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Sex-Positive Research for Sexy Mystery 'Bound to the Truth'

The armory
The Armory. 

 In case you missed it, the third book in the Dreamslippers Series has a sexy theme. Cat and Granny Grace must find out who killed up-and-coming architect Nina Howell. Her wife is convinced a libertarian talk show host is the murderer. Following the clues takes the dreamslippers into what in another novel might be labeled Seattle's "perverted dungeon" or "dark underbelly."

 But not in Bound to the Truth. After a decade in Seattle and a lifetime studying human behavior, my position is that there isn't anything inherently dark or perverted about sex. And by sex, I mean the activity engaged in between two consenting adults that may or may not have anything to do with procreation but could include any number of "kinky" behaviors. Spoiler alert: Through the course of the novel, Cat explores a shop selling bondage gear, she and her grandmother go undercover in a sex club, and several characters confer on lingerie and sex toys.

 Readers of the series will know this is not shocking new territory for me. As I've said on social media, book one was about religion and sex, book two art and sex, and book three politics and sex. Septuagenarian heroine Amazing Grace is sexually active and forthright about her trysts; twentysomething Cat is exploring her sexuality as a new adult. These women own their desires and act on them, apologizing to exactly no one.

 HUGE CAVEAT: The sex scenes happen mostly off-screen. This is NOT erotica. This is NOT porn. Sorry to disappoint you. Now, continuing on with the discussion...

 Readers of the blog know I've been highly critical of Fifty Shades of Grey, which utterly fails because rather than challenging its audience in any way, it allows readers/viewers to preserve their judgmental prejudices against the kink world and the presumed "broken" people who inhabit it. They can naughtily dip a toe into the world but then ultimately reject it, just as the vanilla protagonist does. With Bound to the Truth, I wanted to treat kinky people with the respect they deserve, rendering a realism that I hope not only transcends cliché and judgment but results in fully developed characters and concerns. 

 While Fifty Shades served as a sort of negative inspiration, and my writing on this book started as a reaction against it, here's a peep show of my research sources for this book, all positive inspirations.

 News flash to any Emerald City resident who hasn't discovered this yet, but when Cat observes in Bound to the Truth that "Seattleites as a population must quietly be getting their freak on in the bedroom 24/7," that comes from first-hand experience. Enter the city's decidedly online dating scene for two seconds, yes, even as a middle-aged divorcée as I was, and you're immediately barraged with a cornucopia of kinky come-ons. After thirteen years straight of committed monogamy, it was eye-opening, to say the least. If you have single friends who are also dating, you compare notes and see the same. 

 I owe a debt of gratitude to Savage Love syndicated columnist Dan Savage, who not only writes intelligently, compassionately, and wittily on the subject of sex but also launched a brilliantly curated alternative porn film fest. I've attended a couple of Hump Fests, which seemed to both sell out, and I highly recommend them.

 When I wrote as a freelancer for several Seattle publications, I had the opportunity to interview University of Washington sex expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz. A well-respected academic with a long list of accomplishments, the occasion for my interview with her was the publication of her tell-all memoir, which chronicled her experiences entering the dating pool post-50. As you can see from my choice of subject matter and character, Dr. Pepper had an influence. The piece was one of my most popular, too. Originally published in Seattle Woman magazine, it was linked to by Crosscut, where it was in the top ten for traffic that year.

 While I never joined a sex club, I did talk with people who have, and I also toured The Armory in San Francisco. You might recognize the signature building in the image at the top of this post. The Armory is a sort of castle of kink. Tours are open to the public, and knowledgeable guides wearing nothing sexier than street clothes will lead you through many a porn set. The building itself is worth the price of admission even if you profess a distaste for porn; the Moorish castle was completed in 1914, with much of the stone staircases, wainscoting, and impressive corridors intact, not to mention access to an underground cave, Mission Creek running below the structure.

 I also toured the Erotic Museum of Barcelona, but who wouldn't do that on her honeymoon?

