Picture by Nelli Palomäki

A year has passed since my impromptu landing at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport after my Latin America debacle.

Some progress has unarguably been made since that melodramatic episode. Had my future ever been more uncertain?

It was early morning when I arrived in Paris with a small backpack and hiking shoes, after almost two days of travels. Buenos Aires –> Atlanta –> New York –> Paris. Donald Trump was on the background screens during my dazed wait in the US. I got moved to tears when I ate my first pretzels & hummus at JFK airport after weeks of shortage. I thought: “Civilisation”. It gave me some courage to face my destiny.

My neighbour on the New York-Paris flight, a classy French lady in her 60s, told me about her life as a trend setter and how she migrated to New York in the 70s. In return, she asked many questions about me, but I wasn’t sure what to divulge or not regarding the most recent events of my life. I tried to be concise and explained that I jumped on the first affordable flight from Argentina to Europe as I was nearing the backlash following the breakup with my transgender girlfriend that led me to cry all over Patagonia, with a bad trip peak in Ushuaia which was probably the lowest I ever felt in my entire life. I added that I had no flat, job or project, no plan waiting for me whatsoever. Over the course of four months, I had left a secure corporate job, an arty warehouse, and a partner. She replied that she used to have a neighbour who was dressing like a woman, that I should get a haircut to refresh a little, and that I would easily get a job cause I seemed to have inner resource. We said goodbye at the passport check and I stopped at the bathroom to paint my lips red before going ahead to shape the rest of my life. I hadn’t landed in my own country since 2009. It was weird holding a citizen passport after years of queuing in the foreigners line.

A guy on the Paris underground noticed that I looked lost and asked me where I was coming from. He told me that Atlanta is the largest airport in the world.

There was a cold wave that week. I was freezing after weeks in the Southern Hemisphere. All my clothes were scattered between London and São Paulo. The detail that strikes me the most is that I didn’t even have socks. I had one pair on my feet, which a hostel owner in Argentina had given me from his ex-girlfriend. I could tell the whole story of my Latin America debacle just from the perspective of all the objects that I lost and received along the way. On my first days in Paris, two friends gave me socks, funky ones. I’ll never forget that. C gave me polka dot black socks and an adaptor to charge my phone. ε gave me shiny grey socks and a designer dress which made me regain about 5% of self-esteem. I was counting my self-esteem recovery in percentage to give myself credit for each step because my soul was so bruised and my situation was so shitty.

For months, every aspect of my life was on hold. I didn’t work, date or have a regular home for an extended period of time. It was above my strength to go out to the world and try to live a “normal life” again. I arm-wrestled myself to recover some sense of enthusiasm.

A year later, it’s still challenging to me to recall, rationalise and describe what really occurred in Patagonia. Was that a metaphorical death and rebirth at the End of the World? For all I know, I’m glad I didn’t really die in Ushuaia, but that’s by far the most extreme thing I’ve ever lived, like a near death experience. Everything on the inside and outside of my world, which was holding my physical and mental pieces together, coordinated to collapse at the same time. It utterly felt like I was poured gasoline on the inside and someone stroke a match. It sounds over dramatic, but well, it was.

I like the word ‘Gasoline‘. Because there’s my name in it. Because of the Sia song. And because I love stuff that burns like hell. Of course if I was given the choice to rewrite the story, I would live that journey again in the exact same circumstances, with the exact same amount of pain to increase my pain threshold. I assume all my decisions. I love my life most of the time. I guess I wouldn’t trade it, even with all the gasoline moments which have been punctuating it.

There’s a constant factor which has always been compensating for the gasoline, though. That’s all the good souls who’ve helped me heal the burns along the way. So many cool things have been happening since I got back here. ε got me not only shiny socks, but a job and a flat. It’s odd to live in my country of origin after years. I spent most of my adult life abroad. I’m trying to tame its normative mentality and flaws. I’ve always felt conflicted about France. But I’m able to see its beauty too. So many people have to knife their right to be here, which was granted to me just by birth.

Today, on the anniversary of that unplanned new beginning, I am trying to formulate a mantra for gratefulness. I have many socks now, and a chest of drawers to store them, in a flat which I am sharing with π, a cool and abnormally smart girl. We laugh a lot. We are a duet of sophisticated loners. I get a sense of family which I had lost for some time. I am embracing a couple of new careers. I work in contemporary art where I have a new family too. This week, I walk every morning to my art therapy training at Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital. I am studying to become a dance therapist. I have made many new core friends over the last year. Who said it gets difficult to build true friendships as we get older? That’s bullshit. My ability to build true friendships is stronger than ever.

