The Lucky Bitch

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The illustration was custom-made for this post by my amazing & talented friend Camille Talon. Look up her comic strips on her blog 

Sunday evening, I was lying in a burning bath. I washed my hair, finished my ‘Yes to Cucumber’ conditioner. I made a mental note to go and get some during the week. The day after, I randomly got a message from my little sweet bro: “I’ve just won organic mint hair conditioner at the football bingo. I’ll ship it to you.” 

Of course.

My therapist calls this side of me the “Lucky Bitch”.

I grew up with a mum who was struggling to buy food. I’ve always had immoderate ambitions though, so I had to seek support from the universe to make the shit out of my desires happen.

My lucky star shines in a very specific way : all my material needs are being taken care of. People walk at me to offer me jobs, even in improbable situations.  At 19, I was living in Canada on a student visa with no work permit and I was nearing the end of my savings. One day, just like that, I got offered a job in a candy shop whose owner also worked as an accountant at the Inland Revenue. I was assured not to get caught for illegal work. That’s how I could afford to complete my dance studies.

Last time I was house hunting, I had 4 days before eviction to get a place to stay. I found the warehouse of my dreams in 48 hours. Effortlessly.

My list of happy material coincidences goes on and on. People give me stuff, I find coins and objects I need on the street (books, clothes, pieces of furniture) and there are often errors in my favour like at the Monopoly.

(Oh and by the way I work my ass off too. I am lucky, but with a military self-discipline twist.)

My absolute favorite remains the good star of free cosmetic products.

For Christmas, I got an Amazon voucher from work and I renewed all my makeup with it. But Amazon sent me 2 super pricey eye liners instead of one, so, huh, I returned the second one and claimed for a refund, just in case they wouldn’t notice. Not only they didn’t, but they put a part of the amount in cash on my bank account. So, I made cash with a gift voucher from my job. With the balance, I got an organic skin toner and the 2014 World Almanac for my Death Row Companion (I’ll talk about him soon. I’ve recently started exchanging letters with an inmate on the Florida death row, and he asked me for this book.)

Today, I went volunteering at a homeless shelter in East London at 6am, serving breakfast to homeless dudes. Most of them are super cool, smiling, positive, they sometimes make you a good joke or tell you something nice. I even got a phone number. Out of the blue, the manager of the place gave me a Lush powder deodorant just like that, I don’t know why this, and why to me. Even at the homeless shelter I get free beauty products. Isn’t it ridiculous?

I LOVE my Lucky Bitch. She scores every time. I always ride the wave and high five whoever coordinates my life up there. I am profoundly grateful for all the help received.

I am trying to rewire my luck, though. I am lucky indeed, but mostly for the little things that impress and don’t really last, for the surface, for the glitter, for the stuff.

When will I get really lucky? I mean. I’m kinda ready to trade free shampoo for free love. Just sayin’.

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Ultimate Stage : A Day in Toronto

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Between New York and London, I had an anecdotic 20 hour wait at Toronto airport to connect flights. How thoughtful of Air Canada! I have friends in Toronto that I never see within their natural habitat. I was therefore all excited to arrange an impromptu rendez-vous with them.

After the usual airport and transit bullshit, I found myself hanging out somewhere in Toronto with a miserable 3 hours of sleep in the system. I don’t know this city very well, because I have mostly transited through it. I shamefully ended up at Starbucks just because of the wi-fi (OK, and maple coffee specials). My US phone doesn’t like Canada and I was a pain to reach.

While I was getting hold of ∆ε and με, I slept at the Starbucks counter like a homeless (again). I was checking every now and then if the baristas were giving the impression they were about to ask me to leave the premises, but they let me power nap in peace. Bless them. There was a guy seating next to me, teaching a drawing class to a girl. More exactly, a caricature drawing class. He was randomly showing her customers of the café and chop-chop-chop she was drawing them in a few lines. I was hoping she would caricature me in my sleep but it didn’t happen (I love getting that kind of attention). I guess I was seating too close. 

At 4pm, ∆ε and με picked me up. They were unexpectedly with πρ, whom I met in Paris with the guys a few years ago. ∆ε is turning 75 in September, and he is a living legend and a key figure of modern dance in Canada. He and πρ used to dance in the Martha Graham Company in New York City so they have the hell of anecdotes about the Great Priestess of modern dance. When they tell about their life, it is a mix between a university lecture of history of dance and gossip magazines, because they have some unofficial stories about a few legends of the 20th Century. 

