Category: learning process


I guess we all have years that sort of push us, that get us to the verge of not knowing where to start and where to end. This will be one of these years for me. I know it.

2016 is the logical consequence of 2015, and even though the past year brought me so many many good things, it also brought with it a lot of things and insights that have overshadowed this young year. The facts are all known. And hence, the remedy is at hand too. However, I need a break from all of what surrounds me now.

This being the fact, I decided to re-activate my English blog to keep track of what I’m doing.

I decided to take one year off. I need to for various reasons, and I have a lot of things on my mind right now. So this blog will serve the sole purpose of being something of a log book of the year 2016.

At this minute, these are very early stages of a much needed time-out and of a new phase in my life. Hoping that it will bring me wisdom, creativity, laughter and relief, as well as distance to certain things. Traumas that I need to let go.

The good thing about a Sabbatical is the whole tabula rasa notion, the freedom to let go and the ability to find new shores, new tasks and new skills.

The bad thing about a Sabbatical is the emptiness of a blackboard that you need to fill with useful content.

 

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It’s been quite a ride. From my New Year’s Post until today.

Today marks the first eight years in Ibiza. It’s been quite a tough ride, sometimes it wasn’t all skipping through the daisies, but I made it so far.

Now, when I look back on the past twelve months I can only say. It was a whole lot of work, but in the end it was damn well worth it.

So, at the end of November I received my first copies of my newly published book, La nit estesa (Night extended) which is a crime (type film noir in book form with pulp elements) novel which draws on various literary genres. It’s basically a hard-boiled detective story but also some kind of underground novel. It shows you Ibiza from its seedy drug ridden underbelly. Protagonist is one hapless anti-hero fighting his drug addiction.

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I’ve been pretty busy in the past few weeks, starting the translation of my book into two languages. So, that’s something that kind of keeps me busy. As well as promoting my book in the Catalan language region, the Balearic Isles, as well as mainland Catalonia.

I also have a very thousands of new ideas for new writings. I finished two different poetry books this year, I compiled a short story selection and began the draft of a new novel. So there are things that can be expected for 2016 or 2017 depending on how fast things go and I get them to move forward.

Before you do your first real publication, you’re completely concerned if people will like your book. Now, if I’m honest, that’s not really a concern for me anymore, it might sound a bit mean or tough, but the truth is, once your book is out, you immediately start to think of new things to write about, about the next step. Well, that’s how it is with me, anyway. The tears, the pain, the sweat and the effort are all in the book. Now I need something new to get my teeth in. Lol 😉

Apart from being busy, I start getting noted which is nice, it’s weird, but it’s nice too. So, I’ve got an interview request and I hope that both interview and the two book launches can be carried out without fail.

At the minute, the whole thing around “La nit estesa” is a whole lot of juggling times, and juggling your other projects, and juggling family and friends. It can be a drag, but let’s face it. There are by far worse things to complain about. So I will shut up now.

I’ve had an extraordinary and truly exciting year 2015. A year of growth. And somehow, I hope this is just the first bit of a rollercoaster ride that please does not stop mid-air or with my head in a spin or some upside down position.

Looking forward to it.

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CK: Yeah, ok, it’s on.

SM: So now, everything is on the record now?

CK: Yes, everything… (laughs) Stop saying these silly jokes I don’t want to listen anymore.

SM: So, everything I say will go on the record now.

CK: No no, I will let you see the copy before it goes online and viral.

SM: Oh yeah? (laughs) So what I quite like is to change when I’m writing. I mean that’s a problem I guess. For trying to build a career, in literature. The thing is that … when I write for instance for science, which is what I enjoy the most, but then, when I’m done, I want to do something completely different. So I’m never gonna have a career … you know…

CK: …linear.

SM: Yeah, no, that’s not gonna work for me. I’m never gonna be a science writer. I’m going to write about science, then, I’m going to write children’s books, then… but I’m never gonna be a writer that writes for children. Cos next I’m gonna write a book about sex and violence. I’m always gonna write something different, then I change completely and that’s something that drives my agent mad. It’s very difficult to find an audience, to follow you through all of this, because it is so different.
But this is what I like, this is what I like most about writing. It is the freedom to do whatever I want.

CK: yeah, so you like to zigzag?

SM: Yes, I completely go from left to right. Then start over again.

CK: I think it’s the best you can do cause it shows that you have a very big variety of interests.

SM: Yes.

CK: Yes, I find that quite unique. Because there is a lot of people, you know, you speak with them and it turns out they are kind of one-sided.

SM: Usually, in most writers, you find something they like and they are good at and then they do it for life. That’s what works for most of the writers. If you write crime novels, you would write crime novels for all your life.

CK: Yes I know, and they do it in a kind of industrialized form.

SM: It’s true.

CK: They have one kind of recipe.

SM: and they repeat it over and over.

CK: plus it’s a bit like one size fits all. And then boom.

SM: It works across most genres. … It works for crime novels. It works and it works for them. Let’s take for instance Paul Auster who is an author I quite like a lot. But all his books, they’re all the same. Or take any writer who is successful, anybody that writes. Any writer that is successfull. Eventually, they all write the same things, over and over.

CK: So do you mean it’s a trap that most people fall into?

SM: Or willingly… I mean they enjoy it. Well I guess they enjoy the success in one area and they just stay there.

CK: I think it’s a sign that money corrupts. Isn’t it?

SM: Well, I don’t know if it’s money, fame or whatever it is really… I don’t know.

CK: Maybe it’s just that they found the one way to be successful, and they keep going that way.

SM: Maybe they think they are not better doing anything else? Or maybe, I mean, I think, most people have one view, one way… of doing things, and that’s they stick to. I would think that people would like to test and try out different things. Not only for literature but everything in life. You focus on what you’re good at. Whatever you’re good at. And stay that way. Maybe people would like to try out something… but most of them don’t. The fun thing – I mean for me – is exactly the opposite. What is good for me, though, is I can do that, I can say that cause I don’t have to pay my bills from my books.

CK: That’s nice. Yeah!

SM: That gives me complete freedom. If I had to put food on the table with my books, I would probably write whatever sells. But I am lucky that way that I pay my bills with my other job. So I can write whatever I feel like. So that’s my career plan when I write. Do whatever I want, whenever I want it. (laughs)

CK: So what about your past novel? What I found most intriguing was … I mean you started out doing – correct me if I’m wrong here – I think “Mugrons de Titani”… (rough translation: steely nipples or titanium nipples) was your first book that came out. And so that was kind of a tour de force really.

SM: It was a crazy thing, that was definitely something completely crazy. We never thought it was never going to be published. So, we really did that for fun. We thought nobody would ever see that. We were keeping it in line with what we thought was fun. We were enjoying it. So we thought let’s put all the references we like in it, let’s put it all into a book. And mix things like James Bond, Derek Jones and Star Wars, and everything.

CK: You had this fanzine going!?

SM: Yes, at the time, when I was writing, I met Sebastian. We met through a fanzine about science fiction basically.

CK: …which I found truly amazing. Cos I think fanzines, you know. The only fanzines I just knew about were punk or new wave fanzines, like for music and stuff. I didn’t even know that there were any science fiction fanzines.

SM: Oh yeah, here in Barcelona, there was actually a quite vibrant scene here, you know, in the early nineties. INTERNET KILLED THE FANZINES. It is quite obvious. It was much easier and cheaper to just post it, do it online. Back at the time, we were publishing it with our own money, trying to sell as many issues as posible, and then with the money we made from one issue, we would finance the next one.

CK: so it was a pure fun thing?

SM: Oh yeah, pure fun. We never thought we would make money from that. The first issue of the fanzine was very cheap. The second issue we put color in it, the next one we had better paper and so on… And eventually we got a nice looking fanzine. There were not that many that were doing science fiction in catalan at the time. And we managed to get a good group of people, actually they were quite interesting people with writers and illustrators.
We eventually had a good team, they were all doing very good jobs.

CK: What did you put it in there?

SM: It was a mix. It was a bit of everything. Articles, you know, opinions, illustrations, you know comics, we would have fiction. Anything. It was crazy. It included everything. A lot of humor! Basically humor and science fiction.

CK: So why did you stop?

SM: (Laughing) There was no money to go around. Eventually we went bankrupt. (laughing hard) It took a lot of effort to get it going. Eventually I went to the U.S.. And some people stayed here and they kept doing, it changed into something else. It was nice, bigger and better. But eventually they couldn’t manage it. It was too much money and time.

CK: Right. Let me ask you one question. Going away from Barcelona: Was it a decision that made your heart bleed that you had to leave the country?

SM: First of all, I was going to New York so it was good thing…

CK: So it was not bleeding too much. (laughing)

SM: It was a good thing for me. (laughs) No, it was good for me. I knew I had to eventually go. I thought it was a brief time, I thought it was a brief stay, a couple of years and it would be a great experience. That couple of years turned out to be for nine years eventually.

CK: So it was like a career move? You wanted to make. And it turned out to be a longer stay.

SM: Actually it was not something that I had wanted to do, but something I had to do. I had to do. Which is I was very happy here. So if I didn’t have to I probably would not have moved which would have been bad for me cause I loved being abroad… Being forced to move, to go away was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I managed to get all these experience in NYC. Which were great. And now in England.

CK: What does it feel like, being in New York? I mean the big Apple. Place of seduction. I mean there are so many different cultures around. IT is a bit like a melting pot.

SM: Yeah it is. Everything you read about NEW YORK is true. You feel quite literally like you are in the center of the world. Everything that happens, seems to happen around New York. When you read a newspaper here in Spain, you know exactly what’s happening in NY cause it. (…) People in NY, really, they ARE a bit arrogant. They definitely feel that it is the most important place in the world. So I had this feeling a couple of years, it was a very intense city. It is a very intense place to live. Very nice, definitely fun. But also fun, yeah, it was fun. For my job, it was really good. I learnt a lot. All along the east coast, from Boston to New York, there is this huge number of important research labs. I saw for example Nobel Laureates doing lectures every month. So I saw like ten or twelve Nobel Laureates. That’s an experience you DON’T usually get. So, the best people, you get to see them. So that for me was very interesting.

CK: And meanwhile you worked on the novel together with Sebastian. You sent the version back and forth.

SM: Back and forth. Through the internet. That was actually the beginnings of the email. That was 98. The internet really exploded in 95 or something. Since I was at university, I was using the internet earlier than everybody else, and that must have been 95 or something. Later on, the internet became so much bigger that everybody could use it. (…) So we started writing the novel the year before I was leaving. And then I had to leave, so I thought what’s going to happen now?

CK: Please let me know one thing… What makes you want to write a novel about a lesbian woman? I always wanted to know.

SM: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, that was Sebastian’s idea. For some reason, he read an advertisement somewhere in the internet or somewhere about a contest for the best short story – in English – about lesbians… a lesbian theme. It had to have a lesbian theme.

CK: Ok.

SM: For some reason he thought that we could go there and win!

CK: (cracking up laughing)

SM: which I think in retrospect was completely silly cos we did not know English and we had no idea about writing lesbian literature, obviously. So he said. Yeah, let’s write it! Yeah, it was completely misguided from the beginning I think. (laughs)

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CK: (laughing) It is really crazy!

SM: So he said let’s write this short story, and see what happens. So we wrote it, had a lot of fun. So then we said yeah let’s write another short story. And then we made the mistake by saying oh, yeah, let’s turn it into a novel.

CK: I don’t know where I read this… but I think I read somewhere on the internet that you said something about going to a lesbian sex shop and doing some quality research.

SM: Yeah, I sent my wife to do that!

CK: She must have appreciated that one.

SM: Yeah, definitely. She went there with a friend. Had a lot of laughs. Obviously we could not go. Obviously we were not … you know. So yeah, no, we did not know anything about the theme.

CK: So now, Valentina appeared… I think she is actually quite a vital character. She is really kind of three dimensional. She is funny, she is sexually very much, umm, she is a twenty first century woman. I would think.

SM: Yeah, yeah, we tried to make a strong character, definitely, a good lead character.

CK: She actually gave an interview just recently…

SM: yeah, that was fun. You did a great job with that one.

CK: Thank you.

SM: That’s the kind of thing we wanted to do. A very good strong character. We wanted to put her in the middle of some craziest adventures and see what happens. The thing is we were writing it without worrying about it too much. And it was difficult. We were not planning anything. We were just writing. And that’s a bad idea. Especially when you write together with somebody else. You should always plan ahead. We learnt that the hard way. But eventually we managed to get something. We thought ok. Now we have this novel nobody would ever publish. It is impossible. Nobody would ever like it. It is too crazy. It does not follow any sort of rules. So it was clear we could not use it for the short story contest anymore. So we said, you know… there is this prize for erotic novels. Why don’t we, why don’t we try to submit it? Sebastian had this idea. And I told him, it is IMPOSSIBLE! For starters, it is not even erotic at all. I mean there are some erotic scenes, but there is nothing erotic about it at all. That was Sebastian’s idea. He said: Why not? So we tried it. It is a complete miracle. It happened. We were nobodies at the time. We didn’t know anybody. And we still won. It was a complete miracle. And it happened. You know. The doors opened. For both of us, it was the beginning.

CK: I think it is a very well conceived novel. To be honest I would wish for it to have a second part to find out.

SM: We joked about it. When we were doing it, actually, we planned to do a trilogy. So we actually had a second and a third part. But we never really… I guess That’s going back to the fact… that i always want to do something different. And not repeat myself you know.

CK: She could have matured, make a time leap.

SM: yeah, … We already had a story ready for the second volume which was fun too. It was something with humor and sex. Was like… you know… then we thought… “ah, maybe in the future”… Anyway, it was fun to do it at the time. We moved on. And I still write with Sebastian. We still do books. We just finished one. And we are writing another. Actually we are on two projects right now.

CK: So you are doing two projects with Sebastian right now? Can you talk about any of it?

SM: It is basically for teenagers. It is a story about a teenage girl. Actually pre-teen. Age: Ten, twelve, something like that. There is something different. It is almost like these books the one we read when we were young, the one that’s connected with Alfred Hitchcock, it’s called the Three Investigators which is very popular in Germany.

CK: Yeah, yeah.

SM: Or the seven secrets or the five ,… whatever. I think there is a group of children, I don’t think no-one doing these things anymore. So I think… It is a fun thing to do. Put some kids in the middle of some mystery or something. So that’s the first one, we just finished that one. And the second one which we wrote almost parallel is a similar concept. But it is more a science fiction environment. It’s about young kids doing research, mystery research… But with a ghost, things like that. Researchers. Paranormal mysteries.

