What’s Amarga?

amarga (adj)
Spanish– 1) bitter; 2) that which causes discomfort or disgust

There was a time in my adolescence when I embodied amargura–an epoch filled with allegorical García Lorca women, Tori Amos and “Not a Pretty Girl” on repeat in my car’s tapedeck. Previous taglines for this blog were Byron and Calvino quotes that screamed my affinity for melodrama and dripped bitterness into nascent cyberspace. Not many people read it, and I liked it like that, dammit!

And the sad truth
that hovers o’er my desk
turns what was once Romantic
to Burlesque.

– Lord Byron, Don Juan

As a college sophomore I still associated myself with a certain amargura, not the same as the rawness of my youth, slightly tempered by a postmodern rejection of absolutes. In Barcelona I discovered the perfect designation of 66% amarga, silkscreened on blue cotton, and thought that fit pretty well (metaphorically speaking).

You surely would want to know more about what she’s like, but instead only a few elements surface on the written page, her face remains hidden by the smoke and her hair, you would need to understand beyond the bitter twist of her mouth what there is that isn’t bitter or twisted.
     – Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler

Yet at the end of my quaintly liberal-arts undergraduate experience, basking in the glow of first love, I thought of retiring the title (shocking!).  After college I got a set of “Bitter Women” coasters from the lovely Anne Taintor, but my purchase was heavily ironic at the time. I reaquired some of the old amarga in my first years as a teacher, then sloughed it off in the Andes and the cobbled streets of Buenos Aires.

I moved to New York City in the aftermath of a broken heart, elated to rejoin my best childhood friends and find my place in the working world. With renewed purpose and a burgeoning love of Brooklyn, amarga often seemed far away. Then, I somehow drifted back to it, despite my best intentions. [umm, I also destroyed my knee, got depressed and stopped writing.]

Now I’m in Austin, learning about learning and reaquainting myself with the current digital environment.

So that’s how Amarga came to be. Is it still a relevant moniker? I guess so. We’ll keep it for now.


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