Researching cloths & masks .:. It’s hard to avoid looking sinister
A skeleton hand (@alexandermcqueen) creeps in over my defiant flowers… The eyes must smile back but, often, they feel like screaming
This need for 🎭 & physical distance is challenging my whole identity. I can only get out there if I’m ready to stop being me and enjoy instead the chance to ‘disfrazarme, enmascararme’ (mask up) & just act.
We must rehearse a different way of moving, of walking, of talking… We must dress up, exaggerate the edges of our pandemic props, become a character.
Theatres are closed but the streets are pure theatre. We wear our shields, our defence weapons and follow the marks on the stage (walk here, stop here). We must live through it and learn a few things.
Hay que disfrazarse, actuar y realizarse como personajes de tragedia. Sonreír y encontrar también, los acentos (terribles) de comedia
I have found on my desktop a screenshot of an email I was attempting to send to a few friends. It was an introduction to some of my poems… but due to a (poetic) twist of my fingers on the keyboard, the poems (in fact, the sentences introducing the poems) became the actual ‘destinatarios’, that is: the impromptu ‘recipients’, of my message.
So I have decided this screenshot is, in itself, an wonderful example of visual poetry as well as of automated poetry.
(If Joan Brossa had been born in 2019 instead of 1919, by the 2030s, he may be producing poems like these…)
≈ Comments Off on A room of one’s own | or | Las Moscas
[Sound recording, as an extra treat… with a couple of sound ‘typos’, unedited out…]
Every time I go up to my study I hear the sound of flies
They accumulate. They gather against the window sill.
They dance, in a frenzy. They never stop
I see them dead. Six or seven at a time. I collect them, one by one, grabbing them by their wings. Delicate. They look ugly and precious.
They die and they breed. There are always more to come.
I do not know how they enter my space. What holes. What little doors remain open. Inviting. Enticing. Welcoming.
I do not go up my study often.
It is a beautiful perfect room. Covered in art & crafts flowers, lit by art deco lamps, warmed by exposed floor boards.
I worked hard at this space. Many helped me. Moulding it, from unpromising origins, into the perfect room of one’s own.
But perfect things are always flawed.
The sun does not visit often
The door does not close
The flies own it more than I do
Darkness and buzzing. This is my room
Gloom and dances
Shade and insects
A dream gothic corner. To concoct twisted fantasies. To horde made-up memories. To sit down and squint, listening – intently – at the regular deaths. Seeking the oblique lights of yet another absent sunset. Guessing the errors in the walls – that bit of paper that does not fully fit the angle; that flower that was unfinished, unintendedly deformed by a lazy crafting hand.
This room has a strange disorienting power. Perfectly failing to offer what I think I need. Probably offering what I should seek.
I avoid it.
Fabulous paper cuts accumulate on the floor. They are full of beasts. Full of gold and of leaves and of goblins.
The old chest of drawers harbours inks and dry pens.
Ribbons overflow out of that frustrated piano seat, the one that has not been put to proper use in fifty years. From music throne to bow-making box – is this a dignified ending for servile furniture?
Photographs. Many photographs tip toe over the inclined ceilings. They talk to each other and to the golden papers, to the inks and the ribbons and the wall flowers.
Often alone, all of these objects, these desires, these ingredients in the perfect dream of a study, of my room, they pursue lives of their own. They are splendid. What a marvel to behold.
And the flies go on and on, following their own business. Breeding. Dancing. Kissing the windows. Dying. They enter through the room’s secret holes, they line up, they lick their little feet, they enjoy the dust and the quiet in this perfectly flawed room. They wait for me to visit. They tremble and go zzzzzzz zzzzzing into the frozen view, into the dirty glass, into the tiny blind window, under the stiff and beautifully unloved lampshade.
I’ll sit down and admire this musty sight. This study of mine. A study where no studying occurs. Where no work gets done. But where fantasy lives flourish. The lives of abandoned pretty things, animated only through the relentless, buzzing dance of endless tiny impertinent intruders.
Go keep breeding and dying. Go kiss my wasted dreams. Go reign in the room of one’s own that I have never owned. This room that is mine but only you, dear moscas, truly know.
≈ Comments Off on What is the problem with mushrooms?
I read something Ayurveda-related, two years or so ago. It told me mushrooms were the wrong food to eat. Because they emerge from the rot. They are associated with death and decay.
But I adore them.