CK: Ok, that’s your new project. Another novel which I quite liked was Ullals. It’s a very psychological and also, well it’s almost like a parallel universe. Cause you open up a door to a kind of dark universe. And you kind of explore what happens if … uh… if you are being subjected to things you don’t really want to experience.

    ATTENTION BIG SPOILER ALERT FOR ULLALS – IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK SCROLL DOWN TILL THE NEXT BOLD TEXT IN ORDER NOT TO RUIN THE THRILL

SM: Yeah. It was from the beginning the idea we wanted to make a thriller. So it’s not gonna have big explosions or big crimes and things like that… so it all happens in a small environment with only three or four characters in it. And everything that will happen, you don’t really know if it’s TRUE or not. The whole idea or the principle or the idea from the book was from the beginning was to … to not know, to NOT be sure if the more fantastic side of things were true or not. You can explain everything with logic and normal things, or you can explain it with the supernatural. You can explain it that these monsters in the forest that have powers. Or you can explain it with the boars in the wood and that’s it. We wanted to just play with them.
We wanted to play around with these characters, they are being subjected to strong stress, they are being locked up, they believed everything they tell them. We wanted to do it that way. We were never actually thinking we were writing a novel for teenagers. But we eventually won a prize for teenage fiction. We were thinking of a more general audience, obviously the characters were teenagers, but the idea was the same thing. We put characters in extreme situations, and see how they deal with that.

CK: So it was more like – how do I say this? – it sounds almost like a scientific experiment!?

SM: Oh yeah… It was really something like that. Just lock some people in a place and make them experience, put them to some extremes and see what happens to them.

CK: That sounds nice. (laughs)

SM: …and see what happens then. (laughs) It was based on a true story. It was again Sebastian who read something in the newspapers. There was a story about these kids locked up in a special place, a very similar situation. Obviously there were no killings or anything. But they were subjected to some… well I don’t want to call it torture, but it was some severe stress. Sebastian asked me do you want to do a story? He said this is great this is even better than fiction. It is real. I said, yes, let’s do it. But let’s add another dimension. Let’s have the guys locked up in a place. They can’t get out cos there’s some monsters outside. Yes, so that they cannot get out. Let’s compare the real monsters, the people who lock them, with those guys outside, with the fiction, the boar monsters. See how they deal with that. There could be whatever it is in the book. Let’s see how to deal with that. For us it was how to limit ourselves. Three kids, three adults, in only one scenario, only one place. See if that would work. I think it worked pretty well. It got eventually targeted as a teenage as a crossover fiction. I think it is definitely not the typical book that teenagers read, and I think that they shocked a lot of people. There was a lot of reviews, from blogs, you know teenagers write a lot of blogs. Most people said, it was fun, but it is not the kind of book that we normally read, which to me was a plus. But for them, it was shocking. There was no romance. There was no … The ending was too open for them.

CK: I think it was closed. I mean the guy is dead.

SM: That’s what I think too. Yes, it is an ending that allows you to … Well it is clear what happens to whom. I mean some things are not answered. But I think they are not important things. You wanna believe that there are monsters in the book. Well that’s fine. It Works if you believe the opposite.

CK: It also works if you… you know: How did he get the ticket…?

SM: So you have to assume he killed the other guy. It could also be … you could also assume that he is not dead, he is just badly beaten. The important point is: The guy that escapes … (there is a lot of spoilers here) cannot escape really. He eventually has to go back to the same prison, with his family, that’s the main story. That was a story how to escape, how to get out, more than anything else. For me in that sense it was a success. It was interesting. How it worked to write a story with a limited number of elements.

CK: Now I have a serious question: why did you kill your main character? (SM laughs) He was so likeable.

SM: Yeah, I know. We were trying to make a character that was not likeable at all, from the beginning. We tried to build an arrogant asshole basically. A spoiled brat.

CK: I don’t think so.

SM: As soon as you put him in the middle of that situation, he becomes likeable, because he is fighting for survival. He does not come across as being not likeable. It was not in our intention. Our intention was we wanted to make him even less of a classic hero.

CK: I understand you wanted to present an anti-hero… He comes across as arrogant, snotty. But that’s normal, that’s normal, he is just a normal teenager.

SM: Yeah, it is true. He eventually helps everybody to escape, and everything.

CK: He is a scared boy.

SM: Yes, That was the idea. Take someone who looks like an asshole… but eventually in a stress situation his true color show up. He is not at all as bad as he seemed he was. We did not know how to end it. The first ending was that he would escape and that’s it… Actually, it was my fault. I came up with a new, with a twisted ending. I got a twist here. This twist here makes it even more interesting.

CK: It was a very good, the ending… But to be honest, I felt so sorry for this guy. I thought, oh my God.

SM: Damn it, the poor guy. (showing mock empathy)

CK: I mean he had been through so much, he’s been beaten up, he’s been locked up, he’s been through so much shit … You know so why kill him?

SM: Yeah, I know. (laughs)

CK: That was going over the top. I would have liked him to help the girl escape. And then… she is also dead.

SM: I don’t like happy endings. Ever. So I think none of my novels have happy endings ever.

CK: You are perfect children’s books writer! (both laugh)

SM: I don’t know. I never come out with a happy ending. It is not always a sad ending. In the case of Ullals it is quite sad.
It is not what you would expect. I like it that way, I guess. When you write for children, on the other hand, we try to do more happy endings, come up with a more classical ending. But I guess it is more fun.

    END OF SPOILER ALERT ULLALS – SAFE TO READ FROM HERE ON

CK: I can totally understand that. From a writer’s point of view.

SM: You know, these endings… They are more powerful…

CK: As a writer, I mean sad endings they are more interesting, they give you more options to play with… You can torture your… that sounds really nasty… This is Kurt Vonnegut (and his views on story writing), I posted this once in a blog… you have to subject your main characters to so many things… don’t be nice to them, be really nasty.

SM: Yeah… Exactly… Make them suffer (laughs)

CK: For one thing… I think it was really, well, to be honest it felt really sad for him, and you know why?, cause this is a strange thing to say, I identified with him so much.

SM: Yes, sure. That’s the idea. You identify with him as much as you can. And then you feel the slap on your face when you know this guy’s not gonna survive. It makes it even (more) stronger. No I mean I agree. It depends. Not everybody would like the ending. But I think everybody would appreciate the shocking ending. That was sort of unexpected. It would be more expected, you know, the idea that he survived. I didn’t … We didn’t do it only for that. This is the exception from my other novels. Usually… the endings… are very… For me there is only one way to end a story. When I write something, that’s the end, I felt from the very beginning. That’s the way the story ends. In my head, it always ended like that. I cannot think of a different, of any better ending. This is the ending for that one. Period.

CK: This works for you.

SM: Yeah. Sometimes it is a bad ending. It truly depends on where the story is taking you.

CK: I read some of your short stories and I really liked them… And I think you are really a good short story writer and I wanted to know why you always slag off short stories? (SM laughs) Cos it’s really silly.

SM: I know it is. And everybody tells me that. Anyway. But I don’t know. I don’t enjoy reading or writing short stories that much as a novel. For me, short stories focus…. on the story so when you write a short story you are most focussed on what happens in the story. Whereas when you write a novel, it is what happens, and HOW it happens and How you develop the characters. There is more about the base, the rhytm and how you build the characters. It is a skill too, for sure. (…) But with a novel, you need some room to show your abilities, to use your tools. With a short story, you basically show how good you are at coming up with a story. You don’t have that much room… but with a novel you show your skills… With a novel it is about the how you develop all the things you can do… With a short story, You don’t have the room. There are some great short story writers. But you can be a mediocre writer, and still come up with a good short story.

CK: You are doing it again? Do you notice?

SM: Yes, I will always knock down the short story. And I will always do that. It masks the true… Well… The true ability … It simply does not show up in a short story.

CK: I don’t agree with you here.

SM: Nobody ever agress with me. Whenever I say it on the internet, everybody… attacks me.

CK: I do want to understand it. And I do understand it inasmuch you think that a way to show your“brilliance” – in quotation marks – you can go all the way.

SM: It is like that you need the space to do that, in that sense … The only way is with some room. In that sense I don’t like long novels either. Good novels are short. I think the ideal… length is I think something like 150 pages. That’s what … you really need to shine.

CK: Hey, … my novel is 150 pages. Thank you so much! (laughing)

SM: I mean yeah… 150 till 200 pages. That’s as much as… You can have a good story. You can show your abilities and everything… If you are going over 200 pages, you are probably adding things that are not necessary for the main story. (…) if you tell a story with different storylines, then of course, you can make it as long as you want … up to 1000 pages if you want. If you want to tell one story…

CK: I have to tell you one thing, I mean I studied letters… No, I am going to cut this… this is not going onto the official version… obviously… But I with books, I was a bad student, this is not going into the official version) I mean with any book that was beyond 350 pages, I would only read the contents, the beginning, the middle and the end of the chapters. And I was like an excellent student. (SM Laughs) Nobody ever found out.

SM: (laughs) … yes, cos in the middle there is the important stuff.

CK: I had this scheme going on. I didn’t like it to go through some 500 pages.

SM: I think what happens … You lose its rhythm. With long novels, you get distracted. I mean it is a personal thing. But there is so many people who love long novels… Still for me, the best way to show things… the best books … 150 – 250. Maximum.

CK: Before I forget it. What was the first reaction when you first read my novel as whole?

SM: I thought it was a nice, a good story. It is an interesting take. Interesting point of view. Interesting
group of characters. Whatever defects it had. I still think… what came through… it is not a very usual story (…) At least the first ending I read was not a very happy one either.

CK: I am prone to unhappy endings as well.

SM: It was unusual I would say, I would say. An original story. It is also short. Goes straight to the point. Definitely thought there was a value in that story.

CK: Thank you. Well, I try to get it published. Hopefully the book will eventually see the light of day. (…) But I’m also working on a different story right now. I have like a thousand projects going on. I have to focus… This is project a, project b, project c etc. I always tend to try to do things simultaneous. And it never works.

SM: It is very unusual. I have a little bit of an attention deficit … self diagnosed. So for me it is very difficult to work just on one project. I get up to four very easily. I almost need it…

CK: I can so totally understand.

SM: It is the way I work. The good thing is I have a lot of discipline. I can work on three or four different projects. Without wanting to throw one project out of the window. There is no rule to writing I guess.

CK: Does your family go mad with you?

SM: (Laughs) They are used to me I guess by now… It is quite difficult to keep me focussed on one project only. It is also good for my other job in the lab… You always have three or four different things going on (…) You don’t get bored with just doing one… You keep adding things and so on.

CK: What do you do? You have your peojects? Do you have a time schedule? How do you plan things? Now it is time for research… The next couple of things is writing.

SM: Yeah, I try to be very organised about it… You know normally.. When I start writing a story… It takes me years and years. Before I start writing the stories tend to be around for a long long time. Because you know I think a lot, a lot before I write. Until I find a way expressing it… That also goes for the books I do with Sebastian. The teenage book is in the making for ten years now. It is quite unusual I guess. I need to understand the characters.
I never write straight away. All of my books have been incubating for some ten to fifteen years. In the moment I start to write, I know exactly what I want to write. I know where the story goes.

CK: That is fascinating. I totally understand… I told you I had this fragment… There was one scene… I was truly flipping… It was almost an epiphany. Cos I knew I had this one scene and I thought I had totally forgotten all about it… It had been wiped off my screen. And it came back popping up again.

SM: Yes. It is a little bit like that. That’s how it happens. You think of a story, you forget about it. Then you start thinking about it again, you forget it again, it builds up again, you know you want to work on it. (…) There are some stories where I think I need to know more. This is gonna to be more complicated to explain. You know the thought, “I need to learn more. I need better skills. So I will leave that now, work on different stories now, and worry about that one later.”

CK: Ok, lets talk about skills. What do you think is worse… A good story badly written or a bad story well written?

SM: That’s a good question… Having a good story well written, it’s very difficult. I think that both have virtues I guess … You can have a poorly written book that is amazingly interesting, the story is so good that you don’t care even if they are poorly written. Or, you can have books that are so well written that you really don’t care about what’s going on. There are some very good writers. That you read the books and every page is like really good. It does not really matter what’s going on in the story. I enjoy both kinds of books. Obviously, the best you can find is the combination of both. They can both be good in the sense that you can have fun with both kinds of books… I don’t think necessarily… I mean I don’t think it ever gets in the way if you have a strong story. Not always you have great writers and great stories.

CK: Ok, I formulated it kind of provocatively.

SM: (…) Yes, there might be an average writer and the story is good, so it can still be very enjoyable. Not always you have the authors that matches both… For instance something very nicely written. And still: The book does not say anything. The skills are amazing. The book does not say anything. I find this phenomenon sometimes with the books by Don De Lillo. He is an amazing, a very good writer. But sometimes his books are just aweful. I mean they are nothing… in the sense that it is just him writing… that’s it.

CK: I haven’t read anything by him. You mean it is just fluff.

SM: There is sometimes, well, it is nothing. The story does not take you anywhere. Well it is sometimes just him writing, and that’s it. Well, there are on the other hand. Well, recently I also read something by John Banville which I enjoyed very much.

CK: Which one did you read?

SM: The sea.

CK: Oh, haven’t read that one.

SM: The story is not much happening in the book. There is not much in terms of a story, you could tell it in a few pages. But the way he writes it, the way he develops it, is great, is very enjoyable. There is almost nothing. Almost no story at all. But yet, it’s still a great book to read. It depends I mean. I don’t think it’s a rule. (…) It also depends on the reader. Some readers would enjoy one thing more than another. It has to be a Little bit of everything. It is very difficult to know what makes the perfect book. I mean you can recognize if a book is well written or not, and you can recognize if the story is good or not. But whether or not you enjoy the book, really depends on you. So, it is very difficult to say really this is a great book. You can like it or not. I guess there are some objective things and some VERY subjective things when you evaluate a book.

CK: What do you value when you read a book from a new writer? When you go like Wow, this is good!

SM: Oh yeah…I don’t know. That’s true. What is this IT thing?

CK: Is it dialogue? Crazy characters? A twist?

SM: I think it has to be unexpected. Well it does not necessarily have to be crazy.

CK: No, I meant crazy in a good sense, in terms of being unexpected. Unusual.