 The drag and burlesque communities deserve credit for shaping my thinking on sex. In Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, you can catch first-rate live shows in which respectful, supportive audiences embrace a diverse spectrum of lovely people on stage in various states of dress, dancing in a variety of suggestive ways. Most notably for me is Seattle's Nerdlesque. In fact, I'm still pondering my affection for and confusion over "burlesque Carl Sagan." Affection because he was one of my childhood nerd crushes. Confusion because I'm not attracted to women, but this gal was a dead ringer for my beloved astronomer, so...

 I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Laura Antoniou's mystery set in the middle of a kink convention, The Killer Wore Leather. And Seattle's sex-positive culture in general for its art shows, film screenings, articles, workshops, and overall work toward making sex something that can be talked about without stigma, shame, and danger. If we could free ourselves from those chains, then the ones some people put on just for fun become simply that.

 I hope you enjoy Bound to the Truth. You can pre-order it, and Amazon will magically deliver it to your Kindle on the day of release. Or Barnes & Noble will mystically transport it to your Nook. Or, or, or...

 Now tell me what you think of all this in the comments! What turns you on? I mean in terms of literature, people.

 


Take a Cue from the Spanish Lifestyle

Drinking water

Imagine a daily lunch that isn't spent eating microwaved food at your desk or rushed at a fast-food place but instead unfolds over the space of two hours, between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, spent in the company of friends and family. This lunch includes wine and good, local food made from scratch, and it ends with fruit for dessert and the most amazing espresso you've ever sipped. No one's rushing or checking their watches. Everyone's laughing and talking and taking their time.

Welcome to Spain. 

Before this 2 pm lunch extravaganza, you might have had a sandwich snack around 11 at a local street cafe, with that glorious coffee, or maybe a pastry. Maybe that was the second time you ate that day, depending on when you got up, which didn't have to be early.

Coffee and pastry

After this 2 pm lunch siesta, you go back to work for another two or three hours, heading home around 6 or 7, when you might have a snack. Dinner then is as leisurely paced as the lunch was, maybe even more so, and it doesn't start till at least 9.

Adding the Spanish work day up, I'm getting about 5 hours of actual work. To Americans, this probably sounds appalling. But after working like a dog for 25 years, the Spanish work/life balance seems much more civilized to me. 

And so is what they eat. It's hard to find a fast-food place in Barcelona; they're all clustered around tourist attractions for a reason. Most of what you find to eat in Spain came from a farm or ranch nearby, and is presented in its close-to-original state, like the famous Iberian ham, carved right off the shank.

Shank

During my recent trip to Barcelona, all of my admittedly low-grade, not-serious-but-annoying digestive issues entirely cleared up. Sure, it was in part due to the fact that I was away from daily work stress, walking every day, and breathing in warm, Mediterranean breezes, but I happen to think the food - and a radically different food culture - had something to do with it.

For one thing, it's hard to argue with black squid ink paella...

Black ink paella

Or seafood soup. (And in the background, there's a right-sized dish of homemade ravioli. Next to it, a bottle of wine, which came with the meal, all for far less than we'd pay in Seattle.)

Seafood soup

For another thing, the amazing artisanal yogurt pictured below seemed to heal my gut in the space of a week. We imagined it was made from milk gently and humanely harvested from Pyrrenese cows who enjoy daily massage and are sung to by maidens playing lyres.

Yogurt

Next door to our apartment was one of many fresh food markets throughout the city, which is where most people shop. The procuring of food is not a chore done in one large mega-trip to a mega-store but rather woven into the fabric of your life, so that you're stopping in for fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bread as part of your daily walk route, and taking the time to chat with the vendors. There are small stores resembling the grocery stores in the States, but even they have barely any processed foods. For bread, you go to a bakery. For toiletries, you visit a farmacia.

Concepcion market

In the U.S., we're too prone to taking the quick route, turning our fad-food-of-the-moment into something packaged, with a long shelf life. Just think about the section now devoted to "gluten-free" packaged food in a lot of stores lately. As detailed in this New Yorker piece, gluten-free does not usually mean healthy. 