Of course the kinds of mushrooms I would love to eat are rovellons. My brother just shared a few pics from his lush fungi feast at home, back in Vilassar. The bright orange rovellons on display had been collected by my father in one of his secret early morning excursions into the woods. This is the passionate pursuit of so many pensioners in that area of the Maresme at this time of the year: getting up to the mountains around Vilassar and Cabrils, sigilosamente, making sure no one else knows where they have spotted their stash of setas – rovellons, pets de llop and the rest of it. Every year. Their clandestine pilgrimage into the wet soil, under the leaves, amongst delicious rot, wicker baskets in hand and lots of hush-hushing. They certainly won’t share their precious locations. Their knowledge of where the best, most fruitful forest decay lies, is probably their most valued possession.
Well, my Liverpool mushrooms are, naturally, from Tesco. Or Sainsbury’s. They are boring, they are mass produced. But I still like them. Doused in good quality olive oil I have brought all the way from somewhere nice in Catalunya; tossed with rosemary branches I grow in my terrace; sprinkled with garlic from I do not know where. Very satisfying, all in all.
So, I do not know what’s wrong with mushrooms. But I will keep eating them and thinking of secretive pensioners proudly tip-toeing into the humid mountains, first thing in the morning.
I feel it, it does not go away. It increases when I move around. When I think.
When I smile.
The nurses asked me not to lift anything heavy.
Well, as a woman living alone, there are a thousand heavy things to deal with constantly. Specially, right now. From pumping the wine vacuum stopper to carrying a full water jar for those fresh flowers so essential to my survival this evening. I cannot be asked not to perform these pleasure-production duties.
The procedure was uncomfortable.
Pushed around this machine, forced to embrace it furiously, my body crashing against every harsh plastic corner, with my breasts but also my arms, neck, face. It is the most unpleasant type of contortion imaginable. But there you go. I am privileged in that I am tested for signs of breast cancer every year. So I take it. I trust the system. I let them do with me what they may.
This time, the procedure was going further. Needles were going to be inserted as well as a little tube with something that would allow the surgeons to extract a piece of me, from deep down into my breast tissue.
They asked me to look the other way. I found myself facing this turtle.
A turtle on a screen. Followed by palm trees on white sand and turquoise waters. Then the temple of Angkor Wat; a street in Barcelona; infinity swimming pools. Picture after technicolor-picture of glossy dream holidays. On a small ipad, located just there, on top of a plinth placed by my contortionist-torture machine. An improvised – or carefully advised, by expensive consultants – visual-comfort mechanism.
“We know you are in pain. Let’s distract you”
It works. I try to look down into the plastic containers and refuse bag on the floor but it is too demoralising; the pain too sharp; the position too uncomfortable. So I go back to the turtle, the paradise island, the temples and luxury resorts.
There are a few pictures of perfect people in trunks and bikinis. Pictures of feet behind a piña colada. I look and I think: how many of these places have I been to? A little cloud comes over me: how many will I never go to again? They are couple-holiday-type places.
I have not been in a couple for years and years and I do not see me going back there any time soon. Specially not for an expensive and elegantly boring resort holiday. That part of my life is over.
Pang, the pain intensifies.
The turtles are neutral. I can travel and see turtles by myself. Angkor Wat is a neutral distraction too: it was visited by me as a disappointed wife carrying, singlehandedly, her three-year old son in tow. Paradise islands have been walked by on my own, as well, as a newly independent single woman, defying the flirting of waiters hoping for a tip.
Resorts, water skis, petals in bed… are another story.
Now I write from my apartment. The moon is performing a seven-veils dance. It is an exquisite sight, a satellite enveloped in a celestial Dior-looking gown. What a perfect framing: a ruffle of semi-transparent clouds partially uncovering a moony shoulder.
I think of the pains, confusions and disappointments of dating in a digital era.
The pain is there, heavily felt. Pouring out of my bandaged breast and my too-fresh-a-memory of dancing to the tunes of the contortionist machine, no Dior gown – celestial, or otherwise – in sight.
So here I am… alone, thinking of the digital turtle that held my virtual hand at a moment of deep discomfort. The turtle that helped me forget the passing of time and the rise in interventions and ugly moments; the normalisation of hospitals, checks and treatments that I so despised not so long ago and are now part of life, my life, opening the gate to many more discomforts and scares to come.
I drink my glass of wine and look at my fresh flowers. My heavy-lifting provokers.
I feel a childish pleasure in disobeying the nurses’ rules.
I feel the pain. While I forget about unnecessary, picture perfect, never-again, fake-dream couple-holidays.
I see the lovers fight. Honeymoon, perhaps, in this Paradise island. The weather is back where it should. Sun shining. Water shimmering in bright turquoise. Sand white ~white dashing~blinding~white.
And the lovers disagree. Fight, politely. He is impatient and a bit fed up. She is bursting with needs and wants unmet. The light is beautiful. They are both beautiful and tired. Their bodies are perfect and young. Their minds, untamed, are trying to adjust to each other. The Caribbean winds pass through them. And they fight. They fight, a little. They exchange words that are not kind and looks that are not sweet. They will feel better later. They will make love and forgive each other. Later. Not now.
