Saturday, 28 March 2020

social closeness...

I’m sick. I know, I know,  this is hardly the way to start a post in a blog that claims not to ever put out anything negative but, it’s true, I am sick and I thought I just say it and get it out of the way.

Now, I live in a country where testing for Covid-19 is... well... let’s say scarce. Looking at the list of symptoms this damn virus causes, from WHO, I would say that things don’t look exactly fabulous for me. However,  and this is the most important thing, my symptoms are mild! I’m not in danger. I have been, of course, in absolute isolation for almost ten days now (not that I was really out and about the weeks before that), I’m not coming into contact  with anyone, I’m staying in bed watching “The Blacklist” (yes, Red is my new crush... duh...), drinking a lot of fluids and monitoring my fever which thankfully stays low.

And as I live through this, certain that this too will pass, I’m thinking hard to find something positive to write about, in this whole... well... pile of excrement the world has ended into... and it’s hard, you know, it’s hard to find something positive in a time of a pandemic, social distancing, isolation, fear, sickness and death... even I, the pathological optimist, find it hard...

And then, my phone chimes! That’s it! I realise that in the last two weeks my phone has been on fire! WhatsApp has never been used so much, mostly sharing of hilarious videos with my friends because, surely, we can joke about everything (and we should, especially at a time like this) but also for my amazing friends to check up on me every few hours! Isn't this wonderful? Isn’t this “better than shoes”? You bet it is! It seems to me that the social distancing has brought us closer together! I’m on the phone with my loved ones 4-5 times a day, texting does literally not stop, I have contacted and been contacted by people I haven’t spoken with in a long time and, goodness, what a blessing this is! We are all housebound but we are not alone! We are all in this together! And we will stay together, while maintaining our physical distance, and we will come out on the other side! As long as we stay kind and we care about each other and for everyone, this stupid bug cannot win!

So, stay calm, stay kind, think of others (especially the ones living on their own), send a text (or ten...), keep in touch! This is it, people! It’s now that we are showing who we are! Let’s be proud of what we showed now when we look back at this time, later this summer, seated on a nice terrace, sipping a G&T with our buddies 😉

Monday, 16 March 2020

being kind...

This post is being written at a time when The Netherlands, my host country for almost two decades, is in lockdown due to the Coronavirus. It is written at a time when #staythefuckhome is trending everywhere in social media and has popped in front if my eyes at least 11 times this weekend... and, I did not like it. And it got me thinking. So, here goes.

Just to be clear, I’m all in favour of staying home. It’s absolutely imperative! It’s Monday and I’ve been home since Friday evening, when I came back from work with my laptop and files, ready to start working from home. Officially, I was not sent home. I was advised to work from home. And I’m doing it because it’s a damn good advise, although I have no desk or proper chair and I will be struggling with tiny screen on my kitchen table for the days to come. But it must be done and I’m doing it. And I will not be going to the supermarket, I’ll make do with what I have at home, a couple of weeks without fresh veggies will not kill me. And I will not be seeing my friends. I will be “seeing” my sofa and my companion will be Netflix.

But while I do all that, I’ll keep being kind! I will not be ordering anyone to f@cking do anything because it is exactly at times like this that we must maintain our civility to each other, advise and explain rather than succumb into fear mongering, contain our aggression which stems only from our anxiety and not allow our fear to turn us into rabid animals in our cages that fight each other via Facebook! The only thing we have to fear is fear itself and as intelligent beings we should start using our intelligence!

Yes, many of us will get sick. And some tragically will die but, for goodness sake, try to imagine yourselves in the 97% which will survive instead of the 3% which will die... you are not that special anyway and neither am I! Get some perspective! Some optimism never hurt anyone! And while you are being cautious and prudent and optimistic, strongly recommended given the circumstances, also try to be kind! Try to be compassionate and carrying and nice and helpful. Most of us, by far the most, will survive the virus... and we would like to go out for a drink with some friends to celebrate it! Let’s make sure we have friends left 😉

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

safety...

Yesterday was a day of revelation... As I’m slowly getting back to my work routine, after having spent the last three months recovering from a rather severe burnout and trying to reprogram my brain to set healthy boundaries (who am I kidding... we are talking a full reboot!), and also after having had a long conversation with a friend last week about matters of the heart, yesterday it actually came to me: the most important thing in a personal relationship, whether friendly or amorous, is feeling safe! Safe to be ourselves, safe to express what we feel and what we think without being afraid that that will lead to abandonment! Personal relationships should provide a safe space!

