It has been pouring down with rain all day, one of those summer days when it rains and rains and the sounds of thunder can be heard from time to time, somewhere off in the distance, far up in the sky. Clouds ramming into each other and creating noise and fresh rain that land on the ground and produces an aura of hazy fog and intense humidity. It’s not cold outside at all, just refreshing. It’s one of those nights when you just want to stand outside and feel the rain on your face, jump in puddles and not care about walking home soaking wet, because in the end it’s only water and having wet clothes is not the end of the world.
It reminds me of those summer days years ago, back in France, when the sky would literally open up after a few very hot days in August, and the rain would break up the humidity and let you breathe again. It reminds me of the days when I would take off my boots on a whim and jump into a fountain in the city centre, laughing hard and pulling others in with me, and then walking home barefoot, shoes in hand, soaking wet, still laughing. There was one fountain by the train station that would shoot up at different intervals and different heights, and it was so much fun to jump through it, not caring about having to spend the rest of the night in wet clothes and with no shoes on.
I still feel as carefree as I did back then. It’s the kind of life I chose to have. I don’t feel any regrets about those choices, I don’t wonder what would have happened if I had chosen another path very often (although sometimes I do daydream and imagine myself in other locations and living another life). I feel happily surrounded and content most of the time, letting the fluctuating weather calm or amplify my moods, emotions and feelings and breathing in the fresh air conceived by the drops of summer rain. And when the rain stops I will smoke a cigarette, barefoot on the wet ground, watching the humidity rise from the ground as the heat dries the puddles up until the next downpour.
As much as I love the sun and the heat of summer, being by the beach and swimming in the ocean, feeling relaxed and full of energy, the summer rain always brings a rush of adrenaline, and a rush of power, a feeling that you can overcome everything you need to. It breaks up bad moods and lets you feel reckless and careless, a little loss of control, the ability to let go for a while. However old you are there is absolutely nothing wrong with jumping with both feet in the middle of a huge puddle with a big splash. I don’t think I will ever stop doing that, and if that is childish then so be it, I shall remain a childish adult.
I'm singing in the rain, Just singing in the rain, What a glorious feelin', I'm happy again, I'm laughing at clouds, So dark up above, The sun's in my heart, And I'm ready for love, Let the stormy clouds chase, Everyone from the place, Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face, I walk down the lane, With a happy refrain, Just singin', Singin' in the rain - Gene Kelly
A few months ago I purchased an amazing little tool called the Wolverine Photo Scanner (see link below for more details if you are interested). The tool scans negatives and slides into .jpg format photos that you can then load onto your computer and post online. So for the past few months I have been scanning all of the negatives I have managed to save over the years and over the multiple moves from country to country and apartment to apartment. I finally finished uploading and labeling them all this week as I had a bit more downtime than usual, with it being Christmas and all.
For some stupid reason I always seem to get inspired about certain topics when I'm in the shower. Not exactly the best place to immediately write things down so that you don't forget them, so I find myself repeating them over and over again until I have finished washing my hair and can jump out and write notes on some random paper/magazine/bog roll that is hanging around. Anyway, the other day I was thinking about brothers and sisters and family and everything those words entail in my life, and in the lives of those that I love, and was inspired to write something. Sometimes it's just so much easier to express yourself with written words rather than spoken words (in my opinion anyway - I tend to be quite crap at expressing myself at the best of times).
Remember that time when you and your little sister shared a room when you were kids and were always dancing and singing to Elvis Presley and fighting about who was going to marry him (never mind that he was already dead and had been for quite a few years)? That time when you thought your sister was a doll so you proceeded to go and try to pull her head off while she was sleeping, just like you did with all your other dolls ( I WAS 2 at the time, so cannot be blamed for thinking my sister was just a big doll)? Or that time when you got home from school to find your little brother had finally been born and was sleeping peacefully in his cot? Not that he remained peaceful for long - he the fantastic ability of screaming the house down whenever he needed to. What about that time when you and your sister walked into an empty bar, and your sister went up to the DJ and asked him to play Bauhaus because it was your "happy music"? Yes, he did play Bauhaus and Siouxsie for that matter, and we all ended up going to Yaffa Cafe for breakfast and I put Tabasco on my sister's eggs for a laugh while she was snogging one of the guys somewhere else in the restaurant. What about all those times you and your brother would have drunken conversations at 4am your time and 1am his time? Actually, I think that's more like one-sided drunken conversations, because I doubt he had been drinking most of the time.What about the time you went on a road trip from Sacramento to Santa Cruz with your sister, and just as you were driving into the town Dead Skin Mask started playing and you both ended up doing crazy air drum and air guitar moves while shouting along to the song to the amusement of the people walking down the street? Or that time when you went on a roadtrip to Bodega Bay and made your brother run/roll down the sand hill multiple times so you could get a good photo?