I’m learning how to drive with an African teacher who turns up in flip flops and makes jokes about him being illegal when we see the police. I’m learning how to sing. I’m learning. I’m learning.

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‘Inkeri and Annikki’ by Nelli Palomäki

The Artistry of Madness

This is now official : in January, I’ll start training as an art therapist specialising in mental health at Sainte-Anne, Paris most famous psychiatric hospital.

I first set foot in the psychiatric universe exactly two years ago, in December 2015. I documented my weekly dance sessions with the patients for about nine months (see a sample here and here). This piece of writing is very dear to me, because the Mad House characters were very dear to me. Some of the ladies are the greatest performers and poets I’ve ever met.

I’ve been viscerally missing the creativity and artistry of madness since I last passed through the doors of the psychiatric hospital last year. I’ve been feeling deprived from my main space of freedom and my main source of inspiration. 

I don’t want to become a dance therapist to “help people”. I have no sense of sacrifice and abnegation. It doesn’t interest me to be a saint. I’d rather be an artistry vampire. I want to work with the crazy to make art with them. I think that living hard and intensely is an artistic practice in itself. The tenants of the Mad House have the highest level of intensity and sensitivity I’ve ever experienced.

Also. I broke up with the first boyfriend I’ve ever had the day after I signed for my art therapy training enrolment. No causality. That story lasted for six weeks. He said things which brutally opened my eyes upon the fact that he hadn’t perceived me at all. Not one bit. He said he loved me but I tried to tell him that the girl he liked didn’t exist as she was the obedient, hetero-normed and thriveless version of me.

Of all the people I slept/fucked/made love with, wether it went deeper than the surface or not, I can’t help noticing that the common denominator is that none of them ever had the slightest interest in my creativity and vision of the world.

The lovers I had, the girls & the boys & the others all left the same question in my head. What exactly did they see in me? What did they like? Why did they want to get closer, and even closer, and finally the closest you can ever get to another human? Sometimes, I asked them. For all I know, they always got attracted for what has appeared to be wrong or false reasons. As the first thing that should put out your eyes is that I’m creative and I’m craving for you to blow on my burning embers to light my fire wilder. If you haven’t seen this, you failed me. You failed me.

I am not existing to bump up your ego by looking good around your arm. I am not existing to be a proxy for the life you don’t have the guts to live. I am not existing to mirror and solve your issues with femininity. I am not existing to take care of you and support you emotionally. I am not existing to make you a better person and educate you on equality. Above all, I am not existing to be attacked because you feel bad in your own skin. None of that is exhilarating and I want an exhilarating life.

Since I’ve been alone again, I’ve been finding my peace in books and art works. I’ve been swallowing tons of references about madness and psychiatric institutions. I’ve been reading Nellie Bly, Pierre Souchon, Michel Foucault. I am on a Raymond Depardon marathon this week. Depardon and his wife and sound engineer Claudine Nougaret started documenting psychiatric institutions in the 80s. I saw three of their documentaries in four days: Urgences, Douze Jours and San Clemente. They capture so accurately the poetry and verity of madness. I recognise some attitudes and expressions I used to witness. Their films are so genuine that they reactivated the smell of the long and gloomy corridors of the hospital in my memory.

There was a Q&A with Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret after the film Urgences the other day. They said this film was their honeymoon. They had just got married and spent the next three months filming the psychiatric emergencies as she was pregnant. God, that’s so the life I want. They said they managed to render the essence and truth of mentally ill people because they have a special ability to disappear and sync with the patients, which made them comfortable enough to open up and be natural despite the camera. Their words strongly resonated with me, because I instinctively understood that I have that ability as well and that’s why I am so comfortable around psychiatric patients.

I’ve been studying my feelings through the large oscillations of the last two weeks and I am coming to the conclusion that experiencing and making art is the main source of fulfilment and happiness in my life. Way more than any human relationship. I am not saying this because I am love bitter these days. I am not. You know, I wasn’t even sad for a moment when I left the boy. Apprehending, taming and forging an intimate relationship with an art piece makes me ecstatic. Doing the same with people often left me disappointed. All the art I’ve seen is the most precious thing I own. I’ll take these images to my death bed and all the rest will be long forgotten.

Paintings: Les Cathédrales de France by Anselm Kiefer


The Marks & Spencer Effect

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My life has been on hold.

