Saturday 12 June 2021

pride month

Disclaimer (or something...): I apologise beforehand to all my friends (and not yet friends...) of the LGBTQ+ community for the potentially wrong terminology used in the following. My heart is in the right place, my intentions are noble and I’m still learning. Thank you.

I love pride month! Although sexuality for me has been a pretty straightforward matter (I’m straight and knew I was since I fell in love with Patrick Duffy at the age of 6), for as long as I can remember I have been sensitive about it in the sense that I understood that this is not the case for many people. That for some it’s complicated but that does not mean it’s wrong. That “the different” exists and that’s ok. I knew there was something special about my sweet uncle T at times that him being gay was not even hinted. May he rest in peace, he only lived (happily I hope) with a man during the last few years of his life. As I was growing older, at uni, I formed lovely friendships with beautiful people that happened also to be gay. Until I met my closest friend S here, a compatriot in this foreign country I live in for more that two decades, a wonderful man who also happens to be gay.

And he’s not the only one. The people in my life with the longest relationships (and I mean, really long!) are in the majority gay! I guess that says something for us straight people, no? Or maybe not... I should not generalise... I mean, love is love and that’s that! Nobody else’s business unless it means to be happy for them! 

So, with so many really close friends who are gay, I learnt about pride month many years ago. And it did resonate with me that pride month is also the month of my birthday! I mean, June is my favourite month for so many reasons!... Birthday cake and wishes, peonies, strawberries, long days... and proud, colourful love! Once I remember dancing around with gay strangers in the streets of Antwerp, when I was caught in the middle of the parade there, and I could not be happier! I like to wear the “rainbow” as a sign of my support to the community’s claim for justice, equality and visibility because it is a fair claim and long overdue! And I urge everyone to support it as well, even if (or especially if...) it does not touch you personally. We should not live in a society that restricts its members’ right to love! 

So, go out and celebrate pride month, show your support, it only means more love around for everyone! Who doesn’t want that?! It’s “better than shoes”! Happy pride month! 🌈

Monday 31 May 2021

the perfect weekend!

What a weekend I had! I mean, it’s Monday night and I’m still smiling under the influence*! 

The weather finally warmed up, the sun was shining brightly, nature is in springtime without any doubt and my mood could not be better! It started already on Friday, with a nice afternoon walk in one of the parks close to my house with my dear friend S! Just to put us in the weekend spirit which it did marvellously! And as we were walking, the idea popped up to walk to a nearby town and have lunch there on Saturday, together with his husband, the three of us! And the next morning, laundry left for latter (duhhhh...), we met and walked and chatted and even if we did not make it to that town (turns out, we could walk there but coming back by foot was a bit... challenging), we had the most lovely lunch at the cafeteria of a modern art museum, situated in a gorgeous park! The museum is closed (cue COVID...) but the park, the views, the food, the weather, the company above all, it was all perfect! And on the way home, I treated myself to some ice cream (ok, just sorbet, but still).

And then on Sunday I met with my other closest friend M! She came over to see Luci and then we went for a walk, again in the parks, and when we got tired, we came back to my place. I made us some G&Ts and a “midnight pasta” (google it, it’s worth your while) which by the way is excellent for any other hour of the day and we finished our meal with some strawberries with whipped cream (a delicious vegan version of it actually, perfect for my... bad relations with lactose) and a nice chilled late harvest I had in the fridge! Could it get any better than that? Yes! Because after M left, I took a heavenly nap on the sofa, cuddled by my weighted blanket, a recent acquisition that actually works wonders against my anxieties and stress! 

And to top it all up, last Friday the last episodes of season 5 of “Lucifer” dropped on Netflix! You see?? I mean, if that’s not a great weekend, I don’t know what is! I feel so grateful, my batteries are charged, I’m relaxed and ready to face this week that’s... well... a tad tricky. But after this weekend, this “better than shoes” weekend, I’m cool! I’m good to go! And I’m looking forward to the next one! Oh! I’m even going to the hairdresser! Niiiiiice! What more can I ask for? 

*and the influence was helped also by the fact that, today, I spent a couple of hours at S’s garden after work... I’m a lucky woman! 