SM: Yes. Something that is unexpected. Something that you haven’t read in that style before. It takes you to a place that you were not expecting. I think that depends a lot on the shape of your mind at that time in your life. There are books that you read when you were young that made a difference, that marked you… They really influenced you. And still, and then you re-read them after some twenty years, today you might pick them up and you would wonder what it was.

CK: Sorry, I remember you were saying … something on the net about a juvenile book…something with “estany”… and so I read it because it was a nice size book, a small book. And the vocabulary was not too hard. So I read it, and it was really nice.

SM: At the present time, I haven’t really re-read that one. At the time when I read it was really good for me. I was in my early teens and it made a good impression on me. I don’t think that guy is an especially good or an excellent writer… He managed to get a story that touched me. It was a very good book in that sense. When I read it, it meant a lot me. It was a very appealing book in my age. At least to some of us. I think it is very difficult… There are some books where you think you would never like them and then when you read it you go like wow and you like them… So, it is very difficult what would make a book interesting for you, so that you would like it… It depends on a lot of factors. There are some astral conjunctions that makes it work.
(PAUSE)

SM: So the problem with books, is – and that’s why some people say it is impossible to say if a book is good or bad – is that there is a very subjective element whether you like it or not… But when you are criticizing a book, when you write a book review, you have to try to be objective. You have to value the good and bad things of the writting, point out its strong and its weak points, and then apart from that, you can say I liked it, I enjoyed it very much, or I did not like it. For example: It is poorly written, but it really touched me, so yeah I like it. That’s it. I think that’s fair. It does not have to be an excellently written book and a very clever story that’s the best book, not necessarily. Sometimes you enjoy other kinds of books. (PAUSE… typing)

CK: Has being a father changed your perspective… as an author?

SM: (laughs) Yeah, definitely. It forced me to read a lot of childrens’ books which made me realize what works and what not and it made me want to write more children’s books, which is what I am doing right now. Actually, when I wrote my first children’s book Tururut, that was before I even had a child. That was a challenge. Let’s try it. I did not know at all what kids were looking for. And it worked pretty well. Now I know more.

CK: I think it is amazing that you say this … because you know I love my kids to death, and I know I promised them to write a book one day… but to be honest, I am not much of a childrens’ writer.

SM: I don’t know. This is something. It just came up. There was a point when I felt I had to write for children or for teenagers… I grew up reading a lot of these books, that made a difference to me… And I read these books and they meant a lot to me. We wrote Ullals. And then Hipnòfobia. And they all landed in the crossover section without ever been written for kids. We never thought it was a teenager book. So then, I thought: Let’s tried to do a proper teenager book. Maybe, I was almost like pushed into the teenage fiction. And I am happy, it’s fun. When you think about it, writing children’s book. It is the appeal of doing things differently. You do things a little bit differently, to discover. Also… I think it adds some abilities to your arsenal of tools.

CK: Sounds quite martial.

SM: Yeah! (laughs) Learning to write I think. I mean. You have to have a plan or not, whatever. Is something that you have to make an effort. You write the best novel you can for instance. And then, you say, ok, this is as good as I can do right now. So if I want to do better than this, I have to do some exercises, I need to learn. I have to do some exercises. Let’s try different things.

CK: is there something you feel you need to learn, that you need to work on now, something ?

SM: Uh, yeah. For my next novel for adults, I have in my head…. I need to have three strong female characters. So far, all my female characters in my novels have been femme fatals. That’s the sort of a model I like. So, all my girls have been bad girls. Who always eventually betray the main character. The characters are well worked in my stories too but I want to write something different. I never wrote a female character in the long run that does anything else beyond the femme fatale. I need to train that.

CK: That is quite mono-dimensional.

SM: I never wrote a female character … I need to do some training. I try to get to a female side of my writing… try to get in touch with my feminine part of my character. Maybe make them somewhat stronger. Well, actually. They are actually strong. Maybe a different type of strong female character.

CK: In what way is Valentina a femme fatale?

SM: Maybe Valentina is the least femme fatale of those.

CK: I think she is a buddy.

SM: Valentina is very masculine in that sense, she is a classic hero. It could easily be a guy and it would work in the same sense.

CK: She reminded me very much of TANK GIRL. A comic I used to love.

SM: Tank girl is also… yes, actually. Tank girl is like a male character in a female shape.

CK: Actually, she is a bit.. a prototype… I don’t want to say lesbian… (SM laughs) but she goes into that direction.

SM: Yeah, in a way, Valentina goes into that direction… She has that sort of masculine template to start with. The few that show up in HIPNOFOBIA: there are very few girls in Hipno, but the few ones are all femme fatales and definitely in… in EL REI DEL MON… The girls in there are all femme fatales…

CK: In REI DEL MON it was really obvious… But that’s another one, I also think it was totally underrated. That’s another novel: I really liked it. I really liked it a lot.

SM: Thank you. Not really a lot of people even read it. So, yeah. I liked to do things a little bit different. I liked the idea of a main carácter, the female carácter, being so, well, so… femme fatale.

CK: Well maybe, it is a pattern you want to continue. If it is something you like. Why not? You don’t have to force yourself to have the good girl. Maybe that’s just boring. I like my characters to be a little bit bad …

SM: I agree with you. But I already had the femme fatale and I’m not going to repeat it one more time. The next character is going to be a bad character, but a little bit different. I was trying to develop more of that in that sense. Hipnofobia for instance for me was a playground to try out different approaches… I liked to write in the present tense. First or third person. So in Hipnofobia… I was trying to write all from the different perspectives: past, present, first, third person, explore different perspectives, … It was like a patchwork of different stories… It was defined to be a testing ground of things I want to do in the future… See how this works or not. Eventually, I managed to put it together in a novel. It started with “let me try out different things”. The bottom line of it is that …

CK: you always want to try out new things.

SM: … the bottom line is when i write I want to put myself in a situation that is not comfortable for me, so let’s try to do something that I’ve never done before, so that I have to force myself… For me, that’s the only way to learn. So I want to write as good as I can, I want to keep learning. I would not put myself in a situation where I repeat myself. That would not allow me to grow. I know that I still have a lot to learn as a writer. Let’s put me in a corner and see how I work there. That’s why I always force myself to do something I never done before. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But from all these experiences you learn. You come up a better writer.

CK: What would be the situation, say if we had a time machine? We put you in there, and you come out twenty years later. What would Salvador Macip say then, looking back on the past twenty years?

SM: Well, I hope that I can be proud of what I wrote and published and that I stayed true to my principles of trying to write books that are a little bit different. (…) There are going to be some good books, obviously some bad books. But hopefully they are going to be all different, interesting. You may like them or not, but still they’d all still have a value… He tried to do something different there. I hope in the next 20 years, I can keep on doing that. I am not really worried about making a lot of money, or anything. I am more interested in

CK: … developing your skills.

SM: yeah exactly… Being true to my target of becoming a better writer. Eventually write as good as I can, tell the best stories I can. If I am appreciated by ten people, fine, if there are one hundred people, it’s better, if it’s ten thousand, even better, but that’s not really what I am worried about now. I try to be the best writer I can and try to write the books that I consider to be good books, or well books that I would personally enjoy reading. But it does not necessarily mean that everybody else would. But at least people that would like the books I like would appreciate them. Hopefully they would enjoy that too…

CK: Alright. I have one question which always intrigues me. Which books are currently stacked up on your bedside table right now?

SM: I have a lot of books. I have due to my attention deficit I can’t just read one book… Well, there is Nicholson Baker for starters…

CK: Oh yeah, I know him. He wrote VOX.

SM: Yeah, vox is what he became famous for. Then there is “The fermata”. Very interesting. Very weird sex story. Very quirky, that’s why I like him. So that one. And then Bioko from Marc Pastor. Quite an interesting story.

CK: The same day you posted that picture of yourself on the beach, that very same day I was at Gilgamesh and I
actually bought myself a signed copy from Bioko. Wow! That was kind of spooky.

SM: Good. Very good. Slow beginning but then…

CK: What else?

SM: A book on death… The writer is someone who first wrote for the New Yorker. He wrote a few articles on death. He was dying from cancer… about death… I am just beginning it but it is quite powerful. Obviously, cos the guy is going through some extreme experiences. Then there is this book, I forgot the name, it is a guy from Jugoslavia that’s got the Nobel Prize. It’s been translated recently. It’s called “…” Don’t know. About some guy locked up in prison. In Turkey actually.

CK: Is it a political book?

SM: NO, basically it is about being locked up. It is this very strange prison. Basically it is about being locked up. Then I have some comic books next to it. It’s very complicated. I really like to read very different things. Here again, the same that applies. What goes for writing, goes for reading. I really want to read so many different things. It just bores me to read the same things over and over again.

We should really wrap up in five minutes.

CK: OK.

SM: Do you have any more pressing questions?

CK: No.

The interview was held on July 11th, 2013. The day it rained cats and dogs in Barcelona.
—–
CK: Thank you so much Salvador Macip! It has been so much fun doing the interview with you, and definitely so worthwhile. Pleasure!

20130712_134035

Rhyan Paul – interview from May 1st / plus repeat interview May 17th

Question 1 : When did you come to to this isle and why? Was there any kind of trigger / key story?

I came to Ibiza after moving back from Miami… A friend of mine was already living there and it felt like a good place to visit and I immediately fell in love with the place. It was 2002. And that was it. I was hooked.

Rhyan Paul in the magic realm of Es Vedra

Rhyan Paul in the magic realm of Es Vedra

 

 
Question 2 : Please recall your personal Ibiza story and describe, what to you is the magic of this isle? What is your life like here?

I guess my Ibiza story is one of luck. I moved back from Miami. I decided that I wanted to live in Ibiza obviously. And it was kind of hooked up for me thru Gerry Kelly who used to run Pacha back in the day… he linked me with Brasilio from la Troya. And Brazilio linked me with the guys that were doing Amanda at Amnesia and they linked me linked me Armin Van Buuren… I ended up getting the job of promotions director for Armada night at amnesia. So – Pretty lucky, really. I guess to me the magic… of the island is just the island itself. It’s so diverse. You got everything, the spirituality, Es Vedra, and Atlantis, all the way thru hedonistic clubs, the slums of San Antonio, through to the beauty of the San Mateo valley it just goes on… it is all just a beautiful really.

 

Question 3: Is it just you or are you a couple / family?

Well it is my family – Me and my wife, Melissa. I spend more time here than Mel. She is the marketing director for Box TV… So she is in the UK, in London. But my Ibiza family is here. Family does not have to be blood relatives. And my family is Ibiza.

Question 4: Who or what did lure you to live in Ibiza?

I’ve already answered this one really. The lure for me just was the beautiful island: The people, the music, the lifestyle. And obviously the fact that, well, there was a job offered!

Question 5: Despite which “urban legends” / misconceptions did you come to Ibiza? When did you find that they were misconceptions?

Misconceptions. I guess, the main one is the one that everybody thinks that Ibiza is one big, fat, hedonistic, drug filled, filthy, chav ridden hellhole. You know… And it is not. There is just San Antonio, and a couple of clubs down in San Rafael and Playa den Bossa. The rest is beautiful untouched, just stunning scenery. And beautiful Ibicencans. That was the misconception that I was most happy not to be true. Without a doubt, I remember. Actually, when you visit… the island is completely different to when you live there. I remember driving down through France and I got completely fucking lost and somehow I ended up in Germany. Strange. I tried speaking Spanish to Germans and was not getting very far.
Eventually I made it to Denia and got the ferry, and you know, just getting off the ferry, at Ibiza port. Straight into Ibiza town and being in IBIZA! So the farmhouse we were renting, was somewhere near in San Rafael. So I headed for San Rafael. Down the road, down a camino, down the track, wow, we were in the middle of fucking nowhere. And I thought well: This is heaven. That is the misconception, that Ibiza is a drugs filled hellhole… And it is really not.

Question 6 : What was probably the most beautiful experience you ever had on this isle?

The most beautiful experience I’ve had in Ibiza? There have been a lot. There are the stereotypical beautiful experiences. The cheesy ones… sunrise & sunsets at Es Vedra… Sunset at Benirras with the drumming. But there have been other… beautiful experiences… Just finding hidden nuggets of the island…there is a particular little cove in San Mateu, where you walk through a forest and down to an ocean cove, that is pretty stunning … everyday something beautiful and equally something shitty happens as well. . Meeting people, meeting Ibicencans. When you try and speak a little bit of Spanish and they kind of try back. They kind of embrace you for not being a typical chavvy tourist when they realize you are a resident who cares for the Island.

Question 7: What was probably the most horrible experience you ever had on this isle?

Most horrible experience? Gotta be, without a doubt, (hesitating) Having to live in San Antonio for two months, in the height of season… because my contract on the house I was renting in ran out. And I lived in the Tanit building, facing into the Westend. It was just fucking vile. That is the only words I can use to describe it. Just, seriously. Actually, it makes me feel ashamed to be British anyway. I fucking hate Brits abroad! Guys, you… know, you are not doing yourselves any favours… Girls, seriously, you do need to wear shorts or a dress after dark, really, a tiny swimsuit at night with that ass? Guys – I know you’ve been to the gym, I know you look great, but you know what, need to work your legs as well as your upper body. It’s just wrong. Personally, I’ve got nothing against San An. And actually there are some great places in San an. Casa Thai for instance, The marina, there are some beautiful bars, you’ve got Sunsea bar, back in the day you had Kanya, you’ve got Café del mar, you’ve got Mambo’s, it’s just the people that seem to want to go there. So, that is repeatedly the most horrible experience…

Question 8 : On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 – horrible, 10 – super) how would you rate your stay in Ibiza?

On a scale from 1-10 how to rate my stay in Ibiza? It’s off the fucking scale, dude…. It’s out in the stratosphere.

Question 9: Something has changed throughout the past 40 years. Who in your mind is destroying the isle?

Destroying the island? Damn, it’s a bit a political one really. It’s a double-edged sword. It really is a tricky one. You know what they are doing to Playa den Bossa? The super complex, the golf course, Ushuaia towers, and Ushuaia everything else, and then what they are going to do the same in San An, you know the bit of wasteland, where 1-2-3 (interviewer: the music festival 1-2-3 in 2012 where Lenny Kravitz played in Ibiza) was so that will be Ushuaia San Antonio and all the new roads, it’s making this island this commercial fucking hellhole. (Raising his voice)
But the flipside is that it’s bringing money to the island and you gotta be progressive, and Ushuaia is an amazing club experience. And Playa den Bossa needs regeneration. So – It’s tricky. I guess The purist in me and the purist in many people would like to see a place of beautiful innocence, you Pacha, Amnesia, and Ku, which is now Privilege, and everything open air still, you know, just peace love and unity. Amazing sex, amazing people. And amazing drugs. Superstars everywhere. And that’s great, that’s fine… But Unfortunately, things change. It’s up to decide to the guy on the street to decide whether it’s for the better or worse. Personally, I think the new roads are a god send. Saves me load in suspension repairs. So… yeah… Bit on the fence with this one.