Unless you have a true food allergy or celiac disease, restrictive diets like the gluten-free one probably won't cure all that ails you. Believe me - I've tried them. I was a vegetarian for 13 years, and about half of that included stints of true veganism. I tried the wheat-free thing back in the 90s before the word "gluten" was used by anyone but nutritionists. I've gone fat-free, egg-free, and paleo. These diets might make you feel better for a short time, as you tend to be more mindful of what you're eating and avoid gut triggers like fried food and alcohol, but they inevitably lead to further restrictions, frustrations, and failure. 

In Barcelona, we cooked frequently, used fresh ingredients, didn't eat anything processed, and were the better for it. We also spent less money on everything, but especially cheese and meat, than we do in Seattle. We ate everything, and we still lost weight.

Balcony spread

What seems to be the key is admittedly harder than simply cutting out a particular food, and that's eating as a truly healthy omnivore. Supporting that would be a less stressful culture and much better work/life balance.

Good, local food and dishes made from scratch, eaten at a leisurely pace in the company of friends and family, and a working lifestyle that supports it. I know some of you are probably thinking right now about Spain's economy and saying to yourself that their lifestyle is to blame, but I'm not convinced of that. I don't believe it's necessary to sacrifice our personal health and well-being for the sake of the health and well-being of our economy. That doesn't seem like a logical correlation.

It's no accident that one of the chief tourist attractions in Barcelona is La Boqueria, an incredible food market where local food artisans have been hawking their goods for centuries.

Boqueria

Boqu nuts

  Boqu meat

Since I've been back in the States, I've tried to replicate the Spanish way of eating, with mixed success. It requires carrying a lot of food with me for the long work day, and I still eat at my desk, which is the only way I can fit in a workout. And yesterday the organic farm we subscribe to delivered its last box of the season. Since I didn't have the time to can, dry, and freeze the summer's bounty of foods, I'm trying not to panic.

What's your food story? Tell me all about it.

 

 


Things That Should Never Be Localized

I'm starting a new series to showcase items that haven't been "localized," or further translated from their rough versions into something natives, or those local to the language, wouldn't find either hilarious or just plain confusing. (As in, "All your base are belong to us.")

Some things are just too precious in their rough versions, like this shirt I almost bought in Barcelona:

Wake pu love

Now I know what to tell my guy in the morning. It works, right? I mean, before his morning constitutional?

 


The Couple's Selfie

The selfie has got a lot of attention lately (look, they're even doing it at the Hajj!), but what about this much more serious phenomenon: the couple's selfie. As evidence, I present you with this gallery of shame, all taken in Barcelona, Spain.

Here we are at Park Guell:

Couple_selfie2
 

And at the Picasso Museum:

Couples_selfie

Next, a couple of couple's selfies taken on a bus tour, adding further shame to the shame. We're even wearing headphones! And that window reflection shot... I can't ever be forgiven for that one.

Couple_selfie4

Couple_selfie window

Finally, there's the obligatory beach bar shot. Look, everyone! We're at the beach! On our honeymoon! 

Couple_selfie_beach

Ah, well. It's all in the name of love.

 


WTF, harem pants, Barcelona?

Maybe I missed something in fashionista-land, but I was a bit bewildered to find that every woman in Barcelona was wearing harem pants, and every store was selling them.

Harem pants dummy

Yeah, I'm talking about the 1980s, M.C. Hammer, drop-crotch variety. You know, the kind that are flattering on exactly no one. And by no one, I mean me. I was only too glad to see harem pants fall by the wayside in like, oh, 1992. But not Barcelonans! They're bringin' 'em back, baby!

Harem pants back 2

And harem pants apparently go with any type of footwear, including Chuck Taylors.

  Harem pants with chucks

Another strange thing about being in Barcelona is that everywhere we went, we heard early 1990s music, especially Enya. You remember Enya. What? You don't? Well, this should refresh your memory.

 

Between the harem pants and Enya, I kept flashing back to my 20s. Which is a weird thing to have happen on your honeymoon, when you're, um, a long way from your 20s.

OK, maybe the harem pants are kind of cute. At least on the hanger. Look, pretty colors! And patterns, wow.

Harem pants rack

 

And I bet you can't resist these twinsies.

Harem pants twins


Protest in the streets of Barcelona!