ε and πρ founded together with a third person the Toronto Dance Theatre in 1968, implementing the technique and influence of Martha Graham in Canada.  I met ∆ε in 2003 when I was a dance student in Québec City. He was teaching for 2 weeks and he connected me to my dance heavenly vault. I can’t think of a better image. I remember that the walls of the studio seemed to be pushed back, the ceiling felt higher and this whole worship and spiritual dimension kicked in. ∆ε can teach a whole class without barely speaking. Graham technique is like a secret language and its disciples belong to a secret society. But when he speaks, YOU LISTEN, because every single information is a goldmine, and possibly a big clue to your journey towards dance truth. 

I attended 2 summer schools with his dance company in Guelph, a little town near the big one. We’ve been friends ever since. He is a devoted francophile who often teaches me one or two things about my own country. We catch up on either side of the ocean, mine or theirs. Both sides are actually ours as we don’t necessarily feel home where we were born, and our meetings are always short, wonderful and unexpected. I had last seen them in east London less than a year ago, in ∆ε’s first love’s house which is a veritable 4-floor art gallery opposite to the house of Gilbert & George.

ε is in a cult couple with με, one of his dancers, 30 years younger than him. I love them together. They are one of these creative collaborating couples that I aim to be in some day. They don’t have time for bullshitting each other like most couples do because they’ve always channeled their energy in a creative way. 

This time, ε and πρ started talking about a performance they did at the Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris years ago. They mentioned that they were in Paris in May 68 so they witnessed the historical mess, but I am not sure if the Pierre Cardin story was that year or later on. πρ said that Pierre Cardin was a “total jerk” (sic) who loved himself way too much and was unable to pour his own drinks without a handful of domestics serving him. One day after rehearsal, Pierre Cardin gave them a tour of his office. He was like: “What do you think? I designed everything myself.” πρ was laughing to tears when he explained that his desk was designed in a handbag shape and that Pierre Cardin was obviously proud of it. Pierre Cardin later told them that he really liked their dance show because “he was ahead of himself” and was therefore entitled to understand the subtility of dance avant-garde. Then, ∆ε and πρ told a trip they did through Italy, where they stayed at a lovely hotel, thinking people were very weird until they found out it wasn’t a hotel but a sanatorium. 

Every time I catch up with my living legends, I get a handful of excellent stories which make me see art history, or life in general, under a different light and we have so much laughter. I am not missing a word when I spend time with them, it always makes me see things in a more laid-back, inspiring and reassuring light.

In the meantime, my amazing friend Ν had joined us. She is a beautiful mixed-race dancer with more hair than me, which is quite an achievement. She dances with the Toronto Dance Theatre. She actually is a natural version of a drag-queen (way more than I can ever claim to be), cause she’s tall, muscular and has exaggerated hair and outfits. I met her at the summer dance intensive with ∆ε’s company in 2009. We shared the same house and we remained friends ever since. She is positive, loud and retro. I’ve never seen her down. I love her. 

I stayed over at her French-decorated flat for the night. Her cute flatmate was there, an adorable 23 year old gay dancer from Québec City (we studied at the same school). He picked some spoons out of the freezer and put them on his eyes to decongest them. Interesting image. I love to steal gay boys their beauty tricks. He was on his way out to a famous drag queen contest. Oh no! It sounded like a call from destiny. I would have totally gone with him and been crazy till dawn if it wasn’t for a silly plane taking me back to an overseas life I don’t want a few hours later. And actually, for the first time in weeks, I was excited to go to bed. Sigh. I observed him for a moment. He was exactly what I want to be in my next life. I want to be a young beautiful gay male dancer with insolent beauty and fuck everyone without constraint. This is totally what I was programmed to be, but then the gender thing went wrong. Dammit. I envy gay boys for the sexual freedom they grant to themselves. I do that too, but as a girl, I find more obstacles on my way. It is still more difficult for girls to have unconventional and free sex lives, because many girls are their worst enemy. I find that a lot of them are scared, judge themselves or think too hard.

It was the first time in ages that I felt disappointed to be me and not something completely opposite, because New York had a soothing effect on me : I was the right thing at the right place at the right time. I stepped out of my City and in less than a day I was caught back by my companion fantasies of who else I want to be.

I stayed in with Ν and we watched ‘Flash Dance’ eating blueberry pie, which was wonderful too. How could I spend so long without watching Flash Dance? I vow to have a refresher every year. 

