Memento Mori

I was walking down sunny Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn last weekend. It had been so long since I had hanged out in my favorite city in the world. I am a Brooklyn babe (like Lana Del Rey haha), and it felt even better that I was in town just for an impromptu courtesy visit.

Outside one out of the million antique shops of the street, I saw a sign: ‘Badass Vintage for your Badass life’. I love the word ‘badass’, so I got in. The store felt different from all the ones trying to sell you dusty yet soulless old stuff. It was clean and bright and every object was exhibited like in a museum.

My eyes were browsing aimlessly, curious but not caught. A French ashtray from the Galeries Lafayette, earrings, old cameras… I turned around and I am sure I let out a strange cry for I got moved in an unusual way. I got very close to the object of my curiosity. I am not good at visually describing things. Here is what I saw.

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A label was hanging from the handmade old frame. ‘Memento Mori, circa 1900. $240.’ I contemplated the Dead Lady for a long time. The quaint charm of the photograph was truly captivating. Every detail of the arrangement had been thought about, like a silent movie scene. The profusion of flowers, the old piano, the portrait of the Lincoln looking guy above her coffin, her wedding gown, the position of her hands carefully crossed on her chest. Her pale face which looked about the same age as mine. I got overwhelmed by a stream of mixed feelings. I didn’t know which one was predominant. Empathy, for her prematured death which could have only been tragic and/or violent? Curiosity about the details of her life? What was her name? Identification, as she could be me? Inspiration, as everything about this scene was so loudly narrative? Morbidity, as I’ve never seen a dead body in real life?

I couldn’t put up with the flow of my bouncy feelings. I was tempted to purchase her immediately and leave with her under my arm, just to keep analyzing my virulent emotions. But I didn’t. I wanted to see if I would easily forget about her. I also didn’t want to spend $240 on an object, because I don’t own any. Only dresses and shoes. I am certainly not an antique collector. On the way out, I saw a 19th century obstetrician tool kit. One of the tools looked like a cork screw.

My Dead Lady was with me all afternoon and all night. I harrassed my friends telling what mysterious spell she had cast over me. I went back to the shop the following day. I stared at my romantically beautiful Dead Lady again. She was smaller than I remembered, but still magically seductive. The young burlesque looking shop owner recognised me. She said that the Dead Lady was waiting for the perfect person to buy her. I replied that it was me and that she was coming back with me to London. While the shop owner was putting green bubble wrap around the original wooden frame, I started asking her a million questions. She had bought the photograph from a lady in Vermont who stored it in her attic. She had inherited it from a grandmother or greatgrandmother, but she didn’t think the Dead Lady was a relative. She didn’t know who she was, no name nor the slightest clue about her existence apart from the approximate date of the picture, between 1890 and 1910. The question started spinning in my head. What was the nature of this woman’s existence? She was such an amazing starting point for a novel, an adventure, any kind of story hunting and story telling.

The burlesque looking shop owner started unfolding bits of her work as an antique dealer. She studied something like criminology (not quite, but similar, I am forgetting the exact subject) and wanted to be a US marshal. She then worked as a private hunter, looking for super specific objects throughout the country upon request from rich people. Her job now consisted in driving the East coast of the US in a van, stopping along the road in diners to talk to people and make connections in order to hear their life story, visit their home and buy unique objects.

The girl won me over for she had exactly the life style that I dream of. Hitting the road, meeting strangers and collecting life stories. This is what I do in my own way, but I haven’t found the trick to turn it into a career just yet. I want a human and itinerant job. Talking with that girl triggered something in my brain about all the possibilities out there to create the work you want if there is no job in the world that perfectly suits you. Just tailor your own. I told her that she should write down and exhibit in her shop the human story attached to each object she sells, so people would not only buy a frame or a piece of furniture, but they would buy a piece of a perfect stranger’s humanity.

On the train that was taking me back to Boston, I googled ‘Memento Mori’. I thought it meant The moment of your death’ but my latin is poor. It literally means ‘Remember to die’ or ‘Remember that you must die’. It is a Christian thing and a whole artistic genre in itself. Puritan America was very big on it between the 17th and the 19th century. I probably purchased one of the last ones as the tradition started fading away.

The forests of New England were passing before my eyes as I was absorbing the events of the recent days on my Amtrak seat. Absorbing the eternal electricity of New York, all these new stories and encounters to integrate into my life. I realised there was a funny correlation in my obsession to find clues about the existence of my Dead Lady with the same passion as I put in trying to find clues about the true nature of my own existence. I think I got a couple clues more during my New York escape. I want my work to be human & itinerant.

