Ramblings: One Friday evening in August

Just a set of ramblings on a Friday evening at home…

I was walking to the shop earlier, listening to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, and started thinking about how I always dream about getting into a car one day and just driving, no real destination in mind, just driving somewhere different. I don’t mean by that that I would just drive off and never come back, but that I appreciate the idea that I could just go off and explore somewhere new at a moment’s notice. Well, I could if I could drive. Not that the minor issue of not being able to drive has ever stopped me – trains and planes and buses are just as easy to get away on. In any case, all that got me thinking about freedom, and the freedom of being able to do what we want in life. I have that freedom, and I couldn’t imagine anything else nowadays. I always say this is my home, but a day could come when I just decide that I need something different. Maybe a beach house in Central America or Hawaii. A place where the sun shines more often than it rains and where I can walk around barefoot most of the day. Maybe another trip to India, or one to a country in Africa. I don’t know, thoughts like this always help me keep my inner peace in check. Even just the idea of still being able to go off on an adventure of some sort keeps me happy. I should start planning something for when it gets cold here, an adventure to a place where I have never been before and where it will be warm and full of hibiscus flowers. I’m a little obsessed with the beauty of the hibiscus. I don’t even mind going somewhere alone – the idea of not having to speak to people too much for a week or so is quite enticing.

It’s been a year today that I did my disappearing act and walked away from a life I had turned into a prison. What an interesting year, so much has happened and so much has been thought about. I know I will never regret what I did, even on those days when I have done a double at work and when my legs hurt and my brain just wants to sleep. Even when I only have one day off a week, and on that day just feel like staying at home and listening to my own thoughts as opposed to listening to others talk about theirs for hours on end. I love my life, there is no question about it. This is what life is supposed to be about, the freedom to do whatever we want. We are all responsible in some way for how our life turns out, so we may as well make it as fun as possible. On this day last year we were all waiting for a hurricane to hit the city… In a way it feels like so much longer than just a year to be honest. Many many moons have gone by since then. 

I’ve been watching an old English TV show on Netflix from the late 80’s called Wish Me Luck. Every time that I think that I have exhausted the WW2 fiction I always find something else that catches my eye and hooks me in. This series is in three seasons and is mainly about a group of British agents that are sent into France to join the Résistance. It’s pretty well done, although I will always find it weird when characters are speaking in English when you know you are supposed to imagine them speaking in French. Anyway, I started watching the final season when it struck me that it was filmed in the exact location that I grew up in in France. The views were the exact ones that I would see when I opened the shutters of my apartment every morning and the villages were the same ones I used to go through all the time, or very similar to those in any case. It was filmed in the middle of the Vercors, and the story line is basically taken from real life events that happened when the maquis in 1944, when they rose against the Germans and were squashed, as it was deemed more important to send aid to Normandy during the landings rather than to a bunch of French résistants. It’s a story I grew up hearing about and always one that I have been a little obsessed with, so it’s pretty cool to actually see it depicted on TV (and filmed on location). It makes me miss France a lot though… Maybe I need a little French escape soon too. Mountains o’ mountains of things

For the past month I have been wondering whether to give up on this novel for a while, and write more short stories. I’m thinking about a collection of stories on the LES over the past 7 years, more personal ones than fiction of course, just because I’m really inspired by the idea right now. I’ve been writing more poems again, and am quite happy with the compilation I put together a few weeks ago. But I’ve been really procrastinating about the novel and haven’t finished a chapter in over two months. Today I had the bright idea of maybe just using each chapter I have already written as a set of short stories as this would eliminate the worry of making sure the plot flows through each chapter correctly. But then today I read some of the chapters I had written earlier this year and they are better than I thought they were, and it gave me hope that maybe it still is a good idea and I just need to push on with it and finish it this year. I’ll see. I don’t think I can completely give up on it just yet. But in the mean time I will start on the other plans I have in mind and see what they turn in to.

Ramblings: Airport notes

I always have a notebook or a journal on me, as sometimes I am inspired to write or doodle in the most random places. I always worry that I will forget what is passing through my mind, so I just scribble it down, sometimes to be forgotten until I come across it again, sometimes the scribbles become a story or an essay. Last Monday I was sitting at Heathrow airport, waiting for my gate to be announced when I noticed a man looking at a PowerPoint presentation on his laptop, and another women typing feverishly on her computer. I pulled out my notebook and wrote the following piece. Interesting or not, I do not know, but I felt like posting it on here.

