the many loves of profesora talksalot


we live in a culture that celebrates self-denial as strength. the less pleasure you permit yourself, the more impressive the strength of your character, the worthier you are of temporary accolades and quite possibly eternal salvation. i buy into this to some degree, certainly; i try to keep certain indulgences to a minimum, as excess consumption and spending, for example, inevitably end in the fattening of things one doesn’t want fattened and the withering away of things one prefers to keep robust, respectively.

but while i do my best to pray faithfully at the altar of calorie watching, physical activity, and a practice that can be most eloquently referred to as ‘not buying shit’, i can’t help but regard myself as something of a hypocrite. lurking beneath the façade of at least minimal self-control is something more carnal, more honest. in truth, my friends, i revile the values of this pleasure-starved (part of the) world. in truth, i have a strongly-held belief in the dogged pursuit of spelled-with-an-i happiness, even if one must pay for it with an extra workout, a skinnier bank account until next paycheck, the judgment of peers, being passed over for a promotion. i don’t know why i’m on this planet (aside from the direct biological facts), but i do my best to make sense of it through a mix of making things better for other people and not making things worse for myself. i value my health. i value my ethics. i value my sense of well-being. when i create my family, i will value that above all. this is a major consideration in finding a partner. oddly enough, fighting for your right to be happy is something radical.

a list of some of my loves, because life is too short to only have one:

  1. wine (carménère has played a key role in the writing of this post)
  2. coffee
  3. dark chocolate
  4. good food
  5. laughing
  6. good conversation
  7. going out and sharing any or at best all of the above with a friend. i’ve never denied being easily entertained, and this simple experience is more likely to bring me joy and contentment on a deep level than any elaborately planned outing/party/date/etc.
  8. songs that transport me
  9. smells that comfort me
  10. having someone to sleep next to
  11. having my hair played with
  12. teaching
  13. hearing people speak languages other than english
  14. seeing happy families or couples
  15. feeling live music
  16. dancing with someone
  17. singing with someone
  18. empty beaches
  19. the mountains of puerto rico
  20. airports
  21. trains and subways
  22. rooftops
  23. comfortable silences
  24. being known
  25. getting text messages/e-mails/phone calls
  26. my little brother
  27. validation from otherwise antisocial children (or adults, i suppose)
  28. writing letters
  29. books that are worlds you don’t want to leave
  30. giving gifts
  31. pictures that capture the feelings behind the moment
  32. my dog’s manipulative cuddling
  33. having my silliness indulged
  34. water
  35. you, of course

i will stop myself there. what do you love?


4 responses »

  1. Coffee is dangerous. I read an article in National Geographic about how too much regular drinking can leave the brain incapable of operating at normal levels unless caffeine is supplied. I’d rather not have to rely on caffeine to be operating at normal, when my brain function is already so often construed as something other than normal.

    Hmmm what do I love?

    Music. I’m finally learning an instrument and as hard going as it is, I love it. An hour can pass and I will still be working on the same song without a hint of boredom.

    Being listened to and understood. This is a really really rare thing for me. To have the message received as intended and fully understood. I guess this is why I’ve come to enjoy taking on eulogies and speeches at weddings and the like. Everyone’s quiet and you get a chance to say “I love/d you/them” slowly and carefully, so that everyone gets a hint of the degree to which that stretches, and you all share that love in the same degree.

    That moment. When you’re listening to someone and something falls into place. Some obscure remark they made years ago that they barely remember but is totally relevant and when you bring it up, whether they remember it or not they know it’s something they said. And in that moment something clicks into place and you understand them and they feel understood. This is a bad example, but I watched a Jon Stewart interview with Matthew Perry and Matthew Perry worked a joke into the conversation that related back to something Jon mentioned at the start of the interview. Jon cracked up and said “You’re the only guest who does that.” But it’s kind of like that, except you work something in from two years ago. Like Jeff Goldblum.