I haven’t found a place for my Memento Mori yet. It deserves a very special spot. It is still trapped in its green bubble wrap. It intimidates me to look at it, to welcome it in my home. I am also somewhat afraid that it will haunt me or obsess me with its strong nostalgic presence. I am not going to take that photograph as a daily reminder that I must die. I am going to use it as a daily reminder that I must pursue the life I really want.

If by an extraordinary coincidence someone has any information about the lady on the picture, please contact me: mother_chaos@mail.com – Thanks!

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Seduce & Destroy

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That’s one year ago that I flew to New York to escape a love story that screwed me up.

One year later, I’m writing this on the pebbly beach of Brighton, facing the silver sea. I’m on the run again from a sentimental mind fuck. How? Why? The damage is minimal though so I’m only taking a couple of days out of my regular life frame to recover.

It’s this girl, the Death Expert (see previous post). She got into my life 13 days ago, threw a couple of bombs and got out of it as brutally as she burst in. Oh dear extremes. I cherish you, you know that, but I wouldn’t be against a bit of balance too.

I saw her Monday through Sunday and everytime we had sex it was going spiritually deeper. She was opening me new mental spaces, I was surrendering the whole of my body and soul underneath her. I was giving into her to break all the remnants of my boundaries. It was an insane cerebral and physical journey, and I know it was mutual. It felt like there were no limits on earth within the time-space we created in my minuscule bedroom. I really was falling in love with her through the mental freedom that our sexual connection was inundating me with. I never experienced that before. Falling in love with someone through sexual chemistry. Our connection was paving the way to so much more. We could talk about so personal stuff, intimate stuff, real stuff, in ways that I wouldn’t have in another context or with another person.

Those 7 days were so fucking special.

Last time we had sex, between Saturday and Sunday, it was hyper emotional, and I never say that. I tend to keep away from emotion, because I don’t like being disturbed or needy or dependent. But we were kissing in ways that rocked my world, I felt there was so much more to it. I was entirely present to myself, my head was turned off. Oh my God. I’ll remember that.

After that night, I didn’t see her for 3 days. Late on Wednesday, she finally invited me over for tea. I thought she was inviting me for “tea”, cause I know how our cuppas were always ending. 50 Shades of Earl Grey.

I knocked her door right before midnight. It was the first time I was seeing where she lives. She looked different when she opened. She had been snorting coke for I don’t know how long. It wasn’t the girl I had met the week before and started seriously falling for. All night, I was the helpless spectator of her coke addiction. She snorted line after line in front of me for 3 hours. Every time she had a line, I had another lemon and ginger tea. It didn’t even seem to be that fun up there in the artificial paradise.

I left at 2.30am when the gram was gone. She gave me a strange look in the door frame. I knew she knew that she had lost the plot with me. And I felt for the first time that evening that she really really liked me as much as I liked her.

The following day, she texted me incoherent and aggressive blame around mid-day. In a nutshell: “My flatmates and I thought you were a bad-mannered straight slut last night.” Yeah, it took me a while to understand that she was accusing me to have hit all evening on her male flat mate wearing a robe. Needless to say I didn’t get into the debate. “OK. Thank you for the fun. Bye now!”

The most raging was to see my sexual orientation being challenged by the lesbian stoner who fucked me all week. If someone on earth knows what I like in bed, that’s her. Beyond the injustice of the situation, it hurt me that she used my femininity and sensuality to make me doubt about myself, like the average macho dumb guy would do at the local pub. You’re pretty? You’re a minx. You’re feminine? You can’t really be gay.

That was so fucking violent.

Ironically, I had this conversation with her on the day we met, in her car. I explained her with humility that my main struggle in life was resisting what people project on me, cause I get perceived the wrong way all the time. I seem to mirror their shit to a lot of people who don’t particularly like it and choose to attack me as their best defence. I know that song so well that these lost wankers just scratch the surface of my skin now. I know it’s kinda empowering to put me down, because I’m wild and healthy and my life is fabulous without any substance up my nose or down my veins. I’m not patronising about drugs, I don’t give a shit if people enjoy mistreating their body. Just don’t blame me about it.