Question 10: Who / what movement / what remedy do you think can save the isle?

What remedy could we use to save the island? We gotta be more eco, man. Everybody has to. Not just Ibiza, the world over. We are raping and fucking this world in the ass, you know and on the daily basis. We can’t seem to see it. We need to be more green, man, have more sustainability. We need to be environmentally aware and not just friendly. But: Aware of what we are doing. We need to stop thinking, to bringing cars to Ibiza … and fucking up the eco system and the ocean. We can’t be doing this. Everybody has got to do something. But the problem is. The smallest thing – if everyone did it – would make the biggest difference. For example – If we all turned off the light for one hour a day, massive fucking difference to the world. But no one is gonna do it. You know, I am not gonna do it. Because the guy next door is not. And: Thus it goes on. Everybody please just do a little bit. You know what?
Grow some veg. And I don’t want hear all this bullshit. …Oh, I live in a high rise. Get a window box. Grow some training tomatoes, grow some cucumbers, grow some strawberries. If everybody grew just a little bit of everything, then the impact of the amount of suffering that has been brought to the island would be lessened.
Eat less meat, we don’t need all the meat. Eat less sugar, eat less sweets. Just I don’t know. I guess. Take a little back the way we used to live 40 or 50 years ago.
Just think people. It’s not gonna be here forever. It’s all very well and good, now, you’re saying that, it’s someone else s problem.
You won’t be saying that when you are trying to put out the flames out on your kids back because the ozone’s layer is gone.
Question 11: Why does Ibiza still enchant / hypnotize / draw so many people from so many countries after all this time?

Why does Ibiza still hypnotize so many people? (Speaking in a funny voice) That’s because I am a fucking hypnotist baby! (Stop funny voice) But apart from that: because of its uniqueness. Because it is a uniquely beautiful place. It’s got something for everybody. I am not a spiritual person… at all, but you know what, you land on the island and there is just this sense of calm that washes over you. I drive in from the airport. Driving up towards to San Josep. Once you get to the country, it’s calm… You know: It’s kind of like: A sense of Ibiza that washes over you. It enchants so many people because for such a long time it’s been this magical island. That people are in debt to. When I was living in Miami, we did a night called Naive. South Beach Ibiza Style. And it rocked! We was bringing the flavour of Ibiza to America. There were not real flights to Ibiza at the time, at least not affordable ones. It is a magical and enchanted island. And as long as we can keep the status quo, of super clubs, super nights, and idyllic beauty, then it will keep its allure.

Naive - Miami South Beach clubbing Ibiza Style

Naive – Miami South Beach clubbing Ibiza Style

Question 12: What is the worst misconception about Ibiza in existence?

What is the worst misconception? – That Ibiza is called the White isle, because the amount of cocaine here. It is actually called the White isle because of the amount of salt… which if you do buy drugs in one of the clubs, is what you are probably buying. €50 for a gram of salt!

Question 13: If you were the mayor of Ibiza for one month, what changes would you immediately order? Tell us at least 3 things you would really like to change.

If I was the mayor of Ibiza for a month, wow, how amazing would that be? I would hang on, first of all, I would ring fence San Antonio, no, I wouldn’t. Well, maybe I would. What would I do? Going back to sustainability… I would enforce that people had to grow their own stuff… That people would have to look around them, and try to make a change on the island. Make a difference on the island. You don’t need to use your car all the time. You don’t need to take your car from shop to shop… You don’t need a car. Walk, use public transport, get a bike. I think, I would not enforce it… (except for bringing fences to San Antonio) because that’s fascist. But, um, I would just push awareness. There is an old saying in the UK – You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. That’s pretty much the same everywhere all over. You can’t make people do things unless you are using the veiled threats. Well: Just awareness. Well, if they do not comply… Just fucking shoot them. No, no, that’s all cool. Tickle them until they pee themselves instead!

 

Question 14: If one of your close friends were to migrate to Ibiza would you encourage them or try to change their mind?

Just ask them… why did you leave us alone…? Plain and simple.

 

Rhyan Paul back in the day with his mates

Rhyan Paul back in the day with his mates

Question 15: Which months are your favorite ones? And why.

Which are my favourite months? I guess when you live here your fave months have to be, October, November, December, January, February, March, April. Simply because That’s when residents get the island back. That’s when the island is returned to the residents and the Ibicencans. It’s more beautiful, it’s quiet. That’s when you find the bars that you did not know existed, little local hang outs. You can go to Can Tixedo and you don’t hear a single English voice. Pacha is cool, because it’s not full of sweaty men and nasty ladies…It’s just a beautiful time.
Whereas when you are a tourist, the best months are June, July, August and September…
And summer is cool as well. I enjoy it all year round. But As I’ve gotten older, I think it’s out of season. More personal and it’s just more beautiful.

Rhyan Paul in Pacha partying hard...

Rhyan Paul in Pacha partying hard…

 

Question 16: Do you speak Catalan?

Do I speak Catalan? I don’t even speak fucking English properly… I’m learning Spanish. I’ve been learning Spanish… (Since I’ve lived in America. It’s a bit embarrassing) I’ve been learning Spanish for 15 years. I can definitely order a café. With or without sugar. (Laughing)
More seriously: No, I don’t speak Catalan… And I am pretty embarrassed about it. I am pretty shit at learning languages.
Once the Spanish cracked, then I am definitely gonna learn Catalan.

Question 17: Which public personality / VIP did you see / meet / speak to so far and what do you think about it – impressed or annoyed or … ?

Work in Music industry as an artist manager, I’ve met a few VIP’s (I use the term loosely) and personalities I think one if the nicest, was Armin van Buuren. The guy is so nice, so friendly, so cool. His wife was just so lovely to be around. Nice and wholesome people. Really down to earth. Mike and Claire (Manumission) are pretty cool cats as well. Got to interview them, when they had the office in the Vara De Rey in 2005.

(Comment of the interviewer: Yes, Mike and Claire from Manumission, they are!!! I think it’s actually a good idea to do an interview with them… Actually, if you read this Claire, it’s been ages, let’s get together sometime. <3)

Question 18: Do you have friendships outside your language circles and how would you rate these friendships in their importance?

Yeah. I’ve got friends outside my language circles. And they are pretty important ones too. We learn off each other. All of my friends are perversely enjoyable… I think it’s great, I think it is really important to have friends outside your language circle. I have a lot of friends all over the world. I’ve got Hispanic, Ibicencan, French, German ones, the world is a small place now, you know. We can all have friends outside our language circles. (funny voice) If we could all just get along!

Question 19: Do you have Ibizenco friends? Do you find them any different to friends from your country? What do you think makes them tick?

I… Are my Ibicencan friends any different…? Yeah, they do strange things… They go out for dinner at midnight… Or sleep all afternoon… Which is cool unless you want to go to the bank, go to a lawyer, do anything that involves anything necessary. What makes them tick? Beautiful sunshine, beautiful people, beautiful food. We are here in Ibiza. There is always a reason to get out …

Question 20: Did it take you long to get used to the Ibizenco lifestyle? Are there still some things you can still not understand / relate to

Oh my gosh… Wait a minute. Everything closes at 1-5. But I need to do my banking. The eating at midnight. The most crazy thing is that Locals don’t go clubbing until 4 or 5… in the morning… There is a hardcore few there… yeah, it did take a while… The driving on the wrong side of the road… I had a few hairy moments there. I got to find out about the local police as well. Just how pleasant how nice they can kind of NOT be…

(Rhyan, what about that strip searching incident you told me about? 😉 Ok, we leave that in the uncut version then… 😉 )
Question 21: If your house / flat was on fire, which three things (not people) would you grab and get out?

Actually gonna change what I said originally. My Apple laptop my life’s is on it, Polo a teddy bear that I’ve had ver since I was a child. It kind of looks like a zombie now. One of his ears fell off and got hoovered up, that was kind of heart breaking So I would take my laptop, the teddy bear with no ears and my Swiss army knife.
Question22: If someone told you you had to leave the isle, you would…

If someone told me I had to leave the island? I would tell them to go and fuck themselves. Plain and simple.

Question 23: Ibiza changed a lot within the last ten (twenty, thirty) years insofar as… (please finish)

Ibiza changed a lot in the last 10, 20, 30 years… Ibiza has changed a lot in as much as the clubs have roofs on them. There are a lot more people. What maybe happened is a little bit of the heart of the island died. In so much as the innocence of Ibiza kind of has been raped just a little bit… so that’s not so cool.

Question 24: I love / loathe Ibiza… (please finish)

I love Ibiza… because it is what it is. I love it because it is constantly evolving and changing. And equally…
I loathe it because … it is constantly evolving and changing.

Question 25: Tanit is the godmother of Ibiza and it’s protective goddess because… (please finish)

I did a little bit of homework since we last spoke. Tanit is a mother of the water… Tanit brings life, fertility, purification and magnetic flow. For a bloke, Bez, it is all what it is all about. Bez is looking after me. For me, he is the god of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Fuck it. It’s Friday night. Let’s have it. Let’s do it. We are gonna rock and roll all night baby.

Rhyan_paul_suit

Thank you so much Rhyan! It was a pleasure talking to you.

 

Uh, in case you were wondering, how come I got such a marvellously crazy interview from Rhyan Paul, just remember this: The guy’s a hypnotist…

Here is how it all started…

Look me in the eyes. Look straight into my eyes.

Don’t look around the eyes, don’t look around the eyes, you are under.

😉

Ok. I am pretty new to the game. In my late twenties I did some half hearted attempts. But now I really mean it. My book is written. Now I need a publisher.
I got three letters of rejections this week.
I am really crushed. I feel done for. I don’t need much more of this.
Some don’t even state a reason.
And they don’t need to. As the decision itself shows that you as a writer did not cut it. That your book is presumably just garbage.
You end up feeling like you’ve fallen into a deep pit.

The silent treatment.
To me it’s the worst.
Bad for me.
Really bad.
Worst blow for a weak self-esteem.

I hope I will pick myself up again.
At some point.
Right now I just feel like … shit …suicide

the author who will never happen.

This is going to be a tough one.

I wanted to be blogging a couple of days ago while passing my days on the couch, getting better from the flu which I got immediately after coming back from my Scotland trip. But it did not happen like that. It is a universally accepted truth and acknowledged fact that life is difficult at times. I was stressing. I had all reasons to do so. Now, I am trying to make ends meet, trying to get things back on track. So, in order to keep my promises incurred by previous statements, this blog post will be different inasmuch I will have to subdivide it into four blog parts. It does not work for me otherwise and I need to get stuff done so basically, that’s why the title is a bit confusing. Since time is moving forward this would be a good idea to get a clear desk.

These topics are all different ones but that’s simply a makeshift solution.

slavery

1. Freedom and slavery – I know it is a big title. Triggered through some talks with friends and acquaintances I recently had, I wanted to shortly discuss this topic. Of course, the two items in questions are diametrically opposite and the existence of the one would be impossible without the other. So what is there that could be interesting enough as to put it into a blog thread?

It is a very known dichotomy that often gets in the way. Freedom is something we all aspire whereas slavery is something we mean to free ourselves from. Have we achieved this goal so far?

I don’t want to sound dogmatic but I think that nowadays people have made themselves slaves to so many things, concepts, fellowmen, without even noticing that it is precisely that what is happening, this subconscious thing that we (the species man) are undermined in our natural way of being a free spirit and therefore, we lose touch with our essential necessities. The subjugation of spirit and the abandonment of freedom narcotizes us and it soothes our desire for experience in many weird ways, that brings us far away from who we are …What is it that we gain from falling prey to these surrogate gods, come on, what is it exactly? What is it that we gain by being slave to wage, slave to love, slave to success, slave to image, slave to food, slave to drugs, slave to whatever it is that we subjugate our lives to…

I know this is kind of provocative and I can almost hear people say “no, way, I am super free”, and “what a lot of bollocks”… I decide what I do and not the company that has the biggest marketing budget or the brand that my neighbour buys and I feel envious because of it. Let me tell you this. It is all very human and it basically happens to everyone. I won’t except myself from being a slave from time to time, but what I do about this, is that I try to become aware into which traps I am falling and thus trying to avoid these traps for the future.

Let me give you a brief overview:

robinson-crusoe

This may sound like I am some kind of female Robinson Crusoe but I am really not. It just strikes me that in spite of having achieved so much technological pioneering as a species, most people today are not really free in what they achieve in their lifetime, feel extremely pressurized time wise and therefore unhappy and stressed. And why is that? Because we (as a species) are very prone to be sidetracked. That is the bottom line. It is true. And here we can easily see that we, Homo sapiens sapiens, are not so far away from the Australopithecus.

Wanna hear an example?

Let’s start with the slavery/freedom pitfall of KEEPING UP. I have two children, aged 11 and almost (a week) 8 now, both girls. I constantly hear them mention tech things their classmates have, the modern amenities let’s call it: Nintendo DS, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and what not. Of course, every parent knows exactly what I am talking about. I get sick and tired of this. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I think it is such a contagious and stupid thing to “keep up with the Jones” and so not needed, neither by me as a mother, nor by my kids. No-one is actually considering of whether kids are old enough to use, and to treasure these things, to maintain them properly and whether, let’s draw a line in the sand here, whether they in fact NEED all these tech-age gadgets.

I know, some of my readers will now smile because they know that I tend to be one of the first ones to KNOW about technological advance and will be the first one to READ UP ON STUFF like that, but the difference is. I am old enough to differentiate between a leap in technology and decide whether it is worth my while or just skip it. Kids often don’t have the means to differentiate between an important and not so important thing. That’s why we, the parents, need to be very good in our understanding and be wise. What do my children learn when I tell them, “No, honey, I won’t buy you a Nintendo DS. First of all, it is money we don’t have. But secondly, and this argument really cuts the cheese here, you don’t need it. It is techno trash. (which it is) Get out. Take the dog and have a walk out there in nature.” Ok. This probably will work another four years if I am lucky, maybe five, but some day in the not so far away future my kids will ask me to give them the money to buy this and that. What am I supposed to do?