There are so many memories, good, bad, funny, interesting and just plain weird. I've lived pretty far away from my siblings for a long time now, but we text/talk/write/comment on each others posts every day. My brother is the only person up until now who has read all of the 123 pages I have currently written of my novel and took the time to write his comments down and send them to me. We've all been through so much shit together, even not speaking to each other for a while, but it always ends in hugs and tears and more hugs and tears. I tell my sister everything and know when she's not doing well, even if she hasn't told me how she is feeling. Whenever I feel the slightest bit lonely (and it is possible to feel that way in this city, even if there are always things to do and people to see), I know that I'll always be surrounded by my sister and my brother, however far away they are. I'll be in California for 2 weeks in June, and I know that we will have a million laughs, probably fight a few times, complain to each other about each other and create more memories that I will probably end up writing about over the next few years. Then I will be back here in NYC, and they will be over there in Sacramento and we will continue to count on each other forever, even when we fuck up and hurt each other.
Ahhh... I was just thinking back to that rave we went to back in the 90's, when we drove for hours and finally found it around 5am, then got kicked out by the police at Noon, only to drive all the way back to Grenoble in the boiling heat... And when I decided that one NYE that it would be a wonderful idea to drink a bottle of Baileys followed by a bottle of white wine followed by a bottle of cider and my sister tried to cover for me when my mum called from the party she was at because I was puking my guts up...Every time I think of a story ten others follow suite.
I don't even know why I am even writing this... I guess I miss my siblings more than usual at the moment and just know what a blessing it is that they exist in my life. I get that protective older sister feeling (even though I feel like they spend most of their time trying to protect me from getting hurt by everything) and want to be there to make sure they are always happy. Sometimes I fantasise about living nearer them in California, but I know that NYC is my home now and I would miss this place too much. I wouldn't miss the winters or my family so much, but I know I would miss my home too much.
We all had one growing up. It may have really been a park. It could have been a playing field, a graveyard, a railway embankment, a tree house, a forest. Just one place where you and your group of friends would meet up every day, lounge around for hours talking about everything and nothing, drinking beer, smoking hash and watching the hours roll by in great company.
A typical day in the life of outcasts teens, lazy, depressed, happy, sad, motivated, silly, young, old beyond our years... Countless hours of talking about the next gig we were going to, who the best guitarist in the world is, who the darkest 19th century poet was, about boys and about girls and about how we were going to afford the next packet of cigarettes and the next bottle of cheap red wine.
Our park was in the centre of the city, kind of in between all of our high schools, but right next to the private Catholic school a few of us went to. I had already dropped out of my school by that time, 1995 was the year of skipping class and then just never going back, smoking a lot of hash and drinking a lot of wine and beer, skipping through the park, contemplating the clouds in the sky, dating cute metal or goth boys and all signing our names in the little children's house with the slide. I must have had an awful reputation with the teachers at that school nearby as they used to try and drag my friends who went there back to class whenever they hung out with us all there. We were harmless, just different.
One night Alex and I decided that we were going to climb the fence and "break in" to the park... We did it, and walked through the trees in the pitch dark, pretending that we weren't scared when we really were, but unwilling to back out of the dare because we were trying to prove something to ourselves. At that moment we just wanted to run away to another country together and forget all about our lives, living another. Of course that never happened and I don't even know what he is doing or where he is nowadays, but that memory will always be imprinted in my mind.
Another time little skater Marion and I smoked a joint with some random guy and couldn't move for hours from the grass. Literally couldn't move. I suppose there was some lesson to be learnt there but I didn't learn it. The smell of burning Afghan hash still immediately brings me right back to the park and the memories of all that we left there.
Of course we weren't the only group to hang out there, there were other groups, but we never mingled with them. I think we all used to sneer at each other. Them at us because we wore ripped jeans and listened to aggressive music, and the boys had long hair and the girls smoked and swore. Us at them because we thought they were all boring and we felt inferior. We didn't fit in and they did.