At 5am, a cab picked me up to my final destination. I was so dead from 7 weeks of intense life embracing that I fell asleep on the plane instantly and didn’t even feel the take off.

Thus finished my Spring 2014 North American Tour.

As soon as I got in London, a Brooklyn sign hit my eye on the underground.

 

On The Road

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I went from Québec City to Montréal to New York by bus in the course of a day.

Before I realised, I was facing the giant “United States of America” sign at the border. I remember seeing this sign for the first time a couple of years ago on the same journey. Back then, I was travelling on an overnight bus and I suddenly woke up in the dark. The colossal sign was standing above me like a huge monster. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The mythical letters were shining under the moonlight and captivated my imagination, between dream and nightmare.

As soon as you pass the border, it feels different. Canada and the US are neighbours but so distinct.

At sunset, we stopped in a random petrol station, which is the quintessence of the deep America road trip culture. I have had a fascination for American gas stations since my teenage and “Thelma & Louise”. I never thought back then that I would hit the American road so much.

Seating behind me on the bus, there was a young guy crying. I could hear him sob and I was checking his reflection in the window. I felt like showing him some compassion. But I finally didn’t.

I arrived at Port Authority Station in Manhattan at 1.30 am. I walked out and was brutally projected in the New York electricity again, right at the heart of Times Square. The neons were so bright that it took me a second to remember if it was night or day. These were my last instants in Manhattan. But I had no time for nostalgia, farewells or endless considerations, because I had only a few hours ahead before catching the plane.

Trains were disrupted so my middle of the night journey back to Brooklyn was chaotic. It took me 2 trains, a shuttle and a cab to finally reach the house 2 hours later. α and α² were there, awake. It was hard to hierarchise my actions because I had 4 hours to do everything : fill them in about my Québec pilgrim and my confused emotions, pack all my shit, hear their updates about the flatmate hunting situation, and potentially sleep. 

I managed to close my suitcase out of miracle (how do I do it every time? How can so many shoes fit in one bag? That’s my biggest talent : closing the zipper.)

α² went to bed and hugged me good bye. He said: “See you soon anyway. You belong here.” It touched me to the core because then, it means that my sense of belonging there is not only in my head. It is a scientific fact. I didn’t show I was moved though and simply replied : “I know. So, worst case scenario, you marry me, right?”

I went to bed next to α at 4am, a cab picked me up 3 hours later. I haven’t counted how many hours of sleep behind I am because of New York.

The taxi driver asked me where I was from. I said: “I am French, but my life goal is to move here.” He said that he would marry me. See! Even taxi drivers are on my side.

It didn’t feel like I was leaving anyway. It is just a temporary formality. My life will be on hold till I live in my city for good.

I almost lost my flight because I was waiting at the wrong gate. 15 minutes before departure, an announcement said: “Mr X, Y, Z and… Miss Σ (my first name) are asked to go immediately to gate 11.” Hahaha. Not that I didn’t try everything to stay.

At 10.45am, I finally took off to Toronto for the ultimate stage of my North American tour.

Québec City : 10 Years After

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I first went to Québec City in July 2001 for a modern dance summer school. I was meant to stay for a month. My return ticket was booked and my bag was packed with summer clothes. I stayed for 3 years – 2 of them without seeing France at all. I slightly rearranged my original plans to go study at University in Lyon. After a few weeks in Québec, I called France and said: “That’s it, I’m staying.” I was 18 and crazily willing to embrace life. Now I am 30 and still being faithful to my posh gypsy life style. I embrace life in an even crazier way because I am financially stable and I don’t care anymore about what people think of me. I did all along my 20s. That’s enough. (Now I reply : “Fuck you. I rock the world.”) (I am very close to get “Fuck you” tattooed on my skin on a teenagy spot. Just like that.)

Back then in 2001, I randomly enrolled for a modern dance professional program without knowing too much what kind of trouble I was getting myself into. I loved it and hated it so much from one day to the other that I don’t think I’ll ever experience a similar level of thermic amplitude in my day to day routine whatever else I do in life.

Dance is both physically and mentally the most demanding discipline, because it requires all your body AND all your emotions. There is not much left to yourself. Passion for dance can resemble a malediction. I remember going through phases when I was crying everyday, not only out of sorrow or doubts – because questioning yourself rapidly becomes your daily companionship and you don’t notice it anymore. It was purely chemical, like the effect of adrenaline constantly rushing in my veins combined with nervous exhaustion.