Saturday 29 May 2021


Last night I watched the special, reunion episode of “FRIENDS”... I had been reading about for, well, forever... and although in the beginning I was sort of nonchalant about it, as the time passed I became more and more interested... and when a few days ago my bestie M (my adopted “little sister”), who knows me very well, texted me that it would be on TV last night, I made sure I remember to watch. I mean, I interrupted my “Lucifer” recap for it, that I was doing in preparation to watch the new episodes that came out yesterday! I was THAT interested! 

And I watched. And I liked it more than I had thought I would. It was nostalgic and sweet and, oh, so funny! And not cheesy, no! Rather down to earth, real. Now, let’s get a few things straight about “FRIENDS”: is it the best sitcom ever? No. That’s “Seinfeld”. End of discussion. Has it aged well?... I mean, yeah, some of the jokes we now know that were not the most appropriate ones but, hey, now we are woke, back then we were not. And it’s a good thing we are and we can identify these things. But that’s it. For the most of it, personally I’m not offended. I’m too busy laughing! I mean... Chandler flipping the lid of the dish washing liquid open to be ready to fire against Joey’s stalker knocking on the door... priceless scene! Pure comedy gold! I’ve watched it like 43 times and it still cracks me up!

So, not the best sitcom, not the most politically correct. But, blimey, it sure is an iconic one! I’m a bit younger than the cast (only a bit) but if I could pick one TV series I can say “I grew up with”, than this is the one. No, I did not exactly grow up with it, I was in my early twenties when it aired, but it feels like I “grew up” with it, like I became an adult with it! And, to me, watching it is like eating pasta! Comforting! Reassuring! Delicious! When I’m sad, when I’m overwhelmed, when the world feels too much, it’s my go-to thing to watch. And it lifts me up every time! It’s the first thing Luci and I watched together. It’s the one series I never watched with a boyfriend! Word! It’s all mine! And my friends’! And no matter how I see it, it’s “better than shoes” and it will always be for me. And... we will never be on a break. 

Saturday 8 May 2021

scent of an era...

I have been feeling a bit low lately... sad things have happened, not enough happy things have happened and I seemed to have misplaced my usual optimism... probably due to the wardrobe/storage room spring cleaning, who knows... poor Luci was running around frantically, could not understand why all my coats and jackets were piled up on my bed for a whole morning! So, anyway, I was not at my best. My go-to solution would normally be a new pair of shoes but I was not falling in love with any... and then it hit me: I needed a new perfume! A new scent to mark the beginning of spring and guide me to my rebirth... or lead me to it by my nose...

I have always loved fragrances! Since I was a child, I thought having a bottle of perfume was the ultimate luxury and I still remember my first one! It was a Christmas present when I was 17, “Paris” by YSL, and admittedly... I can’t stand it now! Rose is certainly not my thing nowadays... but at the time, I felt sooooo grown up, so pampered and special when I was wearing it! Since then, even at times when my pockets were dangerously empty like when I was at uni, I would strive to have a bottle of perfume, even if I only wore it on special occasions. And over the years I have tried many scents and I have truly fallen in love with some of them that I wore for years! 

But nothing like this last one! I ordered it having only tried it from a tiny sample but even so, I knew I was going to love it! Though... I did not know I was going to adore it! And I really do! “So... which is it?”, you would ask... and how could I not share?! It’s “Un jardin sur la lagune” by Hermès! It is the most addictive perfume I have ever smelled, it is mysterious and simple, fresh and complex, light and lasting, hopeful and happy and unforgettable, it is a scent I cannot describe exactly, certainly not roses, but one that has enchanted me! It’s like a story, an experience... a warm feeling long gone, the memory of which lives on... I can’t have enough of it! I mean, I wear it at home even when in sweatpants! And, honestly, I can’t wait to wear it out in the open, having a drink with my friends on a terrace on a warm spring evening! Things start to look up, my friends, I am being cautiously optimistic about this nightmare of the last year (and a half...) coming to an end, and I feel I have chosen the right scent to mark the new era that is about to start! “Better than shoes”?... yep! 

Ps. Perfumes are a veeeeeeeery personal thing and in case you try this one and go “meh”, keep trying until you find the one that is your “better than shoes” scent... or not... who am I to tell you what to do?!... 

Monday 19 April 2021

Englishman in New York

 If I had to choose a song that describes my life better than any other, it would have to be Sting’s “Englishman in New York”.