The French middle-aged ladies take pictures of each other. The colours are exultant. After two days of non-stop storms, rain, grey skies, the fluorescent island is back, with a vengeance. Wow the eyes hurt. The blue is so blue so intensely blue so painfully blue so precious.
I eat my cheap food and want to feel drunk, slightly. Just a hint of a tad of a little. Just for joy. Despite the fact the cocktails are so atrocious, I want to drink a second one, today. Just today, my last day, while the fluorescent lasts, while this island shows off to me what it is capable of. Just because the blue is so astonishingly blue and I am so grateful.
I have decided the caipirinha is the least evil version of a cocktail here.
Otra caipirinha por favor.
[Oh my. Strong. Strong caipirinha. They do not know about subtlety here. All the better. Enough nuance where I’m from.]
The light. The light is back. A blessing. A day of storms was fine. Two days of storms has felt less so. Good for sleeping though. Spending a full day in a palm hut in the middle of a beach swept by torrential rain and winds was an extraordinarily effective lullaby. Siesta, nap, plus long~long sleep, no problem. With a bit of time for re-reading Milan Kundera and being taken to Prague in the 1970s, why not, while looking at lovers that do not fight any more, just walk up and down the beach, holding hands.
[One day of storms sitting inside a palm hut was fine…]
Now. I have seen this German couple. They walk. Both grabbing their phones. And then, oops, she takes a selfie of herself, while he ignores her and looks at his screen. I have never seen this before. A selfie taken by a woman with her (probably, just married) husband by her side. She prefers her selfie to his picture. She does not consider asking him to take her in this beautiful honeymoon spot. She prefers to take herself, thank you very much, while he keeps checking whatever you can check in practically wifi-less Cuba. Extraordinario.
I eat my fish. It is the only eatable thing here. The fish is cooked fresh. And I love it. The caipirinhas are so strong I am almost knocked out. But it does not matter. I am writing right now, so the absolutely-not-subtle alcohol is allowing me to function all the same.
I am sitting in the blindingly white sand, looking at all the lovers gathered here, all the couples, young and old, all the packaged and all the improvised romance. I do not envy them at all. I am so delighted in my own space, eating my decent fish and my delicious papaya (the only saving graces in this tremendously, impossibly~badly presented & cooked buffet. How do they manage to torture food so thoroughly?) I smile.
The black birds are back. Watching over my empty dishes. I have nothing for them. I talk to them in English and in Spanish. Shu, shu – Fuera! Needless to say, with birds, Spanish is always more effective.
I want to stroll again. Take in as much blue as I can.
The lovers are everywhere, fighting and making love, eating and walking and taking selfies and maybe drinking caipirinhas (*) as strong as mine.
(*) The mojito I had yesterday was so terrible I won’t go there again. Shame for Cuba’s national drink! The girl that served it was cheerful and confused. I forgive her.
It is so beautiful. I am so lucky. I will go back to exploring the sand, the foam and the horizons, after another plateful of papaya. No more alcohol needed. No more fights, or more lovers. Black birds, watch out. Blue, deep fluorescent blue, here I come.
La Havana te embriaga con su exuberancia de buenas a primeras.
El calor, la humedad te inundan piel y sentidos y ya no hay escape.
Aquí estás, sudando y absorbiendo al tiempo.
Se te salen las neuras y preocupaciones, a chorros o a gotas, mientras te invaden los colores pastel, las tipografías Decó, los agujeros del pavimento, las zarzas y cables que vomitan los muros a tu alrededor, el polvo sepia de tanto palacete urbano, el azul eléctrico de tanta puerta y ventana y auto y lámpara y vestido despampanante que somos cubanos y nos gusta el mar.
Paseas y no es fácil agobiarse. Rodeada de extraños que sudan tanto como tú y te miran y dicen [preguntan, ofrecen] cosas casi todo el rato [taxi | mojito | ¿ya almorzó?] pero nunca molestan. Porque no insisten. Porque van con calma. Con gracia. A un ritmo que funciona, que todavía funciona, porque nadie está agotado del intercambio y la posibilidad de… Visitante, turista, local, afincado, aprovechado, tunante, qué sé yo, aquí estamos todos, echando suerte y paseando y pasando calor; calor, mucha pero con tanta placidez que emborracha. ¿Por qué me siento tan bien tan inmediatamente entre desconocidos?