I also remember that there has been no other period of my life when I was so strongly driven to get up every morning of my life with the certitude that my day ahead was super important not only for myself, but for the world’s karma. Dancers indisputably make the world a better place, because society misunderstands them and always implies that they are useless.  But they are stubborn enough to keep fighting this secret battle towards some kind of artistic and physical achievement. Dancers are my favourite heroes.

So every morning of my life, I was running to get settled at the ballet bar with the intimate conviction that I was at the heart of my own action, that I was touching the core of the true nature of my existence. I almost never found this exact same feeling again on a day to day basis, although I reshape my routine every couple of years. Just inhabiting your life and your body to the fullest, I suppose. I can confirm that I am way happier and more balanced today though. I couldn’t deal with this perpetual dissatisfaction of myself. I believe everything is at the right place.

On my 3 year journey to artistic introspection and self-discovery, through all the ups and downs, all the enthusiasm and passion followed by cruel disappointments were along with me 8 partners in crime. We were 9 strong-minded girls graduating together after 3 intensive years of bounding. We didn’t only dance together, we became adults together. And we wiped each other’s tears in a couple of occasions. But there was also tons of laughter, because dancing can be hilarious and we had a few nutcase teachers*. Most teachers had trouble with us, because they struggled coping with our strong collective energy. We were bound in a way that people exterior to our group couldn’t quite break into it.

We put our own show together over the last year, from fundraising (selling hot dogs or dates with random guys in a bar) (no kidding. I was sold $100 to a farmer for a date, to pay for our dance trip to NYC**) to conceiving the costumes whilst training and performing the choreographies.

I moved back to Europe shortly after our last ever show together, and we vowed to reunite every 5 years to keep posted on each other’s life. We’ve been successfully doing it. First reunion was in 2009. As the only foreign, I hadn’t seen anyone in 5 years and I was welcomed again like an exotic bird. Even some of the girls who didn’t finish the program showed up. That’s how hot we are.

Second reunion was last Friday. The 10 year anniversary of our graduation: 2004-2014. No one was missing! I took advantage of my adventures in NYC to pay those guys a visit. Our cult ballet teacher, λβ, gave us a class, reiterating as a motto to our old bodies : “The boundary between pride and stupidity is very thin.” Our cult percussionist, ΣH, was playing live music. It felt so natural to dance back together holding the same ballet bar that there was a time warp twist to it.

We had an endless dinner as it took 4 good hours to go around the table and collect everyone’s updates, what our respective lives are like now. Our 3 male waiters really took our group in affection, because every time they were entering our private room they were catching bribes of one or the other’s adventures and péripéties. At some point they even pulled themselves a chair to sit down at our table and listen to the end of a story. We were the last customers in the restaurant, the staff was desperate to go home but they still told us at the end of the night that we were a very inspirational group of friends and that all girls should stick together like we do! Oh yes!

We still had so much to catch up that we piteously ended up at the MacDonald’s drinking gross tea. Who cares, I would have eaten a burger that night just to enjoy more of the company. μμ, who turned 30 at midnight, had to spend the first couple of hours of her 30s at MacDonald’s, but with the hell of ladies around her to compensate.

At the last reunion 5 years ago, there was only 1 child for the whole group, now there are 9. And 3 pregnant women around the table. I am one of the 3 childless. I pondered and decided that I am fine with it. I had so many epic international house movings, horror break up and raising from the grave stories to tell that I effortlessly filled in the time I was allowed.

It was such a great day! It felt like a huge love puff. I needed it. My relationships with my female friends have sometimes been problematic, but these girls remain.

After 2009 reunion, I remember that I was feeling uncomfortably different, “why-don’t-I-have-a-house-and-a-boyfriend” type. I actually found the answer to “why don’t I have a boyfriend” that summer, and I believe our reunion rushed my urge to come out as a lesbian (including to my mum).

This time, just like every other girl of the group, I am feeling better with myself, more on track and in sync with my own rhythm. I may have children in this life or I may not. I am comfortable with both ends.

I will anyway keep creating my own type of life fertility.

*This is a broad topic that should be subject to an independent post

**This was very lucrative but really got us in trouble with the board of our school. Don’t sell people to make fast cash!!

Montréal Amazing Chicks

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I arrived in Montréal on a Monday morning at 7.20, after a night on the Greyhound bus from the Big Apple.

