I’ve already used two terms that I generally have an aversion to regarding the compulsion to reflect and itemize after a year’s life: list and highlights. But I think it is definitely worth my time to recognize and remember some of the good things that have happened to me, directly or indirectly, in the past year. I have the wonderful habit of concentrating on the failures, annoyances, and regrets, but all of that is rarely interesting to anyone else, like baby pictures or naked dreams, and it is a habit that is astoundingly unproductive. To recognize beauty and fortune in one’s life is easier for some than others, but it may just be a universal determiner of happiness.
The following is hastily put together, and numbered, but not in any order of importance.
Happy New Year…Where’s the cava?
1. Writing for The Huffington Post and The Cultureist Magazine. When someone recognizes hard work it is always nice. But when professional writers and newspapers do it, the result is a permanent foundation on which to continue moving upward. It is amazing that someone across the ocean in New York City can be so instrumental in my development as a wannabe writer. Special thanks to Maria.
2. My good friends Sebas and Merv formed the band called Mechanismo, an indie rock group based in Madrid, and I don’t like them just because we’re friends. Through many ups and downs of the labyrinthine Spanish music scene, every time they lay something on the table, it is of quality and originality–a rare thing around here. The video below is their Wall of Sound Phil Spector-esque collaboration with other up-and-coming Spanish musicians.
“Home” by Mechanismo
* * *
3. My place of work. After an all-out CV distribution blitz on Madrid, one 115-year-old school gave me its number and we’ve gone from the dating stage to seriously thinking about moving in together. And more than ever, I feel fortunate to be working in Spain.
4. Another creative effort of a friend. An Italian web series called Double Swing. Immediately, it is evident that the photography, camera work, sound and overall aesthetic are well above the normal schmaltz and mediocrity. And the leading actress is heartbreakingly beautiful and her character is in love with a wannabe writer / English teacher. Hmmm, weird. By the way, if you happen to be the next Judd Apatow looking for an investment opportunity….ehem, ehem…
5. I love a good short film, and I just picked one randomly from my Vimeo bag of movies.
“Blind Spot” by Matthew K. Nayman
6. Austra, a new band with great harmonies, two hot twin backing vocalists, and the emotional, cotton candy kind of electro rock/pop that I like from time to time. Their songs embed themselves in my brain, and I don’t mind. Mark one for Canada…
7. No longer being annoyed with the following Spanish cultural quirks:
- light switches on the inside of bathrooms, with timers
- trees in the middle of sidewalks
- wax paper for napkins in bars
- slow walkers (ok I still hate that one).
- people mopping sidewalks
- the astounding lack of urgency at all times
- high decibel conversations about banal events
- cleaning crews holding the broom wrong
- rolled cigarettes
- no change in cash registers. ever.
8. Aparrat. My discovery through Sasha’s remixing wizardry, this band is creative and refreshingly new in their approach to music. Finally…
9. Not being in the United States during election season.
10. Tapas and everything that goes with them… I still adore my life here, and it has done me immeasurable good to acclimate myself to my host country. Spain still treats me well.
11. David Rakoff (1964 – 2012) wrote witty, eloquent memoirs and was (is) an great inspiration in my development as a writer of my life. 12. Gerald Brenan and Antione de Saint-Exupéry. Adventurers with a talent with words (a rare thing), these guys stir my inner cultural and geographical explorer. Unfortunately, they’ve since long since died.
13. The fact that I can still accidentally tell a girl “you’re my favorite kind of paella,” in Spanish, and somehow it sounds cute.
14. Sailing in Mallorca. Almost surfing in Cantabrias.
15. The new and old friends that have added to my happiness in small ways and kept me from losing my mind throughout the year. I wish I could mention you by name, but I think you know who you are.
Now, about that cava…