In situations of crisis, I have my personal life saviors in the person of my gay husbands. λ, my Paris hubby, sponged the first wave of shock. I always cry in his bosom first. He was following the action live, like he’s been doing with my life drama since 2007. We always end up laughing about it, especially when it is not funny. Then, I organised my escape to Brighton to see Í, my Brit hubby. I knew his beautiful soul would recharge me and cleanse me from that unnecessary noise and dirt. God bless the awesome gay men who console my heart and play with my hair.

Í‘s flat is full of odd antique toys. We decided to bake a beetroot and chocolate cake cause he never baked a cake his whole life, but bought a cake tin 6 months ago. We went to do groceries like a funny little couple. We did pastry, watched the movie Magnolia in each other’s arms (which gave me the title to this blog post). We took a burning bath. He’s the only man that I love to see naked. He took the measuring glass and inundated me with hot water, saying: “Love and intimacy”. He knew I was aching. He’s searching his happiness too. We scrubbed each other’s body very gently, with all the care we have for each other.

Then, we took our slutiness out. We dressed sexy with Britney Spears tracks in the background to get ready for dancing all night at the Bulldog. He has incredible pieces of vintage designer clothes that he wears or doesn’t. He gave me the most fabulous circus jacket ever. I’m hawt in it. Man. I don’t know, I’m a cool girl. I don’t think I was ever bad to anyone. Why would people treat me like this?

With every new slap in my face, I feel a massive mutation to my real self coming closer.

My Life is a Teenage Movie

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The last week concentrated the intensity of at least two regular months of my life – although there is no such thing as a regular month in my life. As intensity and I are old road buddies, I apparently always say “It’s been the most intense week ever!!!” My friends sweetly make fun of me when I come up with that statement.

But this time, it is true.

It all began on Monday evening. I was at home writing a letter to H, sketching the portrait of a character that I want to develop for our next script. “I don’t have her name yet, but it should be a morbid and poisonous, maybe latin sounding name. She’s a thanatologist, a death expert. She studied the sciences of death.” 

At about 10pm, I put my pen down, and without knowing why, I downloaded a stupid dating app on my phone. A girl contacted me right away. I remembered liking her on another app a few days before so we started chatting. We shortly found out that we were neighbours. She lives in the block of warehouses right next to mine, but as our buildings have separate entrances we had never met each other.

She asked me what I was doing right now. It was about midnight. I traded my pyjamas for jeans and she picked me up with her car in the middle of the night. She had brought take away tea. “How many sugars?”, had she asked on the chat right before I left the house.

We drove to the woods.

She put a CD with hits of the 90s, we smoked mint cigarettes. “Who said romance is dead?”, she said with a laugh. I was feeling like a teenager. It was awesome, because I never felt like a teenager when I was a teenager. I’m discovering the butterflies of adolescence in my 30s.

Then, fate hit me. She said she was a funeral director and had studied anatomy and mortuary sciences. Her name could have matched the one I was seeking for the character of my movie. I had manifested her.

On the side of living in the same spot of earth now, we had lived or hanged out in the same spots of earth before. New York, Brighton, and she wanted to travel to Iceland. She had something to do with most of the destinations I write about on this blog.

After a couple of hours unravelling our respective life story and being amused by all the coincidences, I spitted my gum so she could kiss me. I eventually got my belt undone. Yes. We did have car sex in the middle of the night, in the middle of the woods.

All of a sudden, we saw car lights coming in our direction. They got closer to us. Really close. It was a police car. We covered ourselves as fast we could, both panicking and giggling. Thank God the windows were all steamed up. “I am providing a training at 10am tomorrow, I can’t afford to be arrested!” I said, putting back my sweater inside out. The car went past us and they lit the blue police light when reaching our level. They surely guessed what was going on inside, but chose to leave us alone.

We got back home at 4am. I slept 3 hours and went to work with a dumb smile on my face.

Since then. I saw her the day after, and the day after, and the morning after since she slept over that night, and the day after again. She crosses the yard in the middle of the night and pays me visits at indecent hours. Whatever part of her boyish tattooed body I touch, I ask her the scientific name for it. She told me: “If I opened up a body for you, I could teach you the name of every single muscle.” It killed me.

She always comes to mine since her bedroom has no walls.

My bedroom does have walls which are witnessing our sleepless deep human connection.

Wish List To 2015

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2015 started with a great feeling, collective enthusiasm and even a lil wind of magic that we hadn’t breathed in a long time. The fun was ruined after a week (#JeSuisCharlie), but hopefully all the bad karma of the year got concentrated in January. It can only get better.

