photography

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 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.

Mah-drid Moments

My proper camera was hit by a modest monster wave in the South of France last year and, despite its continued survival, refuses to un-zoom. The last time I took said camera to a professional, I was twenty-two and alone in San Francisco. All I wanted was a new lens cap, as I’d lost mine (along with my sanity) somewhere between Western PA and Michigan, so I found a camera shop on the pier and walked in. The  attendant looked at me like I was a large piece of human shit and chastised me for not having a proper case (in the monotone voice of a hobby snob, you know what I mean?) My response was something along the lines of man eff this, just give me the cap. After that, I ate a chorizo omelet as big as my face in The Haight.

That gratuitous story is just to say: I took all of these photos on my sorta-shitty budget phone. So if you’re a snob, close your eyes. Some Madrid moments from the last month.

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Mickey Mouse gets ready for work on November 12th, 2016. Four days post-Trump.

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A stormy capital. November 29th, 2016.

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La Latina looking golden (+ a stranger’s/Harry Potter’s? profile) on December 6th, 2016 (Día de la Constitución)

Good gloves, mediocre photos, and beautiful memories,

Seo

Public Service Announcement: I’m about to become a hermit.

If you need me, you can find me watching these star-crossed lovers dance in circles FOR THE REST OF MY NATURAL BORN LIFE:

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The Earrings of Madame de… Max Ophüls (1953)

Fine. The real PSA is: if you haven’t already, go watch this movie/film/fillum.

Goodbye and good love,
Seo

“Does Etta James Make You Cry? Let’s Tango.”

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I’ve been reading Quiet by Susan Cain in efforts to turn my brain off at night and maybe find out why the word “networking” gives me acid reflux. Yes, telling a group of strangers “what I do” is my idea of a nightmare. I tend to melt into corners at parties and I’d rather crawl into an industrial washer than attend another “orientation week.” I often marvel at the fact that I’ve managed to make any friends at all. Indeed, many parties and people send me running for the hills, but of course there are exceptions–nights and humans that leave me warm, inspired, and happy to have a mouth. Cain would argue that socializing can be difficult for an introvert because they tend to crave “deeper” connections, the sort of connections that go beyond weather and work dilemmas. Me? I’m just looking for people who get choked up when they hear this song. Everyone else is heartless and weird.

Cain also talks a lot about the types of environments intros vs. extros feel best in. Like my personality, my preference is somewhere in the middle.  A day in the country and a day in a big city energize me in similar ways. It’s the anonymity that attracts me about both. The vast expanse and quiet of a country walk and the endless characters that filter through cities both calm me. I’m that goober smiling her way through the streets, wondering where the balloon seller goes when the day ends. In the country, I’m wishing everyone would shut up while I recover from the immensity of life.

I took all of these photos in 2013 at Las Fallas festival in Valencia.  It was a dream state and I loved every moment of it.

Luv and other thugs,
Seo