THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #226

LOVE:

“Ingobernable” Season 2:

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READER, I have been emotionally savaged. I will never be the same. I’m in pain and I’m in awe and I never thought a television show in a language I don’t fluently speak would ever impact me so tremendously. You’ve heard be blather on about Ingobernable before. It’s a Netflix original series that stars Kate del Castillo as Emilia Urquiza, the First Lady of Mexico. Her husband is assassinated and all the evidence points to her, so she has to go on the run. This takes her into the barrio of Tepito where she befriends a group of hardened citizens. I watched this right after coming home from Mexico City the first time, and it was like a balm on my travel-loving soul to see the sites of Mexico City again portrayed on gorgeous and stunning film. I binge watched the first season, which began my complete obsession with all things Kate del Castillo. She is the greatest actress. I worship her. I want nothing more out of life now than to be an extra on one of her shows. It would be amazing. It would be too much. I’d literally go die happily after walking off set. Well, not quite then, I’d wait for my cameo to air and then I could just pass out forever. The second season came out earlier this month and I have been so painfully busy that I haven’t had time to watch. This has been a tremendous weight on my soul. I needed to keep up with Emilia and the crew in Tepito! Last night was my first chance to watch, my classes were finally done, and new ones start this week. For one glorious night, I was free and I felt so alive. Not important to the narrative. The second season was just as good, if not better, than the first one. I was shrieking and gasping during every episode. I regularly telephoned my sister to harass her into watching, but she doesn’t seem to be aware of the sublime television renaissance she is missing out on. I don’t want to give anything away, and that makes it so hard to write to you about what happened. Just know that every frame was absolutely fabulous and it was a triumph. And I cried. Like three times. And I really don’t cry all that often, but man, this show does things to me. The conclusion left me screeching and I was literally on the edge of my seat. I thought that was just a figure of speech, but I was literally precariously perched on my couch, my hands were clapped to the side of my face, my eyes were running, I was gasping…it was so much. It was so good. Watch it today. Start now. Quit your jobs and run to your televisions. This is the greatest show ever made. I swear. 

“The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran: 

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Before returning to Mexico City this summer, I had never heard the name Khalil Gibran. In retrospect this is rather odd, as he is connected to many of the things I love most, but somehow he escaped me. At the Museo Soumaya, an absolutely magnificent museum in Mexico City that houses an eclectic and massive collection of all kinds of arts, there are long glass display cases filled with letters Khalil wrote to his lover. I glanced at the exhibit with vague interest, and then the way he wrote letters pulled me in. I am very easily seduced by beautiful handwriting, and then the words he put together were absolutely extraordinary. I thought they were beautiful and marvelous, but when I came to the one I’m about to show you, I was madly in love:

“Are you unhappy, my beloved Gertrude? I, too, am unhappy sometimes. There are days when bitterness mingles itself with life — life the only thing we possess to give as a price for the little wisdom obtainable here. There are days when my dreams are dreams of hunger and my songs are sighs, and the things I try to create are sad, so very sad. And there are days when I want to be nothing but a shepherd somewhere on a far away mountain, or an unthought-of brother in an unknown convent, or an outcast in a lonely undiscovered island. And yet, my beloved, such days are beautiful…” It goes on gorgeously. I was immediately obsessed and spent the rest of the day in a delirium. I too want to be a monk, alone, quiet, doing nothing but building coffins. I dream of becoming a hay farmer in Romania, doing the backbreaking work and worrying only about hay, thinking only of hay. And I would be ecstatic to be an outcast on a deserted island, foraging for food, building shelters out of palm fronds and bamboo poles. It would all suit me down to the ground. I’m running long already, I know, but this spoke deeply to my soul. He was a poet and an author and a playwright, and so I bought a copy of his most famous work, The Prophet. Last night I finally had a moment to luxuriate in his writing, so I tore through the slim volume in an equal state of rapture. It’s about a man leaving a city for his true home, but before he departs, he reveals the wisdom he has learned in his decade with these strangers. It’s poignant and lovely and I couldn’t put it down. And all the while, I couldn’t help relate to Khalil even more. Authors write of what they know, after all, and I feel him a kind of kindred spirit. One of those fabulous people you’d invite to the impossible dinner party of your dreams. Who would you invite? I’d have Khalil Gibran, Diana Vreeland, Oscar Wilde, Joan Crawford, Vincent Price, Karl Lagerfeld, and Joanna Lumley. The tales we would tell… The beginning of The Prophet was my particular favorite, when he talks of the ache of leaving a place he has learned to understand. I felt that pain leaving Paris and Luxor and Mexico City. I had to leave, but I longed to stay. 

Too many fragments of the spirit have I scattered in these streets, and too many are the children of my longing that walk naked among these hills, and I cannot withdraw from them without a burden and an ache. It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear with my own hands. Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst. Yet I cannot tarry longer. The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.