I maintain the optimism and hunger for change and declare that 2015 will be the year of activism, international artistic networking, emotional sex and customised sweaters. Oh yeah!

I’m throwing a bunch of desires in the stratosphere with the following dream list – nothing to do with a “resolution list” or a “to do list” (Bwargh for both). Dream lists actually work out. When I look back at my old ones, I realise that I’ve checked most of the items, but not in the way or timeframe which I had originally imagined. So FYI all the below will get real somehow. Let’s review it in a year.

#1. Fall in love CHOOSE love* with a girl who has an even bigger hair than me and who doesn’t need to be saved. Tell her “It’s the coolest thing in the world to be your girl!”

*My therapist tells me off about ‘falling in love’ because she says that if I fall it will smell of mind fuck pattern again

#2. Put together a burlesque number with intellectual content and empowering message and perform under the stage name “Magnolia Marshmallow” or “Moira Moist”. With that extra cash, hire a PA a few hours per month to do my boring life admin (e.g. returning my unwanted gifts to Amazon, hanging my laundry)

#3. See beyond the Western World: travel to Naoshima, the Japanese Island dedicated to contemporary art where you can sleep in a room with famous art pieces. Go for a 5 Rhythms or Gaga workshop* in Israel (depending on how much it sucks at the time)

*Gaga is a genius movement language for contemporary dancers created by the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin

#4. Have an emotional 1-2-1 with a man to see if emotion changes anything

#5. If #4 is successful, have an emotional 1-2-2 with men, just like that because I can and I want to try everything in life as long as it is harmless

#6. Quit corporate and study at the Hacker Academy in Budapest. Join Anonymous to help prevent terrorist propaganda online. OR alternatively, quit corporate to do a PhD about human desire and question the concept of sexual orientation. The more I hang out with queer creatures, the more I start believing that sexual attraction is some kind of unpredictable energetic algorithm that doesn’t really depend on anatomy. Of course, we have a dominant gender in our field of attraction, but it is deeper than that. I don’t believe either that “everyone is bisexual”. I think we are only at the very beginning of the research on fantasies, human desire and human sexual psyche. This unknown territory fascinates me. I want to go and meet creatures and listen to them, write about them and bring their voice in the academic world. Either way, quit corporate.

#7. Dance more, always more

#8. Learn how to draw without losing my personal touch (see picture below) and make storyboards for Dadaist movies based on my own life and the life of my extraordinary friends

#9. Sell the shares I own in the company I’ll soon quit to become a hacker or a Doctor in human desire (see #6) and with the money I get from the stock market, launch a film production company with H to produce the Dadaist movies based on my own life etc. (see #8)

#10. Move to New York fucking finally

#11. Organise myself a writer’s residency in New Orleans. Hang out with the queers, the drags and the creatures all night and all day and feature them in film scripts and in academic research. Productive deal

#12. Become the chieftain of the Lesbian Sex Mafia (self-explanatory New York-based group) in London

#13. Go and kiss Mother Iceland. I haven’t felt her heartbeat in way too long

#14. Make this blog famous. Not to be famous, just to get more cool friends to collaborate with. Invite all the artists who read me and their artist friends who don’t read me yet to contribute to it by illustrating a post in whatever way they want. Turn the Human Disco into an international artistic collaboration platform

#15. Laugh even more at everything. Especially if it is not funny

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Portraits of Frenchies #2 : La Fille qui n’aimait pas gâcher

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Je ne connais que des gens inhabituels.

Ma copine C² fait partie de ces quelques personnes que je vois toujours dans une ville différente, parce que nous sommes toutes deux en refonte perpétuelle de nos aspirations. 

Nous nous sommes connues à Londres, où j’habitais depuis environ un an, tandis qu’elle était venue étudier l’histoire de l’art dans le cadre d’un échange Erasmus. Elle écrivait un mémoire sur le motif du pont dans la peinture de Monet. Une amie commune, Σ², nous avait organisé une “blind date” amicale dans l’idée qu’on aurait des atomes crochus.

C² est repartie vivre à Paris, où nous nous sommes croisées quelques fois, mais pas tant que ça non plus. On a notamment manifesté ensemble pour soutenir le mariage gay. 