I guess it is a good thing that parents don’t get 12 or 13 year-olds straight away, but that we start out with the beginner’s model, the baby. Only shits its pants, cries, feeds and sleeps, sometimes burps and vomits. After the first four weeks, a smile is the reward for having completed the first level safely. But that’s basically it. Right. Let’s not get sidetracked here. Back to topic.

My main point is that we need to start early with educating the right kind of choices in our children. We are the ones who they look up to, we are the ones who hopefully make them aware that they in fact will see with their very own class-mates that the Nintendo DS or whatever fad it might be is a thing for eight weeks or maybe twelve and afterwards, the novelty wears off, it will be another gadget sitting there, polluting the planet with no significant help in terms of education or well-being.

Another slavery pitfall? What about being permanent available in BEING ONLINE 24/7? I used to be in favor of this. I admit it. I thought I would miss so much if I hadn’t been online one day. I thought that internet and all the social networks I had, the newsletters, the new mail I minute by minute I received was really important. But slowly but surely, I noticed that this was not such a good, not such a healthy way, it just was not right for me because it basically used to eat up so many hours of my working day that I felt the need to find a better way of handling computer time. I needed to do computer time, but also decided that I would limit my online time, control this behaviour until it fitted in with my working, personal and also social life. I was rewarded. My life now feels more real. More like myself anyway. I won’t ban the social networks, I just want to avoid falling into the pitfall of being online each and every minute of my day. Let’s face it.

Social networks are the reality of present day, we need to accept it, whether we like it or not. It would be stupid to ignore it and there is still room for improvement, room and imaginative ways that we can form this amorphous mass. Learn to use it as a tool. Like a chimpanzee will use a wooden branch to get his bananas off the tree. Yes. That is what it is.

We come to the next topic where slavery/freedom can occur: SHOPPING/HAVING INSTEAD OF BEING

What about the constant need for new cars, new tv sets, the newest fad gadget that will clutter so many households all over the planet until one day we will even find this gadget watered down even in a favela of Rio de Janeiro… See what I mean? How can it be that today it is all so immensely concerned with owning things, it is also about the consumption of the right products, the right food, the right clothes, and not about key traits like beauty, truth, knowledge and wisdom anymore?

Ok, don’t get wrong. I am not some sort of TV preacher, I don’t sing gospels, I am not even religious although I try to believe in God (I am agnostic basically, but I would wish there was a god), and I have done a fair share of stupidities in my time, but it strikes me (especially now after having come back from a trip that lasted almost one whole month) that everyone is mostly around with one or two shopping bags, and neither one really goes to the city anymore to see friends, to meet up, to share a laugh, to see a theatre play, play some sports or do something just for fun’s sake, but mostly people go out to buy stuff these days. Or they are out on business. What a strange and sad life that our so-called reality imposes on us. The main motivation seems to be “keeping up with the Joneses”. And that is so sad. Sant Miquel (the tiny village where I live) is in a pretty rural area. But even so, kids start using nintendo DS, they run around with a tablet pc and I keep asking myself why on earth these kids would do with these gadgets. I am not starting on the merchandising that follows every tv series like Hannah Montana, Angry Birds or whatever. Maybe, my thinking is a wee bit too orthodox here, but I read a couple of years ago this book “Affluenza – the All-Consuming Epidemic” by John de Graaf and I must say, there is so much in this book that comes to haunt me when I open my eyes. I used to be one of them. The people who are deeply unhappy. Who have a job, a good and proper income, but when it came to feeling my life, I know I had to change. So I did. I threw all precautions overboard and started out the adventure Ibiza. Well, it was not an adventure as such, we knew the island fairly well but basically that was an objective we had for 13 years and see the way so many people are oriented to consume, to buy stuff they don’t need, to impress people they don’t even like… Come to think of it.

To me, I found that my life became less painful and less of a drag when I rearranged my priorities and became more aware of what it is I am effectively doing:

Consume less – less air condition, less aerosols, less food you will throw away anyway, less petrol. Avoid to always cool down a room full throttle, rather try to create a draft. Summer is summer. Why use an aerosol, try to get the product with a pump spray instead. Think what you need, eat it, consume it but not excessively so you need to throw away only a minimum. Don’t make too many unnecessary trips with the car. Walk instead. It is helpful in so many ways, it helps reduce stress, it brings you back in touch with nature and it helps your health in general because it is a free cardio.

Help reduce garbage – don’t have everything double packaged, wrapped and re-use stuff. I am quite sensitive with this issue cause I used to work for a company in recycling and I think people should think so much more about the necessity of packaging and use things that have less and re-usable packaging. We only have one world, one planet. Let’s try to keep it in habitable shape for our kids and grandchildren and generations to come.

garbage

Downshift your working hours – I have been trying to that lately. I have been glued to the screen so many months in the past 12 months that I seriously felt the need to really take a break. I have bought the book the “4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss and I haven’t got round to read it but I am so interested in the argument that goes with it. I will keep you posted on this one.

ferriss

Spend at least time each and every day and say something nice to a friend, partner or a child / children. – this is a karma option. Do what you want others to do to you. I wish I would remember that one every day. I am absorbed so many times that I really need to work on that one.

All in all, I would like to finish this mini article (hahaha, this much for avoiding clutter) with the idea that freedom and slavery is a pair. One of them is yin and the other is yang. Try to integrate both of them to get the best results. We are all slaves in one way or the other. Sometimes, we are free but we chose the way of making us unfree, because we e.g, fall for the wrong type of friend, get contracted by a company that might exploit us, or we submit ourselves to a treatment that we don’t really need. One thing I learnt in the past is that the best remedy for a growing sense of slavery is to step back and take a look at the greater picture. If you see that something is kind of lopsided, imbalanced, then get rid of it. I am not even speaking of good or bad here, I am merely speaking of balance. When something is making you feel uneasy, then it is sure as hell time for a change. Whether it is material or immaterial.

For some people, this might be a really difficult exercise. But you decide to whom and to what you bind yourself, each and every day. The most important thing is to evaluate options safely and make the right decisions, based on facts and on feeling

womens day

2. women’s day – Each and every year, this day reminds me that we ought to have overcome women’s day. My main message here is I really think that this day stinks. It really should not be there at all. But if truth be told: man is perfect in celebrating the oppressed gender. And yes, I believe that women are still oppressed in many ways.

What bugged me a little though was that my loving and wonderful husband actually told me that these days it should be the other way around and that women had the long end of the stick. I don’t quite agree here. But that’s stuff for another blog post I guess. 😉

scotland

3. Scotland – wonderful country. We started out our journey in Edinburgh. We were a little outside in Linlithgow and were in a sweet little cottage. Weather was ok, it snowed a little and my little daughter was amazed to see snow for the very first time in her life, she is almost 8 now! The amount of snow was quite scarce, yet they still tried to build a snowman, but that seems so implanted genetically. So which sites did we visit? We went to see Edinburgh castle, we also went to see the Writer’s Museum, National Gallery of Edinburgh and a couple of smaller museums. I must say that I very much liked the Writer’s Museum and also the National Gallery. Edinburgh Castle of course is a must and we were even lucky enough to be there on the day that was dedicated to Elisabeth II. (I cannot remember what was the occasion) but they had a super long parade, plus salute with many cannon-shot during the usual 12:00h hour. That day, we were really frozen to the marrow as it was extremely chilly and very windy. It felt like well below zero degrees. So used to Ibiza sun, that was quite some different climate to experience.

Writer’s museum is dedicated to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. It is quite small but very lively and shows many interesting exhibits.

Edinburgh National Museum of Scotland  is also very recommended, especially for families with kids. There are so many things that kids can do in this museum, it is a bit like the Deutsches Museum in Munich for anyone who knows this museum. It has historic traits but also is very much linked to the present day. It is an absolute treat and there is no way to get bored in this museum.

The National Gallery is also wonderful and shows the most beautiful pieces of art. An absolute must-see.

The other museums are nice like the People’s museum or the museum of childhood but they are maybe not as important if you are there with a limited schedule.

Check this site here for more information on Edinburgh museums: http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/

After one week in and around Edinburgh, we travelled up north to Inverness. Here we were again a bit outside and on a farmhouse cottage. For the kids, this was fantastic cause they could see highland cattle grazing right at our doorstep, the thickly clad Scottish sheep, and other farm animals. Inverness was not as exciting, but it was still a very nice town to visit. Also here, we tried to make as much as we could of our time.

Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle, Elgin Cathedral and Fort William were also visited by us.

If you are a family and plan to visit Scotland, try to get the Explorer Pass issued by Historic Scotland. You can get it for different either 3, 5 or 7 days depending on the length of your stay. You will receive many benefits and it is very much worth your while. Also visit at least one distillery. We did so at Glen Moray and had a wonderful time there. The guide was very competent and friendly.

The only downside of visiting Scotland in winter was of course the weather. It was pretty cold, but we were in fact quite lucky in terms of rain and snow.

The last week, we spent on the isle of Skye, after visiting Eilean Donan Castle (the castle featured in the “Highlander” movie). The weather on Skye was sensational. It actually reminded me a bit of Ibiza as the skies were wiped clean and the sun came out, and it felt like spring in fact. Even though it was cold, the air was beautiful and it was super sunny. Skye is surely one of the best kept secrets about Scotland. Portree is the biggest town on the island. We visited it twice as there is not so much to see in the winter. There is a big port, a couple of tourist shops and some restaurants and fish and chips shops.

The wonderful walks we did while on Skye are the thing I will cherish for a very long time after coming back. We really packed backpacks and took a flask of tea, some chocolate for strength and went up to the Old Man of Storr, the Kilt Rock and its waterfall (an absolute amazing view!!!)

kilt_rock_skye_scotland_0845

and the summit walk of Quiraing. There is still so much more we would have done but our Scotland journey basically ended here and, after driving from Skye again back to Edinburgh by car and taking the train to London, which was very beautiful because you have a nice impression of where you are going and the landscapes are also really breathtaking.

In London, we had another three days before boarding our flight back to Ibiza. All in all, we had 25 days on the road. This is apart from the Australia trip we did back in 1998 the longest journey that we as a couple / a family took.

Obviously, this being a holiday of one of a kind, I am very happy that we all came back safe and sane. It  always is a good sign when at the end of a holiday you start to wish for your own bed and for your usual surroundings. I really had the feeling that we had a very special time in Scotland and in London.

london

London has always been one of my favorite cities but I must admit I had not seen it in quite a while and so it felt a bit like “la-la-land” it just did not seem real enough. It is a bit like falling into Disney world commercial. Too many tv screens all around. There are things where you ask yourself, what for??? Like the Starbucks coffee shops at every damn corner, there are tv screens on every garbage bin in Westminster which I found pretty monstrous. Who on earth needs that? It is so silly.

Well, but on the upside, we managed to visit the Tower of London which to us historians is quite a milestone. I had been visiting the Tower in the early nineties already while in Dublin. The Tower I saw in 2013 had nothing to do with the Tower I saw in 1992. The way in which it is presented is totally amazing and really quite pedagogical. Absolute thumbs up, even though also here, the prices are pretty hefty. For a family ticket, you fork out 55 British pounds. Plus the little guide-book and that is 60 quid without the eating and the drinking which you will need since the Tower is a thing where you can virtually spend a whole day or the best part of a day. But it is definitely worth it.

London is still the most expensive city I know. It is too damn expensive.

Summarizing, this journey has been amazing and wonderful plus I think and I hope that my children will remember all the beautiful things for ever and ever.

PS: Why didn’t I post in between? Because I simply was not online. First of all, it was unintentional as wi-fi was so hard to come by and my provider is quite costly to roam in UK, so after fraying a couple of days, I decided against it. I wanted to focus on the journey and not on the fact that internet is basically everywhere nowadays. On one day, I think the 6th of February, I was shortly online, but other than that, I really and truly disconnected the whole month of February. I came down and learnt to unwind. I don’t need to be online each and every day anymore. Some days I feel more like going online than others. I know that the internet today is a necessity but again here, the question of finding the right kind of dosage, is crucial and also a question of awareness.

PPS: I won’t promise to upload pictures. If I get around to do it, I will do it. If not, don’t be sad. Scotland is worth the trouble, even in winter. And London, even though it is getting closer to become a local branch of Disneyworld is a unique capital with many facets and a very bubbly character.

Ok, in between years I tend to be a little melancholic. It’s a fact. Yet another year over. What will the new year bring? What will it hold in stock? It struck me that today we do have way more possibilities than say our predecessors in Shakespeare’s day, or in classic times in Ancient Rome or Greece or as a child laborer growing up in Mumbai or a child being born in the slums of some metropolis even today. And yet, what do we make of our time?

Shakespeare’s monologue in “As you like it” presents us with the seven ages of man:

infancy

childhood

the lover

the soldier

the justice

old age

the pantaloon

To me, that does not feel quite right… Not just because I have turned 42 recently. 😉

I believe that especially in today’s world we have to revisit Shakespeare’s data since they don’t seem to match with what we’re faced with today.

Shakespeare spoke of 7-year-steps that would lead up to reaching the next level. Up until age 21 this might still be applicable but afterwards we are different today, aren’t we?

Some of us, at least. I don’t know if I am so happy with chosing particular years to really mark an incision, a deep cutting change in one’s life. It may be one or two years later sometimes, or earlier for that matter. Often, our life is marked by one particular event but that does not have to match the categories as shown in the chart above that is derived from Shakespeare.

The thought of categorizing certain age groups might help in some ways, but it does not really feel applicable to modern society.

Today, biographies tend to differ a lot. We learn, we study, we work, we study again, we choose a new career, we choose to live elsewhere. Marriages happen, sometimes, they fall apart after a couple of years. New marriages begin. In many ways, think of the age of women today. It changed so much in the past fifty years: the age when they get married, when they tend to fall pregnant and when people might still go out and have a career. Also think of the people who studied. If you told them, hey, at 56 you are past it, watch closely what happens… Or better run and hide. There are folks by far older than that and they are still in their mental prime and they will be at least another twenty years if you allow them stay alive, healthy and happy. 

Personally, age is one the topics I find highly interesting. It is something to me that identifies it as the last taboo in our post-modern society. Everybody is concerned with it, and funnily enough, nobody wants to talk about it. It seems to be one of those things that is very volatile in terms of how it is viewed in society. Yep. Age is a changeling in that way.