Riedel Wine Glasses:

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For a person who wants to live a life of opulence, I do an awful lot of shopping in thrift shops. Goodwill is my bae. I have found the most glorious things there when I take the time to look. I have found the most sumptuous silky tops that are bizarrely fashionable — in LA if not Iowa — and some gorgeous Ralph Lauren leopard print pajamas that make me feel like an actual rockstar. One of the best purchases I made was a stemless wine glass that cost under a dollar. I was obsessed with how thin the glass was and how elegant it made me feel. Of all the glassware I had, it was the one I most consistently reached for when I went for my daily glass of wine — bless that Mediterranean Diet. One day, one awful day, one absolutely miserable day, it broke. It shattered into close to a million pieces and I’m still finding little glass shards weeks later. It’s stupid. I missed the glass more than I care to admit. I replaced it with a couple I found at IKEA on a weekend trip north, but they just weren’t the same. They were pretty and the glass was fairly thin, but it didn’t have the same dangerous fragility. All I knew was that it was the brand Riedel and I wouldn’t be able to rest until I had another one. Turns out they aren’t at all hard to find and they aren’t prohibitively expensive and you can just go to Target. I did and I am now the proud owner of two replacement glasses and life has meaning again. Allegedly the shape of the glass really helps the flavor of wines, so there are specific shapes for each varietal. I couldn’t find merlot glasses, which was a travesty, because merlot is my absolute favorite and it’s a hate crime that Target was out. But I was in the mood to shop and I needed those glasses, so I grabbed a set intended from Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s fine, it’s just as good. I can’t tell the difference. The ALDI Cabernet and the ALDI merlot taste equally delicious in my new glasses. It cost like $25 for two, which is hella more than the dollar I spent on a used one at Goodwill, but it was money worth spending. Treat yourself to quality glassware, reader! You deserve it. 

AirPods:

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Like almost every single Apple product that is released and I think is a hideous disaster, I absolutely was in the wrong and I love them all. I can’t be the only person that thought iPads sounded like digital feminine products. And when the black keyboard was introduced I was all ewwww. And then those douchy AirPods. I couldn’t imagine buying them and I could not imagine wearing them out in public. But then I went to Mexico City, and I was seeing them everywhere. All the hippest gays had them on Reforma, and the mercados all had knockoffs. And I admit, I was curious about them as a newly diagnosed deaf person. I was interested in what levels of sound I could blast into my 90% deaf ear. And I was deeply curious if there was a way to use them as a kind of demo hearing aid. So I went off on a hunt for them, determining them to be an early birthday gift to myself from moi. I deserved it. Turns out there are no Apple Stores all over the place like in America, the only one was out in Santa Fe, and I don’t think the Metro connecting that to Mexico City has even been approved yet. I wasn’t going to take a microbus to go shopping for headphones, so I went to Best Buy. Didn’t get all the way there because I found one of those old Apple approved shops that deal only in Apple stuff. I have never understood them, they’re a thing of the past for the most part back home. Long story short, I soon had them, and I was soon devoutly loyal to them. I begged them to forgive me for thinking they were ugly — THEY ARE HIDEOUS — but for whatever reason, I accept them. Love does blind one, I know. Anyway, they were absolute crap as a hearing aid, but I didn’t really expect it to be completely revolutionary. It did help some, and it was the first experience of some kind of true binaural hearing since I had lost it. There was even a built-in accessibility feature that allowed the iPhone to act as a microphone so that you could hear conversations better. I also discovered that I can hear highly specific sounds with weird clarity. There is a bass guitar note on “Sour Diesel” by Zayn Malik that rings loud and clear in my ear. Let’s bop:

Weird. But I love them. I won’t be without them. Get some yourself reader and surround yourself with noises your want to hear, not the constant demands on your time and attention that threaten to drown you at any given moment. 

“The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell”:

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You remember how burlesque superstar Dita von Teese and I are really close friends because we bumped into each other once, right?

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If not, let me refresh your memory. It was 2012 and a gorgeous early summer day in Paris. Jessica and I were wandering through town, as was our wont, rather aimlessly. If memory serves me right, we had just left the Louvre, and I saw on Twitter that Dita was in town. I joked that she was surely at Colette and that we should go. Jessica immediately began to pout. That’s nothing new. Now, I often wonder if what came next was some kind of psychic knowledge that led me to Colette, if it was just accurate guesswork, or if it was fate? Regardless of the truth, I was there and so was Dita. We took a photo together and it was a glorious moment. She was so small and so kind and I was stood next to her then-beau who is actually a real life COUNT. It felt completely right and destined to be. I’ve followed Dita’s career for years and so when it was announced that she would be on a Netflix show, I immediately determined to watch it. Like so many of my plans, I entirely forgot about it. My sister told me about a weird show she was watching on Netflix, and so I tuned in. Imagine my delighted shock to find it was Dita’s show! There were only six episodes and I watched them all in one sitting, regularly shrieking with joy. It was absolutely absurd in the best way. It’s about a woman named Christine McConnell who lives in a gorgeous Victorian house high on a hill that looks like a haunted house. Christine is creepy, but in the way that Elvira is creepy and Marilyn on The Munsters is creepy. She’s absolutely normal but living in a decadently macabre world. It is exactly my aesthetic. The show doesn’t really have a plot, and that is fine by me. I love absurdity. It revolves around the crafts that Christine makes to the delight and irritation of her housemates — four perfect puppets. Rose is a resuscitated raccoon who has a foul mouth and a fork for a hand. Rankel is a sassy reanimated Egyptian cat. Edgar is…well, I’m not sure what he is. Maybe he’s a werewolf? And lastly is Bernard, who occupies the basement and has nothing but eyes that the viewer ever sees. It’s the wildest romp and there is nothing so divine as a filty reanimated raccoon. I love the show so much. I’m probably going to watch it again soon. When Christine asks what she should hand out to trick-or-treaters, the puppets recommend the greatest ideas: rusted nails, used bandages, sand, anthrax…the list hysterically goes on. And Christine can make everything out of melted candy canes including, but not limited to: horrifyingly realistic spiders, knives, shivs, and Mexican passports.

Every episode is a hoot! Go watch it immediately. Thank me later.

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