Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Blue Goodbye

Today I sat down to write a post, time on my hands for the first time in weeks and I said to myself, "It doesn't matter what you write, it doesn't matter if it's any good. Just write whatever comes and hit publish and then cringe a little. BIG DEAL."

Eyes to keyboard.


In the end, you just have to post what comes to you, what you feel inside, right? For me, this is it.

Working full time sucks. I have no time for anything anymore. It's a good thing that the 8 hours are not excrutiating like they were before, which makes life feel like less of a prison sentence but I still don't like the ratio of work/do laundry/cook/run errands to fuck around/rest/write/do-whatever-I-want. But that's life. We all live it. It may be part of the reason why I don't post much lately, but it's not all of it.

I didn't start this blog to have an online journal. I didn't start this to keep in touch with old friends or with family.

Well,maybe I did when I started and that's why I had linked to my blog on my myspace page and my facebook page for the (real) world to see. Those people that came here through those links or because I accidently told them about it may still read now.

The truth is, I don't really know.

They don't normally comment and frankly, it gives me the creeps thinking they might be there but not knowing for sure. I'm sorry, but it does. It's like inviting someone over to your house for a party but when they show up they just look in through the back window and sometimes you can feel their eyes essaying your cheeseball and your ham and pickle roll-ups but you don't see them.

I'm starting to think that maybe I only want people to drool on my cheeseball if they brought some mean spinach artichoke dip to share. And I'm not talking about comments; I don't give a fuck if they comment or not. I'm talking about sharing. I'm talking about writing.

It's not like I have big secrets that I want to tell and I'm trying to go all AWOL and undercover, it's just that I want to go somewhere else with my "writing" or creativity or whatever it is I'm doing here and I don't feel like this is the right outlet anymore.

Maybe I told people I knew because I wanted validation and readers and had to start with people I knew. What it has turned into has been a communication tool, to learn about people; some very far off and away, some relatively closer (like fellow expats), some with quiet family lives, some with crazy party lives, some of them living the country life, or small town life, some living in places and living lives that I know are not in the cards for me but that I want to experience, albeit vicariously. Maybe these are people that in real life I would never cross paths with or even if I did, (say maybe if they were my bikini waxer ) I would never know they could write their asses off. I might judge them and think we had nothing in common, but somehow across pixels and networks and webs, we happened to meet, thankfully.

Some of you are capable of writing about the day to day in ways that make me laugh my ass off or think for days about a few little phrases you cooked up, and you're honest and open and, hey, even your grandmas have your urls or you have your same story printed in the Irish Times for all eyes to see. I love you for that.

But that ain't me.

What I really want to communicate I'm not for some reason, and I'm trying to figure out why.

To those people that I had the good fortune of crossing paths with on the internet, discovering their talent that they so generously share, to those people that through their writing have given me so much more than boring updates on their lives a la facebook, I don't want to cringe when I hit 'publish post' to share myself with them anymore.

And, come to think of it, I don't want to share myself anymore with those that don't reciprocate by showing themselves to me through their own writing. That may sound horribly ungrateful to those non-bloggers and maybe friends that have been reading my posts, some of whom have told me in person that they enjoy reading. I'm sorry if this comes across as unappreciative of that, pero eso es lo que hay.

I guess I'm feeling less generous with my innards these days, except to those that have shown me theirs.

So here lies Bluestreak. For now, anyway.

At least for awhile, I'm going to that place that made me feel I had something to write about to begin; these streets and that Spanish sunshine and Luigi and, well, life.



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Half-assery/sorry Rasslery and an update on the job front

I can't keep up with this thing, can I?

I've contemplated quitting because I can't stand to be half-assed at one of the things that I actually enjoy doing. But it turns out I like you people more than most people I actually know in real life, and would feel too sad to say goodbye.

So here I am, being half-assed as usual.