Just like death itself. There will be time for a different article of death avoidance in our society (something I wrote about as early as 1991).

I am not a gerontologist. I am just wondering how this spiral of searching for methods of attaining eternal youth might end. Especially when we are all getting older, and older, and older. Not just personally, but also our society. The age pyramid already seems to have turned upside down. Crises and wars, terrorist attacks and unemployment haven’t really helped to make things better. Having another baby? Only fools seem to say yes to that question.

Remember those days when age was viewed quite differently? It was not merely old bones and forgetfulness. It used to be a symbol of an achievement: of a full life, ripe, mature, full of grace, and wisdom? When old age used to be something people would look forward to? Today, they seem to rather fear it.

Remember how we were brought up to stand up in the bus or in the waiting room when an elderly person entered and there was no seat left. Today, try that and get the dirty looks of a seventy-year-old who is still trying to pass for 55 or something. It really seems to be not such a good thing to do anymore. I still consider it the right thing (well, if they are frail) but then, that’s just me. When I see someone frail, it is something I will always do.

But what other misconceptions are there about age?

I remember that when I was a child of six or seven, my almost grown up cousin from Greece who was 17 (ten or eleven years my senior), age was something to look forward to. He looked so strong, acted so wisely, and he seemed so mature to me. To his parents, he was just a teenager and someone to watch over his little cousin. Right, like I said, it is a matter of perspective basically.

I used to always be very fond of reaching another birthday and even one whole month before I could not sleep and would be preparing myself for the next step in the long path to adulthood.

As an adult, this wonderful inspiration and childish happiness is no longer there. Mind you, I still look forward to my birthday, but basically, my perspective has changed. Naturally, you will say. As you are getting older, you learn that life is not an endless journey but that it does have an end to it. And that somehow puts a crimp in our style. Simple as that.

Ok, being still young enough to enjoy birthdays means that old age is still far away. There! See? Even myself. I do it. And I should know better. I push old age far away from me because it is something that gives me the creeps. It is not something we – the modern men/women of today – would aspire. It rather seems to be something to steer clear of, something to be avoided. And why is that?

There are plenty of reasons why old age is good:

– you no longer need to form part of the workforce

– you have fond memories of your full life

– you are fully aware of who you are

– the hormones are no longer in the way, thus making you their slave

– your wisdom is at its height

Well, who am I kidding? The above was surely right some thirty years ago. But it is no longer the case. Things have changed. Things in our society. Things as they are now. It is so obvious. Old age is today associated with a lot of things – but as it happens these things are not really so inspirational. Old age spells loss and failure:

– the negation of youth

– not be able to demonstrate the image of vitality that is so sought after

– function failure like eyesight, hearing, virility etc.

– loss of beauty

– loss of vitality

And what’s more, some old people even need to keep on working since they cannot afford not to.

However, the basic point is this:

Today’s society is so extremely youth, beauty and performance-oriented, that being old age almost seems to be a failure in itself. It is something people by all means want to avoid.

You don’t like to read this. I don’t like to write it either, but the truth is – that’s what we are dealing with today.

Argue that it is otherwise? Take a good look at reality.

Ok, let’s name five singers (female or male) who are financially successful and over the age of say 40. (and I don’t mean rock dinosaurs like the Rolling Stones)

Ok, what about actors and actresses who get lead roles? Over 50.

The youth cult is so strong today that life in its normal way is practically is impossible. If you want to be successful that means you need to look young or at least make an effort and let people see that you’re trying… Which is sad…

And that is nothing new… Just watch out for my next article on W.B. Yeats. He was literally speaking age obsessed. Only, back then, in the beginning of the last century, Yeats was a weirdo. He was the odd one out. Today, he would fit in perfectly. And that to me is pretty sad.

Today, people, rich people or let’s say people who can afford to, are trying to turn back the clock. They are trying to buy their youth back. They trust some weird would be charlatans, con men who sell some weird herbs, some hormones, DHEA, some melatonin, and what not, just for the promise of ageing slower and not losing as much of their vitality as their peers.

To me, this no longer is a science-fiction scenario. I’ve seen enough people who celebrate this cult, and it is scary. It scares the shit out of me.

I am 42 now, so what am I? Old or middle-aged. I don’t know. I don’t even care. 

For marketing people, I will only be important another seven years, and past the age of 49 you no longer matter to advertising. For my kids, I am their mother. For my husband, I am his wife. For my parents, I will be their only girl child, and quite a black sheep for that matter. For my friends, I will be Chrys. So, where does age in these relations? I guess in no way. Because it is not important to your life. What is important is within you, and the people you associate with and what is left of your existence when you leave this planet.

So, I truly and honestly can say… I don’t get the whole business of avoiding age like it was some curse or ailment. I don’t get the Botox, I don’t get the nordic walking, I don’t get the hormones and I don’t get the DHEA.

But what I do know is that I don’t want to wind up some sad pathetic creature pumping themselves up with bodybuilding, with obscure medicine, with herbs and hormones and what not. I just want to live. And to be honest, I find some wrinkles around the eyes pretty sexy because they show that you can laugh. Affording to move your facial muscles…

Oh shit, I wanted to include this huge billboard poster I found at the Ibiza roundabout a couple of weeks ago. As a matter of fact, I did not take the picture since I thought this was too weird… And I did not feel like going through the trouble of erasing the phone number “do you botox? call… ” That was this huge billboard – one sentence and only with a mobile number and a website… ” To be honest I just could not believe it. It has been there for a while now. Since I also work in advertising I can tell you this much. Such a billboard in an exposed location is pretty damn expensive. I could not believe that the Botox industry is even strong enough on such a tiny island as Ibiza. Could you think of anything more absurd? Please… Hippy island Ibiza or Botox and meds island Ibiza? You choose.

To me, this whole age rant is amusing. Well, let’s face it. We all need to age. Some of us, age well, some others just aren’t as fortunate. However, the thought of old age should encourage everyone to preparing one’s mind and not as much the outer appearance, so one could be more peaceful and less restless in order to understand that everyone will be old one day, if they live to see the day.

What we do need to change are our prejudices and preconceptions. Age is not about losing your facilities, wearing diapers and needing walking sticks, and wheelchairs. It’s not. It is just the next logical step in what happens when man gets older. And for this, there is no remedy. Well, there is but that would be suicide.

I remember one thing someone said to me when I was 16, you’re an old soul. I kind of liked that. I still don’t entirely know if I buy this though. I just fall for different things than most people. I am different.

When I was 35, someone else in a context which I won’t repeat here told me, after he had been told my age, “Ah, 35, that’s a nice age.” I just looked at him did not know what he meant. Why? Because all present is wonderful. That’s why we are human. We need to find the little clues and make our life worthwhile. Come to think of it. Had I lied to him and had I said, 31, he would have said exactly the same. And what if I had made myself older than that, 37, he would have still said the same. So, what does it matter? Right. Nothing.

I would like to conclude this article with the fact, that any age is a beautiful age. It is just the moment that you’re in. It is the present of your life. Please make it worthwhile. No matter whether you’re 13 and you think your life stinks, and is worth shit because that boy won’t look at you and you need to clean up your messy room, if you’re 22 and you’ve just been dumped by your first love and feel like killing yourself, if you’re 26 and you get the sack from your boss. If you’re 33 and pregnant, 37 and starting a new life, or even biblical 42 like myself or older than that… It simply does not matter.

Life is yours. Grab it by the short ones and live it. 

I can just see myself from an angle, others might have seen me from. When the words popped out of my mouth. I had been trying to keep things quiet over this one since I knew this would end in endless questions…

“I am going to live in Ibiza from December onwards.”

It is so funny, it feels even now as if it had happened yesterday. First, the opening: These stares of disbelief. These questioning gazes. Like I had really completely lost it. Then, the main course: the inquisition. I felt like I was either a woman accused of witchcraft and to be burnt at a stake or a heretic. As for dessert, there would still be the worst, those ones who pat you on the back, congratulated you on your decision and then were bitching behind your back. This is so remote in a way, and yet still so near in another.

It is weird. To the day, these are exactly five years I have been living now in Spain, or more specifically, in Ibiza.

When I decided to go all the way, the scenario was really tough. So many questions, so many doubts. It made me doubt too, that much I have to tell you. I was not all too sure I would be a winner. All of a sudden, people thought that at 36 I needed some mollycoddling, or worse: a nanny, someone to watch over me so I would not be a fool in bringing up two innocent children. Obviously, I was not to be trusted. It was ridiculous. My kids were 2 and half and five and a half when I left our home in Cologne. I went away in a dark and cold December night. It was all well planned. I thought I would start to cry cos surely I would miss my husband, but somehow, I knew that this was the beginning of something good. Something that required my highest level of concentration. I was so poised. So keen to experience something else beside bringing the kids to kindergarten and being at a dull office job from 9 to 5, only to be kicked out since I was just not used to some hen fights in the subterranean office hierarchy. I felt such a failure. It was not right. I had had a real career before and now I was being kicked out like I was no good. I wanted to prove myself. I wanted to conquer the world once more. Luckily, Berno knew how much it meant to me that I did not have anything to keep my mind busy. I could not sit around day in day out. I truly felt such an emptiness inside. I had given up writing years before. I seemed to exist as a mother, a bad example of a mother. One that does not rejoice in simply bringing up the kids. One that needed a career. God, I felt so empty inside. A void that nothing, but really nothing could fill. Nothing except for a huge challenge. Time for change. Change of habits, change of lifestyle, change of surroundings. But do you tend to say these things to your friends? no, I guess you don’t.

And in fact, I did not either. I felt out of sorts, out of place. I felt cheated. Someone had pushed me off the big ferris wheel they call job market. I went on about the bad situation for mothers who want to return to a job, the slim market chances of a mother of two in Germany to find a qualified job.

If I am being perfectly honest and true to myself the situation is this: I could have done the same thing that I do now in Spain, much easier in Germany, but honestly: I did not want to stay in Germany. I had grown bored somehow. Boredom is the worst disease of all, You start taking things for granted. So, in the end, I threw all things out the window, and I called it a day. I did not have the guts to go through with it in the old country. I was fed up. Maybe, I needed the kick, the extra challenge. The adrenaline rush. Maybe. But there was also this strong yearning for Ibiza. There was this island, like an energy source that had some incredible magnetism for us.

Berno, my husband, was staying put in Germany cos someone needed to keep working, keep the money coming in, while I would be testing the water and also be trying to find a job which I did, after only two months and being a “single mother” for all the Spaniards knew at first sight. See if living there would prove to be the right decision.

What can I say. It did. It was the right decision.

Despite all the initial problems we encountered, we somehow did it. We are still here. And we don’t want to go away. Despite the bleeding crisis.

I feel that for us as a family but also for us as individuals, Ibiza has given us plenty of good things. So many good things that happened to us. I see this whole journey as a means to finally do the things we wanted to do while not feeling observed all the time.

People thought so many things about all of this. It was kind of amusing. But then again. If people have nothing to bitch about, that’s what makes them angry. So, once I’d find out what they needed, I’d give them just enough to keep their mouths busy, and just enough to keep the wolves at bay.

“How could you do that?”

Ah, how many times have I heard this utterance? Like it was my fault or something.

“But what about your children? What about your home, your flat? But what about your marriage?” These questions were not simple questions. They were dum dum bullets.

Guys, you don’t really listen when I say things, no? I did not say I was leaving my husband, I did not say we split up. I simply said that I am going away for a while and see if it’s a viable option to go and live in Ibiza. And so, of course, I took the kids, since Berno would stay in Germany. How else could we have done it? We did not have any savings so it was the only way to do it.

And yet… Funnily enough, this here happened:

“Ibiza? You mean this party island where all the youngsters go to make a night of it with all the parties and drugs, the free love and the hippies?”

“Ibiza, yes. Well. The drugs and parties is only half of what is true. But yes, Ibiza.”

People would then tend to take a good look at me then. Some of them would even look at my kids like they were sorry for them cos they had such a lunatic mother. Many people were looking at me like I had completely lost my mind. And some of them even spoke out what some of them must have been thinking.

“So, Berno stays here?”

“Yup. Stays here. For the first time. And then, we will see how things go. And we will take things easy. Work it out step by step.”

I really hated those inquisitive looks. These insinuating seemingly harmless questions… They were the worst to my mind.

But fast forward to now… What has happened in between?

Was it worth it?

I would say: Heck yes!!!

I am still here. Actually, I seem to free myself finally of so much mental baggage it is just incredible. Berno is learning Spanish, he is holding down a job. I a, learning Catalan, and I am kind of doing three different jobs and projects whenever possible and so we keep our heads above the water somehow. Of course, in Germany we had much more money. But we were not happy with the life we were living. Yeah, maybe that’s true. The fat years are over, but that’s not just for us, it is basically for everyone. But that’s ok by me. Honest to God, I sometimes wish, we would have more money for travel and that, but other than that… I could not be happier if I tried. We have everything we could want for.

We live in Ibiza.

We are happy, we are sane and we are healthy.

Our marriage is still not down the drain despite the fact that so many people believed this when they saw me driving away in a car with two young kids. Of course, Berno seemed to be the poor husband left behind. Well… If people want to believe shit, they just do that, no matter what. So I don’t care too long about what these people say. I learned that the hard way. Sometimes, it is better not to know about these rumours.

To be honest. Ibiza was probably the best decision I could have come up with in terms of mental freedom, and personal development. Here in Ibiza, I could just do what I always wanted and be what I wanted to be. I kind of made a quantum leap. Ibiza gave me the protective shield and the energy to do that. Everyone here is so flipped out, so creative, the truth is that in Ibiza, anything goes. If you are “normal”, you are boring, so that is Ibiza’s secret how to get you going. It is a haven for people from all walks of life, so many different nationalities, so many artists and also craftsmen.

Ibiza really inspired me to become “me”. I know this sounds weird. But that’s the way it happened. And this is just the beginning of a process. I can feel that I am developing right now. As a person. As an artist. As a writer. For in the past I used to be someone who would be my own worst critic. I was always holding myself back. Always thinking: no, cannot do it. You are not good enough. Always putting my foot on the brake instead of the accelerator. Instead of trial and error, I was hiding beneath the kitchen table. I was so afraid I could fail.

Now, it seems I found the accelerator. And that is not bad at all. I seem to have matured. At last. At long last. Bloody hell. 41 is a quite an age to see yourself become slowlu but surely an adult, to be coming of age. But it is true. That is exactly what these 5 years were good for.

What else is there to tell?