I used to pretend to be a business woman. "Pretend" being the accurate word because I just didn't fit the profile, and never felt comfortable in it. My "suits" never looked 100% comfortable unless I was wearing flip flops or Converse, and had rolled up the shirt sleeves. On business trips I would walk around the airport barefoot totter along in my 4 inch heels that I deemed necessary for a client meeting. I've never been able to wear "sensible" heels anyway, in my world it's either gorgeous 4 inch heels or biker boots (mainly the latter these days). At airports I would sit on the floor, nearest the closest electricity outlet, typing away frantically, responding to the 100+ emails I had received during my 60 minute flight. My desk always looked like a bomb had gone off somewhere near: papers everywhere, dust piling up on little dolls and knickknacks I had inherited from colleagues who were long gone, pictures and postcards stuck on the walls and a little headset that I had stopped trying to use because it kept echoing in my ear.
That said, I was pretty good at my job. Sometimes pretty brilliant. Sometimes I failed in a nice, big exploding splash, but I often succeeded, most often without much of a word, except a thanks from my client (and undying love from some of them). For six whole years I would walk into that elevator on the ground floor and whizz up to the 40th floor, my stomach falling to my knees, not because of gravity, because of dread. Dread that I would be found out for being an imposter.
Every day I would get my coffee from the same mobile coffee vendor, my lunch from the same two or three salad bar/sandwich/soup places, nab my cigarette breaks whenever I could between client calls. I would go home after work and guess what I would do? Check my email, work some more and dream (nightmare) about something I had forgotten (or not forgotten for the most part).
For six years I felt like I was playing a part, trying a role out in a play that I didn't really understand or like that much. may have played it well, sometimes too well. I kept my own personality and tried to mold it into a business woman persona.
I used to pretend to be a business woman until I got tired of pretending. In the end we only have one life and it really is up to ourselves to make it into something that we can be proud of and happy with. That may not always be something that you find immediately but there's no harm in trying everything until you do. Just don't spend your life pretending, it's not worth it.
Maybe I should become an actress...

Random words put together form sentences and thoughts

It’s always interesting how you can live in a large city, populated by millions of people and still feel like you live in a small village where everyone knows you, even if you don’t know everyone.

“Oh my god, did you see X1 the other day? She was wearing SWEATPANTS in public!!”


“X2 didn’t have a cigarette after he had dinner, maybe he’s SICK??”


“I didn’t see X3 get her coffee this morning, maybe she has relapsed and shooting up in some gutter again!”

Multiply by 5 voices and all of a sudden X1 has bedbugs and had to get rid of her whole wardrobe, X2 has lung cancer and X3 is in a morgue after multiple heroin overdoses. All in the space of a few hours.

And then come the text messages:

“Are you OK?”

“Why are you doing X or X again?”

“What on earth were you thinking??”

“Do you need help??”

WHAT?! We’re all guilty of gossip and most of the time it’s pretty ludicrously funny.

Word gets around faster than fire on wood here; fire on dry wood that is. I should have just taken a foghorn and stood on Ludlow and Houston and yelled “I’m having a drink and I’m getting drunk – let’s all talk about it!!”. It wasn’t a secret, I don’t have anything to hide… I got drunk, had a blast, felt terribly hungover the next day and then moved on with my life. As my mum so accurately put it, it’s called survival. I doubt I’ll be doing that again for a while, but I taught myself that there really is nothing wrong in having a drink now and again, as long as it’s just a few. I really do have way too much to accomplish in my life than to waste my time getting over a hangover. I’m on chapter 6 of my novel, I have a job that I actually enjoy, I am working on several pieces of art that may or may not be any good, I have an ever-growing list of articles to write and post on my blog, I have several photography excursions that I want to do and about a gazillion other things I want to get done before I am 34. Which happens to be in about 5 months… So that leaves little time and a lot to get done.