I am intellectually aware that it is moving towards some kind of direction, but I quit wondering whether I really choose that direction or not. Do I have any power upon what’s happening to me in the end?

Everything has been feeling on hold since I collapsed in Ushuaia at the beginning of the year. I haven’t been able to write about it yet. Ushuaia has been by far the most extreme event of my life, almost like a near-death experience. My adrenaline is taking ages to come down.

What’s the point of extreme experiences after all? I am not even sure that it helped me get to know myself better. I’ve been stuck outside my body since then. Nothing went back to “normal” after Ushuaia. Any sense of normalcy has deserted my life, my expectations and any perspective there is to have on that side of the planet.

Many blog posts ideas ran through my head over the last months, but it has felt kamikaze to share my intimate thoughts with the rest of the world since I’ve been living in the Motherland (aka France). I’ve wanted to write posts called Gasoline, Hell Is Having To Please PeopleMetaphysics of The Lollipop, Secret Garden, and Your Comfort Zone Is A Bitch. But I didn’t and it’s OK.

Most mornings I feel like I will never write, dance or fuck ever again; those things that used to make me feel ultimately alive. I’m moderately alive, but I’m not feeling borderline either, and that’s probably a sign of progress towards the sense of serenity I’ve been pursuing all my life.

This thing happened the other day. I was walking in Saint-Germain-des-Prés with my friend J from Canada. We met sixteen years ago; I hadn’t seen him in four years.

We entered the Marks & Spencer store in Saint-Germain covered market and tears came to my eyes. Can you believe it? I instantly got moved to tears by Marks & Fucking Spencer. That’s the bottom of shame.

It reminded me of London. It reminded me of my London life. It’s not that I miss London and London people in such extent that I would cry all over it. Of course I do. But I miss my London self even more. Walking down those shop aisles, I remembered what I used to pick from the shelves when I was my London self. I remembered what my London self was eating.

I put my finger on the core of what I had been missing all those months. It wasn’t a job, or a group of people, or a person, or a place, or the architecture of a city. I miss the side of me that was free, adventurous, sexual and creative. Where have I gone? I forgot what makes my heart beat and my body thrill. I guess I’ve been building up again some ground under my feet after it all fell apart in international chaos. You can’t embrace freedom when you’re not even able to walk straight. But it’s taking so long and I’m impatient to be born again.

The bottom line is: I don’t like my French self, my “back home” self. What home? I don’t like my personality here. I don’t like the way I speak. I don’t like hearing my own voice. I don’t like the way I’m perceived. I am feeling self-conscious and it makes me be the dull version of myself, like my wildness was forever tamed. How do you recreate the magic in the city where you are from?

I want to go travel again. Alone. Alone always. I want to drive fast and I want some wind in my hair. I want to stop in odd towns and make weirdos dance for their artistry can be more gigantic than anything you & I have seen so far. I want to do epic self-portraits in stunning landscapes that would represent for real who I really am and not what people think they’re seeing because that’s just their own projection and their own issue most of the time, and I am now done with that. I want to develop my photographic blog which I will call Skin Is The Deepest and for which I had such a strong call when I was trekking in Patagonia. I visualised it so clearly.

And above all, I need to have the courage to love and make love again and run the risk of inner devastation that goes with it.

Who would have thought that picking a mango and crayfish salad from Marks & Spencer would have triggered such philosophical introspection on my urge to break my love shell. Ha! I’m terrified.

Social Interstices

May is my 8th month off work and without a regular home.

Living life is my full-time job right now, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, or On Education (“Vivre est le métier que je veux lui apprendre” ). That’s presumptuous but that’s temporary anyway.

At first, I was the victim of my own song. Like, I once again quit all I had fought to establish because it felt meaningless and I had a call from the wild to confront the Unknown. But things turned out unexpectedly big times, and it’s been taking so much longer than I planned to fall back on my high heels.

I’ve been feeling like a total loser at times, because I am a 34 year old single lady who doesn’t earn money and doesn’t have keys to an apartment of her own. I didn’t manage to even get a bank account or a phone contract until recently. I’ve been literally stuck for all the daily life stuff. I couldn’t vote for the French presidential elections. I’ve been a “pariah” wrapped in trendy clothes.

In the last weeks, something shifted in my mindset. I started finding a harmonious rhythm in the chaos. I even grew to love my nomadic situation and to find peace in it, like the character of Kirsten Dunst in Melancholiawho finally finds a sense of serenity when nearing the apocalypse. I’m nowhere near the end of my world, but I always identified with the twisted peace of that girl. Don’t we all find soothing in odd circumstances?

