Monday, August 15, 2016

Keeping it Veal

My boyfriend and I recently returned to Spain for a couple weeks after a short first visit back in December. He’s got a work project developing over there and had a few business meetings. I was tagging along for the ride. I basically hadn’t given this trip any thought once the flights were booked. His Spanish colleague was booking our hotel. I didn’t even know where exactly in Spain we were going. The only details I had were: somewhere along the northwest coast in the region of Galicia. So naturally, I assumed we were headed to a small fishing village with a hotel, a café and a bar, and maybe a beach due to the close proximity of the ocean.

We ended up in a place called Cangas de Morrazo and it was considerably larger than the remote town I had envisioned. However, it was breathtakingly beautiful, sunny and hot. We were off to a good start. After checking in at the hotel and having the requisite nap after losing six hours on the way over from Canada, we decided to venture out for sustenance of the food and beverage kind. It was approximately 5:30 pm. We were hungry, thirsty, and although partially rested, I still felt like I had been run over by a truck due to jet lag. How hard could it be to find to find a restaurant?  

Lesson number one: the Spanish take what is called a “siesta” ranging anywhere between 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm. Some businesses close for the duration and others, such as restaurants, serve alcohol and light snacks but no food… not until about 9 pm or later. That’s right: don’t even think about dinner until around 9:30 pm, and even that’s on the early side. Tired and desperate, we finally found a patio and resigned ourselves to deriving much needed calories from beer. Luckily, they’re very generous with the snacks when you’re drinking so we feasted on olives, peanuts and roasted corn nibblies. Also, the beer was cold and delicious.

The Spanish, it seems, are generally on a later schedule. As a non-morning person, this suited me just fine, and I believe, also proves a theory I have that Spain is in the wrong time zone. They should be in the same zone as Great Britain and Portugal, and yet they’re an hour ahead. I believe an entire culture was built around this mistake. The sun rises and sets later, and dinner doesn’t usually wrap up until midnight. I would even venture, based on this map, that at least half of France is also in the wrong time zone.

While exploring a local tourist site with my boyfriend's Spanish colleague and his wife, I asked about the whole time zone thing, and it immediately sparked an animated discussion among a group of nearby visitors. Of course, they were all speaking Spanish so I didn’t understand a word but I could tell I’d caused some controversy, and my work here was done.

After a few days, a daily schedule was emerging: breakfast, beach, lunch at beach, chill time at hotel, dinner, bed. The biggest decision we had to make on any given day was which beach to go to since there were plenty to choose from. 

Yeah, this is a little bit of alright.

Of course, we had to limit our exposure to the Spanish summer sun for the first few days, having nearly translucent, white skin. I was somewhat troubled when, upon returning from our first beach venture and contemplating a shower, the boyfriend says to me: “Go wash the cancer off.” Even slathered in SPF 60 sunblock, returning from that first day on the beach, my skin was eerily red. In response to my boyfriend’s inquiry about the exact shade of crimson, I replied: “It’s not of emergency room proportions but it is aesthetically troubling.” However, with repeated daily exposure to harmful UV rays, my pasty white Canadian skin was browning like a finely basted Christmas turkey.  

Lesson number two: when ordering seafood in Galicia, be aware that you will get the whole enchilada, including the face. After a sojourn on yet another pristine beach, we stumbled onto an elegant restaurant, and as luck would have it, they had a patio. So, we plunked our sandy asses down and ordered some beer and food. When the waitress said “prawns”, I immediately thought: “Hey, that’s shrimp. I love shrimp. I’ll have shrimp.” So I ordered the shrimp. This is what I got: 

As you can see, that’s an entire animal: face, shell, spindly little legs. I was Anthony Bourdain-ing it in parts known to most, but not to me. I’m not (yet) a vegetarian or vegan but trying to eat something that still has little beady eyes staring at me is almost enough to turn me into a full-fledged herbivore. Below is the prawn refuse I generated once I'd extracted the edible meat. Well, edible according to me:

After a few days, we also noticed something was different about this place. Apart from the Shell gas station, there was no corporate presence whatsoever. No Golden Arches, no Forever 21, no forced homogeny of the masses. We were surrounded by small, local businesses and completely immersed in another culture. No double Quarter Pounder with cheese to soothe my homesickness; no retail therapy at whatever hipster-poser chain store is hot right now. I felt this lack of Western influence was also apparent in the people, who were very relaxed and comfortable with themselves. I saw plenty of bare boobs in two weeks, and I can honestly say not one of them was fake. These were real people on the beach, and bikinis weren’t just reserved for skinny model-types.

Lesson number three: there were only the two lessons mentioned above.