I have very often in my life felt unsafe in a relationship... in fact, since I was a kid, the thing I craved the most was safety... ironically, it is the one thing I have not found in my personal life with the exception (and it’s a big one!) of my wonderful friends! Who do indeed provide a safe space for me to be myself, to not sensor my thoughts, my actions, my words... because they know that it all comes from a good place, from love, from care, from honesty... Although... lately I have reconsidered a friendship precisely because it pushed me to the position of having to filter what I say, to avoid talking about things that worry me, that concern me, things that are part of my life... and it has not been easy because it is the first time that I have actually focused on how I feel in a relationship rather than how the other person would feel...

And this was instrumental in me reaching the conclusion that it is safety that is the most important thing in a relationship... often, especially in romantic relationships, because we feel so many other things (love, lust, longing, pleasure, fear...) we forget to ask ourselves the most important question: does this person make me feel safe? Because, what is the point in being in a relationship that makes us feel unsafe? One that does not come naturally, one that we have to constantly fight for, one we have to chase after and that we have to hide our true self? Isn’t it doomed to fail? I think it is! So, ask yourselves whether you feel safe in your relationships... the answer might surprise you but, me thinks, it is important! Feeling safe in a relationship is truly better than shoes!

Ps. Obvs, I’m talking about emotional safety... if you actually feel physically unsafe, run!!


Friday, 21 February 2020

words...

I never believed in the old saying about sticks and stones and words... I always thought that words are so powerful that they can break bones! Remember how Hannibal Lecter convinces his fellow inmate to kill himself just with words in “Silence of the lambs”?... ok, extreme and gross, my example, but you get my drift... Words can bring the ultimate joy or the abysmal sorrow, words can make us feel like we are flying over fields of green and skies of blue (just like in the song...) or like we are slowly crawling down a dark pit... words... have always affected my life perhaps even more than the actual events... I have been offered words that I think I will never forget, not even when I have forgotten my own name... good words... bad words, mostly... words that have left their mark on my soul... unspeakable words... beautiful words... cruel words...

So, when last Saturday I went to the theatre to see the definitive play about words and their power, “Cyrano de Bergerac”, I knew it would be... well, powerful!... what I did not know, was that I was going to be so overwhelmed with emotions, like an avalanche, all of them at once, the good the bad and... the ugly! Because, James McAvoy’s Cyrano, is ugly... he is ugly because he feels ugly... and the famous big nose, that is not there physically to see, is somehow more present than ever! And I shared his pain, I shared his love, I shared his desperation, I shared his shame, I shared his fear, I shared his joy at times, I shared his brief moments of feeling superior, smug even, followed by long periods of feeling the most unworthy man on the face of the Earth... I shared his secret, I shared his laughter and his tears... and I shared all that because... he shared his words with me!

He says “ I love words, that’s all...”... yes... me too! I love words too! I love them, I dread them, I cherish them, I believe them, I ignore them, I forget them ever so often (if I had a Euro for every time I forgot the word I was looking for in the language I wanted it in... I would buy more shoes, probably...). Words tell our stories, express our feelings, allow people to know who we are or hide us from them, comfort us and let us comfort the ones we love, protect us or expose us, make us laugh, make us cry, make us happy, make us miserable... they make us kind or monstrous... they make or break relationships, they start and end wars... words make us human...

Words are better than shoes... but, just like shoes, they need to be chosen and used wisely 😉

Ps. Yes, the play was “better than shoes” too, of course, and yes, go see it if you still can! It’s unforgettable! 

Friday, 24 January 2020

speaking up...

...is better than shoes. Any day of the week.

I remembered the other day an incident from my childhood... I was 12 years old, year six of primary school, and for whatever reason we had a replacement teacher for a few days. He was young, much younger than our regular teacher who was also the school principal (and a pervert who put his dirty-old-man hairy hands all over us girls from year four to year six that he was our teacher... yeah... #metoo), and actually nice. But... one day, I don’t remember what he said but it was while we were having a conversation he and I, I exclaimed, rather indignant I might add, “what you are saying is unconstitutional and anti-democratic!”. Yep. Did I mention I was 12 at the time?...

I mean... I always had a big mouth... I was always very sensitive when it came to unfairness, abuse, violation of my rights, injustice... and I have not really changed, in spite of my mother’s pedagogical approach every time my reaction would be regarded from her as “talking back at her”... namely to beat the living lights out of me... No, I haven’t really changed... I still say exactly what is on my mind, I still argue my opinions, I still talk the talk (and walk the walk, if you are wondering...) and defend my rights and those of others who perhaps can’t... and yes, unsurprisingly, my big mouth has gotten me into trouble many a time and has put me in many a black list... but I have not regretted it! Not once! In fact, I have regretted not opening my mouth quite a few times!