La Havana no es un parque temático pese a tener pinta de postal. No es un circo pese a las masas crecientes de mirones. No es una trampa pese a los agujeros y las grietas y la mugre [descarada y preciosa] que adivinas tras cada puerta. No es tu imaginación pese a que es imposible no ensoñarse. Lo que ves parece una fantasía nostálgica pero en cambio te rodea y te toca [si te dejas] y te recuerda que es exáctamente lo que tienes delante de tus narices.
Claro que es mejor perderse a seguir el rebaño. Y perdida, La Havana te embriaga aún más. No te permite asustarte; no hay tensión ni amenaza, aunque la quieras buscar. Calles desiertas [pocas] y caras de extraños, son todas intensamente afables, te dejan cómoda y tranquila, pueden ofrecerte un guiño [si te interesa] y si no, pues pásalo bien por tu cuenta que no nos amargaremos. Es un diálogo e intercambio fácil entre mirona y mirado.
La Havana se deja ver, enmarcar y capturar, sin resistencias. Te sonríe y te observa al tiempo. Mientras miras, te cautiva a tí, sin atraparte ni ahogarte.
Sepia y azul. Son los colores dominantes.
>>Un sepia dormilón y oxidado se desangra en fachadas y patios – esos que se caen a trozos, pero con tanto encanto. Es el beso de los huracanes, muchos, que han dejado a esta ciudad despeinada y medio coja pero impregnándola de un glamour [trashy, un tanto bajero y súper-seductor] irresistible.
>>El azul te viene a tortazos. Súper intenso. Enmarcando, acentuando, provocando siempre. Te viene directo y te deslumbra. Azul, azul de ciudad al mar, azul para beberte puertas y ventanas y automóviles. Te atraviesa este azul y te hace pensar ¿por qué hay tan pocas otras ciudades que se atrevan con ello?
Hay mucho pastel también. Muchas casas dulzonas, casi empalagosas, danzando como nubecitas por encima de las chapuzas en sepia, de los cables y las basurillas amontonadas en el rincón de la acera. Y hay mucho chicle. Chicle rosa y fucsia y naranja y verde menta. Sobre ruedas. En technicolor. Para llevarte al malecón y a tu versión particular de los años cincuenta.
Los balcones están abarrotados de ropa y plásticos. Tenderete. Tenderete. Tenderete. Las escaleras de interior se retuercen y se ríen con dientes encariados. ¿Te atreves a subir? ¿Te atreves? ¿Te atreves? Las puertas están siempre enseñando entrepierna. Descaradas. Te invitan a sumergirte en el polvo y suciedad de su vientre. Miro, sin pasar. Voyeur, hechizada. Veo contadores parados. Veo tubos y tuberías. Veo grietas y agujeros. Veo cal desparramada y una lámpara que no ilumina. Veo una fantasía intensa y cansada. Esta casa. Este piso. Este palacio. Veo un espejo. Sillas vacías. Muchas sillas. Medio podridas y tan hermosas que me escuece mirarlas. Qué belleza terrible. ¿Qué me enseñas? No voy a poder hacer nada por tí. Te miro. Gracias. Me encantas. Sigo andando. Gracias. No sé qué puedo darte. Mi sudor, quizás, que brota a borbotones y me hace verte en cámara lenta, oirte tamizada, olerte como se huelen las nieblas.
Rebaño de turistas. Me aparto. Daiquiris a go-go. Almendrones. El Ché [en algodón barato]. Un puro, venga. Botella de ron, pon dos.
Desde la piscina de la atalaya se ve el mar y los bulevares. Los chicos saltan en su patinete, sorteando almendrones color chuchería picante. Las chicas están sentadas, en shorts shortísimos y pony-tail. No oigo lo que dicen. Veo a las señoras en su balcón, sorteando trapos y trastos [tenderete. tenderete]. Veo a los señores parados, pensando, en camisa beige y sombrero. Son gordos y son flacos. Los niños corren siempre, en camiseta de algodón barato [sin Ché]. Veo los depósitos de agua. Azules, azules. Siempre azules. Veo la melena indomable de los cables. Colgando. Trepando. Saliéndose de todo. ¿Hay cuántos? ¿Cuántos, cuantísimos hay? Ay, ay, qué montaña imparable de plástico.
Miro a mi alrededor. Hotel. 5*. Pocas tumbonas. Una banda canturrea y exhibe CDs. Los mojitos van y vienen. La señora a mi lado me sonríe. Bolsa de plástico al lado. Botella de ron, asomando. Sin toalla. Cuatro revistas, en su mano.
No estoy alojada aquí. Vengo a bañarme. Trabajo en Holanda dos meses al año. Vivo en La Habana diez. Veinticinco años así. Viviendo, con nada. Feliz.
Buena vida. Sin nada. Con los trozos de tanto roto en polvo, colgando.
Azul y sepia. Con brillos de chicle rosa fluorescente.