5 years have seen stumble into a deep deep recession. The world is no longer the same after the downfall of Lehman Brothers Bank and the banking crisis in October 2008. Ever since then, they have been trying to get back on track. But it becomes worse and worse. The terrible thing is that the people in Spain don’t have any faith in the future now. The only thing that keeps them going is the independence of Catalunya which is something I could see on the horizon.

—–

The little girl lost finally woke up and rubbed her eyes to see the world in its whole beauty and also with its neverending cascades of possibilities. And I decided. I no longer procrastinate.

Ok, I gotta explain this. Procrastinate. That was a term we used a lot at uni when we were discussing Hamlet and the way he tarries. He is consuming time. He is biding his time. When he stops procrastinating, the drama is put into action. The real action begins here.

So, back to the topic. Ibiza and 5 years of my life. What does it feel like?

It is a good feel. I guess I belong here. I can relate to the people here on the island. Some of them are so incredible and so friendly it is hard to believe. You need to wait a while until they learn to trust you, but once they trust you, that is a moment like an epiphany. It is like belonging to their big clan. It really feels like home. Island people always seem to be like that. Caring and somehow a bit like the godfather thrown in. 😉

Anyway, we are happy here. And our kids could not be happier for all we know.

Even if we are no longer rich and well off… If we just scrape by. I kind of enjoy it.

Before, I admittedly, panicked here and there. And then I kind of started to think. What is the worst that could possibly happen? You run out of money, and you go back. That’s all. Maybe with the tail between your legs, but hey, at least you tried.

And guess what, that kind of triggered an enormous will to survive and to make us somewhat more resilient, so we do not ever take things for granted anymore. And that is something we should have learnt a bit earlier in our lives.

But maybe, we were all just spoiled brats back then. When I look upon my old life, I seriously, I really don’t want it back. And I don’t even want to have the carelessness with money. I hate that today. So many people are out of a job and they are struggling just like us. But hey, somehow, you always make it till the end of the month.

—-

I think I might be baking a cake with the kids. One that has a big fat 5 on it. And they will know why.

PS: One thing I feel kind of bad about is that we – even though we are all Europeans – cannot vote in this country not even on a communal basis. The only thing we are allowed to vote is within Sant Joan (one of the five districts of the tiny isle of Ibiza… I personally find this insulting and humiliating). I would love to be able to do just that. To vote. I always voted.
Right now, it is a hell of an important time. It is a historic moment. Catalunya could really break away from Spain. What would happen with the Balearic Isles then? I wonder. But that is a question I will answer in some other blogpost.

I will do something now that I normally never do: I will tell you just at the beginning, that this is quite a long and tedious posting. I bet you will not like it. Better find a different blog. This one is really lame. If you are not interested in reading anything truthful, yet serious and about waylaid sex, about love and lust, pleasure and pain, mixed up sex orientation in teenagers and twens, then, don’t read this post. If you are willing to read it, get in, and enjoy the ride.

Sometimes I am being dragged, whoosh, all over the place since our teeny weenie dog Cedric is no longer so teenie weenie like before when we first had him in August. Actually, he makes sure that I get out a lot and get a good share of long walks which is just fine by me. He eats and sleeps a lot, but mostly he is full of energy and wants to play a lot. Our little garden patch did not last long under the new garden architecture that he introduced. He either loves or he hates lavender. I love it and I am kind of sad that he dugged out all the little plants. And he developed a good hunting instinct, also he is now a force to be reckoned with, and I do have to run after him since my natural authority somehow seems to wash with him only in connection with little yummy treats (ehem). Well, still, we are working on that one.

So, as I was saying, when I am walking alone which does happen lots of times, my mind just wanders and I really start to forget about the daily grind. My mind is immersed in so many unfiltered thoughts, I am sometimes amazed at what thoughts I come up with. Like I said, I truly and deeply relax as others might relax doing an apple cake with cinnamon, driving a motorbike, diving a coral reef, having a karate training, trying out a new lipstick or having a bubble bath or swimming naked on your favorite beach or reading a book you really like. Last time I was out on my own, it really came to me that I should sometime start and write down a bit of an autobiography, you know, the stories, the people, the things that made me the person I am today. It is not that I am so much in love with myself (working on that one, too) that I think I need to have a keepsake of my oh so important life, no, nothing like that. No. To me, it is rather a quest to understand why I am sometimes really exhausting, a bit eccentric and so hard for others to understand. I know this might sound a bit weird, but in a way, I tend to be proud I am different. But then again, in other moments, I just wished I would have had a different background, a different youth and a diferent set of cards right at the beginning. But then again, what can you do?

That’s water under the bridge now.

Some say this is karma. Some others don’t give a toss. I tend to belong to the others. The point I very awkwardly am trying to make here is that we are who we are. No matter how much we hide it, no matter how much makeup powder we put on, no matter what our aspirations are, no matter how much we try to turn ourselves into others and try to appear in a different light, we still are what we are.

Again, where am I going with this train of thought? I guess, I am trying to say that even though I can sometimes demanding, I can be pretty egoistical, sometimes even a bitch at times (there, I said it), perfectionist to the point of a mild obsession. My husband would now laugh if he would read this, mild??? You must be joking.  I can even hear him say it right now. Ok, scrub it, so instead: a wild obsession. That better, honey? Ok. For the sake of avoiding any marital dissonance, so it is.

Anyway, while I was out with the dog, I asked myself, if I would be me if I hadn’t had all these ups and downs, experienced all the things I did, enjoyed, suffered and lived through a great many, wild, crazy, and sometimes really not so funny situations. Would I still be me? Sure I would. Silly question. But the “I” of the presumed presence would be different to the “I” of the really historic “I” and therefore, we shall never know. So, again, in terms of a philosophical and also psychological perspective, we need to view things from an empiristic point of view. We humans are all unique, because of our genes but more so because of our experiences and our senses. We have our little traits, we all have our talents, and for sure we all have our flaws, we all have our fair share of virtues, but also of vices. Life would be damn boring, if it wasn’t like that.

Will you show me yours, if I will show you mine?

That is probably one of the oldest games between children of the opposite sexes. Why are we so damn attracted to look at the genital region of the opposite sex? Well, yeah, I know, there is quite an obvious reason, but honest, I swear I did not mean that. Anyhow, as children we hardly knew anything about it, so that cannot be the only reason for it either.

I truly have no remembrance of such an encounter (there was something, but it looks kind of blurred, hahaha), but I imagine that this is something we all try to understand, why are we humans built in two different models. Why did life itself come up with a set of two different sexes, why are there boys and girls, men and women? I haven’t got the faintest clue to be honest. But it sure is fun, isn’t it?

To be dead honest, I have always been interested in this topic, ancient as life itself. Listen up. I have a thesis. If we were equipped with all the same standard material, it would a) be not any fun at all unwrapping christmas presents if you get me. It would just be like, oh yeah, I know. I got the same. Nice meeting you. Bye bye. b) there would be no mystery involved. I have the theory that love itself is about overcoming the difficulties of understanding the opposite sex. Half of it is trying to make yourself understood, and the other half is chemistry.

But since we happen to have been blessed with such a funny equipment, we tend to be more adventuresome. We tend to be proud of what we are. Are we?

Are we really?

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Well, I guess it really depends. Which part of the world you were born in. Which family you had the luck to be born into. If your parents wished for a boy / girl (vice versa). These are all criteria that can make life easy for you, or it can make life hard.

I remember that when I grew up, I had a strong sense that being a girl was only second best. I had two brothers. I was the middle child. I was the odd one out. I remember now that I quite seriously wanted to be a boy. I mean don’t get me wrong, I was not transsexual. Only thing is that I did not feel at ease being a girl. I never knew my lines being a girl. Do you get me? That my mother gave me always the trousers that were quite worn out from my older brother, did not make this any better. I was always a bit of  a tomboy. I climbed trees, I was very good at short distance running. I wanted to learn judo. I tend to get into a fight for nothing to show off my strength with the other boys in the  streets.  But as the years progressed, boys started to look at me wondering who I was. That was pretty weird. I kind of felt I was somewhere in the middle. I felt like a girl but something within me shouted “let me please disguise as a boy”. I wanted to make myseld invisible since I felt so insecure.  I even looked quite boyish by nature, my features were kind of unisex, which did not make things easier at all for me. Kids I had never seen would shout at me in the bus and ask me if I were a boy or a girl. Some others would call me names. I would not answer. One part of me happy I was not easy to figure out, the other part of me was afraid my voice would give me away. Then, when a sturdier boy would came after me, trying to beat me up, I would run for dear life. Like I said I was always very good at short distance. Childhood for me was not a safe place. My parents were both working. They were hardly at home. But one thing they always made sure was to show me that girls were not allowed as many fun things as boys. Don’t get your clothes dirty. You should be home by that time. You are a girl. Girls don’t do that. That was such a screaming injustice that I now know that it really wasn’t a sexual identity thing at all, it was a mix up alright, but rather all mixed with the thought of a child who came to understand that girls don’t get as much freedom as boys. So, that was the natural solution. I wanted freedom and be able to do all the nice and wild things boys were allowed to do. So I needed to act and look like a boy. Nothing else.

 

Looking back on it now, this might seem an odd memoir, but what I really wanted to say is this. What ever you wish for, be it a boy or a girl. Whatever your tradition is, please don’t let your children suffer the same shit as me. I do believe, that life could have been easier if I hadn’t had this twist in my personal history. Much much later, I got to understand that I was really a girl. And that it is nice to be a girl. I did come to like it. That much is true. And it does not necessarily have to be defeat if you start crying, or if you feel helpless and you admit to it. I grew up in a weird testosterone dominated environment where girls did not count at all and boys were everything.

Right now, I think that I have overcome it. Ten years ago, I was still quite unaware of it. It was dormant, hard for me to admit it, to even to speak about it, let alone give it away that I felt insecure being a girl/woman. Today, I can rationalize it, I can vocalize it and I can understand the patterns of behaviour. I can even laugh about it.

At university, this drama of a mixed up identity or a missed female coining, kind of persisted. Due to my sexually confused behaviour, I was often dubbed the ice princess. I came over being aggressive and yet still kind of unattainable. The talk was I might be bisexual. God, even I did not know this rumour. I spelled trouble. I got many dates, many of them with really sweet boys, but I just could not bring myself to find the right tune. I did not know the right key to hit a strike. At night time, I went out a lot. I tried out a lot. Sex, drugs and rock´n´roll. Yes, I had between 19 and 23 my fair share of madness and mayhem. I somehow tried to win back all the time, and the experience my peers seemed to have achieved in their late teens while my Greek father was watching over my every step. Moving out at 18, I plunged head over heels into life, an unknown source at the time. For me that was a very intense period where I was rarely left on my own. I did not want to be alone. But most of all, I wanted to see what I had been missing.

I craved life itself. It felt like I had been living an ascetic life. Something which is probably true.

So, I did it all. I kicked and screamed. I kissed and scratched at the surface. I drank from the golden cup. I did not leave out one foolishness. No. I guess I did them all. Sometimes I dug my nails in deeper. Those were wild nights. Filled with sheer, mindless and directionless energy that only youth possesses.

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While I was 20 I fell very much in love with one guy. Then fate would have it that I came to be a grant student at Trinity. So I would be gone almost a year. The wide world was beckoning. We hadn’t gone all the way until then. When the last day before my journey to Ireland approached, we finally decided we would give it a go. It was in his parents home. That was such a silly thing that happened. Yeah, guess what, his parents, no, his father suddenly opened the bedroom door while I hid under the covers. I was mortified and still I laughed because it seemed to be taken from a French teenage movie. The next day, he brought me to the trainstation which would bring to Frankfurt. I flew to Dublin, via Paris. It was an adult thing to do. To say goodbye. I felt so immensely mature and aloof. Little did I know.

We wrote each other tons of letters. It felt good. Then I noticed that he had fallen in love with another girl. I tried to talk myself into thinking that it did not matter. I was away anyway, why shouldn’t he have some fun? When I came back, I found out how much fun he had had. My little heart became yellow. I was so jealous, I could hardly stand myself being that way. When he touched me, it was like a fever that consumed my whole being. But still. Our time window had closed. We both moved on. It was a shame. But it was over. So over.

At 21, turning 22, I fell for a gay guy. He was so unattainable. So provocatively sexy and really mature, mind you he was 26. I guess that I was deeply and madly in love, or to put it in other words, I was infatuated. Maybe I was just not ready for love, I wanted to have a boyfriend, but one that would not get too close, one that was right because he was not right for me. Got it? So, we dated. But to be honest, let’s face it. Girls and ladies, have you never dreamed of turning a gay guy around? Never? Liar! It was a kick. So we talked. He was nice, intelligent, good looking. The only strange thing was that he fucked a gynaecologist. That was pretty weird. And yet, whenever I was with him, I felt so safe and so cared for. With him was like being protected. While I had a cold, he would mother me until I was good to go again. I felt home. The real trouble just started when we finally landed in bed with each other. Yep, that’s when the real problems started. I was so unexperienced, so green. It really hurts even thinking about it now how inexperienced I was. I was wax in his hands. Let’s face it. I never had a chance. He knew fully well what he was doing. This guy, let’s call him Francis, was bisexual. And all of a sudden, I was amidst a bizarre love triangle. That was way more than I had bargained for. His gay love interest was so jealous of me, he wanted to punch me. I was 22, Francis was 26, and the other guy was 29 I guess. We both shared a love for music, whenever I was with him, his guy would make sure, we would run into him. He would push me aside, so he could kiss Francis right before my eyes. I was so devoted to Francis, I kind of did everything he wanted for him. Christ, I even hid out at school so I could help him pass his Latin exam at his evening school. I guess there is not much I would not have done for him. He was in a theatre company at the time and played a very modern type Hamlet. I trained him speaking english with an english accent. I spent all my money just being with him. I took a train all across the town only to be with him for a couple of minutes. I had it really bad. I had become a dumb muppet of his. My glasses were so deeply pink in their shades that I hardly noticed when someone slipped them  off.

This someone happened to be my gay roommate. He invited his and my friends all over to our place and I had to witness that Francis was just keen to torture anyone who had been foolish enough to fall for him. Ok, that someone happened to be me. That was not so much fun. My roommate tried to warn me. He knew that Francis was only in love with being the centre of attention. He asked me why on earth did I have to pick a gay guy when I knew so many cuties.

