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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Making Friends on the Street

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The amount of connections that I’m making in public places through my rainbow fake fur coat is getting close to ridiculous. People chat me up all day, every day and I was asked twice yesterday if I work in fashion. I’m tempted to say yes and make up an extravaganza story but I don’t (why?) I was also asked if I “was a celebrity” because I passed by a posh place literally a couple of minutes after Catherine Deneuve left the venue. She is in town for the French Cinema Festival.

When I got this coat in London I had mixed feelings about it, because even in my own standards I judged it over the top. But here, people love my fashion faux-pas and I never expected my awful hairy jacket to become cult in less than a week! It feels so good to finally get understood.

With my blue glitter Uggs boots in addition to the ensemble,  it does hurt my own eyes, but a lovely boy told me on the tube last night: “I don’t believe in such thing as too much”. Of course. He had a blue hair and was wearing blush and eye makeup. He was a pretty black gay boy like I love them. He explained to me that most of his outfit used to belong to his grandfather’s from the time when he was a World War 2 veteran. He was wearing a US army jacket, a natural leather purse, and amazing black patent leather shoes full of holes. All those beautiful boys! He got off at the station before mine and I told him my Fuckbook name as he was stepping out of the train to maybe see him again, who knows? He has never been to Europe. (I wish I had a picture of the pretty boy – he was fabulous but I didn’t have the reflex to ask.)

Also, a man in the elevator at work said about my glitter boots: “Hey Dorothy! We are not in Kansas City any more!” First, Dorothy’s shoes are glitter RED. Second, I’m now flat sharing with α who is from Kansas City, so for me it is indeed Wizard of Oz every day.

On another note: I have to stop the fake micro-wave Mac&Cheese. It is the only free decent food I get at work and I survive on it cause I don’t want to pay for lunch.

Dancing The 5 Rhythms In My Bra

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There is no ultimate New York experience without the 5 Rhythms and there wouldn’t be the 5 Rhythms without New York. It is where it was born, thanks to Mama G (Gabrielle Roth). It is no coincidence that the City and 5 Rhythms have this history together – they have their own space-time relationship. New York is a world in the world and the 5 Rhythms make you go through your whole life in supersonic time.

I have danced the 5 Rhythms in various cities, but New York doesn’t compare. The equation wins it all:

NYC energy + 5 Rhythms energy + seeing the Empire State Building shining on me through the window = take your best orgasm x 10 and you still won’t reach that level of intensity.

New York is the only place I’ve experienced where the practice goes through chaos two times – so there is not one but 2 peaks and it’s multiple climaxing. It is almost disturbing. I was about to faint.

Heat increased quickly and I ended up in my bra which enhanced the feeling of freedom and power. I physically lived the most intense moment of my life.

There was a girl on the dance floor with Lisbeth Salander’s haircut (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). She caught my eye. I ended up in a circle close to her. We touched but didn’t look at each other. She kissed my hand to close the night.

I hope she will be back.

Working on Broadway

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I always knew I’d end up working on Broadway in this life. I used to believe it would be more of a musical-orientated career, but then I found out that they only cast black people in The Lion King so I got myself this office job.

I am based in SoHo, closed to the Zara shop (yak). The office is beyond weird. It is a mini 30 people office on the 9th floor of a huge building with ugly lights but good-hearted people. The office next door is the Elton John Aids Foundation. I need a key to go to the toilets which doesn’t make it a fun break anymore. The coffee machine makes me want to cry. I have to start the day with blueberry flavoured capsule coffee or even worse, chocolate glazed doughnut flavoured coffee. Almost makes me miss London, but then I step out of the building and look right and I see the Chrysler Building in the skyline and its beauty in the sunset strikes my eye.

I wasn’t prepared for the snow with my funky shoes. Cool black dudes still hit on me all day long because of my fur coat – I love it! Yesterday a 8 year-old cute black kid timidly told me that he liked my shoes.

Last night, I crashed a kinky class at the Columbia University and tonight, I am going on a pilgrim to the Stonewall Inn. Oh yeah! To be continued.