I spent so much of my life thinking that it was always all or nothing. Sometimes it’s possible to use moderation, and even I am finally coming to terms with that. If I don’t think it’s a big deal then no one else should either – I would really honestly you paid more attention to things that really matter to me, like my writing.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Except maybe that the high kick in the little crepe dude's face is going to keep me giggling for a long time.

How to be selfish

A few days ago someone very close to me told me to start being more selfish. The problem is, I don’t know where to start. How does one become selfish? How does one actually define a selfish person and how does one differentiate a selfish person from an unselfish person?

Oxford Dictionary: selfish: /ˈselfiSH/ (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others ; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

There you go. So a selfish person is someone who acts based on his or her own agenda, without any real consideration for others. Don’t we all do that at some point in time? Do what WE want to do without really thinking about how it may affect others? I mean, I did that a few months ago. Walked out of the job that I had been doing for over 6 years without really considering how it could affect the people I worked with, the company as a whole, and then also the people who may depend on me to financially pay my share (roommate for example). Pure act of selfishness, no? One that I did because my own mental and physical health demanded it, something I did because I wanted to. To be brutally honest, it did me the world of good. I finally felt happy and free again, after years of feeling that I was doing what was right in the eyes of everyone else, but that felt completely wrong to me.

So maybe I am on the right path? I don’t know, when I was going through the above I felt terrible. Terribly guilty about the way I had done it and about not being able to explain myself properly. I was very conflicted, on one side I felt so happy to be away from what I felt had become a prison, on the other I felt awful. I DID actually think for a long time how it would affect everyone around me and decided that it was better off for everyone that I did it, in the long run. It wasn’t a rash decision, but something that I could no longer hide from. But I did choose myself over everyone else. Woohoo, an act of selfishness!

So what next? I think my main problem is that I tend to let everyone take too much of me, so much that I feel exhausted. I try so hard to remember everything, and do pretty well at it, until I forget the most important thing and then upset someone because I didn’t remember. I know I get upset when people forget important things in my life, but that’s mainly my own fault as I never talk about them. But I feel terrible when I forget important things in YOUR life. Like just today I didn’t contact one of my closest friends to wish her good luck on the purchase of her new home. I hadn’t forgotten it was today, and I was going to call her later, and have been a little wrapped up in some personal things I don’t feel like talking about. But my friend was upset because I hadn’t been in touch to just wish her good luck, and she was right to be. I now feel terrible, and will feel terrible about it for days. But at the same time, I ask myself, if I actually never gave a shit about anything, no one would be disappointed because they wouldn’t expect me to remember anyway. So where do you draw the line? When do you stop trying to make everyone happy and start just concentrating on your own happiness? What if your happiness depends on other people being happy around you? I suppose that’s the real definition of being unselfish. Or maybe just unselfish is a synonym for being appreciated but walked over whenever necessary? Or maybe, just maybe, I am analyzing this all a little too much and I should stop feeling bad about things and get on with my life.

I think we are all selfish in some form or another, some are just more than others. I have just come to my own conclusion that I am not really that willing to change anymore, so, so be it. And if you have had the patience, or whatever you want to call it, to read through these 700+ words you can now listen to this beautiful song by my darling love Tim Buckley, because he (his music) makes me happy.

What caught my eyes, ears and brain today

Apart from Tom Waits still excellent album (still listening to it on repeat), the Stones Roses reforming and telling the world via a most heartwarming press conference, and me cooking the most delicious meal from scratch, I have spent the day reading an array of different articles and stories and listening to some pretty cool music (between Tom Waits repeated album listens). While clad in a hoodie, football (of the real football kind) shorts and knee-high argyle socks (I had to add that because it's the best outfit for sitting around at home and looks cool and dumb all at the same time). So before I go back to watching MI-5/Spooks Season 4 on telly, I'll share these interesting things with you in case you have a burning desire to read/watch/listen to them too...

Guernica Magazine never disappoints me... So many excellent articles and interviews. Today I read two articles, each from a different perspective, but both based on the Bhutto family, Pakistani political dynasty tainted with corruption and tragedy:
A journalist who spent time on different occasions with Benazir Bhutto describes these encounters: The Price of Oranges (October 2011)
An interview with Fatima Bhutto, Benazir's niece: In My Place (July 2009). I actually remember reading this one a while ago, and she brings up a lot of very good points. I need to learn more about the political history of Pakistan to form any kind of opinion myself, as I really am not knowledgeable enough about it to really comment on it. Both interviews really sparked my interest though...