It’s not even half 4 in the morning, I’m up, after a terrible night (or... part of a night), and I’m watching a YouTube video my brother sent me earlier... Sting, singing live, recently, this song that he knows I hold very dear to my heart. And how could I not?! It’s a gem! The soft, caressing music, the exquisite sounds of Bradford Marsalis, the simple yet always recognisable melody, the intensity of the drums there almost at the end, the singing voice, soft as velvet and unlike any other... and those lyrics... a simple poem about life itself...  this song is just beautiful! I was 14 years old when I heard it for the first time and it made an impression like nothing ever had until then! Being different?! Not following the norm?! How preposterous!! But... how exciting at the same time! “Be yourself, no matter what they say” became my mantra. I was the only fan of Sting’s in my high school (except for my chemistry teacher, Mr M, lovely man!) and I got bullied a lot about my queer tastes... couldn’t care less! Even at that so very young age, I knew... I was going to go my own way, I was most probably going to be an alien my whole life (I felt I had been thus far already...), I was going to drink tea...

Years have passed... so many years... I have seen Sting singing this song live over again and I have sang it with him, I have listened to it alone more times than I can count, I have seen the music video (David Fincher, so you know...) so many times and every time I discover something new, I have spoken about it, joked about it, got misty eyed thinking about it... And, yes, for more than two decades, I too am a legal alien, I too drink tea and not coffee, I too have found myself walking alone down Fifth Avenue, thinking a walking cane would come in handy... and I too have always been myself no matter what they said. 

It’s been a challenging few weeks, maybe you have guessed it, my silence is never a good thing... I’m not going to talk about it... I’m choosing to smile in the middle of the night and share with you this warm and fuzzy feeling “Englishman in New York” has always given me... a song that is definitely “better than shoes”, a song that will always be special to me! And I will always be myself, no matter what they say...

Wednesday 3 March 2021

do not disturb, I’m having a moment...

Middle of the night, woke up from a bad dream that had me clench my teeth to the point of getting a headache... clearly nothing “better than shoes” there... I’ve learned to live with headaches over more than a decade and although sometimes it can be quite debilitating, to say the least, tonight it’s not one of those times... it’s ok... But, I did wake up and after browsing a bit to pass the time, I got up to have some tea and feed my furry love who was getting anxious on the bedside table next to me... he’s still a baby and going 7 hours without food is kinda his limit... or so I think... not sure... could be I’m overprotective...

So we got up for breakfast, I had my tea and browny, he had his chicken breast in broth jelly (he’s a bit picky with his food... I don’t blame him... other “premium” brands of cat food we tried, stunk up the room...) and we came back to bed as per our usual routine. This is my favourite time of the day because it’s when we do our cuddling and our petting and we both fall asleep again after having showered each other with some good old TLC! Today was no exception... we had with us his little toy mouse, we just named him Max, and at some point while playing with Max who slipped under the duvet, I lifted it to find him and Luci, rather timidly I should add, crawled under it and... found heaven! He curled up next to me under the duvet and purred so loudly, I thought the neighbours were going to start banging on the wall! I don’t think I have ever seen him (or, more correctly, see a bump under the duvet shaped like him...) look so happy! 

And here we are now... I’m writing this post while my headache is already so much better (the healing effect of happiness...) and he’s sleeping next to me under the bed covers... and I’m thinking that the title of this post is very appropriate for both of us! He’s having his moment and I’m certainly having mine! Feeling him so peaceful and trusting next to me is warming my heart! Over the last 7 months that we live together, I have learned that the love for (and of) an animal is one of the most precious things in life! Of course, being a “cat person”, I think they are the best but, I also see my friend M’s love for her little cocker spaniel and I must admit that that’s something too. At the end of the day, it does not matter whether you love cats or dogs or both or... I don’t know... cockatoos! What matters is to make the decision to have them in your life! I made the decision and it changed me forever! A “forever” built up by moments like this one... “better than shoes” moments! 

Monday 8 February 2021

be my Valentine...