I start not wanting to ever go back to “normal life”. I start dreaming of launching a different life style, a collective movement. It has been so rich and joyful to couch surf around and SHARE PEOPLE’S LIFE. I got to know for real some people I have known forever but actually didn’t know that much. I had never spent time with them and done casual stuff together, witness what their life is like.

Maybe “normal life” should be about claiming time and screwing the boundaries of habits. It’s such a downer when everyone lives in their own little appointed square of space because we’re used to it and we want to be quiet in our unsatisfying comfort zone. Whereas impromptu flat shares turn into exciting and creatively emulative pyjama parties. This is how I found myself doing a house removal wearing Vivienne Westwood stilettos – I mostly held the doors open – and modelling naked in the living room for an artist friend. Her cat spilt ink onto the drawing. We laughed. Then we swapped roles. She modelled naked for the first time of her life and I drew splendid masterpieces (*irony*).

I am daydreaming of a free and spontaneous life style, but this period of time as a “pariah” is making me more aware than ever of the holy trinity that provides us with social identity and  emotional and material security:

– A home (or at least an address)

– A job (or at least a profession)

– A relationship (or at least the desire to establish a steady one)

As stated above, I’ve been deprived of all three for months, and I begin to do so by choice just to study how I feel and define myself without the holy trinity of basic needs, without any sense of belonging at all. Does that make me a marginal? Does that make me a failure? Does that make me useless in the eyes of society? What is my value in that moment of transition? What am I producing if I don’t take part in the economical activity? Was I producing anything of true value when I was contributing to the economy of the country? Should I be rescued and put back on track? And after all, what if I was utterly happy right now?

It’s still and forever all about challenging the fucking norm. 

But. The truth is, I am mostly happy right now, if it wasn’t for the voice of patriarchy repeating in my head that I should feel guilty for not “producing” anything of monetary value. Yet I am feeling like a vibrant part of society, even without a job. I feel like I am producing things of value, even if I don’t sell them. I have a strong sense of belonging to a community, which I haven’t felt in a very long time. It’s the first time in years that I haven’t been feeling lonely, even if I am not in a romantic relationship. I’ve even been feeling useful for a change. I organise myself not to spend much money. I walk when I can, I see free art, read books, cook all my meals and get beautiful free clothes from good people.

I feel like I am exploring, revealing and flooding with fabulous colours the social interstices of the metropolis. With social interstices, I mean, everything that’s left when you don’t have a home, a job and a partner.

And there is so much to find out that I never suspected.

Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia by Lars von Trier

I Wish I Was You

My trips around the world are officially over. (Till next time).

Things are changing. My 95 year-old grandfather stops obsessing about me getting a steady job and tells me I must write about my travels and the people I meet. He said: “I don’t worry about you finding a job cause I know you will. I’m not talking about jobs. I’m talking about your intellectual arousal.” Bless him. I promised him solennellement that I was going to publish my Patagonia adventures to record that big human drama theatre.

I’m moving back to Paris. I almost have a French bank account and I almost have a flat. It wasn’t planned, but one random fact led to another, and why not after all. I didn’t know what else to do with myself: no one or nothing is expecting me anywhere. Circumstances paved my way to a sofa in the 13ème arrondissement that should soon become my “permanent” home.

That’s the longest period of ‘homelessness’ I’ve ever experienced. It will be six months on the 5th of April that I don’t really have a home. The other sleepless night, instead of counting sheep, I counted the number of beds and sofas I’ve slept on since I moved out of my London warehouse last October. It came up to 37 different places.

I used my hot wax machine again this morning to put my pilosity in order. I was shaving with shitty razors while I was gypsying around the world. I thought: “Hot wax means that the nomadic period is behind”. It’s the ultimate stepping stone to settling down again. Cheers to that.

I haven’t lived in my home country for seven years. I was a student and a baby queer back then. The atmosphere and social contexts were different. I’m disconnected. I walked to the social services office today to claim unemployment allowance and my shoes cost about half the amount of a monthly pension. My days of designer clothes may be behind but I couldn’t care less. I knew what I was signing for when I quit my comfortable life. The future is uncertain, but one thing I’m sure of is that whatever happens my fashion will remain.

On my way to the social services in my fancy shoes, I walked past a famous school of graphic design and I spontaneously walked in to drop my life model business card. I used to model in art schools to pay for university. I have missed the atmosphere of drawing classes, the smell and sound of charcoal, the density of the concentration in the studio. I love the challenge of being energetic in stillness, capturing the attention of an audience by giving them everything I have. Life modelling is the best job I’ve ever had, cause it’s the only job where I’ve had the space to expose myself fully and stand in front of people completely as I am. I didn’t have to conform.

