Monday, January 22, 2007

Life is always better with a soundtrack

My love affair with London was torrid.

I fought and kicked at her, loved her passionately and with glorious abandon, rediscovered her at every turn, fell out of her graces, grew bitter and angry, despised her teeming streets and never ending streaming tourists, threatened to leave and then to stay; felt suffocated and empty and small in her embrace until suddenly, one day wandering Soho's dirty streets with my walkman and a broken heart, feeling that life had somehow forgotten about me that I fell completely madly utterly back in love.

Life is always better with a soundtrack.

On that grey Wednesday afternoon it was Saint Etienne with its neopolitan candy sweet cover that brought London back to me; not too long after The Ex and I had left each other and not too long after I had been told I was losing my job. Somehow, amidst all that, there was joy.

I had forgotten the soundtracks of my youth, dancing to Olivia Newton John and lip synching to ABBA in my mom's old sequinned boob tubes and silver shoes, my brief foray into Motley Crue and Def Lepard, sitting underneath a street lamp listening to RATT on long summer evenings. My graduation to the Sex Pistols, The Dead Kennedys and The Cure watching the boys skate by, even now there is still that nostalgic yearning of those crushes at the sound of a skateboard whizzing past me. Depeche Mode, INXS, U2, The Cult, Joy Division, New Order. All anthems of my teenage heart, cassettes carefully compiled and labelled *Dave* or *Rob* or *Chad* to play alongside adolscent angst; listening to Bob Marley and Cat Stevens in tie dyed t-shirts and quartz crystal necklaces in Amelia's bedroom. A friend handing me Nirvana "Bleach" before the grunge scene exploded. Frustrated with the AM radio in my old 1968 Plymouth struggling to pick up a frequency on the drive to college, I travelled with a small ghetto blaster tucked on the front seat.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood reminding me of nights at the China Beach; Gin Blossoms and Stone Temple Pilots of the hot days of my 19th summer, margaritas on those humid Monday nights and my little red sportscar. Tuesday nights at Luvaffair introduced me to Front 242, Nitzerebb; lured me onto the dance floor with Morrisey and The Beastie Boys. Jamiroquai and the soundtrack to Priscilla playing over and over, lipsticks and misfits marking my days at MAC.

My 20's flew by in shiny UK clubs and hip hop, dance, trance, ska, punk, rock, house. I couldn't keep up, jumped from bar to bar, drank too much and danced it off. Worked PR for clubs and sat up drinking tea and talking tattoos with Boy George and Jon Digweed one crazy January night. Yet nothing ever stayed fluid, there was no consistency, no soothing sounds and I lost interest.

Life is better with a soundtrack.

The Ex was a music aficionado, yet it took Knickers' eclectic collection of old jazz and the boys in Kentish Town's acoustic collections to turn me back on. That glorious summer sunset in Afissos and Manu Chao; Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, The White Stripes playing loudly in the room next to mine, Tom oblivious to the volume. Red wine picnics and Glenn Miller bands in Canary Wharf attempting to jive in the streets, dancing in my room to Goldfrapp (courtesy of Liam and Friday nights at Ghetto) and wearing out the Wild Strawberries when I was sad.

On a trip to Seattle Miss Devylish sent me home with the Pocket DJ, downloaded her collection onto my itunes. I kept my eyes and ears open, went to gigs, flirted (albeit briefly and with disastrous results) with death metal, accepted an invitation to see Bob Dylan, met musicians and tried new clubs and bars. Danced to G Love at the Commodore, pushed past sweaty hip hops kids at the Columbia and braved the snow and cold for the Bloc Party.

Life, you see, is better with a soundtrack.

And today, making my way across town to work, my shiny new red ipod plugged to my ear, Vancouver suddenly looks brighter. Somehow the rain seems more ethereal, less dull and slightly more glorious.

* My colleague just sent me this, and I had to share as it was so fitting. Turn your speakers up, sit back and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"You broke my fucking heart."

The words, clumsy and direct, are not spoken eloquently nor accusingly. They are not classy, perhaps not even appropriate.

It is, simply, a statement.

The Aussie PIMOTI stares at me, blankly.

We stand staring at each other in the entrance of the bar. A group of girls pushes past me, laughing and suddenly we are hit with the cold January air.

We are both taken aback at the words.

"I'm sorry."

I don't know if there is anything else he can say, confronted by my red lips and drunkeness.

I don't know how to respond, I am even more surprised at the words as they came out of my mouth. It is not the first time I have seen him since, a few weeks back walking down my street with a hat pulled low over my face I passed him, in July I saw him with his arms around another blonde, his face buried in her neck and presumed he had been playing games all along. Both times I fell out of his line of vision, perhaps I was cowardly, or perhaps I simply did not want to be remembered.

