great majority of the following ones, however, were a joy to read. To be honest, I could have done without “Authority and American Usage.” If you’ve read any of this blog, it should be obvious that I’m not particularly fond of grammar rules.

    IS IT WORTH READING THO? If you love a well-crafted, humorous, borderline manic argument and/or exploring America’s wacko cultural phenomena, these essays will not disappoint. Although they were written in the late nighties and early aughts, it’s shocking and just a little bit disturbing to see how relevant many of them continue to be, especially where media and politics are concerned.

Well, would-be finger-waggers, please take that final glowing review as evidence that I can indeed appreciate art even when it is made or written by misogynistic trolls. I’ve been having an issue with this lately, because I still feel like I need to apologize for wanting to read about female characters who are more than “perfect” curves or owners of astoundingly gorgeous asses that YOU CAN HARDLY BELIEVE ARE OVER THIRTY! I don’t understand why part of me feels that I am being “too harsh” on this topic. A very heterosexual friend of mine recently complained to me that it’s just, like, men can’t do or say anything anymore!

I don’t know. I love beauty as much as the next idiot, but as soon as I realized that I was an actual person, these sort of descriptors got real old, real quick. Any competent editor will tell a writer to dig deeper, but these butt-ballads are as surface level as it gets.

So, women and men: have you any wisdom? What have you been reading?

Love,

Seo

Gazing at Navels and Cherry Blossoms

In October I grew a thousand hands, danced like a coke-head, couldn’t stop shaking my feet, and forgot to eat.

I walked too far, too fast, met too many people and heard too many stories, almost none of which answered the questions I was interested in: what are you afraid of? Do you ever feel embarrassed for entire days  and for no good reason? When do you feel most alone, most loved? What is love? Why? Can we talk about the things that are right? Can we not talk at all?

I felt half-convinced that I wanted to be an ad-woman or an engineer or the sort of person who cared about keeping up with the Jones. Acknowledging this, embracing it, later hating it, I recognized that it was time to, as they say, “move on.”

So I “made time” to spend time alone. I walked just as much or more, with ears out and eyes up.

Conviction is important, of course it is, but we’re all so full of it that sometimes I forget who I am and I most certainly forget “what matters.” My conviction is that we are all gross and lonely, sometimes assholes (by choice and by accident), and often confused. I have other convictions, warmer ones about love and the little things, but I’m bad at writing about them.

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In November I felt like a visitor, avoided all questions, climbed Embajadores and five flights with a bag of butter and broth. Half  of my world was name-dropping Wagner and the other half had been born without maps. Somewhere across the Atlantic there were rest-stops in the middle of Pennsylvania and trash-pickers in Fishtown that no one I knew had ever seen.

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In December, in Albacete, in an Audi, my driver informed me “this is a chick’s car” and then, saving himself, “but I’ve had 15 or 20 BMWs.”  I said almost nothing. He turned up Birdy’s cover of “Skinny Love” and declared: “esto si que es un temazo.” Because the car was comfortable and because he had a voice like a radio host, I didn’t mind the music (all covers and Calvin Harris). When I arrived in Murcia  I was thinking about becoming a business-man. I was also wondering if he made love to techno and, if so, what it would be like to be that sort of person?

I taught the sons and daughters of executives and diplomats in their museum homes. I bought a lottery ticket (my first) and for twenty-six hours I believed I’d pay off my student loans on December 22nd.

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In January, I ran. I re-read A Room of One’s Own while drinking a can of San Miguel. A man I love prepared me huevos rotos con jamon. Virginia might have called it “a man’s meal.” I imagined she’d be happy for me. On a Tuesday afternoon I got off my metro five stops too early. The resident accordionist was playing–what else?–the Amelie soundtrackAs people say these days, I just couldn’t.

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In February, I began measuring my life out in Sundays. A Sunday suicide pact. A 7AM Sunday under a rain that might have been romantic were it not for the fact that I felt like falling down. A Sunday run after an all-night Saturday, burritos and Coronita and laughs and an evening walk that felt like spring. A burnt toast Sunday morning, old skull afternoon, a vibrant Retiro, a guitar or three I couldn’t see. A Sunday electric with what if and what the fuck and two porras at five am.

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So here we are, March. I’m feeling my feelings religiously and irresponsibly and in between bites of Swiss cheese. I’m feeling them on the metro and under spring skies on Tuesday afternoons. What is this blog? What is this life? I don’t know, but it sure is pretty.

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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.