Apart from not speaking a word of Spanish, I felt at home here. The people were friendly and welcoming, and I knew we had truly begun integrating when the boyfriend turned to me one evening and said: “ Well, it’s bedtime, so it must be time for dinner.” We made it our mission to do as little as possible, every day. We went from sitting on our asses in our hotel room, to lying on our asses on the beach, to sitting on our asses on patios and in restaurants, moving as little as possible while slowly fattening up. We were keeping it veal.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Baby turtles eat raspberries

My brother-in-law recently posted a video on Facebook about how young adults today seem to lack basic life skills like cooking, sewing, personal finances, etc... As I watched this video, I realized that, to some extent, this was me. I mean, I can do my laundry and make an omelette, but I'm by no means a domestic goddess. I have the ability to cook but I just don't want to. So maybe it's not that I don't have the skills, it's that I'm lazy which I guess is an entirely different problem.

It's become clear to me today that instead of working on my latest play, I will piss away my time on social media and other general time-wastage activities. Watching a baby turtle eating a raspberry may cause me to have my next big idea. I think I entered into a meditative state while watching a toddler scale a rock-climbing gym wall. I mean, that's when I'm open to the muse, when my subconscious can rise to the surface due to my tremendous focus on a singular thing, like videos of cats destroying Christmas trees. Yeah, I know it's July. Don't tell me you don't get nostalgic for Christmas come month seven of twelve.

I just impressed myself there with a semi-Star Trek reference. If you didn't catch it, you're a loser. Get caught up. Wiki Jeri Ryan. Or ask your boyfriend. So we finally got hooked up to Netflix, because the boyfriend and I were tired of being losers too. So now when someone says: "It's on Netflix", I promptly reply: "Seen it, bitch" because I have no life.

Remember Amanda Peet? She was almost famous for a while... like maybe a decade ago. She's the Rom-Com pretty young girlfriend, think opposite Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give. I figured she was an average actress at best. Until I watched HBO series Togetherness, in which Ms. Peet plays one of the main characters and proceeds to blow my f*cking mind. She's absolutely brilliant in this show, making bold choices as an actress and completely unafraid to play someone who's kind of messed up. She's the real deal, friends. Watch this show. Of course, you'll need Netflix, or Apple TV or whatever's not available on your regular cable subscription.

This girl ain't no poser. She's for real.

Now if I could just finish reading the latest Jonathan Franzen novel I started six months ago. Thanks Netflix, and adult colouring books.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sloth-induced positive birth trauma

A colleague sent me this meme recently:

I've always had a natural affinity with felines.
My 11 years of yoga practice haven't really contributed to my evolution as a human being. I still feel like a spiritual infant because people, in general, still irritate me and I don't like to share. This could also be caused by my lack of empathy towards others, except when it comes to animals. Play a sad Sarah McLachlan song and show me abused animals and I wither in a river of tears. Show me an impoverished child with the face of an angel and... nothing. Sure, on some level, I know it's "sad" but I remain unmoved.

I'm beginning to realize I may lack sensitivity which is surprising since I consider myself a writer, and being such, qualify as an artist, who in theory, should have a "sensitive" soul, or something. All I really "feel" is bitterness and scorn, sprinkled with resentment. I know that, based on The Secret and the law of attraction and all that jazz, that negative thinking will land me in all manner of hell. However, positive thinking has brought me some messed up shit. So, WTF yo?

Is an attitude of gratitude helping or hindering me? How about a "f*ck it" attitude for 2016? If I didn't give a shit, then I wouldn't have to pour so much effort into being grateful all the time which is exhausting. Gratitude demands a positive outlook on life which is not my default setting so I'm constantly straining against my natural tendency towards misanthropy. My attitude is essentially this: despite basically being part of the world's one percent (upper middle class), things still happen to me on a daily basis that I consider "shitty", thus thwarting my attempts to be content.

To make matters worse, I'm an introvert, so it goes without saying that I'm misunderstood since I usually prefer the non-company of people. However, my f*ck it attitude would come in very handy for someone who generally prefers being alone. Do I want to do anything fun / positive / useful / productive? F*ck it. I want to get drunk and watch Girls reruns. I want to give up on my dreams and sink into the quiet despair of an unchanging daily routine. Pursuing goals is much too demanding and there's no guarantee of success. I'd much rather wallow in the safety of mediocrity.

Investing myself in anything worthwhile feels like a waste of time, and also highlights the harrowing depths of my sloth. One would assume that I'd be happy doing nothing, since it's essentially my chosen path, but one would be wrong. I would have to criticize and mock those who are doing something. How dare they tarnish me with their ambition and drive.  

Obviously, 2016 is starting off on a high note. I've become wary of even-numbered years. They don't have the same promising, cozy feel as uneven-numbered years. It's strange that I would feel this way since I was born in an even-numbered year. Although, it could explain my dread of the even-numbered year since I found out fairly recently that I suffered birth trauma upon my arrival, and was basically in need of a therapist within the first minute of being born. But that's another story.


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