We all, and especially we women, need to learn to be brave and speak up! We need to learn to defend ourselves, nobody else is going to do it for us. I mean, yes, I will (because I’m a modern day Robin Hood with much better shoes) but I cannot be there everywhere and for everyone! I would but I can’t! So you have to do it for yourselves! Speak up! Yes, it’s often scary, at least in the beginning, but you will get used to it! I promise you, you will get the hang of it, you will get good at it! Just... practice! And if it lands you in a black list (or two...), that’s ok too... only boring people are liked by everyone 😉

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

my new sweater...

...is better than shoes! Better than Aquazzura’s “Tequila” pumps (google them... don’t expect everything from me, people!), we are not talking any shoes! It is better, because I made it!

After having knitted scarves for everyone I love in the last three months (yes!... for everyone I love and I’m blessed in loving quite a few people who are all kept warm and cosy now) I decided to take the next step. Of course, the idea had been simmering for some time; I had found and bought the perfect yarn, I had seen countless videos on YouTube for techniques I would be needing, I had turned the hanks of yarn to balls (yeah... that takes time too... but, it’s pleasant when you do it while watching TDS) and put them in pretty boxes... I was preparing! And then, I did it!

Yep! I actually knitted a whole sweater by myself! From start to finish! And it is gorgeous! The yarn is the softest merino wool from Peru, softer than cashmere, hand-dyed in the most magnificent shades of purple and aubergine and yellow and green and blue and pink and red, making it absolutely uniquely beautiful! Well... unique... duh! There is not a second one in the whole wide world! Literally, one of a kind! And it is mine and I made it! I don’t remember being so proud of myself  about anything in the last... oh... I don’t know... a very long time anyway! And I’m proud not just because I made it but because I saw it through! I set a goal (not my cup of tea...) to knit a sweater, and achieved it! I did not give up, I did not get scared (ok... truth be told, I did get scared when shaping the neckline but not enough to give up) and I finished it!

And... when I put it on for the first time... oh, the feeling of wearing such a beautiful piece of clothing totally created by me, was indescribable! It was definitely and absolutely better than shoes!!

Ps. So far, I have received only compliments from my besties who got pics of it... later today I’m wearing it in public 😉

Saturday, 11 January 2020

RuPaul Charles...

Of course, I always knew who he was... I mean, “Love Shack” and “Don’t go breaking my heart”... I’m a kid of the ‘80s... (ok, yes, technically the ‘70s)... that smile and those dance moves were hard to forget once you’ve seen them! And, in my teen years, RuPaul made it so natural and so easy for me to accept that we don’t all fit in little boxes and that is ok for a man to put on a dress and a wig and perform... especially when the performance was so full of joy and made me wanna get up and sing and dance!

But... I never knew “who” he was. Not until bestie S told me to watch his “Drag Race”. I binge-watched all ten seasons non-stop! It was around Christmas 2018, at the end of a year when I had lost my partner and best friend, my family, my dignity, my self-esteem... a year that broke my heart in a thousand pieces... but, episode after episode, it was the queens who got me out of my misery! Who made me wanna pick myself up and move on! Not because listening to their stories, heartbreaking and tough and cruel life stories at times, made me think that I had it easy... no... it was because no matter what, they picked themselves up and moved on! Because they were strong, fierce, full of love for life, full of talent and wit and kindness and truth and always ready to support each other even when they were competing against one another!

And that’s what real women are like! Regardless of what a patriarchic society wants us believing, no, we are not against one another, we are together, we stand up for each other, we shine brightly and we fight tirelessly every day! Like me and my girlfriends! Like the girls in “Drag Race”! And yes, it did take RuPaul and his “Drag Race” and all the queens to teach me that and I will always be grateful! Because it literally changed my life! And, yes, he’s right that we are all in drag and it’s ok as long as we know it...

It took me another year to write this... a year of struggle, exhaustion, sickness, loneliness and hard lessons... a year when ever so often I would find myself feeling so low that only watching “Drag Race” would put a smile on my face... but, another year that I survived! I guess, a “thank you” is long overdue... So, thank you RuPaul Charles! For your truth and smile and generosity and wisdom and joy of life! And your dance moves! From the bottom of my heart, thank you! Needless to say, having you in my life (yes, I have you, you don’t know it but I do) has been better than the best pair of shoes I could ever possibly possess!