Protest banner

We were hanging out on our balcony in Barcelona, taking in the nighttime view, when we heard chanting from the streets below, and not the kind that comes from monks. So of course we threw on our shoes and went downstairs to see what was up.

Around the corner, a protest was in full swing. 

Protest crowd

A crowd of students marched the streets and stopped in front of a Barcelona city government building, at which they threw eggs and detonated explosive canisters. The mood was angry at the center of the protest, but social and congenial on the fringes. Many of the protesters walked their bikes as they marched.

 

At nearby street cafes, Catalonians went on with their coffee conversations, affecting blase glances at the commotion in the street. We asked a man sitting on a park bench right next to the protest, "What's going on?" 

He shrugged. "They're students."

"Do you know what they're protesting?" we asked.

He shrugged again. "Who knows? They're students."

La policia was in full force but seemed to be providing protection for the protesters as much as they were making sure they didn't get out of hand.

Protest cops

They were several SWAT-style vans in the troupe.

Protest SWAT van

The next day, we discovered that the students had left graffiti behind. They're written in Catalan, which most certainly is not just a dialect of Spanish, but some of the sentiments should be crystal clear even to the uninitiated.

Protest Foc a la Banka

Protest utopia

This symbol, which we found out later is tied to the anarchist "occupy" movement internationally, was common.

Protest anarchy sign

It turns out the students were protesting policies that make it harder for squatters to occupy vacant buildings and public spaces. You can see by the related articles below that this was a pretty tame protest, compared to the violence that occurred in Barcelona back in May of this year, when a building that had been occupied by leftists for 17 years was cleared out for redevelopment.

So for us, it was a moment of honeymoon adventure. For some Catalonians, it's a matter of liberty.

A few days later, we saw this apartment graffiti in what looks like an activists' flat punctuating the city view at Park Guell. The "okupa" for "occupy" is a strong message across the top of the roof on the lower left:

Okufa 

 


Things Plug In Differently

Plugs

For those of you who've never been out of the U.S., news flash: Electricity apparently has evolved differently in other countries. This is what the outlets look like in Barcelona. Weird, huh?

So if you go over there, and you want to take your phone with you and plug it in, you have to buy one of these

This message brought to you by the Foundation for the Mundane Aspects of Travel in Other Countries, which also brought you this message.


Why You Should Always 'Keep Looking Up'

Palau looking up

 After battling jet lag and a formidable language barrier, conquering a few annoying ailments, getting scammed at an ATM, being yelled at by an indignant Catalan waiter, and finding ourselves in the middle of a street protest, we could have called our honeymoon a disaster. We could have moped around like a couple of Mericans, wanting our money back or cutting our trip short. But we didn't.

Instead, we kept looking up.

It's a valuable and simple message, "keep looking up." PBS' Jack Horkheimer, AKA "the star hustler," used to sign off every episode of his show with that mantra. The man could rock a Members Only jacket AND knows his Betelgeuse from his Van Allen Belt, so he's worth paying attention to, even posthumously.

 

It's a good thing we took ol' Jack's advice, or we would have missed the Palace of Catalan Music. Or in the local tongue: Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catalan.

I was twice moved to tears by sights in Barcelona, and this was one of them.

Especially for a structure as old as the Palau, which was finished in 1908, it's full of whimsy, as if a pastry chef dancing to the music of "Fantasia" were let loose in a concert hall with a bag of icing. Life-sized pegasus horses emerge from the corners. Chandeliers tilt at jaunty angles. A row of musicians are rendered half in bas relief and half in 2D on stage, as if the drawings have somehow come to life. Those who perform here describe hearing these musicians behind them.

Palau X rosettes

Palau pegassus

Palau X chandelier

Palau X musicians

And above it all, a globe of stained glass, like a giant sun, illuminates everything, allowing natural light and color to make the theater glow.

Palau X dome and sweep

Like La Segrada Familia, the Palau exists solely on private donations, and also like Segrada, it is an example of the cultural pride and passion for the arts that exemplifies Catalonia. The grand choirs of the turn of the last century were the inspiration for its creation, and a roster of world-class performances continues to fill the space with sound befitting its visuals.