I refuse to complain, but things have been far from easy in the last months. It’s challenging to find what to cling to when you have no daily habits and can’t find reassurance in material things. I’ve had to reinvent myself every single day. I open my eyes every morning and think: “How am I going to use my free self wisely today in the broad wild world full of possibilities?” It’s like heaven and hell in the same sentence. Freedom is terrifying. 

Yet, in the middle of my deliberately chosen struggles, I’ve been told several times by people in more comfortable positions that they would like to live like me. I’m told “I wish I was you”, “I wish I had your life”.

This is raising an infinity of questions in my head. How do we perceive other people’s life? How do you make total freedom and security co-exist? How do you find comfort in a nomadic life? How do you thrive and find peace as a creative, non-conforming, super sensorial queer woman in today’s world? How do you keep refusing to get back on the beaten path even when you’ve exhausted all your inner resources? Like the founder of the 5 Rhythms, Gabrielle Roth, used to say, it takes such great discipline to be a free spirit.

I really aspire to become the serene version of myself now. Maybe I’ll even settle down for good. Envy is not part of my mind set, but I envy people who have reached some kind of emotional stability. I am promising to myself that this period of time will be the last roller coasters of my life.

Glamorous Homelessness


I’ve disappeared.

Some people have been asking me where in the world I currently am. I also have a hard time following my own peregrinations. Things didn’t quite turn out the way I planned.

So. What happened?

I last posted in November from Buenos Aires, at the beginning of my Latin America adventures.


In a nutshell: I went to Brazil. I proposed someone to marry me. She said yes. Actually, she said “Of course!” And everything collapsed in front of my eyes in the course of 7 days. I left Brazil at the beginning of 2017 to explore Patagonia alone. I had big highs and big lows. I hit the bottom of sadness as I hit the bottom of the world, in Ushuaia. Because I couldn’t go any more down geographically and emotionally, I knifed my way to the surface again.

From the Land of Fire, I jumped on a plane to Buenos Aires. There was a heat wave in the metropolis. One day, as I was walking to the Recoleta cemetery to visit Evita’s grave, I was hit by the certitude that my trip was over. I had seen what I wanted to see and lived what I had to live.

I prepared my emergency exit, spending hours figuring out how to get my ass to Europe ASAP. Anywhere in Europe. The cheapest destination occurred to be Paris, my birth place. The day after, I was flying back “home” on a two day journey via Atlanta and New York. Trump was omnipresent in the background of my US stops. I realised it wasn’t a joke anymore.

I landed in Paris-Orly on a Tuesday morning at the end of January. It was my first time landing in my home country since 2009. First time I was lining up in the “Citizens” passport check in 8 years. There was a cold wave. I had no clothes with me, just a little backpack, cause I have left all my stuff in Brazil. My belongings are scattered across 3 countries.

I contacted a very few friends to open me their door because I don’t have a home right now anywhere in the world.

My friend C welcomed me with croissants for my back home breakfast and gave me tights, socks and an adaptor to charge my phone. That was 23 days ago.

Since then, everyone has been donating me clothes. Beautiful ones. So I feel like a super glamor homeless.

I’ve been hanging out in people’s homes while they’re working. I’m offering myself the luxury to process my emotions as a full time job. I’m not trying to distract myself. I barely go see things or do anything. I’m spending most of my time seating alone to preserve the exact nature of my intense emotions. The last few months have been the most extraordinary, challenging and earth-shattering of my life.

I’m writing this in London, at the Circus Cafe in Crouch End. London is one of my energetic centres. There’s 6 years of my life here. I sleep in a whole lot of different beds and sofas. I love it. I am surrounded by an army of good souls who open me their door and provide me with everything I need, may it be a bed for the night, breakfast, words of comfort or Dragon Red Chanel nail polish. In exchange, I tell life stories, listen to life stories, and do the washing up.

I’m also hanging out in London to consult a transgender woman therapist. She’s bad ass. I pay £97 per hour and she holds the sessions in socks. I take off my shoes too and we become super casual. She told me that she revealed herself in Berlin in the 80s, “like David Bowie”. Everyday after work, she would take off her male suit and hang out at the Kit Kat Klub where she grew to be the woman she was born to be. I adore her already. She says that I become animated when I talk about my writing. She told me: “You’re going to write that book and I want a copy.” So I must do it.

I’m going to experiment glamorous homelessness in Berlin next. I’m going on Tuesday. I have no plans. I want to spend my days in free art galleries and write my book in cafés. And maybe reconnect with my queer dancer late at night in interlope clubs?

This is my life as of now. I love it. I love my life. I’ve never felt that much centred and that much awake in the present moment. I know I’m on the right track, as in MY track.

I’ll return to a more structured life sooner or later. I was proposed a flat-share in Paris. I said YES! So, by the spring, all my scattered belongings will converge to the 13th arrondissement. I’ll store my suitcases under my bed and I’ll have an address and a job again.

I’m truly excited about that perspective.

Till then. Anything can happen. I’m wide open. Life is fab.

Love Letter To Paris


That picture was taken on my way to the Bataclan last March, for a night called Crazyvores, a dance party with hits of the 80s. That’s the first and only time I’ve ever been there. I burnt the dance floor with my beautiful gay friends and I smoked outside with strangers who criticised my outfit. I can’t stop thinking about that typical soirée parisienne since Friday. There was a famous choreographer, Kamel Ouali, dancing in the crowd that night. He works for cheesy TV shows. After the events, the stupid thought that I could have been killed near Kamel Ouali if the attacks had taken place a few months ago crossed my mind.

Just like everyone in my circle, I have a personal story with most of the places that were targeted in the attacks of November 13th. I have nothing sensational to add compared to what was already said on TV, in the newspaper or in real life. “It could have been me”, or my sister, or my best friends, because I was hanging out in those neighborhoods which were the heartbeat of my Parisian life when I was living there and when I go back to visit. In those streets whose names are all familiar and where people like me got shot, I used to chill, walk, run, often very late at night or very early in the morning because I am a party girl. Rue Bichat, where two restaurants got attacked, I used to donate my blood. How ironic.

The victims whose face and story are gradually appearing in the news are for the most part 30 something, stylish, educated, arty. Like me. Almost all of them belonged to the creative class as my MA supervisor used to say, had stunningly interesting careers. Almost all of them are also incredibly beautiful, as if the most brilliant and attractive representatives of my generation had been casted for death. It feels like we naturally get more moved and disturbed when someone who dies was young and beautiful.

Therefore, although I’ve been a Londoner for five years – it was the fifth anniversary of my arrival in London three days before the events – all that’s happening to the people of Paris feels really close to me.

I love Paris.

I am regularly asked if I prefer London or Paris – what a silly question – and I always answer the same ready-made formula: “What’s not to love about Paris?” Then I nuance my argument and I explain that my life in London is economically, socially and fashionly easier, but that nothing makes me happier than reading Libération while drinking a café crème on the terrasse of a brasserie.

I love Paris.

Of all the places where I’ve lived, Paris is the only one where I ever had a legitimate sense of belonging, where I wasn’t too much on a “WTF am I doing here” mode, since I am kinda from there. Hang on. I am not a real Parisian for the real Parisians, as I was born OUTSIDE the périph (the ring road which separates Paris from its chic or less chic suburbs). I was born in Châtenay-Malabry and grew up in Meudon, which are both in the South West posh in a cool way suburb #9-2. Each suburb has a number which conveys different stereotypes.

Up the sidewalk of the house where I grew up in Meudon, if you stand on a certain spot, you can catch sight of the Eiffel Tower in the horizon. It probably marked my imagination as a kid. The Iron Lady was somewhere in the background of my childhood. So, overall, after living for 6 years in Paris suburb, 12 years in the Province (which is how everything that’s not Paris is called), 11 years abroad and only 3 years in Paris, I have the arrogance to identify as a Parisian, and I don’t think it will ever change.

Because I love Paris and Paris will remain.

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The Pina Bausch Series – Episode #4: Dancing With Dominique

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In 2008, I was living in Paris. One morning of February, I got on the Eurostar to go and see Pina Bausch’s Café Müller and The Rite of the Spring in London.

I had to honour my vow to meet up with the TanzTheater Wuppertal every February of my life.

When I got off the train in the British capital, I walked a few steps on the platform, and my heart jumped. There was this tall, gracious and so familiar silhouette a few meters ahead of me. I travelled on the same train as Dominique Mercy, the most iconic dancer of the TanzTheater Wuppertal and long-life friend and muse of Pina Bausch.

It is not in my habits to act like a groupie, but before I knew it, I started running to catch him up. I engaged conversation with him, in French, of course.

-“Vous êtes Dominique Mercy? – Oui. – I am going to see you perform Café Müller tonight. I came to London just for the show! – What an honour!”

He replied as if he wasn’t one of the most idolised dancers of the world who had been acclaimed for decades on the most prestigious international stages. I could notice that among the dance artists, the more talented and recognised they are, the more humble and putting themselves into question they seem. Huge artists are humanly fascinating. They are a different breed of people. I feel privileged to have received little inspirational pieces here and there.

I asked him if he was ever teaching masterclasses. He said that he was sometimes invited at the Ateliers de Paris Carolyn Carlson as a guest teacher. We exchanged a few more words, and when our paths split, he turned at me and said “A ce soir!” (“See you tonight!”) What an exquisite human being. Equally beautiful on and off the stage.

I started monitoring the program of the Ateliers de Paris Carolyn Carlson, and my patience paid off.

In February 2010, two years after my lucky encounter at St Pancras International station with Dominique Mercy, I got accepted on a week intensive workshop he was teaching. That year, my February rendez-vous with the TanzTheater Wuppertal would be of the dancing kind.

On the first day of the workshop, I arrived early at La Cartoucherie de Vincennes, an awesome theatre complex near the woods right outside Paris.

We were starting in the morning with a technical contemporary class till lunch break. But we were going so much into the depth of the emotion and interpretation of the movement in each exercise that we ended up having lunch in the middle of the afternoon without realising. Time was suspended. We were magnetised. Every clue, every explanation that Dominique was giving us was a pure dance gold drop.

Dominique was restless in class. He gave his energy without counting, although he was already 60 at the time. (He is 65 now and still performing.) When we were doing the exercises 2 by 2 in a diagonal, he was doing the movements full out with each group, and we were about 30 young dancers in the workshop. By the time each of us had done the routine once, he had done it 15 times without showing any sign of fatigue.

He was singing along with the live musician, making jokes. He was so lively and funny in the studio. When one of us would call him to get an explanation or to ask to show a movement again, he was walking at the person making the sound of an ambulance, like “Rescue is on its way.”

He didn’t even bother eating real lunch, just nibbling a few biscuits. Dance really seemed to feed him.

After the break, we were learning an excerpt from the répertoire of Pina Bausch until the end of the day.

Dominique was teaching us a variation from Masurca Fogoa piece by Pina Bausch inspired by Lisbon. There is a movement at some point where we put our closed fist on our forehead. Dominique showed us the exact position of the hand. He then moved his fist a few centimetres up and said: “If you put your hand there, it conveys a different message.” He went back and forth between the two positions to let us appreciate the difference of meaning. Pure genius pedagogy.

Dancing with Dominique for a week equalled ten years of regular training.

What is striking about his teaching is that absolutely everything makes sense, just like a choreography by Pina Bausch. The roots and reasons behind every single prop or gesture are thought of just like in the science of our dreams.

The body and the psyche are coordinated together so that the spectator can actually relate to it. It resonates with everyone, because it has been thought of over and over again until it is charged with signification. There is nothing random or abstract about the language of Pina Bausch, that’s why her success as a choreographer was so huge across cultures and millions of people could identify to her dance-theatre. That dance language is so clever.

It was moving to observe Dominique from so close, to watch his legendary arms. He was filling the space in an impressive manner. His resemblance with Pina Bausch only stroke me in the studio. I hadn’t realised by seeing him on stage how much these two looked like dance twins. No wonder they found and recognised each other instantly.

The last day of the workshop, the rehearsal was opened to the public. Some people of the press were there alongside some anonymous lovers of Pina Bausch. It wasn’t a formal show but an intense and captivating work session like we had been doing the whole week.

I wanted to go and talk to Dominique at the end of the performance, saying I don’t know exactly what, asking how I could get involved with the company, something along those lines. But I didn’t. I didn’t see the point after all. I wasn’t sure of myself. I lacked courage.

Instead, at the end of the show and of this magical dance week, I got introduced by a friend to the girl who was going to become my girlfriend. She had just arrived in Paris for a few days. “Congratulations!” she said as she kissed my red and sweaty cheeks. A new chapter of my life instantly opened as the last one was barely closed.

Fate and its mysterious timings.

The pictures of the workshop are the property of Patrick Berger, photographer. I am the little blonde dancer at the far right on the last picture, in the purple tights. 

Allegory Of The Closet

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I was away to the Homeland for some time, busy sponging waves of human drama but not forgetting about my own.

I was told that Mother Earth is currently shifting energies, transitioning from yin to yang (or the other way around) which explains the series of catastrophes, diseases and fights since the beginning of the year.

Don’t we all magnetically feel an impending change coming? There may be hope for better tomorrows.

I am initiating my deep changes as well. OK, I say that all the time. But right now, I swear it is different.

I am feeling at a similar stage of my life as back in the summer of 2009. When my nerves broke. I often think about that episode. It’s the period of time when I finally got the courage to bury and mourn for my heterosexuality. I had to endure a nervous breakdown to officially come out of the closet.

I fucked a boy for the last time in the Spring of that year, the week that I started my internship as a cultural journalist. I was 25. He was a tango teacher from Columbia wearing Hawaiian shirts. It ended in my blood. After that, I buried myself in work around the clock and became the shadow of myself. At least, I wasn’t thinking. My subconscious – or some mysterious spiritual forces – started manifesting, though.

A very visceral and deep structural change operated in my guts despite myself. I was harassed by homoerotic dreams after seeing Sunshine Cleaning, an American indie movie. There was this party scene where the so desirable Emily Blunt wears a candy necklace. A girl eats from her neck. Oh man. I remember the shiver in my body in the obscurity of the cinema. I wanted to be the girls on screen. All the gay people in the world have their cult homoerotic scenes, the ones that triggered their own desire. (Ask around, it’s a funny game). I have 3: the sweet derrière of Mylène Farmer in the clip of Pourvu qu’elles soient douces (I was 7)Cécile de France in L’Auberge espagnole (I was 19) and the inénarrable Emily Blunt.

I am grateful that my desire finally grew stronger than my will.

With all the messy changes in my core and my broken nerves in the background, I got close to a girl I was working with. She was more or less at the same stage of her lesbian life as me. We were talking more and more about our doubts and desires during our evening shifts at the sublime and posh concert hall Salle Pleyel. The night before I flew to Toronto for my American summer tour, I made her sleep over at mine after my leaving party where we all ended up in our underwear. Everyone left and I don’t know how I made her stay. Then, I made the first move. I clearly remember the moment when she opened my lips to kiss me. Something flowed in my brain. Her tongue swept away all the remnants of the heterosexual preconceptions that I had of myself. She uprooted my certitudes and moved them to Lesboland.

I left to the Americas in the morning with a 9 week adventure ahead of me. I needed to digest my new identity far away from my mother tongue.

That’s funny, I saw that girl again last week. We remained good friends. She’s getting married in July to her girlfriend and is hoping to be pregnant by the end of the year. She picked the same wedding dress as her fiancée without knowing. As for me, I fuck coke addicts in cars and explore the world on my own. Everything’s at the right place. Our intimate worlds only collided that one night, and it was great that way.

Six years have gone by and I am again on the verge of a nervous breakdown of a different kind. How many times do I have to collapse to reach my true colours? I’m feeling the urge of a new coming out, as strong as the sexual one. I want my deep identity to explode to the face of the world. I believe I am a closeted creative soul and I’m ashamed to say that I want my life to be about that.

There’s something taboo in the action of creating something, because the result only exists in the eye of whoever will watch and like you, and I hate begging for attention. I like being liked, but I don’t want to do anything at all to make people like me. It doesn’t interest me to chase love and recognition. If you like me, good for you, but if you don’t, I won’t try one bit to convince you.

This is how I am a closeted creative girl.

Every single one of my skin pores is sweating for change though, and I am close to implosion, as if my creativity needed to get laid by the right person. I can’t think of a better image. Sex & creation are pretty much the same struggle.

Anyway, everything changes all the time and my life constantly bounces like a kangaroo, but there is one element of steadiness. A recurrent question burns my thoughts till obsession.

Who’s going to love me body & soul? And above all, who’s going to love my brain?

Photos by me (check out that framing!)

1. Grave of Mme Troboa Murcella Asskari (1970-1994) at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris 2. ‘Trying to be Frida’ by artist Emilio Lopez-Menchero 3. Altered Image I by Deborah Kass (copy of a picture of Andy Warhol dressed as a girl) 4. Evelyn, the cat I live with 5. Simona, a lady I met at the Bull Dog in Brighton. We had the same coat and the same earrings. 6. Anonymous street art in East London 7. Billie Holiday in 1948 photographed by William P. Gottlieb 8. Summer, a cat who lived at my house for a month but left today because she was mean to Evelyn 9. Transgender Miss in Latin America 10. Collection of Jesus statues at my neighbours’ who got them from a movie set they worked on