I was honored to be invited over to Rassles house to play nintendo (i.e. to guest post) and I told her I'd be right over as soon as I was done with my chores and she hasn't heard from me since. I'm trying to figure out a way to beg for forgiveness but unfortunately my head remains inside my own ass, making even posting this extremely difficult for obvious reasons. Rassles, I AM coming over to play nintendo, so please save a nutty bar for me. It may get to you too late for you to ever use my stupid post, but you can save it for when you are too busy, or if you ever have one of these wordless bouts like I do. Lucky for the devout Rassles readers among us, you never do. Fuck, did I mention I'm sorry? I would buy you one of these if I could:

At this point, maybe people are done reading my apologies for things they don't know anything about and want some details about the jobby job.

Words come and then evaporate like NOx emissions (I don't know what I'm talking about. Do NOx emissions evaporate? We'll get to this ignorance later) and I try to hang on to them but a memory of a word is hard to keep once it has slipped away and become a contaminant. My mind is a mess of formulae and chemical elements I should have memorized my junior year of high school.

So, I'll use math to describe my current situation:

Making money + a quiet mind + a level of responsiblity that I'm comfortable with = something that resembles contentment + X, where X equals unforseen bullshit.

Or, we can do the long calculation.

  • My desk is positioned in such a way that makes it impossible for me to read blogs, fuck around on facebook all day, or actually work on anything other than what I'm supposed to be doing. This is my excuse for why I haven't been round these parts in a long damn time. While being away from blogging is not good for me -150, being away from facebook is +125. Be gone, oh ghosts of yesteryear, pulling at my mind and making me feel old, what with your pictures from 1997 and all.

  • I cross the Guadalquivir river every day en route to work and actually see the horizon again on a regular basis. I cannot describe what this does for my spirit. +200

  • Guess what? I get free shit: Almost-Free (EUR .75) lunch everyday + 300. Free legal advice twice per month, although I hope I never have to make use of this benefit +50. All the language courses and computer courses I care to take. Free +100. Did I mention I like free shit? Access to an English speaking doctor, free of charge, every wednesday in my office with no appointment. This man better brace himself for unprecedented levels of hypochondria, and he better brush up on his dermatology cause I'm about to shove my moles up in his face on a weekly basis. Hello, blue skies. Fuck off, melanoma. +500

  • There are beautiful views from any office in the building. Beats the dungeon I was pissing my life away in before in 8 hour increments. I have no good memories of that place, just memories of my sanity slipping away one day at a time. +100

  • The pay is nothing to sing about, but this is an economic crisis, so I'd be stupid to look at my absolute income rather than my relative deprivation. Besides, considering the level of stress I'll have to endure compared to my last job, I make a killing. But I can't afford hired help anymore, so it looks like I'll have to clean up after my sloppy self again and I've never been very good at that. -10

  • In my last job, I dealt with three kinds of people: 1) Those whose behavior I was responsible for, whose potential for fuckupery no words can describe; 2) Those that I was responsible to, and to whom I had to bear the unbearable shame of the behavior of the aforementioned fuck-ups. These people were the company clients who served rations of shit day after day for my eating pleasure; and finally 3) My bosses, who were nice enough but were too busy to notice I was about to jump out the window or hang myself with the telephone chord. They only called when there was a major problem. Basically, this meant that every time the phone rang I almost went into cardiac arrest thinking about what kind of fecal storm was about to hit the fan blowing on my face.

    Such is the life of cannon-fodder middle management.

    In my new job, I am positioned squarely at the bottom of the food chain, happily munching on discarded food that untrained labor entails.

    Well, to be honest, I haven't really been able to clearly identify the food chain at all and I don't even know if there is one in the traditional sense. I only know that I am only responsible for the task at hand and the actions of others effect me and my ability to work very little. This gives me a sense of freedom that makes me want to do cartwheels. Naked ones. I don't even know exactly who my direct boss is and it doesn't seem to matter. I just know that I need to show up and do my job.