Psychic Dancehall: a collaboration between Crocodiles member Charles Rowell and The Slits’ Hollie Cook. I instantly fell in love with the light, dreamy, dancey atmosphere. Best listened to at home while dancing with ones cat in football shorts and knee-high argyle socks, in a candle lit room. The cover of He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) is particularly pretty.
Listen to the album Dreamers on Soundcloud (see below), or buy it HERE:
Psychic Dancehall - Dreamers LP by wearesolidgold

I came across this selection of rock photography by Ken Regan on the Rolling Stone site. He's an all-round wonderful photographer (I will write more about his work later this week), but I really love the photographs Rolling Stone took to showcase his work, all taken from his new collection "All Access: The Rock & Roll Photography of Ken Regan". I like the black and whites especially, he creates the same tones as I try (emphasis on try) to. Stark, sometimes a tiny bit overexposed, and engaging. I need to take more random portraits.

Last night during dinner with some friends we were discussing how one actually listens to music nowadays. I still listen to an album from beginning to end. I do make playlists, just like I used to make mix tapes and then mix CDs, but I never use the shuffle option. It had never actually come to mind until one of my friends brought it up... What about you? Is it true that the album is slowly becoming obsolete with this generation of kids? I don't want them to miss out on listening to an album from beginning to end! It's the BEST thing about listening to an artist/band/singer you love!!

OK, back to MI-5/Spooks. Hopefully no more of my favourite characters get killed off during this season.

4am Reflections

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and couldn’t get back to sleep. These are the moments that I wish I still smoked… Sitting by the window, cigarette in one hand, notepad and pen in the other, savouring that time of the night where everything is quiet and peaceful, and writing lyrics or poems for a few minutes before going back to sleep again. So instead of smoking I tossed and turned in my bed, realizing that it was not all peaceful out there, that there had always been a fine line of 4am happiness and 4am despair, and that if you were in the outside world at that time of night then not all was really well… 4am reflection can be amazingly insightful, it’s just a pity I didn’t have a pen and paper right next to me to jot down all the thoughts that whizzed through my head.

Some of us go through adolescence a little more traumatized than others, often with some type of tragedy that happened early on in our lives that we can’t get rid of. Somebody close abandoned us, be it by unexpected and/or violent death, or just because they disappeared. You are searching for the answers to everything and no one can give them to you. Adults still seem to be the people who are supposed to be perfect, and you feel like a failure because you will never reach that perfection, or what appears to be perfection. So you stumble on, start finding yourself, make music, write, paint, create. Go to college, drop out of college, go back to college, work in different jobs and experiment with drugs and alcohol, still trying to find out the hows and whys of everything.

Then you hit your 20’s and start realizing that you are an adult too, and that you still don’t have the answers to anything. And your childhood trauma starts to become a weight you carry on your shoulders everywhere, a badge that gives you the right of way to fuck up whatever you can, because, in the end, you are the one who is messed up, and you are the one who has the right to hurt yourself if you want to. Hey, something traumatic happened to me when I was a kid, and I want to forget it, so I have every right in the world to obliterate myself with a bottle of Stoli and whatever else wants to come my way. Because, you know, in the end, it all hurts too much, this real life where people die and never come back, and where you have to carry this with me day in and day out. And you continue to function. You have a close group of friends who are all about as traumatized and messed up as you, and you all help each other out in all of the different ways you can. You go to work, you party, you sleep an hour or so, and you go back to work, forgetting that you had once had all of these ideas and plans on what you wanted to do in life.

And then comes the day that you realize that none of this really means anything anymore. One moment you are dancing on a bar, thinking you are having the time of your life, and the next you are crying into your drink wondering how that profound feeling of sadness crept over you while you had your back turned, the one you had been running so hard away from to avoid. It’s just time to let go… Nothing is ever going to fix the things that happened to you growing up, and maybe they will never really heal, but nothing is going to change them. Hiding from your own thoughts, while nurturing this badge of trauma is just not a viable option anymore. All I can say is tell those you love how much you love them, and start living your life the way you had always dreamed you would live it. It just makes so much more sense than settling for unhappiness and hurt for the rest of your life.

