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Thursday, May 30, 2013

365 Days Ago: May '12

Unlike April, May is usually a busy month. This is what I did last year:

I took a lot of photos of my little shoebox of an apartment. It was a good day, I was tending to my plants, and the weather looked beautiful. I will not be telling you what happened to the plants in the long run, though...

This photo happened. I think I took it one day after class, at lunch time... I was home, my hair looked nice, and I felt like freezing the moment for posterity. I'm glad I did, because it's been a year, and this is still my Facebook profile picture... even though it looks nothing like... well, like my current appearance.

I spent a nice hour or so wandering around the quintessential antique bookshop. If there's one thing I can say about this town, is that it's just... littered with them. I keep finding new ones, I swear it's like they pop up overnight. Unfortunately, tourists simply come, drop by Lello, take a picture or two hundred, walk a couple of doors over to buy a bar of expensive but exquisitely packaged portuguese soap, and leave. I won't blame anyone for any of the aforementioned actions, since I too have bought expensive but exquisitely packaged portuguese soap, but... there's plenty of fish and the sea and plenty of bookshops in Porto. It saddens me a little that one is always crowded and the others are always empty. Ah well. Jo from The Paper And Ink has compiled a list (with pictures!) of some of the prettiest antique bookshops around. Do as the lady (and I, too!) says and visit them.

But back to the bookshop above. Around a month after these pictures were taken, I went back to buy a book I couldn't get out of my mind. An annual activity report from the sanatoriums in Caramulo, dated 1951. I am a little obsessed with that place. A mountain range, in the middle of nowhere, with more abandoned sanatoriums than you can shake a camera at, and the looming thought that not so long ago, that was the place to go if you wanted to cure your tuberculosis. And how was TB treatment in the 40s, 50s, you ask? Lots of rest, good food, and fresh air. Or, as this patient's diary puts it: "Absolute and utter rest of mind and body—no bath, no movement except to toilet once a day, no sitting up except propped by pillows and semi-reclining, no deep breath. Lead the life of a log, in fact. Don't try, therefore, to sew, knit, or write, except as occasional relief from reading and sleeping." This is fascinating, to me. To think that this was considered treatment. To think that we had a whole mountain devoted to buildings where people would go to lie down. It sounds kind of dreamy and contemplative and melancholic. Better yet, to think that one family was in charge of this whole scheme - to think that one man was responsible for creating that town, and to think that someone in my extended family worked right up there in the sanatoriums for so many years. It feels real, and close to home. I can stand outside a barred door and put names and stories to the ruins. I guess, in the end, that's why I bought the report.

We could have skipped the wall o' text, though.

And last but not least, this photo. I took it on my way back from the bookshop... I'd say it looks kind of impressive, until you figure out the trick.

But enough of May. June's right around the corner.
Summer plans, anyone?

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