    I share an office with a Hungarian, an Italian, and a Dutchman. In the office across the hall there is a Turk, a German, and a Spaniard. I have no idea what they do, but I know it doesn't involve me. They aren't up in my business demanding explanations and they don't make me cringe because they are so brain dead that they can't even fill out a time sheet properly so that their dumb asses can be paid. I know that most of them are experts in whatever it is they do and they are probably freakishly intelligent. Mostly I like them because they don't need me to do anything to bail them out of some mess they've created. I know that they are pleasant people to share coffee and lunch with and at this point in my life, I don't need any further information from anyone. +1050

  • I enjoy a standard, American work schedule. This is really meaningless to anyone who doesn't understand the burdensome tradition of the Spanish siesta. The siesta tradition sounds great to people that don't live here, but to anyone who has to live it, it translates into an extremely long working day, where you are on the go all day without a nap to be had by anyone. The only people that enjoy the siesta are the old school señoritos who have wives at home that iron their underwear and cook them paella on demand. Normal, working families get nothing from this set-up. The luxury of being off work at 5:00 p.m., no words can describe.

  • Did I fail to mention what my actual job is? Well, it turns out I spend the entire day reading gigantic documents pertaining to sinter beds, coke oven gas, and heavy metals. Now, I realize that to the untrained ear this sounds like sex, drugs, and rock & roll, respectively, which is more or less what I thought I was getting myself into. It turns out this shit is heavily dense and I don't understand a lick of it. I was trained to be a sociologist, not a geologist or whatever it is these people are. Yet, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, people (smart ones even) believe that I am qualified to do this job, and I have yet to question their judgement openly.

    But, I'm just a proofreader. I don't have to understand it. I just need to make sure every sentence has a subject and a verb and that the adjectives are in the right place and shit. It's mechanical. I don't give a fuck what the varying nitrogen oxide levels are or what the combustion thresholds are. I just care if that comma is supposed to be there and if this shit needs to be hyphenated or not.

    Brainless work? I don't care. When I leave for the day, my job disappears in a poof and freedom takes its place. Nothing weighs on my mind. Nothing makes me lose sleep. And if that wasn't enough, the end product of my labor is actually something I care about. So +100,000,000 in-yo-face.

    Can I get a "hell yeah" from the audience please?

    -Blues, in need a new avatar (Nevermind, I'm getting way ahead of myself).

Pictures: Big and Small by cmbellman and Puente Triana by Serlorencen both from Flickr.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Please don't wake me, no don't shake me...

...Leave me where I am
I'm only sleeping
Everybody seems to think I'm lazy
I don't mind, I think they're crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find, there's no need

Please don't spoil my day
I'm miles away
And after all
I'm only sleeping"
The Beatles, I´m only sleeping lyrics.

When you are unemployed and kidless, sleeping in is not a luxury. There is something discomforting about waking up late and being starkly aware that you are not expected. Anywhere. By anyone. Nobody needs you to make them breakfast. Nobody needs you to pack their lunches. No reports need to be on anyone's desk by any time.

"Enjoy it while it lasts", a platitude spilling forth like vomit out of the mouth of every single person I've shared any conversation with in the past three months, and in the most bantering tone. "Yeah, I know". Thanks for the advice, oh brilliant one, endowed with the knowledge of obscure things. I would have never thought of that one.

Something is pressing in on your skull. It's the feeling of too much rest melded with perpetual boredom and guilt. You know if you lay your head back down you could easily sleep two more hours, despite already having slept ten. This isn't silky, princely rest. It is rest with resignation, surrender, defeatism, because there's nothing else to do but rest. You know that you'll feel better if you only get up and do something, tire yourself out a bit and actually earn those z's again. But it doesn't matter one way or the other if you actually do, to anyone.

Suddenly that all changes.

"You're hired."

On Monday I will have to be somewhere. Someone will be expecting me, like, really fucking early in the morning. If I don't show up things will be bad. People will be angry. Important shit won't get done, I guess. Cogs and sprockets will cease to link up, wheels won't go round, and the whole machine will malfunction. My presence will be required.

Nothing has really changed yet. I haven't started working. I don't deserve my double digit hours of sleep. Not yet. But now they feel like hard-earned vacation sleep. When I start to stir I grasp at the dreams so they won't leave me yet and let me hang out there for just a little while longer in sweet luxury.

I wish I had a couple of weeks to get used to the idea of employment again, to sleep in and enjoy it and pay credence to the million and one trite comments people have made about taking advantage of it, instead of sleep having felt like this for two months.

Oh, if I had only known that my presence would be required, mandatory again so soon. Ain´t life just like that?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Anyone have a light socket I can plug my existence into?