En septembre dernier, j’ai eu de ses nouvelles. Elle partait passer trois mois à New York, seulement deux semaines après avoir emménagé avec son amoureux à Paris. “Il a dû être touché”, me suis-je dit. Et j’ai aussi vachement rigolé, parce que je trouve ça génial de commencer la vie commune sur des bases claires. Le hasard avait voulu que je séjourne à New York en même temps qu’elle. Mi-octobre, on s’est donc retrouvées dans l’appart de Brooklyn où je passais la semaine, pour manger des pâtes en forme de lama. Le samedi suivant on a fait un pèlerinage au Zabar’s , l’épicerie fine chic et kasher de Broadway, parce que c’est là que Meg Ryan faisait ses courses dans “Vous avez un message”. C² avait la liste de tous les lieux que l’on voit dans le film. Ne me demandez pas pourquoi.

Elle a décidé au pied levé de venir m’accompagner à Philadelphie où je partais quelques jours plus tard. “Peut-être qu’on fera le tour de tous les lieux que l’on voit dans le film avec Tom Hanks”, ai-je pensé. Comme je ne savais pas encore où j’allais habiter (classique), elle a eu la bonté de nous dégotter un AirBnB avec la déco la plus moche du monde, mais l’hôte le plus chou qui soit. Du coup, on ne faisait pas trop attention aux dessins de fleurs fanées accrochés au mur (véridique).

C’est à Philadelphie qu’on est vraiment devenues amies, parce qu’on ne s’étaient jamais vues plusieurs jours consécutifs avant ce voyage. On a vraiment beaucoup ri. On se moquait de tous les objets moches de la chambre où on dormait, et Dieu sait que c’était une joie sans cesse renouvelée même après plusieurs jours.

C’est durant ce séjour que j’ai percé une des caractéristiques de C². Elle adore récupérer et elle déteste gâcher, surtout en matière de nourriture. Elle appelle ça “faire son intendance”. On était raccord là-dessus, parce que je ne suis pas la dernière pour le système D et les trucs gratos, mais je dois avouer que sur ce coup-là j’ai trouvé mon maître (je n’ose pas dire “ma maîtresse”, sinon ça fait bizarre.)

Déjà, C² est arrivée de New York par le bus avec un reste de quiche dans son sac à main. “Sinon elle n’aurait plus été bonne à mon retour”, m’a-t-elle expliqué, alors qu’elle prêchait une convertie. Quand on est allées à l’American Diner du quartier – où soit dit en passant on a passé des soirées mémorables – elle mangeait le ketchup à la petite cuillère. Là, j’ai commencé à la mettre en boîte: “Ben oui, c’est cadeau, autant en profiter!”

Le meilleur restait à venir. Un soir, nous nous sommes retrouvées à la fin de notre journée philadelphienne respective. Je lui ai raconté ma journée d’atelier de 5 Rhythms dance et mon attirance pour le prof de yoga gay dont j’adorais la couleur de peau. Elle, elle m’a raconté avec des yeux pétillants qu’elle avait pénétré dans un jardin communautaire où elle avait cueilli du persil et des tomates, et que ça avait bien agrémenté son pique-nique. C’est à cet instant qu’elle a accédé au rang de mes idoles. Dans la foulée, elle m’a dit qu’un de ses lieux parisiens préférés était le cimetière Saint-Vincent, à Montmartre, et qu’elle y avait déjà cueilli des figues avec lesquelles elle avait fait de la confiture maison. Suite à cette fabuleuse anecdote, je l’ai rebaptisée “La Cueilleuse urbaine”.

Après ces quelques jours enchanteurs, je suis rentrée à Londres et elle à New York.

A mon retour, j’ai reçu de ses nouvelles par email: “Je vais aller à la plage de Rockaway cet après-midi pour ramasser des moules!”

Ben voyons. Une mouclade à la new yorkaise.

Il n’y a vraiment qu’elle pour faire ça.

Everything Is As It Should Be

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October was about being thrown off centre from my original plans by the universe. And finding myself being grateful for it.

# La Fille coupée en trois (The Girl Split in Three)

Four days before I took off to America, my iconic friend H who was supposed to come with me on my New Orleans and New York adventures got offered a dream job in Japan. She had to cancel. We had planned to rail trip across the country and write the script of her short movie on the Amtrak. We were calling our train-to-be the “Mystery Train” in tribute to Jim Jarmusch. I got the news that it was all falling through on a Friday night as I was all dolled up, waiting for a girl I had met once for a sexy date.

Throughout the night, I was a girl split in three. Head against body against soul. As I was giving and receiving sex, and liking every aspect of it, my brain was running high speed to establish plans B. Cancel everything and go take care of my injured brother? Swap Louisiana for Canada? Get on a sleep cure to recover from the last thirteen years?

