The art of becoming

This was a caption at the African art gallery at the St. Louis Art Museum, describing rites of passage and ceremonial artifacts marking life’s new phases. It can, of course, be applied to different situations. I was actually going to write it could have other meanings but I don’t really think it can. It does seem to be always about new phases whether they imply new beginnings or not. 
I am almost addicted to reinvention. I have been like this ever since I started documenting through writing diaries my numerous plans and attempts to become someone else ( when I was about 9). I still don’t understand where the need to find a label for myself comes from. It does account for a lot of what has become an overflowing / overwhelming  closet. I got it all wrong and started building characters from the outside. 
A few weeks ago I had a mini drama class. New experience. Stating the obvious (how could I have missed it?): you build your character from within. Even though the temptation to label is strong, I have decided to focus on the art of becoming and to stop paying attention to definitions.



Last time I was on stage I think I was around 14. It’s been well over 20 years. I was afraid then, I feel terrified now. I do an adult ballet class twice a week and although I never dreamt of being a ballerina, the fantasy of performing tends to be irresistible. And, when invited to be part of the final year show,  I said yes. Now, one month to go and after what has been feeling like never ending,exhausting  rehearsals, I realize, once more, that not all challenges should be taken on. The fear of being on stage will, at this point, have to be conquered. The certainty that I have not actually achieved the mastery that would transform it into some kind of second nature experience is making me feel like I’m cheating.

Stuck in the middle

I work in higher education. I have worked in an university ever since I’ve graduated and I still believe it’s a special place. Not in the sense of the elitist ivory tower but as an institution with a special mission and a civic, therefore, inclusive role.

Today I am attending a public conference on the diagnosis of the Portuguese research and innovation system: a SWOT analysis on the path to 2020. No new and foreign sounding concepts and ideas, and yet I feel like the Emma Bovary of higher education. Staring reality in disbelief and clinging somewhat desperately to my own romantic ideas of the University.


This dress is also part of my free-spirited, extravagant fantasy. Last I’ve worn it I was staying at the Hotel Reina Cristina in Algeciras. At that time the dining room dress code was,I guess, long gone.

Opened in 1901 and said to be the oldest hotel in southern Spain, the Reina Cristina counts as signed guests with the likes of Ava Gardner, Orson Wells, Federico Garcia Lorca and a young journalist covering the Algeciras Conference of 1906, called Winston Churchill.

Algeciras is not an obvious choice as far as Spanish holidays go, you can’t really say is beautiful in any conventional way but it does have the appeal of transition places and of the once grand and mysterious settings of history. And history certainly does not leave you alone around here.

Algeciras is also the birth place of the grand, the absolute master of Flamenco guitar  Paco de Lucia.  I first saw him live in 1990 in a show I was invited to by some friends of my parents, I was bewitched. Forever, I guess. My lust for southern Spain is forever connected to that wanting to repeat that feeling of being alive through that music.

Ode to Frida Kahlo

image via

Today I’ve added a Mexican embroidered waistcoat that a Spanish sound engineer friend brought me back from a tour of Mexico ages ago. I suppose he had bought it for himself but ended up giving it to me on a distant new year’s day in Madrid. I have never worn it, it’s too big and I’ve never had it  altered for fear of ruining its original shape. I kept it because it was a gift (somehow it does not matter all that much anymore) and because in my wildest fantasies I would be a radically extravagant modern day Frida Kahlo. This type of fabulousness does not seem, however, to be in my nature. 


Photo via

Last time I was in Johannesburg I met Rosemary at her vintage shop in Melville. I remember thinking that hers was the life I would have wanted for myself in the way we think of the lives of those who seem to be bigger than their own context. This very special Lady also made me feel like a “movie star”, as special Ladies tend to, regardless of who you are.  Because of my two visits to Reminiscence that year, now that I finally managed to open my little virtual vintage corner, I’ve called it dreaming of Melville. It’s my attempt to tame my vintage closet and live that life.

Check out Rosemary’s place at