I haven't looked for a job in almost ten years. They seem to creep up on me before I even want them for some reason. Maybe this is where I have failed, by never pursuing anything, just taking whatever shit pile falls from the sky and smacks me down. But I hate looking for a job. I hate it more than working at a mind-numbing-fuck-my-cerebral-cortex job.

See, I have an "enchufe", literally a socket, like a light socket. Everyone knows that you need a socket if you want to connect a plug, you can't just plug something directly into the wall. Looking for job in Spain with no enchufe is akin to trying to plug in a lamp directly into the wall with no outlet, making a bunch of fucking holes in your freshly painted living room wall, never even getting close to the electricity wiring or actually jamming it into wires and getting electrocuted and then getting repeatedly frustrated because you're sitting in the dark, in a room full of holes with your hair on fire. No outlet, no light. No enchufe, no jobbie-job. Thems the rules around this place.

Despite hating this concept and disagreeing with it on every ethical level, I find myself relying on enchufes and also being them. This whole country is a mess because of enchufes. You go to the bank to open up an account and the person that opens accounts doesn´t even know how to type so you wait all morning while he pecks away at his computer, essaying it forever to find the "F" as in "fuck me" key, taking a coffee break mid-way through. The extent of his applicable experience consists of being someone´s brother-in-law.

My enchufe apparently wants me to have a job more than I myself even want one and has pestered me since before I left my other job for me to let him help me. Initially he offered me a job in his company, which didn't materialize into much. I woudn´t have made a good fit anyway there, but he worked his magic elsewhere, through his wife's company, and when that failed, his wife's former employer. And the enchufe gets gradually weaker, but you can still get a little flicker of light from it. Please stay lit, motherfucker!

Today was my second interview.

As far as interviews go, I know all the rules. I myself have spent the last three years interviewing people for positions. I paid close attention to what candidates considered appropriate interview attire (their instincts were almost always wrong).

I paid attention to see if there was any shit under their fingernails (you'd be surprised), how punctual they were (Don´t you dare show up late without calling, you idiot, and don´t show up thirty minutes early and stare me down until I interview you ahead of schedule), if they made eye contact (not avoiding my gaze but not creeping me out either), their handshake (not too firm, not a dead fish. Confidence, but not aggressive confidence).

Thus my instincts to continue this protest against washing my hair, and to wear a leopard print top and some hot pink stilettos, and turn up an hour late had to be abandoned in favor of clean hair, black suit, with no flare or anything that stands out other than my vast experience and impeccable professionalism (can you tell I´ve bought into all this bullshit?). Fingernails clean and manicured? Check. Shoes shined? Check. Self-esteem? Uh...check.

Deep breath. Remember, you don't give a fuck if you get this job. Oh, but you do, but your life has been a path leading to this. Shut up! You don't give a fuck, you're gonna ruin it if you are overly eager. Ok, these people are gonna have to beg me to work for them. Please hire me. Don't you see everything I've ever done has lead up to this point? Whatever, I might consider a position here with you chumps. I might let my talent grace your organization. Oh, please, pretty please don´t let me wither away into an unemployment statistic.

"Hello, I'm here to interview with Ms. Rodriguez"

"Right this way, I'll lead you to the interview panel," says the receptionist. What the fuck? All I heard was, "Let me lead you to the dungeon of doom where you will have your soul picked apart and you will have to justify your measly existence before a board of PhD's in Bullshit Detection."

Another deep breath.

When I get nervous it's physiological. My voice shakes. I don't give a fuck about this job so why is my voice shaking? My hands tremble. These bastards are gonna have to beg me to work here, so why can't my hands stay still? I can't find the right words. I don´t know why I am acting all jumbled and flustered, these motherfuckers should be jumbled and flustered.

Later in my mind I torment myself by revising what I had said and imagining I could start over again and practice what I would say if given another chance, something more eloquent, more thought through.

Well, I guess I have going for me that I've spent my entire life squirming my way out of uncomfortable situations without anyone seeming to notice I was squirming and nervous as hell, so maybe I did ok.

Fingers are crossed that the outlet I'm trying to plug the lamp of my livelihood into isn't burned out, or worse, filled with water and ready to electrocute me to my economic death.