 

But if you loved once, you know how difficult it is to stay sane if you are deeply and madly in love. I saw them kissing, trying to avert my eyes, intending not appear too keen. I wandered, kissed and being kissed by other men. I felt icecold and burning up. Sometimes I was approached by other women. I no longer cared. If he could have men and women, why shouldn’t I try and go for the same? I have to admit it. I really tried it out only once and went all the way. I was with a gorgeous female co-student and her boyfriend and we decided we would have a threesome. Hm, no, it basically just happened. It was winter. We were in this tiny little student appartment. We were cold. All soaked wet from the snow. We undressed and huddled up on the sofa beneath a blanket. It kind of just happened. There was a mutual consent between us three. I must admit, it was not bad at all. But I really prefer men to women.

Francis was better than me at this game. I only teased him. He knew how he could torture me. He knew how he would drive a stake through my heart. And he did. After that night, I was suicidal. And I really did something really stupid. I took some strong hallucinogenic drug. I was all on my own, I was also offered heroin. Luckily, I did not take that but LSD instead. I should have known better really. Lucky me, though, I only ended up having a bad trip. That was a long, long night that one. And when I was coming to my senses again, I knew that the gay guy was out. The ridiculous thing was that as soon as I did not act as devoted as before, he kind of showed more interest. However, whatever you see in a trip is somehow a sign that can be translated into normal life. I just knew I should forget about him, so I moved on, he moved on and he looked out for a fresh victim. There are people like him. After that I took an HIV test, the first one I ever did. Back in those days, 1992/3, it was kind of shameful to have a HIV test. A HIV test said that you had been a bad girl/boy. They tested you, give you a handful of condoms and brochure in four colour print. But I wanted to know.  I needed to know to continue life. I had to wait for one whole week. You went there anonymously. You had this little piece of paper. I knew he had really had so many affairs. He always said that condoms were not made for him. Of course, we did not take one. That week I swear to God, I hardly slept a wink. I felt that if fate has me then I would be HIV positive. But I wasn’t. Glad I survived my own stupidity.

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A couple of years later, I met him. He had put on a lot of weight and lived in an open gay relationship. He still loved me in a way I guess. He was super friendly and it felt right for a very short moment.  However, I no longer loved him. How did it feel for him to hold so much power over someone. How was it to have an innocent love to a young woman while having a gay relationship? Cos that is what it was. I had loved him no matter what. Something I don’t know what had been there, a tie between us. Maybe he did not know what he did to me. That was one moment I will never forget. I left and did not look back again.

At 22/23 I was pretty much disillusioned. I felt as if I had seen it all. I was alone and I wanted to be alone. I studied a lot, and relationships left me feeling disgusted. However I still felt the urge to continue my quest for sex, lust and some more extremes. No strings attached. I wanted nothing but sex. In its purest form. I wanted sex in a very masculine way. Somehow. On a deeper level, of course, I yearned to have someone as deeply fascinating and still someone who was sane enough not to be the apex of a love triangle. I dated no-one. I had one night stands. Fair enough. I did not try to be something I was not up for. I just wanted to have some fun. I once more fell for the drugs I had started taking while I was 15, 16 and had given up in between. Only now, I also started taking speed again, and some other amphetamines to really make it through the night and afterwards be able to study and go to my parttime job in the city. I really did not care. It was quite a hedonistic era, 1993, 1994. I did anything I wanted. I danced the nights away. I stumbled out from the disco and into some seedy clubs. I would sniff speed and go back home at dawn.

Shortly after I had started taking amphetamines, a friend of mine warned me, that I was already pretty hooked, it was true, there was not many nights I did not take it. I was on a large dose of speed already. I had upped and upped the dose since enough was never enough. Coming down was the hardest part. Normal life seemed so excruciatingly slow. It felt like I was trapped in a slow motion picture. Life was only real when the pulse hit you with a feel that you knew the grip would not let go of you until the next morning came. Speed just felt too good. The great part was you were left with enough energy to go to uni and study. Only in the afternoon I would go home to crash and wake up around midnight again. How was I supposed to live life when things were so damn slow? To be honest, speed was the drug that was cut out for me. My heart rate increased, I had slight arrythmic moments from taking drugs. I never really thought about the things that could happen. It wasn’t LSD, it was just speed, it was the cheapest drug you could buy. Cheaper than pot and marijuana. My only concern would be if it had been cut with some washing detergent. I remember I had this small little mirror cosmetics box where I hid a small paper fold, a naked razor blade and a cut up mcdonald’s straw. That was my personal tool kit. Perfect to prepare a line when you were out at night. Anyway, so this friend of mine told me not to take it anymore. She made me promise. I was a bit fucked up then. Who was she to tell me what was right and what wasn’t. Of course I did not keep my promise, I got the stuff somewhere else.

Shortly after, still 23, I met my future husband. I did not expect anything. But everything was suddenly there. There was a sudden feel of being innocent again and being able to fall in love again. And it happened just like it was meant to be. He saw me, I saw him. Thunderbold and lightning. It was in the uni library. We exchanged phone numbers, I left. He called. We met. We talked most of the night. Touching the hand of the other shyly. A gaze from the sidewalk. We walked by foot a long long way. At my appartment, we did all sorts of things until we passed out. It had to be that way.

Now, at 41, almost 42, I look back upon that girl… That girl that was afraid of love. That girl who wanted to trade in sex for love. That silly stupid and sweet girl. I am so damn lucky to have survived so many bad moves, and to have found the man I am with, the love of my life.

I cannot undo the harm that was done. But what I can do is to let it go. I do not need the scars of the past anymore. They are what they are. But most of all, this is the past. That was then, this is now.

If you have children, please make sure, they identify with their sex and don’t let them think that one sex is better than the other. Children are very susceptible that way. They will believe anything. As absurd as it might be. Be sure to tell them you love them. Children want to and need to hear this each and every day. This is much more important than a pint of milk. Love is much more nourishing in so many ways. I would go back in time if I could do something to change my childhood and change the past. Help myself with the knowledge I have now.

If you have children, make sure they understand at an early age, but not too early, what drugs are and why they are dangerous and can seriously fuck you up. I still have that one speech ahead of me, and I hope that I will find the right words to tell my children that I did take drugs but that I am not really proud about it and that there are way more fun things to do in life than doing drugs.

I need to forgive my parents that they never accepted me being their daughter but instead treated me like an invader, like an outsider all my life, and that they still give me the feeling that I am the persona non-grata. Including my two brothers. Actually, they treat me like I would not exist. All that matters are they. I seem not to belong to this family. Lucky me. They are like the mafia somehow, and sadly, I don’t belong, I am the girl outside. Fuck you. I am me. And I can live, and love without you!

Some people need to be 42 to grow up, to make peace, to let go of their past. That is the case with me.

And I won’t let this destroy my life.

Brendan Kennelly who was my English teacher at Trinity College Dublin, once told me something. And I swear to God the way I am recounting it, that is a true anecdote.

(Me, looking really beaten and crushed. Boy trouble.)

“What kind of a face are you pulling? Smile. This is a beautiful day.”

(Headstrong, and still crushed, a bit angry)

“How can it be a beautiful day? It ain’t.”

(He starts to laugh uproaringly and looked at me provocatively with his laughing piercing blue eyes.)

“You have been kicked in the teeth, ain’t ya?”

(I look on the ground, even more crushed. Shit, why can people always tell when I say nothing?)

“Chrys, you know what? Never mind that boy.

I am telling you something and that is going to bug you most.

You are a survivor.

(I looked at him with a big question mark in my gaze).

Yes, you are. And you know it. Get out there, Chrys, get some air, the sun shines.”

(He shoved me gently to the open door, turned around and left me smiling)

He is such an irreverant character but he kind of pinpointed the exact situation without knowing anything. So, is he psychic? No. I was just such a child back then that it did not take much to read my mind and to see what’s going on. Still. Five out of five for that quote, Brendan. Have a pint on me. You are the most amazing English teacher I have ever had. Maybe a bit of a father figure.

Brendan Kennelly used to be English professor at TCD until 2005 and is also a well loved Irish poet.

There is a distance that seems endless, limitless and somehow almost unfathomable when we think back to our predecessors. And yet, we still have so much within us that goes back right to the times when we were barely clad with some animal skins and went out collecting berries, herbs and fruit while the strongest and most valiant of our tribe would go out hunting to put meat on the table. When I think about what is going on in our society I come to the conclusion that we are not that far away at all. Not only are our clothing customs somewhat strange when one thinks about it long enough, not only are the women still suffering from hitting the socalled glass ceiling that keeps them from rising fast enough and high enough according to their mental and social qualities. Not only are the most valiant ones in our tribes somewhat degenerated. They no longer go out hunting. They no longer come back with something which is good for everyone in the tribe. And what’s more: They no longer are the most valiant ones, the most clever ones we have.

To be honest with you… In one weird fleeting moment I really thought about what would happen if Rajoy, Sarkozy and Merkel and all the other statesmen were subjected to the piercing eyes of a neanderthal tribe… What would happen then? We can only guess. Sounds like the beginning of another far-out science fiction story? Maybe. But… Come to think of it. The Neanderthals were not foolish. They did not have the intellectual capacities. But they had another thing instead, and that was the will and the power to survive. They knew if they would stick together they would be able to feed each and everyone who was strong enough to make it. There was a selection, maybe a cruel one. But at the end of the day they would make sure that only the ones that understood better, worked harder, and fought better, hit harder and had stronger teeth or wider shoulders would make it. Don’t get me wrong I am not an advocate for a social Darwinism here, not at all.

All I am saying is that back in those days, they still had the right perspective. And that was a straight and narrow path they had. Make or break. Do or die. They knew it. If they made one fatal decision, well, it might cost them or the whole tribe their lives.

So, back to our situation in 2012, here we are. Mankind, highly eveloped species. Or at least that’s what we think we are. I think we are not that far away from Mr and Mrs Caveman around a few thousands years ago. Only, Mr and Mrs Caveman died probably at the age of 34 or 39 if they were lucky enough to see their grandchildren. Life was accelerated back then. Accelerated to survive.

Today we have a different kind of acceleration. An acceleration to consume, to use, to abuse and to throw away. We have children at the age that some of our predecessors had when they died after a long and fulfilled life. We, in turn, don’t know what to do with ourselves. We want to remain children all our adult lives, in an endless quest to pamper ourselves, we lose ourselves in the endless sea of open doors, of unfulfilled possibilities. And still, we are not one inch better than the caveman. Cos we also like to make a killing, we would like to see defeat, we would like to burn down the house of someone who did us wrong. So, any kind of upbeat message here?

To be honest, I guess there is none.

Mankind in itself is cruel, set out to kill, destroy and dominate their peers as much as their enemies. We live in a not so fairytale world. How did I come up with this topic? Well, that is a very good question indeed. I am not so philosophical myself but I do consider myself a good observer of people and also of situations. I can see a picture or a scene, and I can tell you straight up what is wrong here.

The problem however being that seeing the problem … well let’s be honest … it does not get us anywhere. In my book, we as a species, can only survive if we stop being so downright debased, mean, selfish, and depraved. That is what is killing us? It is our own innermost character. Nothing more, nothing less.

We all shout it from the rooftops, we all want to be the good ones in the script, but when someone knocks at our door, the scenery changes very fast and we become someone we would not like to be at all. We become the judge, we judge anyone else but ourselves. We are quite a selfish lot. A lot that really does not understand the truth that is staring us in the face.

Europe is a blatant failure when you take away the pink glasses that every Eurovision Song Contest still wants to convey – alas, in vain. Maastricht seems to have been nothing but a fairytale. And that was just a historic breath away, twenty years, no more.

The currency Euro has failed as well.

The commonground idea of the European union has been given up by some politicians who have their say. It is a sad circus of overpaid government officials.

The majority of people is not really interested in reading the sign of the times. The writing is on the wall.

The coming years, we are going to experience life not as fun, not as easygoing as it once was.That of course only goes if you belong to the 80% of the people who are not blessed with a big acquisitive power. Let’s put things even more plainly. We may have no hope to reach financial freedom in our lives. But let’s be clear. The stakes are high. The crisis has sharpened the gaping jaws of poverty that are opened wide and we can maybe just about make it. That is: if we are intelligent enough and if we are lucky.

The most essential items are back: We are lucky if we have a roof above our heads, if we are allowed to work, and if we can set food on the table each and every day. If we can afford medical attention. The crisis is the new plague. The incubation time is over. The illness is spreading, and the patient is frail, but it has not reached its peak yet, even though some of us might believe it is already full on there, but no… Lucky us, no?

But inspite of the turmoil, the confusion and the spreading loss of values in society, in society’s nuclei (the family) and in companies, people try out things. New things. Exciting things. They start to remember their creative power. They organise themselves. They form new entities. New stateforms. New political parties. Alternative paths are often chosen.

 

 

Like in Catalunya, as much as in Scotland. People are remembering that they might actually be able to move a thing or two if they start fighting. To be honest, living in Spain and in a region were Catalan is spoken, at this very moment, proves to be the most exciting experience I could wish for. Don’t get me wrong. I live here because I chose to be here. It was not a random decision. It was well anticipated.

For me, as a philologist and historian, this whole Independence issue in Catalunya and the fight for Catalan remaining a second language is a very exciting, thrilling, and intriguing thing to witness. Everything seems possible at the moment. If people are strong enough to fight.

But there are other things, that go right beyond Spain and the Catalan Independence Fighters. Europe itself is reshaping. I have the feeling that the next five years and our economic wells and woes are going to shape Europe, the old world and also shape us in many ways.

It is time to pass on to a new chapter. This is history that invites you not just to sit there and stare at your computer on end. Think of all the bad things going on in your own country. Think about what you as an individual could do to make a change. Think about where you seem to be the prisoner of old habits, of jaded traditions, a victim of politicians’ greed for more, just spending the money of others while doing nothing for the public benefit. Where are you in this picture? Who or what is holding you back? Or if you are free – Where could you help others or yourself to free yourself of the shackles of modern day life?

Sometimes, many isolated baby steps may lead to a giant leap. Even though, I must admit, I am not really a deeply political person, I am fed up with the situation in so many ways and for me it is true. The time has come. No-one with a decent enough brain and heart should be non-political. I would wish for many changes. As much for the system itself, as well as in terms of political transparence, in terms of penalization of defrauding of boni grabbing, greedy and simply lying politicians as well as bankers, in terms of a solidarity between the rich and the poor, in terms of respecting language, identity, education and culture.

Culture is not a luxury. It is a must.

You too can make a change!

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