spain

I will never grow so old again

Listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is exactly like living in the most painful, beautiful dream you’ve ever had. Very James Joyce. Very makes me want to dance down the metro aisles and also lay down in the middle of the road and cry and also jump into some sea, any sea, and run down an empty street with a lover or with a friend or alone, laughing until the end of time.

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Kildare, Ireland 2016

“Sweet Thing” means something different every year, but has been an especially prominent song in my life lately and often played on repeat (sorry not sorry, neighbor). It’s like being a child again. It’s like falling in love with life, with yourself, with someone new after two-million heavy nights. Like getting younger every year. Like looking at the same old world you’ve always lived in and seeing it for the first time again. Like not looking for answers, “being satisfied not to read in between the lines.” Like surrendering to a gorgeous madness. “Hey, it’s me, I’m dynamite and I don’t know why.”

From 1968 with love,

Seo

Let’s Bring Letters Back

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The problem with me and amor is that I’m actually really romantic but when I talk about love I sound like a 62-year-old woman who’s been through six divorces (five of them from lyin’, cheatin’ good-for-nothin’ bastards and one from a gay man [things were different back then]. We still have brunch every now and then—him, eggs benedict, me, scones and organic deli meats).

Springtime in the city is a long series of micro-romances, smiley strangers, endless lunches and accidental sunburns.

I just fell in love with the man at the Aluche convenience store. I bought a juice; he offered me a plate of cookies.  I chose one with red jelly. It was violently mediocre.

I just fell in love with a Tarque look-alike at Café Amargo. We chose the same dishes from the menu del día. We were mostly alone. Me with a book. Him with a laptop. I retired all eye contact upon deciding that he was old enough to have three children and an ex-wife.

I just fell in love with a barista (per usual). I ordered an empanadilla and a coffee to-go. He said “enjoy your Sunday!”

I just fell in love with the Lidl cashier for the third time. He looks like he’s into wood-working. He knows I eat one kilo of mandarin oranges a week.

I just fell in love with four women who were all equally passionate about everything under the literary sun.

I just fell in love with a mischievous young professional on line 5. We both stifled laughter when an andaluza told an elderly man that she would kick his ass if he got any closer.

Lately, older women have been mentioning their collections of letters from lovers and husbands to me.  All casual like “we met while I was traveling but we kept writing each other and eventually we reunitedthey say.

“Y ahora que?” is what I say “All those beloveds who never quite came to be are sweaty and drunk and swiping through Tinder.”

“Vaya coñazo” is what I say soon after.

My great-grandmother of long-lost Latvian origins had a boyfriend after her husband passed away. A widow and a widower who met often at the firehouse dinners. She made steaks and he fixed things. His name, if I remember correctly, was Walter.

“Thank you for helping me overcome this wall of loneliness, Vera” is what he wrote.

All these thoughts of letters and when I got off the metro this afternoon I found a hand-written note on the ground. This is going to be so cute! I thought.

The note was, I assume, an exchange between two teenage boys.

“Should I go out with ———-?”
“Go out with her and if it’s good, good, and it’s not, no.”
“Thanks man, this is what friends are for!”
“You haven’t fucked in ages.”
“I have, but I don’t want to say it in front of everyone.”
“When she comes to class, you should say it in front of her.”
“Hey, when are we gonna smoke?”
“During Holy Week, bro!”
“Listen, I gotta finish this exercise, don’t fuck up my pen. I use it all the time.”

Well. There’s always the next note, right?

Luv and letters,

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 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