Today with a cavalcade of mishaps I was thinking about routine, how when it’s interrupted that things can fall apart and that had me thinking about air traffic controllers and how one slip can be a disaster. Then I thought about Rafa Nadal and how he has a routine and how his routine is as much about his winning streak in the French tennis championship as his fitness, his talent and his general mental strength. Having said that he lost this year but has won 13 titles in the same competition so he’s been doing something right. But I’m going off track here already just like I did today. It was the weirdest day of everything going wrong and it mostly equally fixing itself. It started with leaving the house, the new temporary lock on the door had my routine dismantled immediately. It was a different key to usual and I had to get Olivia up to help me figure it out. So I left the house, got to the recycling opposite the house and realised I didn’t have my normal keys for the outer front door or my mask and as we’re in Portugal you need a mask because 99% of people wear a mask outside and inside, it’s mandatory. I went back to our front door and realised I didn’t know which was our doorbell and as I didn’t have my glasses I couldn’t see the flat (apartment) numbers to figure it out, plus it’s all in Portuguese with a system that says front, back, left, right, depending on where you are in the building. I’d never rung our own bell. Just at that moment, a woman arrived who also wanted to get in the building, so she let me in, a stroke of luck. At the lift (elevator), one of them was broken with half of it too far down so you couldn’t get in it, the other one worked so I got in it, went back to the flat and woke Olivia again. I got my mask and my keys and went to get the lift but I was confused and thought the broken lift was the working lift and thought I wouldn’t be able to get out downstairs or could perhaps be decapitated as I crawled out with someone simultaneously pressing the call button. I was already late for the pool (I’m never late for the pool), it was going to be one of those days.
It was a lovely day, the walk to the pool was uneventful but I got there 15 minutes later than usual and there were already swimmers in the changing room. One of them left the changing room before me and when I got to the poolside he was in lane three, I’m always in lane three because I’m always early and always first in the water, not today. No bother, really, I can change lanes but there was no way I could do my usual amount of laps. So, in the gym yesterday, I saw Luís, one of the trainers who was also once a competitive swimmer. I thought perfect, I’ll ask him some advice about my breaststroke because he’d advised me about my freestyle as he’d seen me swim. He told me that my breaststroke was terrible, all wrong. So I asked him to show me what I needed to do, which he did, simulating swimming and showing me the technique. So today I thought perfect, I’ll swim my freestyle mile and the rest of the time practice this new breaststroke technique. I tried but couldn’t figure it out, I couldn’t seem to understand the timing and after a while, I thought I need to ask Luís more questions. As it happened the non-swimmer guy was in the lane next to me today with his teacher barking at him. The other day I thought she was just trying to be heard but today she was tough on him. I felt an affinity with him as I was flailing around trying to relearn the breaststroke. Later in the changing room, the guy told me he was joining the Special Forces in October and had to be able to swim, I guess it was a deal-breaker. He also told me he was glad that the teacher was tough on him, I guess if you’re joining the Special Forces you’ll be hearing a lot of barking.
I left the pool, beautiful day, walked to the bakery, they had no bread. In the bakery a woman, a customer, told me to lift my mask over my face, I obliged, why shouldn’t I?
I walked back a block to the psychedelic psupermarket, texted Olivia, asked what she wanted from there and found some bread for me. With Olivia’s rolls, they put a price sticker on the bag, the bread I picked up, two nice brown seeded loaves, there were no price stickers. I told the lady behind the counter, she said it didn’t matter. Olivia had also told me to buy broccoli or cauliflower or both. I picked up the broccoli and where the cauliflower was I picked up the weirdest cauliflower I’d ever seen, the crown was completely covered in leaves. I later discovered it was a cabbage. I don’t know why I couldn’t see that? I just told myself it was a cauliflower because it was with the other cauliflowers, I realised later that there’s something deeply psychologically disturbing about that. I got to the check out to pay, waited in the queue and realised I’d forgotten the brie. So, I left the queue and went back into the shop. Everything was weird today, whatever I did, there was something odd happening. I came back to the queue and nearly knocked over a reggae looking dude on crutches. He was my second person to meet today on crutches. In the changing room a man was sitting down, I said Good Afternoon in English and he immediately started to talk to me in Portuguese. Another man in there translated for me. It was about his legs, he said he couldn’t walk and showed me a massive scar about 8 inches long across his knee. This one was fixed and the other knee (that did look rather swollen) was next, soon he would be off crutches and could walk again. I finally reached the cash register, the young fellow spoke English, a lot of the people in the psychedelic psupermarket don’t. He asked me why the bread didn’t have a price on it. Nothing worked today. He had to go back to where I’d ordered the bread to get a price. There was a girl behind me, she only had two items and she was standing there waiting, I apologised, she grunted. He came back with the bread priced. All of a sudden, part of my earring fell out into the shopping bag. It’s like a little silver ball. I didn’t see where the rest of the earring fell so I was looking for it around the till, on the floor, everywhere, but couldn’t see it. I had to leave, I’d lost my earring.
Back home, the one lift was still broken, I got in the other and on our floor, I heard the locksmith still trying to fix our lock. I hadn’t had lunch and was missing the Sweden – Poland game, Olivia wanted to go out to the post office and the shops. The locksmith was making a mess, Adélia the landlord’s biz partner was overseeing it all. Olivia eyed the cabbage suspiciously and told me it wasn’t a cauliflower, haha. I asked Adélia how to cook it and immediately hit the kitchen and started to prepare it. Olivia then found the rest of my earring in the shopping bag, so I hadn’t lost it. Of all the places the earring could have fallen out throughout the day, in the pool, on the walk, backwards and forwards but no, it fell into my shopping bag. The locksmith left, Adélia left, followed by Olivia. When I walked back into the hallway the door was wide open, it doesn’t close like it used to, the routine has changed.
I watched the second half of the game, Sweden won 3-2 in the closing minutes, Poland are out. Olivia came back with lots of shopping from lots of different places and like an angel brought me a coffee. She put the bags down, grabbed the coffee to bring to me and dropped it, scolding herself, and spilling coffee all over her dress and all over the hallway floor. The day was continuing as it started. It is a big holiday here tomorrow and tonight the fireworks were going mad and flying Chinese lanterns were running to the moon, full and bright in the sky! Perhaps the crazy full moon myth is true. After the game it was Portugal – France 2-2, Portugal qualified and more fireworks went off. It was actually bad timing for the São João festival night with Portugal playing France but with restrictions, it was probably good timing after all. We’ll see how the restrictions dampen tomorrow’s festivities, whatever they may be, although apparently, people hit each other with plastic hammers!
After the football, it’s been all Space Summit as we prepare promo and consider the release. Lots of talks with Jed, my partner in the project, Olivia speaking with Stephen at the label and lots of going over texts and press releases, trying to get everything right. In the middle of it all we slipped out to see if there was a vibe on the street but the cafe was closing in Marquês at midnight and there weren’t too many people around, more than usual perhaps but it wasn’t exactly a festive atmosphere, it was an aftermath.
So, a weird day of loss and breaking elevators, forgotten keys, fixed locks, found earrings, cauliflowers turning into cabbages, scoldings and spillage and good intentions, fireworks and football, beautiful nights and full moons and hundreds of lanterns floating through the sky. Life throws out challenges every day and you have to lean into the bends or be thrown into oblivion. I cannot wait for tomorrow and a succession of things going right, no luck, no close calls, just everything hunky-dory.
Music today was, you guessed it, Bowie’s Hunky Dory (1971) – what a great album it is. I just love all the songs, the sounds, the words, the overall production. Today felt like I might be better off with a Life On Mars.
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