I'd go back to Barcelona just to see a concert there.

By the way, I once saw Jack Horkheimer, the star hustler himself, in person. I lived in Miami at the time, and he was the director of the planetarium there. I'd noticed his Member's Only jacket in front of me in line at the Winn-Dixie, and when I walked outside, there he was. It was nighttime, and you know what he was doing?

Standing there in the parking lot, looking up.

 


Blisters No More

At one of those amazing, ubiquitous farmacias in Barcelona, I picked up this handy little product, which resembles a tiny stick of deoderant but is actually so much more.

Compeed

It's like what you'd get if a stick of Dry Idea had a three-way love child with Vaseline and a wax candle. And it's the answer to your prayers, if you've ever had a pair of shoes that were super cute but gave you blisters.

All you do is roll up the stick, slide it on your ankles wherever your footwear rubs or pinches you, and voila! No more problems. Because blisters are caused by friction. This stuff makes the blister-causing heel or strap just sort of glide comfortable over your precious skin.

Apparently, Spanish women are all over this miracle invention but are keeping it to themselves. I have never seen this product in the States anywhere, but here it is through a Spanish Web site, with its unsurprising five-star rating and cheers of "perfecto" and "muy practico." 

BUT WAIT. Surely Amazon, which now sells every product known to man, can get me the hookup? Yes. Yes it can. Whew. Now I don't have to go back to Barcelona just for this.

 

 


Inside La Segrada Familia

Previously on the blog, I mentioned that you really shouldn't miss the inside of La Segrada Familia, no matter what guidebooks might tell you. Gaudi's amazing feat of spiritual architecture alone is worth a trip to Barcelona.

The view inside moved me to tears. Unashamed, streaming tears of joy and gratitude.

Inside_segrada_1

Gaudi captured the soaring splendor and exalted grandeur of the medieval cathedral, but he removed the hierarchy, judgment, and darkness of Catholicism's past. Rather than a commanding crucifix placed at the apex of the church, Gaudi dangles Christ as if from a whimiscal umbrella over worshipper's heads, close enough that you feel you can reach up and touch his feet.

  Segrada umbrella closeup

Segrada umbrella

And he put nature at the center of the house of God. You know that feeling you get when you're in the middle of an old growth forest alone, and the trees sweep up into the sky, and you feel part of something grander than yourself? That's it. He brought it into the church, saying nature's place is here, where we worship divine spirit. 

Segrada oculus

There's a fantastic little exhibit off to the side of the church that shows how Gaudi took direct inspiration from nature, from the fruit and flower shapes that adorn La Segrada to the hive and honeycomb imagery. Divine spirit isn't somewhere out in space, removed from us; it's right here, in the trees and the flowers and the food we eat. It's in us. It is us. 

But he didn't just take aesthetic inspiration from nature but structural as well: He studied the way trees brace themselves into the ground and designed columns just like them. 

Segrada altar and window

For fans of stained glass, La Segrada represents the pinnacle of the art form.

Segrada stained glass

Perhaps we missed something amazing by entering too late to gain access to the tower, but it was lovely enough just to gaze up the swirling spiral of the staircase from below.

Segrada tower spiral

What really struck me about La Segrada is that it's this grand expression of spirit done at great expense and effort. It serves no utilitarian purpose. It's not a commercial venture. It's a venture of the heart, paid for entirely by private donations, one that trandscends the ambitions of one man or even one generation. It's been under construction for a century, since before Gaudi died in 1926, and its sheer scope guarantees that it will take many more years to complete.

All for art's sake, and for the sake of humanity's soul. And that's a rare and beautiful thing indeed.

Segrada_full


Knowing It by Heart

Profile_2

I'm part of a group of women who meet every other week to discuss spiritual matters and support each other in the world. We're new and still defining what we are, but we use the word "sangha." Google that word, and you get a lot of hits about Buddhist monastic orders. We're not Buddhists (not that there's anything wrong with that), so we're using the term a lot more loosely, a bit like this guy's definition, "those people or things that are intent on a constructive goal." 