My body was fully present though. I had an awesome night. But in between the waves of fever, I was briefly struck by the ocean of my loneliness and the meaninglessness of my life. The truth is, my heart was sinking as I was realising that I had let myself love H more than I should have. We had grown mysteriously close over the last two months and I was sensing the presages of our becoming creation Siamese twins, intellectual lovers. My feverous gaze was intermittently focusing on the black void on the other side of the barely known body that was bringing me to trance. I was contemplating the redoubted limbo of love where I was surely heading, perceiving random shapes dancing in the dark. I was shortly carried back into action and sensations and my gaze was getting out of focus again to celebrate life just as it was coming along.

After multiple tergiversations, I finally maintained the trip as it was originally planned, on the verge of exhaustion and with a cloud of question marks in my head. New Orleans has been the wonder that it has been and changed my life in some ways. The day that I arrived in New York, H sent me a brief message from Japan which was turning her world upside down: “It feels like our lives are aligning right now.”

It was so right to be taken apart by the universe on the path to our respective adventures. We both found some missing clues about the true nature of our existence. And I thank-godly aborted falling in love with her.

# The Teacher Training Miracle

On the last day of August, I submitted my application for the next 5 Rhythms Teacher Training starting in Spring 2015. It would imply that I’d be on a marathon to complete all the missing pre-requisites workshops and raise a shit ton of money to pay for the tuition fees by the end of next year. Why not? I love challenges that seem out of reach. I needed a short-term goal to escape the ordinary.

In October, after a few days at the Cycles workshop in Philadelphia, it was getting obvious that I wasn’t ready to train as a teacher six months later. I was instinctively guessing that I needed to take my time, absorb and soak in the fun and ecstasy of being an achievement-free student. It is not in my nature to renounce, though. My application had been submitted, so I was going to go for it if it was successful, just to commit to myself as I always do.

The second to last day of the workshop, I was happily walking to the yoga warm up in the automnal sunshine of a beautiful morning. I was feeling light, bubbly, at the right place. The assistant of the teacher – a renowned 5 Rhythms lady that I sometimes dance with in New York – was coming in the opposite direction and stopped me. She kindly asked me if we could have a chat. She is on the 5 Rhythms teacher training board and she told me she had read my application the night before.

“How do you feel about the training?”, she asked me. What a relief! I told her the truth, that I was full of doubts and had overestimated my readiness to teach. I just wanted to dance and be naive about it for a couple more years. We agreed that I’d postpone my application to 2017. Who cares? I have all the time in the world. I have to learn how to enjoy the path to my goals rather than beating myself up to get it over with. She hugged me and thanked me for my honesty. I entered the yoga class feeling much lighter, as if this tiny lady who is my height had freed me from a massive burden.

I went to get a coffee after yoga. A girl from the workshop was coming in the opposite direction, and again she stopped me with a huge spontaneous hug. “So nice to dance with you!” she said. “What’s your name?” We started talking. She wanted to do the 5 Rhythms teacher training but she felt under pressure to start in 2015 so she was going to apply for 2017. She said word for word the speech that I had given an hour before to that kind lady. I laughed. The timing was just so clear and so funny. I wanted to high five the sky and tell the universe: “I received the message. Thanks for checking on me!” This super cool girl with a Maori name is going to do the Mirrors workshop in Bilbao next year. So am I. Ten days of intensive 5 Rhythms dancing. She told me: “Mirrors is life-changing. I’ve done it once and I divorced after it.”  (For the best).

I am guessing this person will be an important relationship for me. I felt connected with her and I am grateful we are meant to have crossing paths.

# Vivienne Was Waiting

Right before my US trip, I bought a Vivienne Westwood dress for £80 instead of £445. I wish every woman to at least once slip her curves in a Viv dress, just to experience the feeling of being embraced by a designer with such expertise of the female body. I wore it for a drunken karaoke night at the office so it got immortalised in a few embarrassing videos. The day after, I heartbrokenly returned it to pay for my New York-Chicago flight. When I returned from America a month later, I went back to the shop, moved by hope but free from illusions. The darling was well hidden, but still there. I couldn’t believe a Vivienne dress had been waiting for me on a hanger for a whole month. I touched her soft fabric, admired her patterns again and whispered to her: “I couldn’t get you out of my head”. The belt had gone missing in the meantime, so I was given a further 20% discount. £64 for a Vivienne Westwood dress. You got it.

Vivienne was the cherry on the cake which reinforced my certitudes.