I was just about to post this, when I got a call with a job offer. As you may have suspected, I didn´t make them beg. I thought about it for a second though.

"The Dogs of War" by Stephen Poff found on Flickr.

"The Directors of Distillers Company Limited" by Charlesfred found on Flickr.

"My, what is that you´re wearing?" by Dave77459 found on Flickr.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hope adorned

When I was two weeks shy of my 21st birthday I landed in Madrid with $2000 in my pocket, my room and board paid for the next four months, and no intention to go back on the date of my return ticket. Loose ends had been tied. Where I had been unable to sever love bonds, thankfully, they had been severed for me, albeit with a torturingly dull blade, leaving a wound that for some reason wouldn't scab as quickly as I wanted it to so I could scratch it off with emotionlessness. But with my rose tapestry luggage, and a worn copy of The Fountainhead in my back pocket, I was exceedingly hope spangled that Europe would help my bleeding coagulate into indifference.

I was on my own. For the first time and last time in my life I was a firm believer in human agency unencumbered by an increasingly more flexible structure wherein I could invent myself.

I was meant to be in Sevilla for university but had a few weeks to situate myself in my new world. My parents had generously put me up in the Hotel California on the Gran Via in Madrid for a couple of nights to gather my bearings until I could manage to find a hostel or some other arrangement and make my way down south where I was expected.

I took no pictures of that hotel room on the Gran Via to conserve my memory. Film at that time was reserved for splendid cathedrals, quaint plazas, important monuments, things I thought I might only see for a short time, not knowing I would walk by them every day for years en route to work. Even without pictures, my memory conserves the tall ceilings, old world decorations and the busy street below my window that I gazed out of. The tub was miniature, the faucets and light switches and pillows all different. I stared at the bidet in befuddlement. Something inside me told me this memory is important; keep it.

I knew loneliness wasn't far off, but for the moment I cherished that I alone made every decision for myself. I decided which streets were worthy of walking down, what I wanted to eat and when and where. I felt in charge of my fate. It's a feeling that only comes accompanied by solitude but that I am grateful is a part of the assemblage of my human experience.

I wandered around Madrid alone. A child of new America, sprawl America, strip mall America, who had never so much as been to Chicago, New York or San Francisco, I stared up at the tall buildings until my neck could no longer take it. I watched all the busy, beautiful people in their perfectly tailored and pressed clothes. I looked down at my own dorky attire but couldn't pinpoint exactly where I had gone wrong. I just knew I wasn't quite right.

I wandered into a cafe where I realized that after three years of high school and college Spanish I was incapable of even ordering breakfast.

"Un croissant y un cafe con leche", a man barked to the waiter.

"Un croissant y un cafe con leche", I repeated insecurely when the waiter finally muttered something unintelligible to me. I salivated at the gorgeous looking orange juice I saw others enjoying and tried to remember how to say it. Jugo de...something or another. Oh well, cafe con leche it shall be. I wanted desperatly not to look like a dumb tourist and would give up orange juice to do so.

I wandered up to what appeared to be a train station with loads of people rushing up and down the stairs in a fury. The sign above the stairway, plain as day, read "Sevilla". Excellent, I thought. I'll get my trip to Sevilla all figured out, it will be one less thing to have to worry about. I went down the steps and told the woman at the ticket counter that I wanted a ticket to Sevilla, since obviously this was the train to Sevilla. She stared at me dumbfounded and answered, "But you are in Sevilla." I thanked her and walked away in complete provincial confusion and worked my way back up to the street level. It was days later that I realized this was the Madrid subway. I had been at the subway stop called "Sevilla". I had never seen a real underground before. The awareness of my own ignorance was humbling.

I thought about where I had come from and I felt an aching to be someone else. No, I wanted to be someone.

Months and years later I clung to being the person that moved to Spain that had learned Spanish and became this bicultural entity. It was the only thing that had ever defined me. In Spain I was Bluestreak, la americana. At home I was Bluestreak, "she lives in Spain, dude." I guess I thought this gave me the social and cultural capital to trump all the motherfuckers who had pushed me aside. I had been chiseled out into something worth mention. Or something. That feeling wore off a long time ago and metamorphisized into something resembling inadequacy.