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I started pondering... see, the thing is, I’m 46 years old and I think I have actually “celebrated” the day with a paramour only 3 times in my life. With my first ever boyfriend, when I was 16. He was adorable, he was in love with me but I was long before in love with another boy... so, it only lasted a couple of weeks, I broke his heart because I did not want to pretend, he deserved better. Then, when I was at uni, with my then boyfriend who surprised me with a single red rose he brought me saying “I know we are not a conventional couple but let me be conventional just for tonight”... endearing... he broke my heart as it turned out... And then, if I’m not mistaken, only once really in almost 11 years with my ex partner when he surprised me with a bouquet of red roses... he hated the day, like most holidays, he hated giving any gift that was only meant for the other person and he would not enjoy it too... I loved him and endured... stupidly... and I don’t miss that at all!

So, yeah, I don’t know how I feel about the whole thing... let’s see... yes, every holiday is “manufactured” and “serves commercial purposes” (as if everything else doesn’t) and yes, “if you are in love you should show it everyday not once a year” and blah blah blah... but honestly, I see nothing wrong in getting a card (preferably a funny one...) for the one you love or a bunch of flowers... c’mon... it’s just a gesture, it’s sweet, you don’t need to splurge, as is the case with any occasion, it’s the thought that counts! Make your special one feel special, show them you care... nothing wrong with that! Or just take the opportunity to tell the one you like that you like them! It’s ok! We are never too old for that! A couple of years ago, I got a ❤️ texted to me on Valentine’s Day and it put a smile on my face for the whole day! Ok, later it turned out I was not special at all and the guy had sent it to everyone he knew... that kinda hurt... retroactively... but still, I think that to let someone you like know you like them on 14.02 is not a lame move, it’s cute! And we don’t have nearly enough cute things in our lives! I’m all for cute! It keeps us young! 

Yeah... so, is Valentine’s Day “better than shoes”?... mmmm... can be. Not as such, but it can be. And there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong if you get no card, no flowers, nobody tells you they like you or you have nobody to kiss on February 14th. It’s all ok! Really! It says nothing of your real worth and it certainly is no reason to be depressed and/or go nuts about it on social media! Girl, please! I mean, it’s only a day... it can be special but if it’s not, it only lasts 24 hours like any other day and then it’s over... I guess, in the end, that’s the thing: it’s a day that can be special so you should hold on to it for as long as you like but if it’s not, just let it go and move on... Simple, no? Phewwww! I guess it’s clear to me now!

Wednesday 3 February 2021

two minutes of bliss...

Right... as it happens, I’m up in the middle of the night because of my stupid sciatica! Or should I say my stupid age... although technically my age is not stupid, it’s just old! Ok, old-er, I’m certainly not a WWII veteran... not even a Vietnam veteran! Anyhoo, so, my lower back hurts, my leg hurts and I’m up having a tea at this ungodly hour, Luci on the other side of the table is quietly digesting his “breakfast” and I’m thinking that I need to focus on something good! Pronto! 

Did not take long to spot it... Good things to focus on are always available, either literally in front of us or in our memory palace, but the bad things have this silly effect on us, they blur our vision and we can’t look anywhere else... it takes a bit of training to be able to focus on the good while the bad is happening but, hey, if I can do it, anyone can! I’m not special! 

So, here’s what I focused on: Yesterday, after I finished my work, I had lunch (or whatever you call it at 4pm...) and a cup of tea and then I curled up on the sofa under my blanket, ready for a well deserved nap. I had just paused “Modern Family” and dozed off when I heard a sweet meow, in sotto voce really, and the next moment Lucifer jumped on the sofa next to me. He licked my nose and made himself comfortable, laying down by my side while his little head rested on my pillow next to mine and his aquamarine blue eyes looked at me half closed... he put his paw on my cheek and fell asleep. I was... in heaven! The sweetness of the moment was almost unbearable, the beauty of this little creature expressing his love and trust in me, his surrender next to me and his...  mirroring me (laying on the sofa like me with his head on the pillow like me...) was just so heartwarming I got misty eyed... ehhh... sometimes I’m such an emotional blob!

Of course... it only lasted two minutes. Luci is exactly like me, cuddles are awesome but not when we go to sleep. Then, we both need our space to breath, to move. Holding hands to the limit, but that’s it, neither of us likes to be smothered. With another meow, slightly irritated this time, he jumped out of the sofa and on to the ottoman, which he’s declared his property, to continue his sleep unimpeded. Oh well, it was “better than shoes” while it lasted... and, no kidding, thinking about now, it has even made my sciatica calm down! Well, what do you know! I may even go back to sleep! Hurray! 