Everything is as it should be.

Dusk of Brooklyn, Dawn of Philadelphia

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I read the phrase “Dusk of Brooklyn” in a magazine or leaflet somewhere, years ago. I don’t remember the context, but I remember contemplating this appealing mental image with desire. I wrote the expression at the top corner of a random note book. See, I need it now.

All of last week, the dusks of Brooklyn were mine. I let them inundate me like I wouldn’t let anyone. My New York time was peculiar. It’s been the quiet part of this adventure, like a restoring pause between two hectic discovery phases. Feels like I’m a New Yorker now and nothing special happens there cause I’m melting in the daily scenery and routine of the City.

I woke up at 5am this morning and finished the night on the Greyhound bus bound to Philadelphia. As the tradition requires, I spent my last night in New York on the 5 Rhythms dance floor. Every time the teacher was asking to pair up with another dancer, I was looking through the window and chose the Empire State Building as a partner. I love dancing with New York and I was shouting on the inside “Manifest that shit!!!!!”

It was such a joyous leaving party, very tall muscled (straight) guy wearing leggings with cat faces was there, and it never feels like I’m leaving New York anyway. I’ll come back again and again and again and one day I won’t have to leave. That’s how the story goes. (I played the Green Card Lottery on Friday and purchased the long life payment option, the “until you win” one. I had found out in the morning that I’m homeless when I get back to London. The friend I was subletting from is getting evicted. How fun! No roof upon my head in Hostile City. So, Mrs Goddess up there or whoever runs the lottery of life, it would be very welcome if I became a permanent US resident by Monday. Thank you.)

I’m sitting alone at a 24 hour diner in South Philadelphia on a rainy evening as I’m writing this. The Wheel of Fortune is playing soundless in the background. I love diners because they never close and are available for drowning your loneliness/sorrow/hunger at any time of night or day (not like people), because they have cosy seats which feel like private booths, because coffee refills are unlimited, because waitresses wear a uniform, and finally, because they are one of the archetypes of America that I cherish from all the 80s movies.

I’ve seen very little of Philly so far, but what stroke me is the number of American flags (way higher ratio than any other US city I’ve visited) and the colourful mosaics on the facades.

I’m in town for a 5 day long 5 Rhythms dance workshop called Cycles, about the map of our family history. It is taught by Jonathan Horan, the son of Gabrielle Roth, founder of the 5 Rhythms dance technique, who passed away two years ago today. We focused all day on the Mother figure: the actual Mother and the Cultural and Divine Mothers. It is hard to describe. I started the class hating everything and everyone for no reason and I gradually sank into the seductive charm of this odd technique. I had to tell strangers the circumstances of my conception and birth.

I loved it.

Portraits of America #4: The Girl With A Thing For Napoleon

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This is my core friend α.

She is featured in many of my posts. She moved from Kansas City to New York four years ago, with the objective to stay for five years and reevaluate her love for the City then.

We’ve been on numerous adventures together and shared a considerable number of flats in various places. I legitimately thought I knew everything about her until the Napoleon breakout.

The conversation accidentally shifted to Napoleon at dinner tonight, and I described him as an imperialist dictator. α said that Napoleon was not French but Corsican, and that he managed to conquer the world despite his height. She has a “fascination by his brain, passion and physical body.” In her own words:  “I am intrigued by his obsession with Josephine, his complete narcissism, and his outfits. I also find him attractive in some of the paintings.”

She dressed as him for Halloween last year. She named herself “Napoleon Bones Apart” and added a collapsy skeleton part to her costume to justify the pun.

She piqued my curiosity. What was the reason behind that unusual passion?

α explained that it was a childhood thing. When she was a kid, her mother told her that one of her ancestors was serving in Napoleon’s army, or that he was close to Napoleon in some ways. The link is not clear.

Her child imagination made the shortcut to the belief that her ancestors were affiliated with Napoleon, and that she was therefore a descendant of Napoleon herself.

She used to walk around telling that story to whoever would listen because she was taking pride in having someone famous in her genetic background.

She grew up with that belief ingrained in her mental family constellation and developed a gentle obsession for him. Even as an adult.

That also makes me related to Napoleon in some way now. I am going to start walking around saying: “I am sharing a flat in Brooklyn with this descendant of Napoleon.”