For awhile I have arithmetically examined my life and summed up all of the parts of me that remained after culture had blended beyond a novelty, after I had subtracted people being impressed with me living in Spain which was now nothing other than an annoyance to me that they thought it interesting, or people here finding it curious that I was an American that spoke such good Spanish which equally annoyed me, after I had subtracted all the scabs I'd shed over the years. The sum total terrified me that I was left with an embodied dialectic, a person who had defined themselves by a contradiction.

But I'd be a hopeless idiot and a waste to think that I can't reinvent myself whenever I want.

Maybe I'll never have the same sense of agency that I had those first few days in Madrid when I was just 21. There may be times I want to take a bite of food that I decide on and Luigi says, "Don't eat that, babe, that's nasty, you're gonna get sick." There may be streets I want to take and he will say, "No, cariño, that's not the right way, we're gonna get lost, let's go my way". But as any structure that impinges on any actor, these structures also enable me, and I´d be floating off into fucking nothingness without them...without him. And this one who licked my war/love wounds and helped coagulate my blood, and gave me the go ahead when my scabs were clear for picking doesn't deserve the tired, defeated version of me. He deserves the hope-spangled one.

And so do I.


P.S. I´ve missed you guys. I´m catching up on your blogs slowly. I know it goes without saying, but I´ve needed a break from the pixelated wonderland to find my voice again, and I hope I´m not fucking jinxing it again. Thanks for sticking around.

Artwork Hopper, Edward Hotel Room, 1931 and Automat 1927.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Unemployed Blues

You are Bluestreak (or Blue Streak, as you have not been entirely unambiguous in terms of the spacing between your bisyllable name).

You are 32 years old, recently turned.

You are unemployed, by choice, as if that means anything other than that you are fucking nuts.

You wake up late.

You look at the clock and feel incredibly guilty, not because you have anywhere to be or anything to do, but because somewhere in the back of your mind you have the hunch that productive human beings who contribute to the machinery of society wake up earlier than this.


You opt not to shower again, and a heated debate takes place in your mind as to whether or not the brushing of one´s teeth is absolutely essential. The voices in favor of brushing win, since you know what happens to those that don´t take care of their teeth.

You read your book (you're reading In the Name of the Rose again, cause you love it and you just can´t buy another book right now until you finish the twenty million fucking books on your shelf you haven't read yet, that you wonder what the hell kind of intellectual ambition/jackassery possessed you to buy them to begin with).

You walk the streets that many people back home would give their left eye to visit on vacation but somehow that doesn´t mean shit.

You walk on the sunny side of the street y hace un día de miedo and you wonder why you ever thought looking for a job was a good idea.

An old woman speaks to you. "My child, guapa, can you spare any change for a coffee?" You reach into your pocket and purposely pull out only part of the change and tell her that´s all you have on you. You´re fucking unemployed and you can´t be giving money away, you reason. It´s not enough to get her a cup of coffee. Then you realize that not only is this the most interesting conversation you´ve had all day, but it´s the only conversation you´ve had all day.

You decide you need a cup of coffee and you go to the place you took your best friend when she came to visit, eleven (yes, eleven) years ago and you stare at the table where you sat with her and the fist of loneliness hits. When you go to pay with the change leftover in your pocket you realize there are only twenty cents there and you feel like an asshole for having not given all of it to the woman. Ugh. I can´t win.

You mosy on home and release the culinary monster that lives inside you on days when you have fuck all to do besides consume, prepare to consume, or think about your consumption.

Eventually, Luigi shows up to enjoy the roast chicken you have been basting, cooing at and otherwise speaking in infant-directed talk to for a couple of hours now.

The chicken is graciously and lovingly received by both self and spouse and the unidentifiable carcass, which are the only remains that you were unable to inhale are disposed of, as are the ideas you had of making chicken salad with the leftovers.

You then decide to witness the offering and slaying of a blogger virgin to the gods. Who are you to laugh? You can´t even think of anything to write about. But this qualifies as human interaction, right?

You drink way too much coffee for someone with nothing to do.

