02 de novembre 2017

All souls

Christian religions chose the 1st November to celebrate the departed souls. The date has no apparent astronomical connection.

In loving memory of Arnica, our drama teacher and Guru. Endless source of energy and inspiration. The woman who opened us a door to listening to our emotions and to letting go, completely. 

On NOV 2 2014, in Sydney, I went through a life-changing experience... not. 

The evening had some Halloween magic, which made the incident tragicomical. 
I used to work mainly Saturday nights just 20 minutes down the road, as a language teacher/babysitter. Working on Saturday evening gave me an excuse not to go out at night, some room to try pedagogical activities and some pocket money for my free time. 
I usually started at 7pm, but we had agreed I could come around 8pm that evening. It was Summer time in Australia in November, and the sun started going down. I jumped on my bike and turned the Dutch lights on. They don't light the way but make you visible in the dark. 

After using regular bikes in NL I chose to ride an electric bike. My neighbourhood was at the top of a 1km hill and it was pretty steep on the way to town, especially on the way back.
I used to go to school, to work, out party and to the beach on my bike. I had to buy an electric bike to get over the steep hills.
I like sturdy bikes, I carry bags on the sides to carry groceries and basically, I am no middle aged breeder in an unfulfilled marriage who likes to dress in nylon and pretend he/she's a superhero cyclist. My bike is my commuter. Dutch style. Once an omafietser always an omafietser.

The first day I bought my electric Dutch style bike

One of the best bits of my ride into town was going from the top of New South Head Rd, with all its curves, all the way down to Rose Bay without hitting the brakes. I could get speeds of 40km/h and my goal was to find all lights in green. I only managed twice, but it was worth it!

That evening it was getting dark and I was being a bit late to work. It was 7:50 and I had to hurry up. 
I admit I was going insanely fast, but once I reached Rose Bay, a flat road, I had my first traffic light. I passed it in orange and I saw the next one green, green as green could be, so with the extra swing of not having come to a complete halt I rode past my GREEN light at the intersection with Newcastle Rd.
Right as I passed the green light a burgoundy car appeared out of nowhere and halted right in front of my front tyre. 
First reaction (Aussies drive poorly and have no sense of space or road sharing) was, a usual: "another idiot on the way", and the second thought was: "oh damn, here I go". 
I put my arms in front of the bike as if to get that monster out of my way, flew out of my bike, landed on the windscreen and came flying out, losing sense of time and space. It seemed an eternal hovering on the way to an imminent crash, not knowing what bone I was going to break. I had already done a flip, and thanks to that flip I managed to land half ducked like a very clumsy superhero. And then I collapsed on the ground. 
I don't know how long I spent there. When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by zombies, witches and vampires looking at me. It was a show of cheap make up and prostetics. It seemed I was already in hell, then I realised it was Halloween, and a weird giggle came out of me. I felt instantly relieved. I was worried if adrenaline would make me feel like a rugby player going on with a broken nose or jaw and, for what I could see, all my joints where in place and no blood at sight. 
I sat down, asked a couple of people if my face was bleeding and they said no. The two other things I said afterwards were: "I am late for work" and "Where is my bike?"
Someone said the ambulance was on the way and the zombies, witches and vampires didn't let me move an inch from the ground. In the meantime the car driver who had ran me over, came to introduce himself. I told him I was fine, but we still needed to exchange contacts and I kept repeating: "I was on green light". Maybe he was exercising his: "on red, turn left with care" as we do in OZ, and he didn't see me because:

1. I was faster than you'd expect a bike to be (I'd be dead had I been a motorcycle) 
2. Simply put, bycicles don't exist for uptown Eastern Suburbians.

I called the family of the kids I taught every Saturday to say I had been ran over by a car, but that I was ok. An ambulance was going to take me to the hospital to make sure I wasn't having any unseen issues. 
On the other side, the mum freaked out a bit and said not to go anywhere until she'd come meet me. 
The ambulance was there and it was funny, because I asked them to wait for my boss/friend and they looked at each other perplexed, as if I was talking to a cab driver. 
On the ambulance I had the chance to chat with a green eyed paramedic. He was definitely fun and witty. We made a couple of inappropriate accident jokes and then he asked me if I wanted some morphine. 
I said no. 
He said it is common procedure, because I was still in shock and I didn't know what parts of my body could have been damaged.
He gave me an intravenous and I went on a high. Then he said it was only antiinflamatories, so maybe I was right not to want any morphine. 
I was given some morphine when we got to the hospital and it was the first time I experienced a high on a hard drug. It was beautiful. There was no pain, not physical, not emotional. I was experiencing pure love. 
When my boss/friend came to the hospital I told her that I was high and that I was sorry I let the kids down. I took her by the hand and went on to say how great I felt. 
She had other plans for the night and didn't stay with me. I waited in a bed to be tested. 
After being tested I was sent out of bed in my ridiculous pyjamas to wait for my report in an emergency waiting room. 
Totally high on morphine and dressed in a white gown I got to sit with different people, hug them, take them by the hand and ask them how they felt. I collected 5 different stories that had a supportive loved one or a bad break up behind. In the case of the bad break up the pain was chronical, they said they kept coming back with aches, itches, pains, but nobody knew the cause... I shall point out I was sent to Kings Cross hospital in the middle of the Red Light District, the closest State Hospital, and I was talking mainly with junkies. Addiction has a lot of hearbreaking stories. There was a guy whose pains shocked me. He kept coming back for unconclusive tests. When I put my hand on his heart it was like a drum. When I placed my hand on his arm, his blood was going through it loudly, I don't know how to explain, as if there was a river there, a foamy river. I hugged him. I wished him he'd forget about this guy who made him feel so unloved. I said I loved him. I wouldn't had if I wasn't on drugs. I started to understand the spiritual rush of the sectarious religion and why people turn to hyperspirituality after years of drug abuse. 
Tests revealed no damage to organs and muscle tissue was ok, just a few bruises. A miracle, the doctors said. I told them not to say that while I was having a drug-induced spiritual awakening. 

I had never felt so connected with people and so selfless like that night.
When the effects of drugs wore out, I had just a minimal amount of pain and a scratch on my knee which has become a beautiful scar. 

And I am still very upset about it. 
Coming back to letting go and the array of emotions drama courses allow you to explore, I declare with absolute shame that I was even angry and jealous of those who went through a traumatic experience, came out stronger, discovered their calling and even found a soul mate as an added bonus. 
In the meantime, after miraculously having  been given a second chance in life, I was lying in my bed crying for days, disappointed of no revelation coming my way to show my life calling and the very necessary soul mate to get my residency in Australia, the country I chose to build my future.

I stayed days indoors, crying: "where is my freaking awakening" "where is my appreciation for life?" I was so angry I sank into a self-inflicted depressive state. 
I could have spent months like that if I hadn't miraculously been relieved by Jay Bee, who found me via social media after 25 years of silence, got me out of my pityful first world misery and showed me the way to real love. I hadn't been talking to my father for a bit more than a year and all I needed was to hear J say something on the lines of: "You'd rather get a slap on time, than regretting not seeing your family another minute" 
He knew what he was talking about, he lost both his parents at a very early age and would have given anything to have spent more years of his life with them in it.

Christmas was on its way, and that year, following the words of wisdom of somone who has endured more than many of us can imagine, following teachings of pure love, I spent my Summer savings on an overpriced ticket for Christmas to see my family in Barcelona. We magically put all tensions aside and it has been a pleasant road to love and understanding since then. Jay Bee, though, disappeared again. 
But that's another story.

11 d’octubre 2017

break the silence

In this historical times my country of birth is being the focus of attention in a scenario we only dreamt about.
The European left has certain hopes on it, after the Greek fiasco, as an exit from the corporative Europe and return to an economy of smaller communities where the people and not the economic interests of corporates, have a say. 
One thing I like of times of change, incertainty, and -why not mention it- certain fear, is that it makes us put other personal affairs aside and focus on a transversal issue that affects in this particular case, the whole Spanish State and Europe, for its character. 
It feels like revolution. And among the noise of the internet era, a lot of great minds let their creativity flow to produce amazing reactions. I like civil disobedience, because only so, people can change things. 

As a constant writer I feel the muses are awake, I am accessing new emotions. 
And, in the end, I decided to have my say, tired of  hearing so many opinions and also tired of reading on and on that one political figure is to blame for the Catalan souveraign movement. The desire of the Catalan nation of becoming independent is a few centuries old. I have had to review the Spanish/Catalan history, from English sources, to confirm that the Spanish sources have even reinvented our history. At school I studied both. The Spanish ancient history had pride in kicking the moors and the Jews to become one nation. The Catalan focused on the loss of culture and referents as the Castilian reign grew. As a note, the Borbons, the current monarchy in Spain, were historically disliked. I am not going to give a history class. Let's say that our desire of independece has passed through so many generations it is almost genetic. 

Past is past. But it leaves its mark in the future. 

From my point of view: ever since I was a child, I never felt Spanish. I felt I was born in a wrong country, where people weren't aware of the world, where there was an almost folklorical pride of being from a monolingual country. Funny enough, I realised that when I spent some holidays in Menorca and became friends with an English girl. I picked up some of the words she spoke and managed to hang out with her and her parents. We are all same same, but not the same.
My parents felt Spanish, my grandfather was a Guardia Civil, Andalusian, a sweet guy always in a good mood and ready to pull a joke or clap to the rhythm. I always saw it as a personality trait, but never raised a hair on my skin. I spoke Spanish at home, because my parents, born in Barcelona and raised in Spanish, met in that language. 
My school was catholic and quite post-dictatorial in views. I had a terrible time there and I used to hide under rucksacks to escape reality. 
By age 10, with an identity crisis, I started blending in with the Catalan reality around me. It felt and sounded right. Both my sister and I decided to stop speaking Spanish to defend the beautiful little language that didn't sound so harsh. If anything, from the adoctrination of my school I must have become a catholic neofascist. But people are not "tabula rasa", we have our character and our views. 
I read somewhere that the independentist vs non-independentist point of view springs from a progressive vs a stagnative view. In the wake of the current situation, the description sounds quite accurate. 
Childhood aside, all I did until my 18s in the sense of belonging to a culture was to demonstrate every 11th of September and claim the "Estatut". I didn't know what it was exactly, I just knew it could do good for my language and culture to blossom (mind you, the Catalan spoken in Barcelona is quite precarious, and I do take care of mine, but it shows where it has been learnt). 
I learnt about the phenomenon of diglossy in my country. We would use Catalan or Spanish depending on the social context. I decided to break with it. Maybe because I am very sensitive to language and culture. Maybe someone else would have chosen to speak Spanish accross all situations, because that was the language of the Spanish State. Maybe it could have been my choice if I had been more interested in Economy, science or painly, if I hadn't been a humanist since age 2. It was a possible choice in the linguistic reality of Barcelona. But I decided to speak Catalan only on Catalan soil. I had friends who preferred speaking Spanish and we would carry our conversations in both languages. It is a nice phenomenon. My Spanish was flawless, so if someone couldn't understand Catalan I could swap to Spanish. Nowadays I can easily express myself in at least 3 further European languages.
In fact, I live abroad since age 18, so there is only one place in the world where I can speak Catalan. 

My parents were always reluctant to send us to a public school. And, like other parents, they believed a Catholic school had better infrastructures and that it showed better values. 
It was a big struggle but I managed to be sent to the school I believed would fit me best. It was a laicist-cooperative school. I liked the fact that the school called itself Cooperative Catalan laicist. The nuns accused me of being a communist. I knew then, that I was making  the right choice. 
My sister was sent to it, too, and her academic records blossomed. We both felt at home there.
During high school there was a movement of "normalisation". That meant bringing Catalan to a normal state, instead of being an anecdotic language, used in some situations, mainly for family conversations. Spain was very young at being democratic, but it started feeling that democracy was kicking in.
And then I moved to the States. And then to Germany, and then to Australia, and then to The Netherlands and to New Zealand. 
I don't know when the Spanish imperialistic feel kicked in. I didn't know about that. That you had to feel Spanish and that feeling Catalan was offensive to some. When I went to England in the 90s, we were divided (not smart) in two groups: kids who flew from Barcelona and kids who flew from Madrid. The Catalans spoke Catalan among them. The Spanish would attack us. I remember I once had to go to an excursion with the Madrid group because I missed my Barcelona group. Kids refused to talk to me, but a Canarian communist and a chilled chick from Madrid. Those acts shape your identity, create a reaction when called names for speaking a regional language. 
You identify with the ones who speak like you, because others insult you for not doing so. 

I have always felt a child of the world. But it is also inevitable to feel part of a community, a country, a culture in a broader way. While living in all different countries, if asked where I was from I always said: Barcelona. Luckily the city had become known after the olympic games. 
If told: "ah, Spanish" I wouldn't deny it, I would just add: "well, Catalan". That's all. 

If someone was ever interested in knowing why I didn't feel Spanish, I would explain myself from my personal point of view. My speech has evolved, and my feelings towards indepence as well, as the political situation changed. It started being a mere: "just feel this way" to a more complex" I identify more with the Catalan language and culture. In a united Europe I don't see the place for a new border, but I believe Spain is like a puzzle put together by monarchic interests and too interested in being homogene, when in reality, it is a multicultural, multilingual country, quite rare in Europe." in the past years.

In Europe, a number of borders correspond with languages rather than ethnical groups or religion. If Spain ever came out of the unilingual closet it should be proud of such a diversity. Catalans feel they have a strong cultural identity, and Spain should celebrate that, recognise that, instead of trying to silence it. I even used to say: "if they only gave us a special status to feel less disdained, that would suffice."

People might mention the Spanish Constitution, agreed by Catalans as well, as if it would make one feel Spanish. After nearly 4 decades of dictatorship any repressed region would have agreed to any text that would have the word "democracy" in it, let alone "autonomy". Gee, who would have even dared to rebell against the non-chosen king?

An autonomous right gave Catalonia the chance to draft their Estatut, their autonomous constitution.

Years have passed, and that text was intercepted (butchered) by the constitutional court. The final version was a big disappointment. They removed the definition of Catalonia as nation: A nation. The UNESCO defines nation as: 

 [...] one where the great majority are conscious of a common identity and share the same culture

We voted for that text. Polònia, a program of political satire I follow, called it Bob-Estatut, inspired in a cartoon for kids. 

 A 'no' would have meant being ruled only by the Spanish constitution. It was a very low move from the conservative government in the hopes to keep that united Spain puzzle put together. And, in my view, to exercise control on a region. I remember, during the referendum for the Estatut, that everyone said: "at least if we vote for it now, we'll be able to re-write it".

After years abroad, my cosmopolitan feeling grew and with it the so-called "equidistance", a certain distance towards what the future of my country would hold, motivated by a new future elsewhere. 
The European union was a promise to move freely in different countries, set my residency anywhere and I was hoping to become Dutch or Australian one day and be able to get rid of the Spanish passport, just so I didn't have to justify my nationality on a piece of paper. 
Recently, I was in Iceland, and the officers were asking people: what country are you from? I didn't know what to answer. I said: my passport says Spain.

When the political situation escalated, I thought it was exaggerated to think that Spain was exploiting us with taxes above our BGP. As a socialist I believed it was fair to chip in for regions that were behind in growth. I had also considered, that if I was to return to Spain, I would move to Extremadura or to the South to get more government aid, to live at a different pace. Friends of mine from the art industry moved to Madrid, because the capital enjoyed better subsidies for arts and culture. 

I believed the people of Spain, a country strongly influenced by socialism, would look at the actions of the radical right party they chose and would wake up. The country did, they rose in May of 2011, it was amazing, a new real left party of intellectuals was born, and a Catalan non-independent, anti-corruption and -so they wanted to show- pro a lot of cool things defied the Spanish bipartidism of extreme right and moderate right. 

And what happened?

No change in the votes. A slight one, no more. But I believed the slight change would stop the "cortijo", the unity by repression and corporative greed. In the meantime, since I visited Barcelona once or twice a year I noticed the change: unaffordable housing, unemployment, impossible cuts in essential matters and a political aversion to the Catalan language, fewer hours of Catalan in schools and cuts in cultural events made in Catalan. That was strange and the attack to the culture offensive. People were sick of a party that was never voted in Catalonia. There were constant attempts to dialogue, 18, have been computed: from a federal-oriented project to an economic agreement to be able to redistribute the budget. The radical right's superlaw was that constitution and they had the judges (they suspended the one judge who dared to investigate and uncover their corruption) and what did we have? Bob-Estatut... 

6 years in a row the Catalans would go on the streets to make the Catalan crisis visible to the media. The crisis began as a the constant dissing of the Catalan identity from the Spanish government following to a full-on recession in which the government used public money to finance the banks, invested in new roads to nowhere, ghost airports while the Barcelona airport was being neglected, a high speed train stopping in towns where the plutocracy had their country house and ah! a project of a Mediterranean train halted to give priority to a faster access of Madrid to the coast. In the meantime the Catalan society, tired of complaining, started saying: "we are ready to go". My parents, long time socialists, converted to independentism because they felt the left party was laughing at their faces, not moving anywhere with the federal proposal. They lost credibility in Catalonia. 

I understand, other parts of Spain might think: "those Catalans, always asking for more". But seing a big chunk of your budget splurged away in absurd expenses didn't seem sensible, not for Spain, either. 
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not the biggest fan of Barcelona, but any Aussie, any person I'd meet anywhere found it some sort of a paradise. Hence, I don't talk biased towards the city, however... Wouldn't you want to take good care of your second biggest, and most important city? Barcelona is the visiting card for Europe, it's the first big one you hit after the Pyrenees. Wouldn't you want to show progress there, make it burst with multiculturality, presenting it as a sample of a diverse country? Wouldn't you want Barcelonians to feel part and feel proud of a cool, a unique country? Wouldn't you want to keep the Catalans happy and integrated, knowing they have a strong feeling as a culture?
And if, as some parties claim, you think there is a non-independentist silent majority, how else would you come out of doubts? 

It seems the more the central government, and that Catalan-based non-independentist new party (Ciudadanos), the most aggressive corporative side of the ones who already saved the banks with public money, ready to divide society again, the more they used the word Catalans combined with: unsolidary and other harsher words, the more opportunistic hate they innoculated in the Spanish people's minds with such speeches, miracle! The more that hate grew! 
But the Catalan resistance grew proportionally. And the need of change.

The PSOE's turn to corporativism, the Ciudadanos hate speeches and the stagnation of a do-nothing president were some factors for most of my not_so_interested_in_independence friends to say: enough is enough. The only way forward is the disconnection, let's reset. Let's start as a new nation. There is nothing to do, nothing to lose. The SPanish government, heir to the fascists want us to submit to their tyranny, by repressing language, culture, finances and infrastructures. 
I still had the hope that the Spaniards, seen the dialoguing nature of Catalonia, would just JUST stop supporting those crooks and work toward a different approach. They are more!

My most rotound "YES", the convinced one, the point of no return arrived the day I heard the inner ministery say, clearly, recorded: "we have screwed up their health system". 
The documentary "las cloacas de interior" "the sweage of inner affairs" collects some of those documents. 

I doubt it can be found in Spanish pages. It came out on public Catalan TV and wasn't broadcasted in Spain. I can't pretend not to see proof or hear proof on recordings of the continuous corrupt state milking the Eastern region while making others hate it for pointing at it. WHERE WAS I????

Dear Spanish citizen:
I don't care what reasons you have to believe we shouldn't be a country. I don't give a 1 cent coin for the unity of Spain any longer, or at least as long as the radical right is in charge, where not a single of their components has left their mandate after outrageous acts against their holy constitution. I don't care about monarchies and there is no reason to respect the current Spanish one, not for their words and definitely not (NOOS) for their acts.
I don't care about your facts coming from the manipulated centralistic media. 
We, you, are the people, humans, not a corporate. And I feel some Spanish individuals have dehumanised us enough.
Like many Millions of Catalans believe, this is not about that untouchable constitution the state violates and modifies in 5 minutes to accommodate to the King's offsprings. 
I understand the referendum wasn't official, and it was our best effort as a nation to peacefully demonstrate our disapproval of the Spanish empire and state of things.

It's simply not working. I doubt in the ability of the government to dialogue. 
It's over.
 Better alone than sleeping with my abuser. 

I understand as a Spaniard, you might be content with the Status Quo, and I understand you can't walk on my shoes. I understand you can only get the scope of the Catalan reality if you are Catalan. I even see where you come from, you believe in a united Spanish Kingdom (or republic), you don't want your identity shaken. Guess what? Neither do we.

We have had enough of humiliation. As a Catalan, my pledge, my vote to a new country is about DIGNITY.

07 de juny 2017

The magic of the 4 word STAY

Fraiser Island. Einzelgänger. Dispersa. Absent. Empanada. Peroxided, clueless.

Hit by the force of a very simple statement that haunts me constantly. That word that has the most impact on me, freezes my blood and gets me back to that Ferry ride to Cairns. That changed my outlook and changed me forever.

A four letter word: Stay.
Inspired by AFP's structure of her addictive "Bed Song" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sW4dwXXX7Q, the story of the word in key points that made me leave my birthplace in a cloudy mess of unmanageable emotions, as it does:

Exhibit A
You sit and enjoy the company of old friends. And it comes again. And you have to repress an incontrollable torrent of emotions that you are absolutely incapable of controlling. That controls you. But the brain kicks in to explain that. And fails miserably.


Exhibit B
Four in the morning. I get new audio message. It ends with the following words:
"I need you in my life. Please, don't go again. Please stay".
It burns my eyes, I am going to blow off from so much love. I can't manage how I feel, I have problems managing my emotions, I am somehow crippled in letting some feelings just be. I just can't deal with it. Because I don't know the way to make it stop. Because I am not ready, I don't have that emotional vulnerability to process it.

Exhibit C
Two days later. Sitting on the garden table. Girlie day. Beauty session. We are all giggles, 3 generations, the lightness of the being.
I might be so touched by the 4-letter word because I am the one with most impediments to comply...
Ouch, it falls on top of the audio message at 4 AM days before, like a recurring message I need not hear. I take a picture of her covered in chocolate, she takes a picture of me wearing a rubbish bag with gloves on. Laughs, it's about to come... looks at me and says:
"I feel grounded since you are around" "A part of me makes me feel safe" "everyone who knows me has noticed it". "I so would love you to stay".

You won't read this, I know. l though I rationally verbalised how deeply it touched me and managed to keep my face composed, taking the happy part of the statement.  You didn't realise of the background processes loading. Fraser Island, 4Am, emotional crippled chosen self-punishment to feel alive, even that night in Waiheke after watching "Being John Malkovich"... 
Because I would so love that very moment would be forever now. and because I know I won't...


... For now. Until all my lives align in one place. If ever.

Ferry from Fraiser Island. I have just changed a plane ticket to fly off the same day, because I can't process the intensity of new discovered feelings. Because I had never believed the in the"stay" concept. Everything I was experiencing was so new and so scary, I had to go away. And then you said:
"I have never felt like this before" "I need you near" "please stay".

And I stayed, and I never regretted it. I was willing to stay forever. It seemed so easy.
And forever lasted what forever does, short, nothing is eternal. And only after I left again I realised how good it did to stay.
This word haunts me.

And that was all it took for me to do it. To stay, to stay committed to be there. To surrender to the urge to flee all those emotions before they sank in. You asked me to. And I stayed once. 
It was so easy. I felt grounded. I had an island, the peace of belonging, a life support.

I wish I could say that once. I wish I would mean it. I wish it could be real. I commited to stay in my soul place, tried all options, sacrificed career paths, sold my life to government rules and it didn't work.

Maybe there is not a place to stay. And that made me ponder of collecting all those stories of people who feel home is a temporary place to gather energies to move on. 

12 de març 2017

You are not going to get on the way to my happiness

It has been some solid weeks of unexpected showers. But also an opportunity to connect with strangers (Random acts of kindness, sharing a cup of coffee made on a camping stove while keeping shelter under the pouring rain. Two strangers: me, on the scooter, him, coming from a boat at sea).
So there is sometimes a bright(er) side of rain, which is always great to our friends, the trees. So at least something wins.
Museum days, reading, eating soul food in company and a lot of laundry that never dries. In a place where rain is not the rule, everyone starts feeling down and apathetic. Kind of like when Dutch experience more than 5 days of +25 degrees, unbearable heat fills all topics and they doubt if there is life beyond the shadow line. 

And even then, when the patience threshold reaches peak and you even walk away before parading at Mardi Gras, even then... The love grows. 
Sydney has been voted as one of the least exciting cities in the world and I like the bad rap. Unexcitement: more daytime activities and business people too busy to see beyond their suitcases. Ergo: get a liberal job and enjoy the quiet outdoors on office hours! 
Now that kids are back to school and backpackers move north it is time to continue my love affair with this city. 
My happiness finds a lot of happy places here!

I felt the dopamine. I was high on love. In love. Enjoying my lunch at the Art Gallery, seeing colourful parrots being cheeky. Absorbed, hoping the moment never ends. Butterflies, warm fuzzies and all the shebang.

And then something happened. I was happily collecting graphic evidence of my blissful time. 
Per below, I took a picture of a wall size poster of a young Warhol, part of the exhibition. It impacted me at first sight.
Right in the middle there was a lady eating a pie. I was only aware of her presence after taking the picture, but she was part of the moment, I guess.
I don't remember what indigenous group it was that has an issue being photographed or caught on video because they think you take their soul. 
The lady seemed extremely unhappy of being caught on camera and it made me think of that immediately (and I wandered off in my mind again while she was addressing me...) 
She was unhappy. I understood. I wish she would have stopped shouting to listen to me. We all have been caught involuntarily on someone else's shot. With the availability of devices and the frequency we record things it has become a common fact to have our souls taken. We are more exposed and we take it as something that has come with modern times. 
So I was with her. But I also was flabbergasted at her exaggerated reaction seen my kind predisposition. I came closer, I smiled rather incredulous of the absurdity of the issue and at ease with the simplicity of its resolution. I was going to simpatise and ask her about her day. But she went on, and I really lost track of the ongoing blurb (mind wandering off and wondering what indigenous group doesn't like pictures...). 
She must have had a bad day...

And then, still shouting she asked me to see the picture. And I showed it to her. At that point I had a chance to talk and I offered to delete it. And she obviously agreed. In an upbeat tone I asked her if she would let me photograph the poster without her on the frame, then. 
And the shouting began again: "Oh, so now I have to be out of the picture?"
An argument gone wrong. I went silent and walked away, picture undeleted. I had a moment to look around and see people taking pictures everywhere. I couldn't agree more with the lady. I loathed being on the other side. And, most of it, I was in such a loved up stage I wasn't able to comply any longer, because she interrupted my dreamy state with an aggressive confrontation.

And here is the happy learning out of it. When in a confrontation, my body gets very tense and I always avoid conflict trying to find many ways to give the other party part of the reason, as I know, it is all a matter of perception. 
If the conflict goes on personal attacks I do try to find what I've done wrong, but it haunts me. 
We all make mistakes and we will never make everyone happy with our choices. We all get hurt in some way from verbal confrontation. We can also decide how much we want it to affect us.
So here's that. I shook the tension, the guilt feeling and made my way to a video art performance. I managed to calm the bad stomach. The dopamine was gone, but I also stopped the adrenaline to take over. I felt calm and more focused and promised myself not to let me ruin the day. It wouldn't have otherwise. But I would have finished it to sulk on how things could have been dealt better. But I didn't. And I went on to the video exhibition and the Aboriginal Art.

And that's how it works. 

01 de març 2017

see with your heart

Life in Sydney continues, and now it is same old new at my then-place of residence in Vaucluse: Clairvaux. 
I once attempted to keep a diary of the life in this house, but sheer amusement and happy times kept me rather busy from writing about what a roller-coaster it was to share your domestic life with 18 people under a hilarious pseudo-tyranny.

I am not going to look back, not on this post at least. Demographics have changed in the house and it is quite interesting how millennials view the concept of sharing. But, I am not going to lie, many of the originals stayed in a two-dimensional quest to saving money and in the meantime purchasing all those things they thought they needed. 
The happy moments outweigh the different views and the meaningful connections have made my life much richer.

Yesterday was a meh day. You know, you sometimes have those. You don't jump out of bed in excitement and want to make love to the world. The only idea of getting up was too hard to bear. Although the weather forecast said it was going to be rainy all day the day started so sunny and gorgeous I had to listen to my inner voice say:

"This morning is a gift, you will miss such days"  

subsequently, I peeled myself off the sheets... rather meandrous.

I have set an Instagram account (@selvetchen) and I am keeping track of a visual diary to record my life on the other hemisphere. A dream that came true in 1998 and has made me feel part of this side of the world. But yesterday I decided to ditch the camera and make it a "see with your heart" day. 
Choice of running field: The Hermitage walk with the idea of going for a run + swim - the perfect plan to wake me up.

I still have sore hamstrings since "the ripping" in September and I had tired muscles from the run the day before. The road was all downhill, thus heavy on the joints, so I decided to walk instead. 

All that I saw... 

Mushroom viewing! After some evening storms there were huge mushrooms everywhere by the trees. But, being in OZ, they couldn't be just regular shrooms, they had to be weird psychodelic phantasies. One of them opened to show an interior worth a sci-fi creature, but I couldn't google out what I saw. I did find a video of the colour-changing one. It was so much fun. Look!

quite amusing!

On my way to the beach a storm hit us. It was beautiful to stand there and see the sand get wet, my clothes get wet, the sea change its colour to a pearly grey, people running, the smell of the sea lurking strongly under our noses, the misty pavement. 
I took shelter in the old bath house and continued my trajectory. On the way to the southerly beaches I found a couple of big lizards and many baby ones, which are oh so adorable I always feel compelled to talk to them. 

When I arrived to Hermitage Beach the best surprise was there to greet me: The fun dance of a school of fish. 
As I was sitting on the dock, watching the clouds dissipate and the sky start its reddish dawn ceremony a baby manta ray decided to emerge and dance among the fish. I was there witnessing it all, thinking that the best things I have enjoyed have never been caught  on camera. 

I had been listening to Anita the day before talk about some holidays she took to Greece years ago and how dead the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas are.
While watching a manta gracefully swimfly with fish I thanked again being on this side of the world and being able to see so many living beings I unfortunately can't see in my sea any more. Go figure right in the city. 

Back home to a chai and no footage. Indeed:

                                           on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur

20 de gener 2017

Life in Sydney. Life again

I sometimes wonder why I need to keep these memories. Writing puts my thoughts in order. It grounds me, it rescues images and adds the emotions. 

On my arrival I was in the airport with bits left of the post-Christmas munchies, looking for some Aussie yum to bite on, despite not being hungry at all. I had had processed sugars throughout Christmas and -maybe not belonging in this post- I can tell by comparison the devastating effects in your body and your appetite. In the infinite time I need to keep enjoying life one of the things I want to give back to the community is my body-mind wisdom. I might not have the heart-mind bit all too well adjusted. But my body-mind communication (and cognitive ressonance) is quite impressive.

I rode the eternal ride from the airport all the way to Bondi Junction. On the way I thought how quickly one adapts to the known environment, using my opal card again, which is called OV in NL, which is called T10 in Barcelona. 
In the Junction I bought a pair of sunnies and reactivated my Aussie number. Ready! 

I went down the road from the bus station to be picked up by my Angloaussiesraeli family in a quiet café, which was closed. I was hoping to grab a deliciously vegan friendly coffee.

Ever since I arrived I have noticed the good heart of people living in this city. While waiting to be picked up I was running out of battery and a guy just opened his office to me to pplug the phone in. He was happy to leave me there while sorting a delivery. I find it natural as my natural state is to trust and be trusted, but it is not always the case wherever you go, so worth mentioning. I have had countless shows of random trusting kindness and I must say that part of who I am is thanks to the lessons of trust learnt in my communal life in the Vaucluse area. 
One reason to fill the love tank and to feel that I belong here. 

My Anloaussieraeli family arrived. It was amazing to be picked up and see all the girls in one car, love gushing into the tank. 

We spent the day catching up, we went to the library to get some books and we had some yum dry-frozen strawberries coated in dark chocolate. 
I went to visit Anita afterwards. I was determined to stay awake until the sun went down. My voice was getting weaker, although when we saw each other we couldn't stop talking. We had to leave it for another day. The cousin showed up. Amazing how little I see him but how closely related I feel to him. It has been years of connecting with the Gisborne-Wellington whanau. 
In a heartbeat we agreed to arrange a family lunch shortly. I had no energy left. 

My following days were filled with jet lag and exhaustion. In short I was preparing myself to take more pictures, more videos and deliver proof of the reason why life here suits me like no other I know. 

17 de gener 2017

The faces of joy

My life in Sydney has restarted. It has restarted me, after doing a system upgrade.
I utterly love my life here to a level I can't describe. How many times I think I should have my family and close friends here... Damn! I should have been born here.
I am on Winter hiatus, still recovering from Jet Lag and my mind /update 2 weeks post-arrival/ just sort of stopped doing funny things.
****** This bit is some linguist geeky talk, so skip if your brain starts to swollen up. ****
Until way past jet lag, my head was still in different language zones. I am such a useful case for research... Because I had slowly recovered what we call the "European Accent" = undefined English learnt from all English speakers, native or not--, I could hear how I would pronounce certain words depending on how often I had used them in different countries. I just heard myself slip up Dutch-influenced words/grammatical constructions, fluctuating from Kiwi, Aussie and European at random. I was doing this analysis while having lunch and chatting up with my Aussie/Kiwi Whanau. 
I had just aarrived. We were four people, four accents: a neutral Kiwi accent (the equivalent to mine, but down under version), a full Aussie accent, a full Kiwi accent and my hard to define European accent with a fragmented Jet Lagged brain across linguistic zones. 
Then listening to my interlocutors, matching up and adjusting (the sounds, sentences and words I uttered were worth a case study).
 What an amazing brain of immersive/kinaesthetic learning I have! I have to give myself credit for that, my grandmothers both died. They understood little linguistics. 
Our kind is rare. It takes years of crossing language zones. Constantly. 

******** Now you can go back to reading more emotional writing, next posts will have more anecdotes, promise, there are enough ***********

So, geekisms aside, I can't stop crying these days. I don't know what it is. It must be sheer happiness and it is scary. I remember how I didn't shade a tear of sadness on the prospect of moving back to NL and I am blissfully, maybe intentionally, uninfluenced by it in a sort of "don't mention-don't feel- fashion.
I go on with my happy self without thinking too much that this is my only life and I need more time so I can enjoy it even more. Maybe others don't feel this way, or don't relate. Maybe they are happy just so, because they only feel home in one place and my tears are a consequence of global awareness and chronic Fernweh, damn!

I realise, in OZ, I reconnected quite quickly to my usual activities and people with less difficulty than in Europe. I guess I was only gone a year here, so things don't change so much that you have to find your space again. 
It took me a while to do so in Amsterdam. I always join initiatives on my own and often feel awkward if it is about regular group meetings, because it seems everyone know each other, I am the smiling intruder coming from nowhere and I don't know how to measure my level of sociability or enthusiasm, if that is a concept. I stopped thinking I am too weird to fit in, because I am weird enough not to fit fully anywhere, but shy at times to make it a smooth transition. 

Something has changed, though... And I am meeting new people. And experiencing the craziest coincidences.

I opened up an Instagram account, following a friend's advice in trying to befriend the camera after a Christmas conversation. It has helped to share with close friends what my life looks like down under.
Instagram ID: selvetchen. 
I am not a good photographer, but it is my approach to a visual diary. Bear with me, I am not used to it. I have to force myself to take the camera and take pictures, but once it is done, then it will be a visual memory... 

Since my arrival I have been non-stop giving and receiving love to and from friends, and the uploading pictures has won time to the writing, as it takes less time and reflecting. And right now I move from social gathering to social gathering. It is Summer after all.

But so many fascinating things have happened that I need to share, that I'll try to write short posts with the day's experiences/learnings.