Monday 25 January 2021

keeping it simple...

I was watching a series. Yeah, yeah, no surprises there... nowadays, except for my long walks, my whole life basically happens within the limits of my home and a big part of it on the sofa in front of the TV... lockdown is in effect with a curfew even... but ok, my life was not much different before, I always loved getting lost in the stories told by films and series and living imaginary lives! It relaxes me more than a book (most of my work is reading and usually it’s the last thing I want to do in my free time... unless I’m on holidays, then I devour books!).

Anyway, I was watching this series where the following happened: man met woman, a few witty interactions took place, a few warm smiles were exchanged and then the man asked the woman to go out to dinner, saying “I like you. You are a beautiful woman and I would love to get to know you.” Just like that. No muss, no fuss. Simple. And honest. What we see in someone, their appearance, is what attracts us initially and when it is accompanied by some witty comments and a good smile, that’s usually what it takes to like someone enough to want to get to know them. Evidently, it may or may not develop to something more but the beginning does not need to be more complicated than that! I thought it was an irresistible line and if I were approached this way by someone, I would certainly give it go!

Surely, such an approach can, and should, be followed by a woman too! No reason why not! I can see my self saying something like that. Maybe not 10-15 years ago but certainly today! The point is not who says it. The point is that it is said, when it is felt, simply, honestly, without any games and hidden agendas and manipulation techniques. No. “I like you. I would like to get to know you. And see where that takes us”. I think, when it comes to personal relationships, things should be kept simple. After all, what more is a “relationship“ than two people, going towards the same direction and deciding to walk together, hand in hand, because the journey will be much more pleasant in good company! When it’s in its first stages, you just want to know which way the other person is going and that’s why you want to get to know them. And who knows what happens afterwards. But, yeah, keeping it simple like that in the beginning I think is incredibly attractive, for sure “better than shoes”!

Ps. The series may or may not have been “The Mentalist” and the line may or may not have been delivered by Pedro Pascal... comments making fun of me and my celebrity crushes will not be sensored 😉 

Sunday 17 January 2021

be a giver, not a taker

I heard this somewhere, recently, I don’t remember where... I’ve reached an age that my brain is very selective with the information it retains and lots of it always has to do with shoes so, the rest is limited.

It got me thinking... yes, of course... be a giver, not a taker! Ok, we are all givers and takers at some point, I guess, but what it means is, be a person who enjoys offering to their fellow human being, offering support, assistance, love, care, compassion, advise and even material help, instead of being someone who just sticks around people, like a vulture, to take whatever they have to give (even when it’s not for giving it away... you know... things can be taken by force...). What it means is, learn to share, be generous, not stingy... with stuff, but most importantly with emotions, with gestures... 

For starters, when you enjoy giving more than you enjoy taking, you depend only on yourself for your joy! You can feel it every time you give without having to wait, like a taker has, until someone comes around to take from! Takers need givers, I would think, whereas givers don’t need anyone! If nobody’s around, you can give to yourself! That’s right! You can say a good word and smile to yourself looking in a mirror! You are self sufficient, not a parasite... nobody likes parasites, only parasites themselves and even that’s debatable. So, points for independence! 

Also, when you enjoy giving you can feel joy more often because, in the world we live in, there are so many people who actually need help and reaching out to give to them will always keep your heart filled with the warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness! Plus, you know what they say... “when you can’t take it anymore, start giving!”. Yeah... One of the few things that are guaranteed in life, is that there will be moments when you feel you can’t take it anymore... that you have become the punching bag of the universe and life itself sucks and nothing is good... in those moments, when you are at your lowest, choose to help someone else in need... I can promise you, it will feel like opening a window and letting the light come back in your dark room! And when you feel depleted, like you have nothing else to give, precisely because you are the person you are, you will recharge your batteries easily, you are indeed the one to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and rise again with a smile on your face!

So, yes...  be a giver, not a taker, it’s “better than shoes”. But... make sure you know your limits. Because takers have none at all...

Ps. I hope the above makes sense... I’m writing it at 5 in the morning... Luci got hungry really early today and I’ve been watching “The Mentalist” until very late last night while he was sleeping next to me... 🥴

Saturday 9 January 2021

a good day!