"If it helps,"
he offers, looking uncomfortable, "I'm still a little fucked up."

Whether it does help, in that moment or later when I wake up, it doesn't matter. Not really. It was just another bad decision made worse by vodka, by desperation, by loneliness.

I am bi-polar when it comes to relationships, I am either blind, flying in with my heart stretched out in both hands, pleading for it to be taken, to be loved and nurtured, wanting to be consumed with passion and promise. Or I am cold and distant, indifferent and guarded, not allowing my lover so much as a glimpse of this iron heart, holding him away from me and scoffing at love's triumphs.
Last year, I was blind, offering my heart up for so little in return that I came to believe I was no longer desired, nor capable of love. And the men, in whose arms I wanted so desperately wanted to stay, so superficially safe, simply walked away.

The next morning dawns bright, and in hungover technicolour.
There are holes in my memory, my mouth is dry and the room still spins. Some time the night before, vodka and I had fallen out and I am left with the evidence of several late night phonecalls, an empty purse and the start of a hangover that will take 2 days to get over.

And maybe it is the last time I allow myself to make poor decisions after too much alcohol, make decisions based on desperation or loneliness. I am selfish enough to know that my happiness does not lay in anyone's hands but my own, to know that my happiness cannot be bought, or drunk, or found in myths or fairytales.

My happiness does not come from anyone other than inside myself.

Perhaps, finally, it is time I started living like it.


Perusing Pixie's site, I came across the above post, revealing her personality as based on Jung's theory.

Always a sucker for any sort of testing, I played along. Can you spot the similarities?

An ENFP is described as outgoing, social, disorganized, easily talked into doing silly things, spontaneous, wild and crazy, acts without thinking, good at getting people to have fun, pleasure seeking, irresponsible, physically affectionate, risk taker, thrill seeker, likely to have or want a tattoo, adventurous, unprepared, attention seeking, hyperactive, irrational, loves crowds, rule breaker, prone to losing things, seductive, easily distracted, open, revealing, comfortable in unfamiliar situations, attracted to strange things, non punctual, likes to stand out, likes to try new things, fun seeker, unconventional, energetic, impulsive, empathetic, dangerous, loving, attachment prone, prone to fantasy.

And whereas there are a few I may be a bit cautious on, it pretty much fits me to a T.

Intrigued, I came across more insights into my zany personality type...

Social/Personal Relationships: ENFPs have a great deal of zany charm, which can ingratiate them to the more stodgy types in spite of their unconventionality. They are outgoing, fun, and genuinely like people. As SOs/mates they are warm, affectionate (lots of PDA), and disconcertingly spontaneous. However, attention span in relationships can be short; ENFPs are easily intrigued and distracted by new friends and acquaintances, forgetting about the older ones for long stretches at a time. Less mature ENFPs may need to feel they are the center of attention all the time, to reassure them that everyone thinks they're a wonderful and fascinating person.

Careers sway towards the arts, not surprisingly but I was intrigued to see make up artist, bar tender, and writer in there as I have been one of all of those at some point in my life. There is also a very strong focus on television / film /theatre, as well as music journalism, which are fields I am actively pursuing at the moment.
Maybe I have been on the right path after all, I just got a bit distracted on the way.

Take the test here and tell me a little about you...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

t'is my birthday!

"This is a family tradition here, " Asa informs us, placing a lit tea light in front of each of us on the last night we are all together, on Kate's birthday.

And as we go around the table, we all make a birthday wish and give Kate our candles. Some of us have only recently met, but it doesn't matter, we are all touched by words and wishes. We wish her happiness and love, a year of success.
The next day we leave in waves, some back to the States, others to London. I am one of the last to leave, hobbling through Stockholm on my sprained ankle.

A year passes, and whether or not our wishes came true for Kate, the memory of that evening and the tradition of passing wishes has remained in my heart.

I have always loved traditions, Sweden's birthdays were beautiful with singing and happiness. After Kate's dinner out, we retired back to the flat and Sahar came out with cake, the girls behind her singing.

This year I followed Lulu back to LA for New Year, and the gorgeous Carolina insisted we all buy new underwear to wear on New Year's Eve.

"To bring us luck", she says, handing me a red pair. "For passion!"

And we are all to hop on the right foot and eat 12 grapes at midnight, apparently that too is a Brazilian tradition. I settle for some dancing and a few glasses of champagne, I am still not too stable on my right foot and refuse to allow a sprained ankle to become my tradition.

I did not make any New Year's resolutions this year, or last. On my birthday I made determinations. Some I have achieved, others fell by the wayside. It was a hell of a year, of upheaval and change and I still feel I am putting pieces back together.

