I am working on an extended You Life for National Novel Writing Month. For those of you unfamiliar with National Novel Writing Month, it’s a bunch of ambitious (or competitive cough cough) people that try to get down 50,000 words in a month. Here is a link to my user profile:
As it turns out, when you are writing grandiose rememberings of your past adventures it is a bit easier to make word count than, say, making up an entire story. It also opens up healed wounds and forces you to seriously analyze where in your past the serious issues started.
Well, I found a couple.
Welcome to You Life learning about masturbation in a foreign country. Or, in other words, a snippet from my Nano:
During this dark, unattractive, awkward age I ended up taking an extended trip with my mother to Salamanca in Spain. This was not the kind of vacation that month long trips to Spain might initially conjure. Yes, unquestionably, I grew up privileged. Truthfully, I had been to Spain twice before as a travel companion for my mother, and during those times we did stay in hotels and eat fancy meals (I even got a glass of alcoholic cider at the age of ten – commence the future drinking).
This was not the same kind of trip.
While I did go as her travel companion again, it was not to resorts or fancy spas. We were in Salamanca because my mother is a Spanish professor and had classes for the entirety of the month of July. Writing this it does strike me as eccentric for a fifty year old woman to bring her twelve year old to Spain for a month, however one would have to know my mother to appreciate this. My companionship was required.
So, my mother and I lived in the dormitories at the Universidad of Salamanca for the month of July. Being “forced” to bring her young daughter, my mother managed to snag a rare dorm room that had a bathroom – no communal potties for us! – and bought a hot plate.
Since Salamanca, and seemingly the world in general, was a safer place I was allowed to explore the city and spend my pesetas on trinkets at the many many shops while my mom was in class. I would wake up late in the day – never an early riser – to find warm crescents with butter and hot chocolate waiting for me. I would have a leisurely breakfast and then wander about the dorms, making shy friends with the older college kids, and go off to wander the town.
During these travels I would occupy my time looking for the frog on the façade of the Universidad (I did!) and then loiter at the bookstore that held an unusually comprehensive collection of Penguin classics of English and American literature. Most of the spending money I was given was used on Salamancan frog Tchotchkes or Penguin classic books. The books I had brought with me to Spain (The Red Badge of Courage, Black is the Color of My True Love’s Heart, and a six hundred page fantasy novel about a magical sword) expanded greatly to include the entire works of Jane Austen, Tales of Mystery and Horror by Edgar Allan Poe, Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper, Five Children and It by Edith Nesbitt, and – getting to the point I swear – Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe.
Firstly, I could barely understand a single word of any of the texts I picked up. Mostly I carried them into the common room to inspire conversation with the college students. And one would be surprised at how well it worked. I would sit in the common room in my Bret the Hitman Hart t shirt (don’t want to talk about my WWF obsession, but yes it existed) reading and then re-reading the same paragraph in Last of the Mohicans and sure enough a college student would ask me questions. Human contact! Exciting! I even became a kind of consoling ear for a few of the less emotionally mature ones.
But I also wanted to occupy my mind with flirtations and, ya know, tingles. I was alone most of the day with the exception of communal lunches, the times I spent playing with the university dog, and the spouts of college student conversation. And during that solo time I wanted to explore. Myself. Whatever, don’t judge – you probably did the same thing.
However, chances are that not many other people – in their confusion and desperation – purchased the, arguably, first novel written in 1721 to masturbate to while in a foreign country…or anywhere else. While on my Penguin classics buying sprees I happened upon Moll Flanders and read the synopsis in the back. While most of it seemed like gibberish to me, I was able to grasp that Moll was a woman of “loose morals” working in a “gentlemen trading” business. It sure as hell sounded like there might be sex in there. So I purchased it and poured over the novel, not understanding a fucking word, for almost a month frustratingly trying to find the parts people in the 18th century got their rocks off to. At one point, in the bathtub reading the book, I was able to sort of ascertain that some lascivious behaviors were being exhibited. But I couldn’t be sure. My imagination was certainly not filling in the gaps…so to speak.
What a wild disappointment. And as an aside, when I was asked to read Moll Flanders in college as the example of the emerging “novel,” I refused to read it on principle: The principle that at twelve years old Daniel Defoe couldn’t get me off.
Good luck, Nano-ers, and for better links and inspiration than this, check out: