Ashes To Ashes (David Bowie)

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Axl Rose & David Bowie, image tirée du site Awesome people hanging out together

Ce poste fut initialement publié sur le site Toutelaculture.com le 30 avril 2013 comme critique de l’exposition ‘David Bowie is‘ qui venait de s’ouvrir au Victoria & Albert Museum de Londres. Je ne connaissais pas du tout David Bowie avant d’y mettre les pieds. Quelques semaines auparavant, j’avais joué à Dites-moi qui je suis, ce jeu de fin de soirée où vos amis vous collent le nom de quelqu’un sur le front et vous devez deviner qui est le personnage dont on vous a affublé. J’étais David Bowie, et j’avais séché comme une courge parce que je ne connaissais ni sa vie ni ses chansons. Honte à moi. Heureusement que le destin m’a rattrapée. J’ai mis les pieds dans l’expo ‘David Bowie is’ un mois plus tard, un vendredi soir après le boulot, la veille d’un départ en voyage. Autant dire que je comptais plier ça en une heure max. Mais j’ai été immédiatement saisie. En fait, je crois que de toutes les expos vues dans ma vie, c’est l’expo où je suis restée le plus longtemps. Trois heures d’immersion totale d’une intensité folle. Je suis tombée amoureuse du génie pas à pas. C’était la moindre des choses.

“Fin mars 2013 s’est ouverte au Victoria & Albert Museum – célèbre musée du design londonien – une rétrospective sans précédent retraçant presque 50 ans de carrière de l’une des figures majeures de la pop du XXe et XXIe siècle. Ultra-recherchée, sophistiquée et grandiloquente, à l’image de son sujet, l’exposition ‘David Bowie is’ réussit le pari de captiver les inconditionnels de la star autant que les néophytes, pouvant tenir lieu de véritable ‘David Bowie pour les Nuls’. D’ailleurs, le succès est sans appel: il n’est plus possible de réserver en ligne jusqu’à nouvel ordre, mais quelques billets sont en vente sur place chaque jour.

David Bowie, né David Jones à Londres en 1947, fait partie de ces rares artistes inclassables. En sillonnant la très dense exposition qui lui est consacrée (comptez deux heures minimum pour vous repaître de tous ses trésors), se dessine un arbre généalogique surréaliste des influences qu’il capta ou généra. David Bowie pourrait être le fils de Greta Garbo pour sa somptuosité plastique, froide et androgyne. Il cultiva d’ailleurs sa fascination esthétique pour les stars hollywoodiennes des années 40, comme sur la pochette de l’album Hunky Dory en 1971. Il pourrait être le frère de Kate Bush pour son côté burlesque, parfois teinté d’expressionnisme allemand, repoussant sans cesse les frontières de la performance. Enfin, strictement vestimentairement parlant, il pourrait être le grand-oncle de Lady Gaga, qui lui aurait piqué dès le plus jeune âge ses semelles compensées et autres improbables créations de designer.

Mais arrêtons là les comparaisons. Bowie a inspiré tout le monde, que ce soit dans le milieu de la musique, de la mode ou du design. Ses références sont tout aussi multiples, et l’exposition met en évidence de façon passionnante ses diverses sources d’inspiration artistique. Dadaïsme, cabaret, mime, expressionnisme allemand ou encore ‘Die Brücke’, autre mouvement d’origine allemande y figurent. De cette affinité particulière avec la culture du pays de Goethe émergea une période berlinoise particulièrement fructueuse à la fin des années 70. Sa Trilogie berlinoise (comprenant les albums Low, Heroes, et Lodger) naquit de collaborations avec Iggy Pop ou Brian Eno. Certaines peintures réalisées par Bowie à cette époque sont exposées, témoignant de sa lutte contre la drogue et le star system.

Les collaborations de Bowie avec des artistes de tout poil sont mises en avant, dont une émouvante vidéo de son unique rencontre avec Andy Warhol, en 1971. Warhol tient la caméra et Bowie, qui nous dit-on n’avait aucune envie d’être filmé, improvise une sorte de danse grotesque. Plus loin, parmi de nombreux costumes de scène qui façonnèrent sa légende, un manteau aux couleurs de l’Union Jack imaginé par Alexander McQueen nous apprend que c’est Bowie qui sollicita en 1997 le designer alors fraîchement diplômé, contribuant ainsi à sa renommée.

Et la musique dans tout ça? Elle est omniprésente, et c’est ce qui fait de l’exposition une véritable réussite. Une bande-sonore diffusée par audio-guide et particulièrement bien ficelée immerge le visiteur dans les tubes de l’artiste et accompagne une collection de supports visuels impressionnante: archives télé, vidéos informelles, extraits de concerts, clips, partitions, paroles de chanson manuscrites sur feuilles lignées d’écolier… Ces documents inédits sont particulièrement émouvants, car d’une écriture maladroite et enfantine s’étale sous nos yeux la genèse de chansons mythiques. Les croquis et autres notes de l’artiste éclairent également sa démarche, notamment ses réflexions sur la construction du personnage de Ziggy Stardust, son histoire, sa psychologie.

Les nombreux personnages scéniques de Bowie – ses ‘Persona’ – tels que Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust ou Aladdin Sane, sont décortiqués pour mieux mettre à jour le concept même de performances et de transformations inhérent à l’oeuvre de l’artiste. Sa modernité, son apport considérable dans la création d’images fortes et dans le jeu de genre n’en deviennent que plus frappants. Le savant mélange masculin-féminin et le vent de liberté sexuelle qu’il insuffla par son style sont des mines d’or pour les chercheurs en questions de genre.

Icône androgyne, incarnation de la bisexualité, la beauté et l’affirmation de soi de David Bowie n’en finissent pas de troubler. Certaines tenues des années 70-80 sont si extravagantes, si suggestives, qu’il est permis de se demander comment une telle audace serait reçue aujourd’hui de la part d’un artiste masculin. Bowie connaîtrait-il le même succès à notre époque en s’imposant avec la même liberté, la même impertinence? Et malgré le chemin qu’il a pavé, existe-t-il une place pour son héritier spirituel? Sur ce florilège d’images d’archives, Bowie n’en apparaît que plus singulier, plus unique, et sa postérité est assurée grâce à son talent et sa beauté folle.”

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Keith Richards, Tina Turner & David Bowie par Bob Gruen, 1983

Ashes to Ashes, 1980

The Death Row Companion – Episode#2

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Picture received in August 2015: “I was able to take out some pictures on Tuesday. I made a picture frame for my picture. You will see my pot belly that I am trying to loose, I am working on it.”*

In July, I mentioned for the first time my writing relationship with the man I am calling my “Death Row Babe”. He’s a man on the Florida death row whom I’ve been corresponding with since November 2014. Some people have been asking me about him and want to hear what’s happening to him so I am opening the year with update from my Death Row Companion.

# Keeping Your Word

Our relationship is definitely blossoming: I’ve finally passed the probation test. I think he’s been so used to being disappointed and abandoned that he was waiting to see if I really was trustworthy. He once wrote: “You are a man of your word. Everything that you said that you were going to do, you did it. Thank you.” I had got him a book of yoga exercises and another one called The Abs Bible as promised, as he tries to get back in shape.

He explained me that keeping your word is the number one rule in the prison world. This is how you make yourself a good or bad name: “Your word can carry you a long way in prison, when you keep your word and do as promise, you can get anything done in prison but if you do bad on your word, then you will get a bad name and nobody will want to do any business or anything for you. (…) I have no problem in getting stuff done in prison, my word is good, I always pay my bills.”*

He says he has many friends amongst the inmates, and things get rough and violent only if you are bad in business. You get ‘well known’ when you are a good basket-ball player and everyone wants you on their team at recreation games. I love it when he explains me the sharp rules of the micro-society he lives in.

After I passed the “keeping your word” test, I felt it was a turning point. He started opening up more.

I received a second portrait of myself in the summer. That’s another inmate who draws them. The guy seems well established as a portraitist on the death row. He never gets visits from anyone. A lot of death row inmates order pieces from him when they have a gift to make, and they get him $10 worth of canteen items like coffee, soap, toothpaste or cookies. There seems to be some trade going on between the inmates who try to market their talents to make cash.

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# Sex

In August, he bluntly asked me about sex. I knew it would happen sooner or later, as sex must occupy 80% of his conscious time. Yet, the rawness of his questions took me by surprise:

“Do you like children? If yes than you need to get busy in the bed, I was surprise to hear that you has not had a partner in the last 2 years, can I ask you a personal question, please don’t take it the wrong way or feel offended also you don’t have to answer my question, since you didn’t have a partner in the last 2 years, is that mean you did not have sex for the last 2 years? Do you miss sex? How do you satisfy yourself when you are hornie? or do you have a lot of toys to satisfy your need. To be without a partner for 2 years, I have to give you credit, you are a very strong woman, I can not go a month without a woman in my life when I was in the free world.”*

Although I expected the topic to show up, it threw me off. I really didn’t know how to respond. Tell him off? Ignore it? Openly answer his questions? But then he would always ask me for more. I consulted several of my friends for second opinions. I finally decided to acknowledge his questions but explain in all diplomatic honesty why I didn’t want to go into personal detail with him:

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In the following letter, he thanked me “for the information regarding sex” and sort of apologised: “You are correct in so many ways, you can’t help me with sex in a letter. (…) There are some company in Florida They sell inmate freak letter and a picture of there model for a book of stamps. the most famous company that supply Florida prison those letter & picture are moonlite productions.”* I am not sure what the freak letters exactly are.

We never tackled the subject again.

# Fighting for a new trial

My Death Row Babe has been waiting to hear from his appeal at the Supreme Court since May 2015, when he had an oral argument to reevaluate his case (I know I don’t use the correct juridical terms, I am just conveying the info the way I understand it). In every new letter I receive, he’s saying he hasn’t had news yet as the death row inmates are at the bottom of the Court priorities. He’s been fighting for a new trial for years and spends most of his days in law books to prepare his own defence.

The more it goes, the more I believe in his innocence. I am asking subtle questions between the lines, because everything we both write can be held against him. Step by step, he’s unfolding his life story to me. He used to run several businesses as a tailor and a cabinet maker. He used to own property, which he sold to pay for his first lawyers. He has three kids he doesn’t hear much from. He also got a grandson in August and he’s waiting to receive a picture of the baby to have his portrait made by the portrait guy.

He seemed to be well off and well settled in life before his arrest. I obviously don’t know the truth. I don’t know if he got into drug trafficking and murder. But I strongly believe that he may have been a black guy who stood at the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught in the maze of the US justice system.

# Prison cake

He turned 47 on August 19th. He told me he made a prison cake for his sister and his niece who visited him. I asked him for the recipe of a prison cake. There you go:

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His last letter, written on November 16th, was hard. He told me that Florida started back its executions and that one inmate, Jerry Correll, got executed in November and that a date was set to January 2016 for another inmate, serial killer Oscar Bolin**. And a few weeks prior to that, an inmate had died of a heart attack during a basket-ball game.

My Death Row Companion was getting ready for Christmas. The local church brings the inmates brown paper bags with goodies. I had him deliver the World Almanac like last year, together with a card of the Nativity as he is Christian.

I am waiting to hear from him.

*I’ve transcripted with the orginal spelling and punctuation exactly as received in the letters

**Oscar Bolin is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on January 7th, 2016

Go Where The Fear Is

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Picture by Dan Genuario posted on the Urbex page

  • being strangled
  • being assaulted
  • being insulted
  • not getting their attention
  • not remembering why the fuck I put myself in that situation
  • leaving the room in tears and being kept at the hospital for the night

We laughed our head off.

I found some reassuring in the idea that I only had to ground myself and breathe with them not to lose their attention. If I was fully present and engaged every minute, I would be fine.

And I was eventually.

Apart from rough working conditions and people shutting me down (“- Hi, do you feel like doing a dance class?NO!“, “Your music is boring, you’re putting me to sleep”), I didn’t get strangled and I didn’t leave the room in tears.

It was an extremely odd experience. It made me question my own naivety. My own high opinion of myself on how I have the pretention to change the world. I don’t know, it was hard on my ego. I am not saying that in a defeatist way, but I am so powerless about certain things after all. I need to soak deeper into that world to figure out how I feel about it. I’ve had contradictory feelings since I pushed the doors of that parallel universe.

This week, I collapsed. I failed. I cancelled. I didn’t go. Fear won me over.

I was confronted to another of my black beasts a few days ago.

I accidentally saw the only straight man I’ve ever liked, the one I randomly made a step towards on the day that Paris was attacked. I hadn’t seen him since our weird written exchange. I didn’t know he would be there. I caught sight of him in the door frame from a distance, and I instantly stopped. I hid like a 4 year-old for a good 15 minutes thinking “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck”. I considered running away, but I was there to meet friends so I had to pull myself together. I made my hair more voluminous to intimidate the adversary and put more red lipstick than necessary. I was all feline in my leopard coat but not breathing at all when I finally crossed his gaze and said “Hi-how-are-you”. Oh my God. How can I be terrified just saying hello to somebody and be super chilled when fucking a stranger in the middle of the woods? I ran away without saying good bye to him. For what? I have no intention to convince him to like me.

I’m not afraid of being judged, I’m not afraid of people not liking me. I’m used to that and I find it healthy. If you have unanimous support, it means you’re on a consensual or an easy path. I’m afraid of having to convince people to be on my side. I am afraid of having to please people. I have no clue how to do that.

I refuse to.

I run away. I run away.

The Peruvian Nights

Embrace The Glorious Mess That You Are (Berlin)

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I can’t recall a period of my life when my human relationships were messier nor richer than they are now. There’s been a fabulously confusing mist of boys & girls dancing hectically around me in the last month.

Let me describe the course of the events exactly as they have been unfolding.

On a Wednesday at the end of October, I went on a set up date with a barber born the same year as me. That was promising as ALL the girls from 1983 are awesome. We had a great time. I remember genuinely laughing and being relieved to find someone easy going. She then disappeared in the middle of a text conversation and hasn’t really reappeared since. To be continued?

The following weekend I had extreme sex with a dominatrix from Greece at a party called Girl Pile which concept is “Cookies & Girls only sex”. You can choose to bake or fuck or both at your convenience. The queer dom was my first Greek since the one who broke my heart. I decided this would seal my reconciliation with the Hellenic culture. I kept marks on my body for a few days but it was instructive and funny. I found out that, by a tour de force of fate, the next party of the kind is going to take place in the building where I used to live with the above mentioned Greek who broke my heart. I’m definitely going. Synchronic closure.

The day after, I received a message from a doctor that I was chatting with in March. We didn’t meet back then. She reappeared eight months later, simply saying “Hello”. I replied, amused by the interesting timing.

A few hours before Paris terrorist attacks, I made a step into the direction of the man whom I’ve been wondering for eighteen months if I like him or if it’s something else. My curiosity suddenly became unbearable: I got an irrational urge to investigate the nature of that unusual attraction. I drafted a message and pressed Send at 3.18pm after much tergiversation. I slept my way through the rest of the day out of emotional drain. It may sound exaggerated, but exposing some unspoken feelings to a man that I don’t really know was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

The man replied. It was hard to interpret his answer. I replied to his reply. He replied to my reply again. I left it there cause he’s not seizing the balloon I am throwing at him. It’s not going anywhere. He’s obviously not interested in me at the extent that I thought he would. I am burying my first ever desire for a straight man with the satisfaction that I’ve tried something and that I’m a brave love soldier.

The day I made a definitive cross over him, I decided without any apparent correlation to forgive the Greek who broke my heart (see above). Was there a correlation? As in getting rid of the two strongest yet hopeless heart swings I’ve had in my life. Like a curettage after a twin miscarriage. A few instants only after I verbalised to the universe that I was forgiving her, she coincidentally and indirectly manifested in my inbox. Dear her. Our timings have always been energetically so tuned, like our bodies used to be when we were making love. I hadn’t heard the sound of her voice since August 2014. That epic time, we had the last and memorable fight out of a long traumatising series: I yelled at her on a train platform and stored the memories of her in a faraway galaxy.

As she manifested, I felt the moment had come to dissolve our ghosts. I called her in the middle of the night. “Hello. Have we met?” I said when she picked up. We laughed. It feels like it was the first time we were on the same wave length and we were understanding each other. We spoke two hours about what had been occurring in our respective life since that ugly ending. In substance, we told each other: “I’ve been working my ass off at recovering from you and trying to find myself and my place in the world. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m ok now and I will always care for you.”

A couple of days later, I was supposed to finally meet the above mentioned doctor for the first time, but I was washed off by my disorganized emotions and I was dreaming of a solitary cinema screening. She called me in the evening whilst she was packing to spend the weekend in Berlin. I was hearing her voice for the first time. “Why don’t you come to Berlin with me?” she asked. “OK”, I said. I booked tickets, threw clothes in my flowery suitcase and made my way to a stranger’s house in order to travel with her.

This is how I landed under the heavily snowing skies of Berlin yesterday morning, wearing a thin shiny raincoat, to hang out all weekend with a lez GP, an adorable Ecuadorean girl who makes jewels shaped as shits and a giant Australian guy who’s a dyke hag. Me and the girls were all about 5ft tall and the dude was 6ft 6. I asked him if he felt like Snow White with us. He did. We went from one party to the other till 6am. At our first stop in a regular house converted into a bar just by hanging a disco ball from the ceiling, a choir of lyrical singers was performing. At the next venue, a very intoxicated guy made jokes about my height and wouldn’t let go off my hand. He was super excited to tell me that in Australia, he knew a gastro-enterologist called Doctor Butt.

Berlin night life.

We slept four people in a flat booked for one person. Tall Australian guy put his hand around my waist in my sleep. It took me by surprise that I liked it. Will my next love affair be a boy? I have a vague intuition that it will.

My “date” was the weirdest I’ve ever had. I am not sure if she 1/was intimidated 2/was testing me 3/found me obnoxious from the moment she opened the door 4/had a humour that I couldn’t get at all. I was thrown off the whole time. At some point she told me that it took her days and days of shopping to find the perfect sofa that she would want to look at everyday, and it was the same with the perfect partner. So I felt evaluated like an Ikea item. When we really managed to talk about real stuff face to face, it was nice, but overall it feels like she consciously or not did everything in her power to discourage me. I chose to laugh at the situation and embrace the glorious randomness of my life. I am glad I went on that human adventure.

Between each recent episode of my life, my gay husband Í consoles me, advises me, listens to me and cuddles me. He sleeps in my bed every Monday and we analyze my love disasters of the previous week. We touch each other very slowly and spend hours discussing our repulsion/attraction of the opposite sex holding each other in the dark. Another kind of ghost dissolving.

I’m on the plane back from Berlin as I’m compiling the highlights of the last five weeks. I’m somewhat nerve-wrecked and even more emotionally exhausted than usual. But I love it because I don’t know anything else.

There’s always been a shit ton of people in my perimeter, yet I sleep alone most of the time.  People only seem to be into the first layer of me. Do they freak out at the thought of opening Pandora’s box?

Right before getting on my Berlin trip, I told my best friend that I was aiming at spending a normal weekend for a change and that I failed again. She said: “Have you ever had a normal weekend in your life? You’re LIVING.”

Love Letter To Paris

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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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Take Those Potato Chips And Go

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Wednesday evening,

I went to a “sex communication” workshop at Gordon Ramsay restaurant. We had a private room, but the waiters were incredibly mindful and kept coming in with large smiles to make sure we weren’t short on drinks. A guy even started making a pizza. As an exercise, we had to tell our most embarrassing sex moment. A girl said that she was sick all over a stranger’s floor one night, and when she saw him again, he asked her to s**k him while watching Harry Potter. He then told her to leave.

Thursday morning,

I went for a DBS check at the crack of dawn. That’s a legal thing to ensure you don’t have any criminal records. I had to fill in a form with all the addresses where I’ve lived in the past five years. Given my inclination for house movings, that was the hell of a mission. I kept asking random questions to the lady who was in charge. “What about the phases when I was homeless? Like sleeping on a lot of different friends’ couch?” “Shall I include the house where I lived only 24 hours because my ex-girlfriend had a mouse phobia and she found a mouse trap in a kitchen cupboard on the first night?” “Will I get in trouble about the live-in guardian house that I was illegally sub-renting from a  friend when she was in Thailand for 9 weeks although she wasn’t supposed to leave for more than 10 days?”

It was funny.

Thursday evening,

I organised the first LGBT group gathering at work. We were seven people and I was the only girl. And the only single. And the lowest in the hierarchy. Everyone was kinda super married or “buying a flat together”. It was fun but I was once again feeling out of place within my supposingly own crowd, and my flamboyance didn’t help me that time. So I had two Pornstars – a fab passion fruit cocktail that comes with a shot of champagne on the side – and I went drunk to the 5 Rhythms dance class. The effects of alcohol made me cry and my face ended up covered with mascara. People asked me if I was fine. “Don’t worry, it’s the pornstars”, I said. Since then, I’ve decided to take a break from drinking.

Saturday afternoon,

I went to the Body Mind Soul show at Alexandra Palace. It was funny in a creepy way. It was all vegans, yoga teachers, magical stones and tarot readers. There were lectures such as ‘Find your inner Goddess’ or ‘Meditate with your dog’ (I swear that I am not making anything up). My flatmate Ο took me there because a friend of his was giving a talk about the Law of Attraction. O is heartbroken. While I was in the Californian desert without wifi, some domestic drama happened in London. My female flatmate left my male flatmate and moved out. So now, it is me & the boys at home. O & I decided to be partners in crime and do as many random things as possible to help each other on the path of reopening to life.

Saturday night,

O & I went to a party in an art studio in Archway. It was a beautiful white space with several artists studios and a DJ. I was wearing my poney pencil dress and drinking smoothie because alcohol makes me see life in a dark light (see above). I made a LOT of new friends. One of them wanted to set me up really hard with a super cool lesbian who wasn’t at the party. She even started Facetiming the girl to introduce me live. Thank God she didn’t pick up, cause I wasn’t exactly prepared for this. The cool girl is a high level barber. I am meeting her next week.

Sunday evening,

O & I watched The Seven Year Itch in our pyjamas. It is the cult movie where Marilyn Monroe stands over a subway grate which lifts her cult white dress and reveals her cult legs. It is a brilliantly written comedy. At some point, the poor married man trying to resist her charms kicks her out and says: “Please go! Take your potato chips and go!” We both cracked up. I told him that we must make a bet on that line. Whoever manages to bring a girl over and asks her to leave with “Take your potato chips and go” will win a priceless price.

Oh yay. I sense this is going to be a fun winter.

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Women United @ Joshua Tree

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Eight women between 7 months and 58 years old leaving civilization for a week to reunite in the Joshua Tree desert, somewhere in California.

Five university friends with tortuous yet fabulous life paths, indefectible friendship, strong will and artistic personalities, who committ to gather every October.

A 58 year old lesbian aunt with down-to-earth daily wisdom like: ‘I can complicate a fart if I want to”.

An inspiring single mum who should give motherhood lessons from the way she looks after her daughter.

A 30th birthday on the 30th of the month.

A campy Catholic/Amerindian decorated AirBnb house where the pepper mill is shaped as Jesus.

A pool, a trailer, a tepee, BB guns, a horse shoes game, an old Chevrolet truck, a fire pit and a shipping container turned into an outdoors dormitory.

Sand and Joshua trees as far as your eyes can see.

The vivid light of America.

A sun eclipse & a full moon.

Crêpes, margaritas and magic mushrooms.

Laughter and tears and more laughter.

Climbing rocks in the burning sun, hunting for a mysterious art piece.

Japanese face masks, script writing, ukulele playing and photo shoots in improbable outfits.

Taking turns exposing our annual life goals around the fire. Comparing them to the goals we had last year. Evaluating how much we’ve progressed or how much we got thrown off our expectations.

Driving to Pappy + Harriet’s bar for an open mic night. Trying a shortcut and ending up chased by German shepherds after getting lost off road.

Challenging each other all day long with a silly dice game, e.g. “If I roll a 2, you have to ask the base player of the band to sign your boob”. (Guess who got an autograph down her cleavage?)

Sunbathing all together in bikini. Then topless. Then bottomless.

Letting out our brave chests the things that we can never express in the regular world, because we are tough girls and we have tough responsibilities, and people usually don’t like our weaknesses even though they say and believe the opposite.

Creating an inspiration and safety tank where we can embrace our individual and our collective beautiful mess, which will lead us all to an awesome place one day.

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This Is Why I Love Sleeping Alone (Bucharest)

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Bucharest has two faces.

I discovered the city in the winter of 2013, for my first ever business trip. I remember being mainly struck by the monumental buildings of its communist heritage. I wrote to a friend back then:

“I love eastern Europe, that’s it. I’m finding here the feeling that I looked for in Berlin and never found: the traces of communism. The trauma still feels vivid and I am drawn to that pain. I can’t express how much poetry I see in the nostalgia of that failed utopia. Bucharest is such a strange mix of romantic architecture and USSR disproportioned crumbling buildings. Their buildings were just like their politics: megalomaniac. On one side of a street you’ll find a brand new Burberry shop and opposite to it stands a palace in ruins.

I love Romanians, they are adorable people. I don’t know how to phrase my affection without sounding like a contemptful Westerner. But they just look so humble in their often outdated clothes. It touches me to the core (I don’t know why?)

I wandered in the old town tonight in the melted snow but I haven’t discovered any treasure yet – just a global feeling of comprehension.

I am writing this in an executive room of the Athénée Hilton Hotel. It used to be a marble palace, now it is located near the Square of Revolution. How ironic again… I totally identify to that contrast. The job is cool, my PowerPoints sometimes suck but I am glad to be here.”

I came back for a business trip in the early days of September this year. The summer weather was sticky and lazy. I wandered the paved streets of the old city in light dresses. Bucharest suddenly felt Mediterranean – miles away from my cold and grey memories. Was it really the same place? Where was all the nostalgia gone? I was feeling like in Lisbon, or even Paris – some locals told me afterwards that Bucharest used to be known as the Paris of Eastern Europe. There is indeed a strong Haussmannian influence in the architecture, and the street name plates are identical to the Paris ones, green and blue. It is easy to go around and read the signs if you speak at least one latin language, which enhanced my feeling of belonging.

It was my first summer rush of the year, my first deep feeling of vacation. Bucharest inundated me with warmth and joy this time. My senses came back to life after months of coma. We stayed late at night on restaurant terraces, enjoying Romanian red wine and fabulous sea food. We had dinner in an abandoned villa turned into a restaurant. Barely no furniture and flaky walls. It stole my heart. Fuck cosiness.

The monumental & megalomaniac communist buildings were still there, of course, but they captured my imagination in a different way under the sunshine. They seemed to belong to the past whilst the people passing by were looking at a glowing future. How does the sunshine change everything, even the remnants of decades of dictatorship?

Late at night, I wouldn’t turn on the light when I was coming back to my posh hotel. Alone in my big room, I was crawling up onto the window ledge, leaning my head against the massive pane, ten floors above the city. I was trying to absorb the vibe of this unique place, picturing what it is like to be from here. On the left, there was a busy street with modern shops and bright lights. On the right, there was a huge abandoned square and gloomy building with a sign ‘On sale‘. It looked like disaffected offices. My imagination was roaming in the dark. I could save up and buy that building. It was probably affordable. Then, I could spend every summer living there on a different floor each year. I could create an art space. Dance studios. I got all intense about my random dream.

I thought of how much I was enjoying that moment, that life style, being granted with enthusiasm for all the possibilities out there, all the things I don’t know I am passionate about yet. I wondered what I would have been doing if I was with someone in that hotel room. At best, having sex, and at worst, sleeping. Apart from sex, how do you get intense with someone else? And when sex starts fading out, how do you sustain the intensity, not to get dragged into boredom? Maybe I just haven’t found the way. But how could anyone make me feel more excited about my life than I was alone in that perfect instant?

This is why I love sleeping alone.

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Full Moon

Magdalena-Lutek-Nishe9Photo: Nishe9 by Magdalena Lutek

 

I am walking away from my own beaten path with that post, diving into the topic that is my personal beast.

Family.

I don’t know how to write about family, because I don’t know how to talk about family, because I never talk about family. I’ve become an expert at avoiding the topic.

Why?

I don’t have an answer myself.

Is there anything I am ashamed of? Is it painful? Sensitive? Am I running away from something? Are there any words out there in the lexicon of the world to even articulate my situation?

It has nothing to do with love. I do love my family. That’s what makes it tough. We all love our family to the point that it becomes a vampire that sucks us into guilt. We are all loyal to our respective family system, whatever form our loyalty may take.

That’s seven years that I haven’t been to my parents’ home. I was still a closeted student at Paris 3 University with short hair and big cheeks when I went there last. I have seen my parents and siblings in the meantime, but always in “neutral ground”, far from the house where I grew up.

My great return was planned last weekend. I had booked plane tickets for a family gathering and I had confirmed my presence. Everything was set.

I played for time until the very last minute. I sent an email the day before. “I am sorry. I am not coming.

It took me weeks to finally make that decision. Although I am the rebel of the family, although I have a big mouth and I am not the last to tell people to ‘fuck off’, although I’ve always been fiercely independent and moved abroad with my little suitcase when I was 18 and 2 weeks, you know what, that no show decision triggered the biggest amount of guilt I’ve ever felt. After being physically apart from my family system for most of my adult life, I think it was finally the first time that I was consciously stepping out of it. I visualised the family party with my empty shoes around the table. I remembered being told that healthy guilt can be healing.

I didn’t have the strength to hold myself back and compose a smooth character. I didn’t have the strength to elude the routine matters or tactfully filter my words.

I would like to go back to the people who’ve brought me into the world and be able to be my full self, the one that my friends and adopted family find colorful, funny and groundbreaking. I don’t want to be the pale version of myself any longer, not even for a moment. I am renouncing to pretend.

I want to casually tell my mum: “So, in a nutshell, last year I had this exploration phase of what is called ‘the BDSM scene’. That stands for ‘Bondage-Sado-Masochism’, and I found out that I am BD but not SM. I am not against it, I just don’t like it. It was truly fascinating. I met really nice people in sex parties, really, you’d be surprised how interesting and caring people can be. I had a fling with one of my gay ‘husbands’ around new year. It was awesome. He wears my clothes. I started questioning my desire after that. Maybe I also like a certain type of boys and I’ve been missing out? I had a CRAZY physical passion with my female neighbour a month later, but it stopped abruptly when I found out that she was an addict. Then, I shut down for a while. I am trying to become more emotional, and dare I say it, more ‘romantic’, although I have a hard time with the naiveness of the term. But I don’t think emotion is naive after all, because it takes great courage to be that present to yourself and surrender to another person. Right now, there are girls and boys that I like. I am rewiring myself, it is a tremendous job. I recently realised that my spectrum is so wide, you know. I’ve been infatuated with straight girls and boys and gay girls and boys. I even briefly fell in love with a girl who is now a boy. It is quite an achievement, don’t you think? You should be proud of me and of my human research. I recently made a new friend. She was born a man and is transitioning to become a woman. We catch up to talk about men because it is all new for her as well. We are at the similar stage of our woman’s life. She makes me think of my own femininity from a different perspective. I give her fashion tips. It’s a great connection. The variety within the human kind fills me with joy. That’s what my life is about.”

But my mum is a fundamentlist Catholic who has the word Jesus tattooed on her forearm. She was in the demonstrations against gay marriage in 2013, knowing about me. She campaigns to ensure that gay people won’t have the right to reproduce. She’s not a bad person, though. She feels guilty as f*** that she ‘failed my education’ for I turned out the way I am (see above). And I am equally feeling guilty for not being married to a guy as stable as a washing machine and not having popped out his ugly kids.

What can we both do about the way we are? I doubt we’ll ever meet. I think she would like to love me more but she can’t, given that she’s the one person on earth who certainly knows me the least.

My parents know about 10% of me, the acceptable part that I am comfortable to expose to judgment. It is not only that I can’t talk about my relationships and my human explorations as frankly as I’d like. No one really discusses that with their parents. But I can’t talk about my friends, my beloved queers and creatures, I can’t talk about what I write, what I read, what I love. I have to silence every topic that turns me on and gives me a reason for hope in the mess.

They only see me under a mainstream light that narrows me down, just like our vision of the moon is partial most of the time. Adjacent to the crescent moon, there is this fullness and roundness hidden in the dark. We furtively catch its full beauty once in a while.

I would like my family to see my full moon.

How do I proceed to change that?