At our last meeting, the women really wanted me to talk about my recent wedding and honeymoon. I sometimes revert to extreme introversion when suddenly the focus of attention, despite functioning as an extrovert (for the most part) in my world of work. So all expectant eyes were on me, and instead of telling them glowing things about my lovely wedding at our spiritual center or my adventurous honeymoon in Barcelona, I related a gripe about a mundane wedding-planning annoyance that had created more drama than it deserved.

It's understandable that I'd do this, as griping commiseration is what women tend to do in my experience when they get together socially. This isn't entirely bad; women need an outlet, a safe space to vent and find validation. Falling back on that when put on the spot isn't surprising.

Plus, I knew they were looking for something close to the heart, and that's harder for me to do, especially with people I'm still getting to know. And even though I've been through some intense spiritual classes with these women and have been discussing big topics like death and self-actualization with them all summer, I'm not always there yet, especially with matters closest to my heart, as my marriage is.

But what I'd forgotten in that movement toward the easier, negative place is intention on that "constructive goal" inherent in the definition of sangha. We're not a gathering of gal pals meeting for happy hour. I have that in my life and value it, and the gripe in question would have made for a great story for one of those meetups.

But my sangha is and should be about a different kind of community conversation.

I got a very nicely worded prodding from a fellow sangha member after our meeting - she called me on my decision to share a gripe. I had at first a flash of irritation, reading it as an attempt to censor me. But I was undone by the sweet invitation in her email, to tell her more so that her mental image of my wedding would be replaced with something more befitting what she had heard was a lovely, momentous event.

So I wrote back to her with this: 

I thought about my vows for months. I thought about them when I ran, and when I meditated and was supposed to be emptying my mind. A week before the wedding, I wrote them down. I told [our minister] I would have them memorized for the ceremony, and he told me I shouldn't put that pressure on myself (as if patting my head). He said he'd hold a cheat sheet for us to look at "on stage."

 The morning of the wedding, I rewrote my vows in my head while showering. I didn't write them down. 

 When I stood up there, I ignored the cheat sheet, looked into my beloved's eyes, and spoke from my heart.

My sangha friend wrote back with this: "Hm, that's what it truly means, when we say we know something by heart."

And so it is.

 


The Greatest Thing to See in Barcelona, Without Exception

Sep 15, 2014

Sep 15, 2014

This is not your grandmother's church.

(Unless, of course, your grandmother is like the character in my novel Cat in the Flock, which one reviewer called a "Seattle-style Shirley McClaine." Granny Grace would be all over this place.)

Barcelona's, and one of Spain's, most celebrated artists, Antoni Gaudi, is largely responsible for this grand cathedral for the modern age, despite the fact that he died in 1926 and work has gone on ever since. It's a continuous work-in-progress, largely due to its ambitious nature. He became so wrapped up in the project that he slept at the site during his final years.

It's called La Sagrada Familia, and it's worth traveling to Barcelona, never mind the jet lag, just to see.

This is hands down the most impressive architectural structure I've ever seen in person.

While it was on our must-see list, we actually found it by accident the first day there. Once we settled into our rental, we went out for coffee and a stroll. Suddenly the characteristic spires appeared above a building in the distance, so we followed them, marveling as the vision took full form the closer we came to La Segrada Familia.

What you see in the above pictures: 1) The passion facade, with two cranes showing ongoing construction. Some day, there will be a central spire rising far above the eight spires you see here. 2) The nativity facade, the original construction and the first completed (plus two goofy honeymooners taking a selfie).

We split our visit into two: This first day, walking a perimeter across the street, circling the church. The next time we visited, we went inside. I'll post on that later.

Incidentally, Northwest travel guru Rick Steves suggests in his Barcelona guide book that one might skip the tour inside and just view the outside of the building. But he's smokin' weed (actually, he is), as you'd miss something amazing and possibly life-changing if you did that. So don't. 

