A Picture-Perfect Breakfast

Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen…

We counted the writhing bodies.

I know it’s necessary but…

I feel sick.

This is so sad.

This is horrific.

How are they still alive?

I will never get this image out of my head.

I will be haunted.

The holiday home hadn’t been rented since February, before total confinement began. So one, two… six months had gone by without a single human being passing through it to enjoy the expansive view of the Alpujarra mountains, or the fireplace, or the vertigo-inducing hammock.

They came out of there like cartoons

Paper wasps are social creatures, says the internet. Each spring, a few queens (“foundresses”) awake from their winter slumber, chow down on some paper, and begin to build and lay. Saliva and paper become cribs for their daughters, who will expand, maintain the home, and provide caterpillar gruel for baby boy wasps. Those boys become men whose main function is to mate and, in very rare cases (when all of the ladies are out hunting), defend the nest. New queens are raised later in the season.

As a species, they are peaceful enough. One can co-exist with the paper wasp. They do not attack unless they feel their home is threatened and they do not feel that their home is threatened unless it is located in an area, like a balcony, with regular human traffic.

Breakfast in the Alpujarras

On Tuesday morning, JC took a seat below the wall lamp and we clinked coffee cups. Inside the lamp, life rustled into action–a nest. From the nest, a paper lady eyed JC’s big black curls and identified them immediately: a threat to safety, a major road-block to bacon. I speared an avocado and the peace broke with a shout– hijo de puta (son of a bitch! mother fucker!) A red welt appeared on JC’s arm as the aggressor, her bright yellow legs dangling, hovered around the chair. He peered up into the lamp: me cago en… (I shit on..!) So we began our little escape-the-pests dance. Plates and forks flew indoors. We were two city idiots dodging stingers. Soon, the fat can of Raid emerged. I  knew this because from the kitchen I heard more swearing, and a door slamming shut.

It was a massacre.

We finished our breakfast inside, watching the mountains through the anti-mosquito chain curtain, periodically checking in on the casualties. Me, half-mourning the bugs who’d made a home in our absence.

Cuidado,

Seo

I Know. It’s Been a Minute and a Half.

Dedicated readers, all four of you, please accept my apology, although I never promised you consistency.

How OK I am with being inside worries me, albeit only slightly. In these forty-nine (?) days, I’ve read Marx and Tolstoy and Camus and Hesse and Flaubert. All great guys, really stand-up writers. But I started reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie two days ago, and now the thought of returning to Anna Karenina produces a sensation in me not unlike the one I feel when I  think about cleaning out the shower drain.

Read the book, basically. It’s real good.

Other things I’ve been into:

  • This Jeff Buckley cover of “I Know It’s Over.”

  • Wondering what my life would have been like had I stayed in America.
  • Wondering whether I could live in New York City without having a meltdown.
  • Thinking about the past.
  • Inexplicably, missing Greyhound buses.
  • Thinking that education is really, really important.
  • Feeling pessimistic and optimistic in the same breath.
  • Herbal teas.

So that’s all I’ve got for today.

Stay curious,

Seo

Play Some Relaxing Wave Sounds and Join Me for “The Grateful Hour”

My good friend Samuel, from Bristol, speaks like a  King–because I don’t actually know much about English accents, I’m not sure if this is standard, or enigma. Everything he says sounds like its worth a million dollars, though. So last week when he sent me an audio proposing that we hold “a grateful hour” during the pandemic, I went right ahead and stole the idea. Thanks, Sam!

Here’s some stuff I’m glad to have today:

A Kindle.

As the days of confinement descended upon Madrid, I was reminded of my long-abandoned e-book. Purchased for reasons unknown (I prefer paper) in 2012, I plucked it from my bookshelf pre-escape. In the past week, I’ve had the chance to indulge my favorite pastime and read The Plague, Naked in Italy, and The Seagull. Reviews and reflections in the works (maybe?).

Poetry.

Saturday was supposedly World Poetry Day (ojo: I did not fact-check this), so I read “Easter, 1916” aloud at lunch. Which brings me to the next item on my list…

My own ignorance.

JC is sometimes hard to live with because his thoroughness and curiosity make me realize how stupid I am. On this particular occasion, my idiocy came to light during a long series of follow-up questions about Irish conflict after the aforementioned poetry reading. My dad is from Ireland so, although I grew up in the states, I did remain Irish enough to internalize the notion that, no matter how much I was bleeding, I’d be grand. It didn’t really hurt. Sadly, however, I’ve got all my Irish history ass-backwards. I mean, I confused Easter Uprising with Bloody Sunday. I’m grateful for this ignorance, however, because it’s a wonderful reason to finally look into my ancestors’ past.