I walked a few steps in the central bus station and all of a sudden, after letting go of New York and its restless excitement, I felt unable to move or even stand. I almost collapsed and slept for a couple of hours on a public bench like a homeless. I was opening my eyes once in a while and I could feel the rhythm of people’s feet, their coming and going, sensing the different heartbeat of the city. Most of them were rushing to start their week of work, while I was starting my vacation in the most peculiar manner.

After my power nap, I went to the bathroom of the station to try to look like something. Next to me at the sink, washing her hands, was a girl that I met 13 years ago when I had just moved to Québec City. I recognised her right away, although our encounter was brief at the time. I even remembered her name. I am psycho with names and faces. That’s how I get to randomly come across so many people I know throughout the world. It is only that I have a borderline paranormal memory for faces. She didn’t recognise me, and I didn’t try to talk to her. I just thought that my Québec time had kicked off and that I had received a warm welcome sign from the francophone metropolis.

At 11, my dear old friend μπ picked me up from the subway on the south bank and greeted me with a warm: “ça c’est de la pelure de clown!” (“what a clown coat!”) at the sight of my rainbow fur coat. It sounds way funnier in the original version though. Canadian French doesn’t translate. 

μπ is one of my most spectacular and bubbly friends. She should be featured in the Quebecer version of “Sex & The City” because she has the best boy stories ever. She often puts herself in improbable love situations, which she feels sorry for, but as we catch up every 2 years at the best, she always has a shit ton of funky stories to tell me. She is very theatrical so it is like going to a stand up comedy show you’ve been looking forward to. As I am not the last one for good stories either, we had to drink an equally shit ton of Amaretto Sours to catch up about our mutual drama since 2012. The day after, we literally spent all day in watching the last winter snow flakes fall lazily, getting food delivered and drinking booze. We also pronounced a magic formula that her fortune-teller gave her in order to get what we want from life. We had to write it down on a paper, repeat it 3 times and burn it from the top left corner. She asked to be happily coupled, I asked to be working in New York in this outstanding job I applied for. Oh my God! This thing is so going to work. 

We went for drinks and poutine with μC and her girlfriend, a power couple who inspired the shit out of me. μC is a schoolteacher/comedian/stand up comedy girl who recently came out to her dad on stage. She used to date a French Femen activist but she paid her flight back to France just to get rid of her. She is now happy with a super cute girl who is fighting cancer and has the intention to blog about it to share her experience. Go Girls! I think my biggest assets in life are none of my relative qualities, but are the people I know. 

On Wednesday, I brunched with another amazing woman, CC. We met in 2001 when we were both living with nuns in a convent of Québec City (no kidding. I lived with the nuns for 2 years in a Catholic residence. I got my first lez experience between those walls. Wonderful memories.) CC is a bisexual writer, traveler, artist, questioning human being who gets inspired by queer women artists and eventually sees herself in some kind of love/creative relationship with a girl. I went with her to the job centre where she had an appointment because she wants to become a self-employed digital story-telling workshops giver. She told me that her sister is now her brother cause he is transitioning from female to male and she actively supports him. I was super interested by his story, because I hang out so much with queers and creatures but strangely enough, I am not close with any trans people, which is a big miss.

CC came with a surprise for me. At the time when we were living with the nuns, I was studying contemporary dance and she was studying fine arts in a building called La Fabrique – a former corset factory. She once dragged me to a fine arts students party and I was amazed by the freedom and relax style of the people, coming from a world where we were told off if we didn’t wear pink tights and uptight hairstyles. Everyone was wearing Birkenstock shoes with winter socks inside them. CC introduced me to a very tall girl called V., who was passably drunk. Tall girl looked at me from up there and said: “Good eveninglittle thing!” Before I understood anything, she was petting my hair and gave me a kiss on the top of my head. I was stunned for a second and then cracked up and later on told this anecdote to everyone as a very cult moment of my life. Well, V. came over to the café the other day, and it was the first time we met again after our unforgettable introduction. She hadn’t changed much. She told me: “I think of you often.” I replied: “Same here. You pop up in my head very unexpectedly.” What an incongruous reunion.

All those beautiful and fabulous Montréal ladies made me laugh and made my heart swing with joy, curiosity, excitement, admiration. I love them all dearly.

By the way. The skull shirt from my blog cover picture died tonight. It is sitting lifeless in my bin. It followed a lot of my adventures since 2007 and had an AWESOME life. Like me.