The Stevester is wrong/maybe just out of date on a couple of other points about Barcelona, by the way. Not a single Barcelonan leaves his napkin on the floor in a tapas restaurant. Good thing we ignored Steves' advice on this point, or they might have thought we were rude. And sangria is not just for tourists. If you go to a restaurant at 10 pm on a Wednesday night, and the restaurant is famous for its snails, and not a single person in the restaurant besides yourself is speaking anything but Catalan, and everyone has a pitcher of sangria on the table, then it's safe to say it's not just for tourists.

 Part 2: Inside

 


Yay, Spanish Health Care!

Yay, Spanish Health Care!

As I mentioned earlier, a plethora of minor but annoying ailments cropped up on my honeymoon due to the stress of launching a book, getting married, and planning my first trip to Europe all in the space of a month, not to mention horrific jet lag.

I had a little naive panic my first day in Barcelona until I realized I'd probably have an easier time on their health-care system than my own.

And I was right. First off, there's a farmacia (as depicted above) on EVERY SINGLE STREET in the city. I'm not exaggerating.

They're clean, well-stocked with great products, and staffed with incredibly helpful Catalonians willing to put up with a couple of American clowns whose knowledge of the local language is pretty much non-existent and whose grasp of the euro currency system is, well, sweaty in the palms.

PLUS, you know how you're taking that one medication all the time but are nonetheless forced to seek your doctor's prescription for it at regular, bereaucractic intervals because it's not available over the counter? Well, some of those drugs are OTC in Barcelona. Halelujia!

OK, so minor flaw: My first purchase was for the wrong dosage. But I was able to go back and exchange the drug for the right one.

I also walked into a chiropractor's office and got in for an adjustment that day for only 40 euros, no paperwork necessary. I swear this guy (who was from South Africa and therefore spoke English, lucky for me) gave the best chiropractic adjustment in the history of backcracking. 

Incidentally, these farmacia green crosses (universal in Barcelona) are the same green crosses now being used to designate marijuana dispensaries all over Seattle. Color me confused.

If you selected the hyperlink, you saw a pic of Girl Scouts selling cookies out in front of a pot shop. No, that wasn't staged; it happened. I applaud their capitalist spirit.

 

 

 


Jet Lag, Wow

 

Sep 14, 2014

I got married on Aug. 30, and the stud and I went to Barcelona for our honeymoon. This was the first time either of us had been to Europe.

(Yes, we are both middle-aged, and I understand this lack of international travel on both our parts is hard for a lot of you to understand, but guess what. We were poor or working like dogs, or most often both, for most of our adult lives. People under those conditions can't make international travel a "priority." So deal with it. Thank you.)

Anyway, jet lag. I had heard of this thing, and I'd experienced mild forms of it after jetting between the East or West Coast and St. Louis, where my kin reside. But holy salt cod - I was not prepared for the crushing "lag," more accurately called the Ugly Side of Time Travel, that I experienced both coming and going for this trip. 

For the first 3-4 days of the honeymoon, I felt as if I were walking through Jell-O. Trying to sleep on an 8-hour flight had not helped. My body was so kinked up from that, I actually made a special trip to a chiropractor in Barcelona, which is another story.

A whole round of my usual pesky but not serious ailments surfaced during this time, too, just to fuck with the fact that I was on my honeymoon. In a foreign city. Without access to my arsenal of health care providers, ranging from an acupuncturist to someone calling himself "the bone whisperer." (Yay, first-world problems!)

Then coming back, my body refused to shift back to the old time zone, since the new one had been so hard won. I had to resort to melatonin to stay asleep all night.

This is my elaborate way of saying that I have a newfound respect for all of you who travel regularly. My body was screaming that the whole thing is totally unnatural. I mean, WTF? We left Seattle at 11 am on Sunday and arrived in Barcelona at 11 am the following morning, after traveling for 12 hours. So wrong.

But on a happier, less whiny note, check out the contrail in the pic above!

This jet lag thing is not to say that the honeymoon wasn't still awesome. It really, really was. I wish I were still on it. I could have stayed another week. Or a lifetime.

BTW, if anyone has any tips for how to better deal with the side effects of Jet-Induced Time Travel, I'm all ears. We tried to reset our internal clocks by sleeping on the plane ride there and staying up on the return, but our body clocks weren't buying the ruse.