You space out for a bit and when you come to you realize you have re-grouted your entire kitchen floor and you go, "Oh fuck am I ever bored".

You decide it might be a good idea to start job hunting soon.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

It might just be my imagination.

I have been house/home-hunting/obsessing for some time now.

Let's face it, I've done a lot of pissing and moaning. We could have filled the swimming pool we don't own with my tears of woe-is-me self pity.

I've been utterly frustrated by what I can afford in this city that has Manhattan prices with Tijuana salaries (ok, I'm exaggerating a bit on both ends but you get the idea). So, with all the frustration and spite that has percolated in the crock-pot of my wretched soul for a couple of years now, I contacted a handful of home-owners who were offering rentals that were far out of my price range by sending the following email:

To whom it may concern (i.e. people I'm about to insult),

We are a couple with a stable income (bold faced lie), looking for property to rent for an extended period of time, three to five years minimum (if we damn well feel like it). We are willing to pay up to X euro with parking and all fees included (clearly an insulting offer). If you are interested in showing the property with what we are able to pay in mind, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards (i.e. eat shit if you don't answer me),


I wrote this email with all the spite my mean little fingers could anxiously deliver to my keyboard, knowing that I would be contacted, knowing that we would go see the flat with an "I told ya so" air about us, knowing that we would feel superior to all the greedy fools who thought their stupid little flats were worth a killing and who had hitherto laughed at us young folk and had drop kicked us out of the housing market by their irresponsible "prices-never-go-down" speculation.

Within the hour a woman called me and wanted to set up a time to show her flat.

Surprisingly, I didn't even get remotely excited. My excitement has been exhausted, sold out. I have no further excitement left in me to waste on this. Months before, when I would see a flat, I would show up and think, "This might be my new street". I would get in the elevator and wonder if that would be the elevator mirror I would be checking my hair in every day. I would pass someone in the hall and mutter "Buenos dias" and wonder if that would be my new neighbor and imagine the rooftop parties we would share and coffees we would invite each other over for and cups of sugar we would borrow. And then I would leave feeling defeated.

This time I had contemplated not even showing up. I yawned in the elevator and went over my grocery list in my head.

When we got to the flat we saw exactly what we expected to see; an overpriced flat that wasn't even worth the insulting offer we had proposed.

I wanted to turn my nose up and laugh at the assholes and think, "Who do they think they are with their shitty little apartment?" I wanted to shake their hands and thank them while thinking "Good luck to ya, assholes! I wouldn't live here if you paid me to!"

But I looked at the couple and I saw the woman, pregnant, staring at us wide eyed and hopeful. I saw her husband, full of pride, describing the new fine cabinetry and tilework they had poured all their money into. I saw a couple that had no room for their growing family, that had bought a tiny, dark, overpriced flat at the pressure of all their friends and family who urged them, "Buy! Buy! Buy, before it's too late and the flats cost double!" at the precise moment the market was about to turn on them. I saw a couple that needed to get out somehow, that had tried to sell at a price that wouldn't send them into bankruptcy to no avail and that was now trying to find a tenant who would at least cover a portion of their mortgage so they wouldn't drown in financial ruin and have some hope at affording their unborn child's future. I saw a couple that earned hopeless Spanish professional salaries and that had invested the little money they had managed to save on a couple of properties in the hopes that their future would hold more than a fifty year bondage to the bank and a savings account without a dime in it.

I saw us. I saw what we would have been if my husband had not fought my pleas tooth and nail to buy a house at the worst possible time in history. I saw a glimpse of the financial ruin we would be in if we had done what I had wanted to do. I saw myself, chained to my desk in the job that was sucking the life and spirit out of me that I wouldn't have even been able to contemplate leaving so that I could reinvent my world and self again and find fulfilment in something different and live a life that felt a little less like a waste of human creativity and potential.

I broke down in the elevator going down, this time not in my own self-pity for not being able to afford anything decent for my hard earned cash, but for the regret I felt for writing that email full of spite and condescension that gave the couple a glimmer of hope that they would find a tenent and escape their impending financial ruin.

Maybe I just have a wild-ass imagination.

I hope so.


"Se vende" by Adrian Coto from Flickr.