Video Calls.

Like everyone else, I also feel fortunate to be able to see my family rant about how there are no dried beans left at the Giant Supermarket, or watch a video about elephant seals with two of my best friends. It’s the little things.

Community.

The old ladies across the way don’t know my name and I don’t know theirs. Still, we wave to one another and we are united in our hope, I think. Pretty sure they’ve seen my tetas on more than a few occasions, but it’s cool. I’ve seen them plucking their chin hairs in the window. We have a sort of distant intimacy. Say what you will about the Spaniards, they do very much care about what happens to their neighbors. I’m happy to be part of this community.

Perspective.

There is not a lot that’s really necessary, is there? In the not-so-distant past, one made do without bread and milk, subsisted on garlic soup and garbanzos. We’ve stretched the pantry two weeks now and we could do it for two more, if need be. I’m dead thankful for this ability to put things into perspective and also for the fact that I could add 800 more things to this list.

But I won’t.

With heaps of gratitude,

Seo 

Existential Angst & Lingerie

Mornings go like this.

JC (not Chasez, former *NSYNC member, but the moniker that I will henceforth be using to refer to my novio, who is extra suss about sharing things online), asks me how I’ve slept and tells me something that I will never remember because I am still 97% asleep.

I always wake up later than he does. I know that I don’t actually need the extra thirty minutes of sleep. I am just lazy and I like waking up to coffee that is already brewed, bread that is already toasted.

I read the news before I get out of bed. 2/10, do not recommend. This morning’s hottest headlines are “Nursing Homes Turning into Morgues,” “The Worst Has Yet to Come,” and “Young People, You Are At Risk, Too!”

Today’s sponsored Facebook ad is this one:

Sponsored Publicity

Lingerie in sterilized packages, y’all! I’m worried about humanity. Let’s just be regular-naked and worry more about the trees.

Today, as an alternative to the news cycle and Zuckerberg’s trashy advertising, I offer you some classical music:

Listen to some Bach piano music. It’s like little constellations being formed, or like an aerial view of people walking through streets. — Bars, my brother, horticulturalist & Bach enthusiast.

Blessed be thy quarantine,

Seo

Live from La Cuarentena

What’s up?

Here’s the tea: I’ve been trying to write a post for a couple of days now. I ended up churning out some pretty dramatic paragraphs about the time I nearly died of swine flu, because that felt relevant, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t up to the task of serious reflection. Illness is uncertainty. Some of us are more vulnerable. As a collective, we humans grossly overestimate our preparedness and immunity time and again. We should give a shit about each other every day, but we don’t. That’s about the sum of it. Talk to me in six months. I  might have a deep post ready then. At the moment, I’ve had enough of them. So here’s something I’m sure you’ve never seen before… A PERSONAL UPDATE!

My Very Madrileña Quarantine

On Monday, I decided to escape from my apartment because my flatmate had left and I am (see: previous brush with death) a high-risk bitch. That being the case, I prefer to be with my boyfriend, who can brave the outside world for any of my pharmaceutical needs and who also, it just so happens, has half of my medical supplies in his fridge. So my escape was legit, guys. Mr. Sánchez, if you’re reading this, it was justified. I covered my face with a scarf and walked down the hill with two shopping bags, bringing only the essentials and the perishables–from medicines to mascarpone. When I arrived at my destination, I washed my hands for three full ABC’s.

Truth be told, I felt bad about leaving my neighbors. For the first time in the four years I’ve called Madrid home, I saw their faces. We hung our heads  out of the windows of the interior patio on Sunday—introduced ourselves, announced pregnancies, and planned communal Bingo games. Notably absent were the 6th floor couple who my flatmate and I have taken to calling “the sex dungeon.” I support them 100% in their passion, but I think that perhaps they lacked some foresight in this matter. With the whole building home and living under this new quarantine-quiet, all of that very-audible and increasingly violent ball-slapping was bound to create some awkward tension in our nascent community. Such is life. I, for one, hope that the sex dungeon integrates themselves and that all those relative strangers will forgive me my betrayal in this bizarre time.

Do you have any questions about the quarantine coming your way? Literature suggestions? Hopes, dreams, tips, or tricks? Send them my way and, as they say these days, please keep your ass at home.

Seo