    Talking about faith. This is personal and really special to me and something I don’t do often. It can be hard to do so without coming across as preachy for some people so generally I don’t. Plus all my friends basically lie somewhere between atheism and superstition on the spectrum, or sometimes an odd mix of the two. It’s also the one thing that for me shows how my relationship is rock solid with my father. We disagree on A LOT. But we’re always on a similar page with this.

    A woman’s face first thing in the morning.
    She may not like it herself, but there’s nothing more beautiful in the world to me. Before the stress of the day takes hold and she’s still in the realm of peace and sleep, I really feel like I’m looking at the essence of her. Amazing.

    There’s other stuff, but we’ve only got so much time in this segment.

  2. You have a pretty good list.

    I was thinking last week about the pleasure yet weird feeling of having your hair played with. No one ever mentions how lovely this is, but as soon as someone brings this up, everyone agrees.

    I love:
    1) the way vr (the dog) goes crazy when I get home
    2) sleeping next to someone
    3) good beer
    4) seeing a good friend after a long absence, and feeling like the absence never occurred
    5) playing catch
    6) camping
    7) floating down a river in an inner tube
    8) taking pictures of ordinary things and moments
    9) being introduced to a friend’s favorite music
    10) inside jokes and banter that only makes sense to you and your friend
    11) the feeling of wet hair on warm shoulders on a hot summer day
    12) guanajuato
    13) a baby’s sigh
    14) the way babies smell (the good time) and how they grip one finger with their fist
    15) blog comments
    16) the calls/texts/emails made/sent for no other reason than to simply say “hi, i miss you”
    17) leftovers of my mom’s home cooking
    18) helping my mom cook in the kitchen
    19) dancing to mexican music with a good partner
    20) good food
    21) non-dates with platonic male friends
    22) a new crush
    23) being tucked in to bed
    24) sleeping in

    I wrote up this list of life’s little pleasures a few years ago:

    freshly washed hair, still wet, resting on my shoulders

    watching babies sigh, or grab one finger with their whole hand

    playing on the swings with yoyi

    that feeling after a nice jog

    the sounds of a baseball game (little or big league), the fans, the sound of a ball hitting a metal bat, and the slap of the ball in a mitt

    flipping the pillow to find the cool side

    rolling down a grassy hill

    when you lock eyes with a handsome stranger

    a stranger who goes beyond just being polite

    hearing him say he misses me

    the unsettling gaze of ____

    café tacuba’s “las flores” and the postal service’s “such great heights” on repeat

    lotion on dry hands and face

    the first bite of a cold mango

  3. oh my goodness.. i love these responses! damn.

    wbs, oh poo. at most i drink two cups a day, which, in puerto rico sizes, comes out to a whopping total of 16oz. there’s more evidence for that being healthy than anything else. / the lack of boredom with repetition that you described was always something that my guy friends seemed to have, and never me. i miss playing the guitar well, though.. record me a song! / jeff goldblum! / you know.. i rarely talk about questions of faith these days because it seems incredibly rare to find someone who is not going to judge you (me) and/or does not have an agenda, and it’s not a topic that i find to be an appropriate one for debate. which is maybe too bad, because it is only with that kind of person that i feel comfortable thinking aloud about it. / (and i totally wanted to talk about these more! yooou could make a post too, you know.)

    cindy, these are golden. hair-playing is a secret weapon that can be easily used against me so i try not to talk about it a lot, but i think i know exactly the feeling you are describing and indeed, it is awesome. 5, 8, 15, 16, 21, 22.. and it’s been years but i’ll go ahead and say 23.

    the nature of your list made me think of another: getting into a bed that is all made up with freshly-cleaned sheets.

    these lists could go on forever.. isn’t that great?

  4. PS – If I ever one day write a book called “The Many Loves of La Profesora Talksalot” I will drop you a line and we can discuss what royalties you’re owed from my appropriation of the title from here.

    I don’t know if this will be a children’s book about appreciating the small things in life or a cheap Ally McBeal knockoff about love in the teacher’s common room. It could well be both. In separate books, which for you will mean two sets of royalties

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