And now, with 1 minute until I turn 32, with flour in my hair as I make cupcakes to take into work (this is an office tradition) I feel it is only fitting to have a wee reminesce about the past before putting all those hard learned lessons to good stead and moving forward step by step again. Because this year I know what I have to achieve.

This year, I
- shall fall in love, or at the very least allow myself that possibility
- love more, judge less
- remove the word *can't* from my vocabulary
- start my book
- take more photographs
- run 10k
- live my life with conviction, and be immaculate with my words
- open my heart to new possibilities
- smile more, laugh often
- dance, dance, dance
- find a well paying job that I love, that inspires me and where I can create enormous value
- travel places I have never been
- take the time to really be me
- get another tattoo
- make new friends and surround myself with positive energy, keep renewing the beautiful friendships I already have
- be considerate and kind to myself, my family, my friends, the environment and strangers
- read more
- open myself up to limitless possibilities
- seek out local artists, new shows, music and theatre

This list I know will change, will grow, will be adapted to each new challenge as it arises. Last year, in my diary I had these words from Daisaku Ikeda on the front page so that I could start each day with this advice...

"Live! Live with all your might!"

This year, I am going to do just that. That is my birthday wish to myself.

t'was the day before birthday, and all of Vancouver
Lay covered in snow...

Okay, so it may not rhyme.

But just in case you were wondering, the joyous day is a mere 8 hours and 2 minutes away.

In case you were counting.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sometimes I am not ready

My uncle Brian died on New Year's Eve, at home in his house by the sea, his family beside him holding his hand.

I am not sure I am ready to say goodbye, but I have no choice. Somehow, even though we knew, his death snuck up on me, took me days to process. Sitting on the beach with Lulu after hearing the news, it seemed farfetched and surreal.

I am not ready never to hear his laughter again, not ready never to see his smile again. I am not ready to sit at his table and never hear his stories again, walk along the beach with the wind at our back, and tease him when he falls asleep in his chair.

I am unable to find any words to try to soothe their broken hearts. Somehow, my words feel heavy, fall out of my mouth uncouth and uncut, I am ill prepared for this. For the sadness in my cousin's voice. Grief is selfish, it does not allow for us to share it amongst ourselves. It is cold and brutal and raw.

"He looks so handsome in his dark suit," my aunt tells my mother, voices crackling over long distance telephone lines. She is strong, my aunt.

Before he fell ill, my uncle bought new shoes. He liked nice things, worked hard, lived full. He will wear those new shoes Friday to Llandaff Cathedral and a celebration of his life.

My father reminds me of a prank he and my uncle played when they were kids, at the same cathedral which made the headlines of the South Wales Echo.

Mischevious to the end, I think he would have gotten a kick out of that.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Books (and the birthday countdown)

When I was younger, when the rest of the kids were running around playing tetherball or dodgeball, I was always the one in the corner, wrinkling my nose to push my glasses back into place, glued to whatever book I could get my hands on. Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, then Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Secret World of Og, afternoons whiled away at a library or on the deck at the back of my parents' house.

Old books, cult books, new books, classics, horror, french, history, fantasy, selp help, poetry, clinical, visual, factual. I fell in love with words at a young age and although my tastes have changed over the years, it is an affair that has always remained true. I made pilgrimages to Hay and still will lose hours in book shops, gravitate to friends' bookshelves and run my fingers over the spines.

Some time back, I came across this blog , and in doing so managed to acquire a very beautiful copy of Wuthering Heights as a present for a friend, I have always loved old books.

Amelia then told me about Book Crossing, a global book sharing venture. Therefore tonight on my way home from work I am going to release a book into the world and hope it falls in with the right spirit.

And this weekend, I am going to do something I have not indulged in a very long time and which my body and soul are craving.

I am turning my phone off, retiring to my bed in the middle of the day while the snow falls outside with a cup of coffee and a good book.

(And in case you were wondering, it's a mere 6 days until the big day...)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Home sweet home...

I am home, and due to a 2:45am wakeup call to get to the airport in time I have had little sleep and am somewhat incapable of speech and therefore will save you all from my ramblings...
Or even the worst plane journey ever which included a high level of turbulence, a horrifically high level of flatulence from the man beside me (and let me tell you, these were the Silent Yet Deadlies) and the vomitting child in front of me.

But it was indeed another amazing New Year and I am feeling stronger, more determined, lighter again, more inspired with what 2007 has in store. I am setting myself determinations to make this year one that counts, has substance.
Somehow coming back always makes you want to achieve something bigger and better.

More on that after I have managed to catch up some sleep, and pop in to see what you have all been up to...