I’ve Never Seen New York In The Fall

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My last night in New Orleans was sleepless. I did a bar crawl on Frenchmen street with κ² and α6. We drank profusely and ate crayfish hotdogs in a messy yet vibrant diner at 3am. I’m forgetting bits of the debauchery but I remember it was hot, noisy and joyful.

κ² was going to drive me to the station at 6am – in the objective to make me miss my train – but he fell asleep right before, and he’s too big and tall to be awaken by a lil girl like me. So I did my farewell to Sin city on board of a taxi whose driver’s grandfather had migrated from Sicily in 1903.

I took seat on board of the Amtrak to New York City at 7am. The sun was rising above New Orleans cemetery and I remember flying above the Mississippi River as if the train rails were literally lying on the water. I didn’t know if it was the reality or a trick from my drunken and sleepless imagination. I passed out on that image with the fear of drowning and woke up in Alabama.

I traveled for a day and a half through the landscapes of Georgia, Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware, for what I can recall. I spent most of the time with my nose stuck on the window, trying to absorb the depth of America.

I arrived in Brooklyn on a sunny Sunday afternoon and picked up the keys of my temporary home in “my” neighbourhood of BedStuy. I’m living a few blocks away from where I was living in the spring. Back home! Nothing has changed much. Only the autumn leaves replaced the snow of March.

I walk the same patterns I used to. The street art that I got familiar with is still there. It threw me back in time, reminded me of how I was feeling back then. That was several lives ago. Brooklyn is so similar to my memories that I can measure my own evolution even more clearly, like comparing two pictures of my inner self now and then. I’m way more on the highway of my life than I was at the time. There is still a considerable way to go, but there is hope as to the direction at least.

I went back to my writer’s café, The Civil Service – I have one in every city apart from the one where I officially live. This is where I started this blog seven months ago so I feel particular about this place. The first face I saw was familiar. That was a guy I interviewed to take over my bedroom after I would leave the country. We had a little chat. His haircut was different. Good to feel that New York knew I was in town.

I have never seen New York in the fall. This season suits the city. It covers it with an unusual softness, slows down its hectic pace. Carved pumpkins decorate the doorsteps, everything is orangey and Halloweeny. I feel like nesting and drinking spice latte on the deck of my temporary home, surrounded by colourful trees and clumsy squirrels.

I think about how I would feel if this flat was my permanent life, if I was going back to it every evening, if I didn’t have to pack my bags and move again, and again, and again. Feels like I’m always going somewhere next. Do I crave to live here just because I know I’ll be deported at the date stamped on my passport and that makes it the object of my burning desire? How much of my joy is due to the temporary factor? Gypsy trouble. So hard.

I am different from who I was in the spring and however my main interrogations are almost still the same.

Who is going to kiss me because they are drawn to my world and not because I am available lips? Where am I going to create a home that I won’t feel like blowing up after an undetermined amount of time?

Adventure shows up to me like that, I never turn it down. But settling down and opening up to intimacy is still the most unattainable thing on this side of my planet.

The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#4 : The Island

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We were living on the island of #5 Waldo House within the island of London NW10 within the island of the UK. We were snuggling at the heart of Russian Doll islands.

Most of the time, we didn’t need to go anywhere or see anyone. We were doing small yet big things in our Queendom.

Out of the blue, one of us suddenly had an itch for the external world and we were doing what we used to call “going on an adventure”. Which meant, exploring the neighbourhood hunting for details that we had never noticed before.

We ended up walking the same patterns over and over again, but it was a forever renewed joy. There was a certain street that we used to call “New York” because it was broad and full of brick warehouses. It was one of our favourite destinations, for want of the real Big Apple which we never made together.

Sometimes we would get lost in a new bit of our playground and make an extraordinary discovery: an arty cinema, a pond with stagnant waters, an empty building, a park as wild as a forest.

She was taking tons of pictures with her sense of detail and her obsession for industrial and padlocks. She would always spot the thing no one would ever see with her digital eye. I liked that ability in her. I was making the stories.

It is during these short urban adventures that we felt the most in tune. We would forget all the uncertainties and question marks of our story to focus on the common rhythm of our heartbeats. As we were observing our surroundings, embracing our so familiar environment, we had the similar goal that we were desperately lacking the rest of the time.

We finally were in the same space-time.

On the way back home we would play dumb or I would teach her dance steps which she was clumsily copying and we would laugh our head off.

There was no adventure, exploration or common rhythm of our heartbeats outside our island, though. Any attempt I did to make us swim away from it and reach the mainland turned into traumatising fights.

I therefore had to leave to the mainland alone.