Yesterday, I had a good day! No, seriously, it is possible even during a lockdown due to a global pandemic, to have a good day! Kid you not!

We woke up around 5:15, as per our habit, Luci and I. We walked side by side down the corridor to the kitchen/living/dining room, an image that always makes me think of the Mandalorian walking next to Baby Yoda, and we had our breakfast: canned chicken breast in broth for Luci, half a brownie and an earl grey tea for me. Then, I went back to bed and my little furry guardian angel followed me a while later for our “morning love”... it’s when he lies next to me in bed and I caress him and kiss his head and he purrs happily and then he caresses me (yes, he actually caresses me with his paw!) and licks my nose until we both go back to sleep! Ahhhh... best part of my day!

Then, when I woke up (again) around 10am, as it was the last day of my, admittedly prolonged, end-of-the-year holiday, I decided to go for a walk. The sun had began to shine, it looked cold but I never mind that and the app reassured me it was not going to rain. So, I did. It was a lovely long walk! It cleared my head, as always, and allowed me to get lost in my happy thoughts, breathing the fresh air and giving my body a chance to stretch and move... perfect! I ended my walk making a detour and passing by the organic products’ supermarket to get some coriander hummus and baba ganoush and headed home, exhausted but full of joy!

Took a shower and had my lunch, next to Luci having his, enjoying a big bowl of shiitake and oyster mushroom soup, cooked with lots of thyme and served with a drizzle of truffle oil. Mmmm, delicious! And then I had a cup of ginger, lemon and honey tea and took my afternoon nap on the sofa, while watching “The Mentalist”, that I decided to watch again from the beginning because I had stopped it years ago and I wanted to see it through. Good series. It was Luci who woke me up about an hour later, jumping on the sofa next to me and meowing cheekily, asking for some more petting... I obliged of course! And the rest of the afternoon and evening passed in the same relaxed mode, watching quizzes on the BBC, browsing the web for new shoes, sipping more tea, texting with my friends.

A good day? Absolutely! Was it “better than shoes”? Yes! I decide, don’t I? Times are hard, my friends, life is complicated, weird s**t that we could never imaging are happening, so, yes, under the circumstances, a good day is better than shoes and may we all have many of those this year! 

Monday 4 January 2021

it’s the simple things...

I got peckish... I had my famously delicious broccoli soup for lunch (no, not bragging... stating facts...) and I also had a big piece of amazing vasilópita (traditional New Year’s Day cake) made by my darling S and brought over for our New Year’s Day lunch (yes... a food orgy took place...) with my tea around 5 o’clock but... it’s after 11pm and although I was already in bed, I got up to make myself a cup of hot chocolate, spiked of course with a bit of Kahlua... Luci got very interested in this night venture, surprised to see me in the kitchen at this hour. And as I left with my cup of hot delight at hand, he followed me to the bedroom.

Soooo... here I am, organic hot chocolate made with lactose-free milk at hand (I choose organic and I’m lactose intolerant... there... I share everything with you), laying in bed, watching “Friends” on Netflix as per my habit while Monica and Chandler are getting married, all warm and cosy and comfy, with a fluffy white(ish) British shorthair kitten by my side who’s purring blissfully as I’m caressing his little head! I mean, it’s just perfect! He turns and looks at me with those huge eyes, normally silvery blue but almost black now in the dark, full of love and gratitude (ok, the gratitude bit may have something to do with half a tin of chicken meat I fed him a while ago) and I’m thinking “this is happiness”!

No, seriously, could this moment be any better? I don’t know... maybe... I guess if Luci was curled between Pedro Pascal and me and both were looking at me lovingly... (yeah... I have a crush on him and watching 16 episodes of “the Mandalorian” only to see his face three times did not sit well with me... just sayin’...) but... really... what I just lived cannot be improved too much... and I don’t even care about how it could be improved because, as it was, it was better than shoes! I have learnt in my life never to resent what I have for what I could be having... never suffered from fomo... and that is by choice. So, instead of thinking about how my moment could be improved, I choose to let my heart be filled with joy about what it was! 

Lucifer is now fast asleep on the nightstand, looking like a little angel... and I’m smiling from ear to ear while I’m writing this...