I wrote song lyrics about this once, a few years ago, not long after I stopped drinking. I named it “Ludlow St”. When I read it now it very accurately describes all of the above, in a song form. Maybe one day someone can put music to it and sing it. If I ever let anyone read it that is.

Running, running, running

Running really does make me happy... Who would have thought?!
I got home from work, threw on my running clothes and shoes (and knee brace-thing as I have a wobbly right knee at the moment) and ran a couple of miles around my neighbourhood, down Evergreen, over Flushing, around the lofts, up Johnson, down Bushwick and the Varet and back up past Flushing. That hill from Flushing up to Jefferson on Everygreen is a bit of a killer when you take it at the end, but it's a good extra work out.

I think this all started as a way to work out, but now it's also a way to let off steam, be by myself with some music, time to let my mind wander and think about what may be and what may happen...

For some reason I always listen to the Stones while running - they motivate me. And the Stones channel on Pandora is just perfect.

I'm already dreading the days where the snow is going to stop me from running.

"Alternative" living= Utopia?

I was reading an article on the BBC News website about the Danish commune Christiania that was set up around 40 years ago as a squat and recently won the legal right to run itself. (See the article in question here: Denmark Christiania: New challenges for Copenhagen's hippy zone).
What seemed to have started off as a peaceful commune, where people looked to live in an alternative community, growing their own food, diverse, a place where artistic freedom is allowed to be let loose - basically your idea of a perfect, harmonious and happy way of life. Well for me, anyway. I lived on a kibbutz in Israel for months and loved it do much that I dream about going back and doing it again - forever.

But reading through this article, and through my own experiences on the kibbutz, and talking to others who have tried communal living on a grander scale than just sharing an apartment, there are always cracks in the veneer. I just think that human nature just doesn't always allow for things to run smoothly, especially when sharing with others is involved. Some humans are natural leaders and some a natural followers, and sometimes the natural leaders want more than everyone else. And however much of an idealist I may be, I am aware that a lot of humans are not "good" people ("good" meaning people who want to live their lives by helping and loving others), and that many are more than happy to stomp over others to feel better about themselves.

So, in the end, can these types of communes really work in our societies? In the case of Christiania, for example, it appears that organised crime and hardcore drug trafficking is taking over what used to be a hippiesque pot-selling area. So are these types of idealistic living situations just that? A nice utopic idea of peaceful living that just can't work out, however hard we try?

I think am going to still continue to dream about the community that I want to live in on an island by the warm sea some day.
Food for thought.

I Love You.

I spend a lot of time talking to people about their relationships, listening to them, trying to give out advice that will help them. I also spend a lot of time wondering why it always has to be so hard. Why does every relationship that my friends embark on have to always be full of pitfalls and questions? I don't even want to refer to myself in this post, just because I never listen to my own advice and to be brutally honest, I feel like I am a lost cause. I'd rather focus on making sure my friends and family are happy and in love and smiling... It's easier that way.

Back to the main point of these thoughts that constantly flow through my mind: if you love someone, and someone loves you back, why does it need to be so hard? Is it fear? Are we so worried that we will get hurt that we push the other away? Is it because we are too scared to commit to one person, to be part of a couple? Is it because we feel that if we open up completely to another we will lose part of what we hold secret inside? Do we think that it's just not worth it? Are we not willing to fight for something that could ultimately end up being the best thing we would ever accomplish in our lives?

I don't have the answers, and every question I ask opens up another question, and another, and another. Why does something so simple have to be so hard? How many times are we all going to regret holding back from saying I love you just because we were scared of the consequences?

One day I would like to be able to look back at these days with all my friends and say "I am so glad that we said those words when we did" and "I am so glad we fought to stay together" and "I am so glad we got through that rough patch together". I don't want to hear any phrases beginning with the following: "I regret..." or "I wish things had been different..." or "I guess the timing wasn't right..." or "I wish I had said that..."

Wishful thinking?

Just say it. Can't be THAT hard can it?