My park is in the middle of Grenoble, France and it has a big fake elephant in the entrance. It's called the Jardin des Plantes (there is one in every French city) and is next to the Natural History Museum. The private high school is called Pierre Termier, my high school (lycee and college) was called Stendhal and was located just down the road (although my section has since been relocated). Some of my friends at the time have disappeared into their lives and away from mine, some are still very, very good friends and others I hear from now and again.
I'll always remember the time we drank bottles and bottles of beer in the afternoon and just stuck them upside down in the grass like a sculpture and left them there... It's amazing that the park keeper never banned us!
I miss the England I grew up in today, so I'm just giving in to nostalgia, laughing my head off and enjoying all of the silly outfits and good music (as well as terribly bad music). Here are some gems, enjoy, while I waste the rest of my Saturday watching more and more.
The Stranglers - Golden Brown 1982
David Bowie - Starman 1972
The Rolling Stones - Let's Spend the Night Together
(OK - I know I wasn't born then, but who cares):
The Cure - Lovecats 1983
(I love how they make it painfully obvious that they are miming)
Spandau Ballet (cue snickers of laughter) 1982
I spent all afternoon working on some articles at Cake Shop, while drinking copious amounts of coffee and listening to my ipod to drown out the squeals of a group of tourists who had come to eat cake. There are about 10 different sarcastic comments that I could add to that, but I am going to restrain myself from sarcasm because I am way too excited to post what I have wanted to post all day! I was scrolling through the many playlists I have made over the past few years that I have owned this current ipod and came across one called "Time". Quelle little gem!! All old French music that I love so much. As it made me so happy, I want to share it with the world, so I recreated it on Spotify and made it a public playlist.
And yes, technically Jacques Brel, Marlene Dietrich, Jane Birkin and Josephine Baker weren't French (although Josephine Baker did become a French citizen), but they are singing in French, so it works. And Jacques Brel is on par with Tim Buckley in my head, and those of you who know me also know what that means.
Click on the link below and the playlist should open in Spotify. If it doesn't tell me immediately as no time should be wasted on you not listening to this!!
What happened to your dreams? When you were younger you would sit in the park and dream the afternoon away. A joint was nice, a can of beer a plus, but neither were needed. You were just content to lie there in the sun, chatting to your friends and watching the world go by.
Not anymore. Is it all part of growing up, losing this carefree nature? I don’t mean I was happy as a teenager, far from it. I was driven by teenage angst and anger; trying to figure out why I was the way I was, why I was still alive, why I couldn’t just let go of certain parts of my past and live like a free person again. I could honestly go on and on about how depressed and messed up I was. But I also had a good circle of friends who were all going through the same kinds of problems and we all soldiered on. We felt happiness so easily, holding hands, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, walking barefoot through the grass, crowd surfing at metal concerts, wearing ripped jeans, pretty tops and lots of black eyeliner. Crushed but invincible at the same time.
Quiet but loud, obnoxious but so right, ready for anything, scared of everything, first boyfriends, first explorations, old minds in teenage bodies, bad poetry, wine and hash, mad dancing in the rain, staying up all night in parks… If you think about it I haven’t really changed all that much. I’m still as cynical and sweet, but just more intelligent. Actually I don’t think that is the right word. More realistic, less pessimistic but also less optimistic, but still so idealistic. I’ve learnt and am still learning, my skin has a few more lines now, but I’ll always have my smile.
My dreams haven’t gone anywhere as they have always been quite simple. Be happy and make other people happy. It’s a quest that will never leave me. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, being with those I love, being in a country I love and being near the ocean. The dreams just weren’t as defined back then, ten or twelve years ago, but they are still here. I may have spent years trying to run away from them, but the just keep following me everywhere, never giving up.
I often still feel like that teenage girl inside, maybe more worldly, calmer, braver, tougher but softer maybe, but still Jade. I can still crowd surf and dance on tables, but I’m a little more outspoken and a little more guarded. But don’t be mistaken, when I am sitting at the bar, drinking my cranberry and soda and watching the world go by, I am still dreaming away and wondering what the next steps should be...
Nirvana: Milk It
Alice In Chains: Junkhead
Therapy?: Die Laughing
Hole: Jennifer's Body
Pearl Jam: Black
Sonic Youth: Drunken Butterfly
Gun: Word Up
Skunk Anansie: I Can Dream
Nine Inch Nails: Piggy
The Cure: Friday I'm in Love
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Red Right Hand
Candlebox: Far Behind
The Breeders: Divine Hammer
This one is for Rebecca Marcenac, Shannon Jackson and Andrew Cook.