The books that save me
Mexico City, Mexico Politics, Current Affairs, Arts & Books, Social May 10 @ 5:17pm
But it's no longer worth feeling sorry for myself. I don't like offices, it's true. After nearly two years of working from home, who couldn't resist going back to a place where there are rarely windows big enough to breathe, where you have to share space with people you don't necessarily like (or likes you) well, in which you have to eat your food in a plastic container (sometimes cold because Civil Protection prohibits microwaves in offices), in which you have to share a bathroom with who knows how many other people?
The bad news is that the pay is essential to live.
I've been collecting little things here and there for a month. I call them that because of how little they pay but the truth is that they are the things I like to do most in life: interview, write, record and edit videos, translate.
But the bills to pay are still accumulating, my parents help me, and I can no longer be ashamed to keep asking them.
In this individualistic, capitalist world, we were taught that money is the measure of success. If you don't earn enough to support yourself, at least at a basic "acceptable" level, you are nothing. Every day I have a harder time looking at myself in the mirror.
And this month's gift was two extra kilos. The scale mocks me.
Many good things are happening, I do not deny it. Others are yet to happen. But in the meantime, the anguish of the almost empty account and what has to be paid very soon is real. Wow, not even the SAT returns what I get.
Discipline. I have a hard time having it because I sit in front of the computer and the earrings come out in a few minutes. And the rest of the time I spend it on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook. I open the bank application a thousand times to see if a payment that has been delayed for more than a month has already “fallen” (what a funny term, as if it fell from the sky), or even the small refund of the SAT, but nothing. The figure remains the same: 121 Mexican pesos.
Suddenly I feel ashamed to be writing this. There are people who are worse off. Much worse. At least my daughter and I have a place to live (although the last rent was paid by my father); We haven't stopped eating a single day, yesterday we even went to the movies. What the hell am I complaining about, then?
Above all, I am thankful that in this country of disappearances and femicides we are fine, we are together, we are alive. That should be worth more than anything else, right? This is how we live, giving thanks for what should be a minimum guarantee anywhere in the world.
It hurts me to have voted for the left all my life and today I feel so disappointed. But if I think about it, I think that the one that governs us today in Mexico is not left: anti women, anti concern for the environment, anti culture, anti science, anti middle class. This is not, cannot be the left. But I will continue to be on the left, of course, hoping that one day we will be governed by a true left. The bad thing is that, always be waiting. Oh my Mexico! So close to Trump, so far from Pepe Mújica.
Every day I try not to earn bitterness. For what I just wrote and for all of the above. But no matter how corny it sounds (at this point, frankly, I don't care), in these fateful days my readings have saved me. As my dear friend Concha Moreno, told me yesterday on WhatsApp:
"Books are always good companions."
Elena Ferrante and her saga Two Friends became, the month that has just ended, an oasis in the middle of the desert of anxiety in which I have lived. Fifteen hundred (or sixteen hundred, I don't know) pages of an intense and moving story that pulled me out of my miseries. The great power of literature. Thanks to Lila, Lenú, their friendship and their writings (to get out of misery and to connect with each other), the history of Italy and especially of being a woman in Italy during the middle of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, I woke up each day with an intellectual purpose. Yes, because purposes, just plain, there are many, but of the others, those that feed the spirit when the body does not find the point where it should be satisfied after eating enough, there are few that are worthwhile.
Then the two "Cenizas" came to me: Red Ash, by Socorro Venegas, and Ash in the Mouth, by Brenda Navarro. The beauty of both the text by Socorro Venegas and the illustrations (by Gabriel Pacheco) of the former, a book about the loss of a loved one, about mourning —which in some way I was also experiencing, because the loss of a job, no matter how little you have stayed in it, it is a duel—, about leaving little or little, day by day, after a year, it moved me again to the point that it took me out of this depression against which I fight every day, some less than others, true.
The second "Ceniza", (Ceniza en la boca) Ash in the Mouth, by Brenda Navarro, is a fiction in which a young Mexican migrant in Spain throws himself from a fifth floor to his death. It is a novel about the abandonment of the mother, about the abandonment of the country in which —once again I see it— it hurts more and more to live, but where migration is presented as that mirage that is not the solution either: racism, the extreme loneliness, the lack of empathy from others, those who were born in the host country and feel entitled to treat migrants as little more than shit... and the only possible way out is suicide. There is no where to do it. However, Brenda Navarro does not leave her sense of humor aside. That acid, black, that characterizes her. And references to music. In this case it is about Vampire Weekend, which is the band that Diego, the young man who flies towards his freedom, listens to.
Brenda also managed to get me out of my depression during the two days it took me to read "Ceniza en la boca" and to prepare the interview I did with her.
It saved me knowing I was "safe"; my depression is not like Diego's; I keep it at bay with my daily dose of antidepressants. Neither now nor have I ever wanted to die; I haven't been tempted to fly like him.
Every day I set the alarm clock, even if I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere. I have created the routine of postponing it I don't know how many times —because these days my bed exerts a powerful influence that I don't want to resist—, but once, as Mafalda says, I manage to "join forces to go down into the world" and turn it off, I get up, make the bed, take a shower, and while I put on my makeup, I have something for breakfast that makes me happy, that gives me a certain joy; then I come to my studio and start getting earrings from my freelance jobs —which, as I said, pay little but are the most pleasant and exciting I could have—, and so on, until the time when I have to think about what we are going to do eat my daughter and I (and the anguish of the dirty money enters me again).
But today I woke up with the intention of writing this. I'm still in pajamas because, after all, who sees me? I have my coffee to one side and through my study window I see an ugly brick wall. All the flowers have already fallen off my white orchid; I hope I haven't infected you with my pessimism.
However my rose still stands. I don't know if she's bragging to me that she can or —which is most likely— she's only there while she can, because that's what she's got: a beautiful existence, albeit fragile, ephemeral, but worth living, like all the ones we inhabit. this world.