A smile that blinds with blitheness, overspending
Upon this gasping sightless round of fun …
Das Karussell, Jardin du Luxembourg, Rainer Maria Rilke
Photo: San Diego, 2014
Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were
I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to account for every month of 2017. I needed to go through all the photos in my phone to be able to do this. It seems that without them it would not have been possible for me to recall what I have lived. 2017 was not an easy year for me and for those around me. I broke someone’s heart and got badly bruised by someone else. Some sort of cosmic retribution I would say, if I was inclined to believe in a such thing.
I don’t remember much happening in January 2017. I remember that I did not celebrate New Years, I went to bed before midnight. For the past eleven years I lived with someone who did not “believe in that sort of thing” and accommodated. I do believe in starting over, either on January 1st or whenever there is a need to do so. The best of January 2017 was hoping for something better to come along during the rest of the eleven months ahead. Daydreaming has always seemed to me another form of making plans. I did play dress up at Fatima‘s which seems to be my favourite form of therapy and was happy to find my Mozambique travel diary.
Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
I particularly dislike the first three months of every year. They are normally cold and grey and wet and February does feel like paradoxically long most of the times, but this one I actually remember it as being a happy month, celebrating Futurism and Almada in the voice of talented friends and art exhibitions, going back to Fatima’s for a somewhat surreal fashion shoot, having my hair cut and feeling incredibly cool and authentic as a tomboy, getting on stage for Flamenco tangos and fandangos and being busy with costumes and make up backstage.
March was also surprisingly good: Filipe Catto doing Variações, finding the life of strangers inside second-hand books, commuting in Lisbon with people that have no end, as Almada would say, those are the best people; seeing friends’ dreams come to life, Anna Karenina remixed at TNSJ (How she dies) and finally gaining momentum to read it all, page after page, without spiking details, Olivier Saillard‘s manifesto, waiting around for friends who are always late, going back in time, Macbeth’s open rehearsal and being reminded of the absolute privilege of hearing António M. Feijó
April came and it was not the cruelest month. Going away, enjoying bad habits at cool smokers lounges, arriving in Sarajevo, the sun, the snow, the coffee, new Friends, their stories, the history, the drive to Mostar, long conversations on everything and nothing, swan lake reloaded, the beauty, hanging out over drinks and photos and dance, “come what sorrow can it cannot countervail the exchange of joy”. Sarajevo might not have changed my life but has changed something inside me forever in the way I am able to relate and feel immense love for other people and to the moments we shared. Realizing I live somewhere in musical schizophrenia, absolutely loving two of the best concerts of the year between Heavy Metal and Fado, and that this actually helps. Every day.
May walked backwards: going back to the roots that sometimes still clutch, being back in Siena in great company, getting lost in museums, being silly enough to play La Niña de Fuego, going back to the music that once made sense
June chasing angels and finding them: Loft living in DTLA, getting an education at Los Feliz, unexpected gifts, falling in love with a bookstore, the kind and dapper gentlemen at Clifton’s, old school partying, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, being back at the MOCA, stars that never fade, hanging out with some of the coolest Ladies I know, feeling in heaven at the Way we Wore, feeling at home at LACMA, “The city is named for the angels, And its angels are easy to find”, on Beauty and Consolation, Shakespeare, being called Hope and the freedom of learning by heart, feeling at peace in Porto, clowning around on stage.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.
July “I believe I read most of it with my eyes shut” Spring’s Awakening, Summer sunsets, flamingo shoes, walking on sunshine, flirting with writing machines and getting no answers, seeing the fog clear; “life is a matter of taste”.
August getting older and none the wiser: Chance encounters have consequences too, birthday surprises, finally returning to Mérida and making it to the classical theater festival, between a rock and a hard place, checking works of art walk by, music does save your mortal soul (writing letters might not). Fátima moved to Braga and I almost did as well.
September “Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.” Going kitsch, Being hugged by strangers, getting closer, Rosalía e Raül Refree at Theatro Circo, Revisiting Viana and more talented friends, realizing that nothing lives there anymore, Lisbon stories por buleria, reconnecting with Luis after having met in Boston, Still writing letters (with a pen), Jazz with a view, bumping into Lola Lola, Book fairs and pulp fictions, Being somewhat afraid of Virginia Woolf, meta coincidences, Being teletransported to The Zap via Ian’s syndrome, Revisiting Mr. Vertigo’s last (together) space, Being disarmed by words, bedtime stories and playlists feeling like goodnight kisses, Between lived words and word games, Street poets on the verge of insanity. Facing the truth and having it added to my pillow book.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me
October “There is nothing in the dark that isn’t there when the lights are on.” A road trip through a black hole, Spiraling into someone else’s talent, Seeing George and Martha come to life, The apparent insight and kindness of strangers, Getting it wrong, learning where not to go, learning to let go, forgetting the door was open and letting chance walk right in (again), the Safety of favourite places and favourite people, Walls quoting Sartre, Lisbon stories, Healing noises, Wonder walks, wonder walls and the best guide in town, Black cats and English eccentrics, Bad concerts with cool friends, Reaching Point Omega, Making peace with Virginia Woolf through Orlando, “To put it in a nutshell, he was afflicted with a love of literature. It was the fatal nature of this disease to substitute a phantom for reality.” I have fallen in love with words. The ones I wanted to read, the one’s the poet on the other side knew were the right ones.
November “O bom é ser inteligente e não entender. É uma benção estranha, como ter loucura sem ser doida.” (The good thing is to be intelligent and not to understand. It’s a strange blessing, like having madness without being crazy.) In love with Josef Isräels‘ Mijmering, Stendhal syndrome episodes, Daydreaming and insomnia, Fictional love affairs through jet lag induced illusions – such is the power of words: they make you see things that aren’t there. Teenaging in Yichang, getting to know Frida who met at me at the airport wanting to know if my name really meant hope, hanging out with Cathy, Being a lucky charm, Getting Lost in translation and still feeling better than Charlotte, Tai Chi classes on airplanes, the sunset in Xangai and the sunrise in Amsterdam, Dark Porto, Lisbon stories on disappointment and being a spoiled brat, Life according to George Costanza, Flying solo, Getting it (so incredibly) wrong and trying to take the high road, Lisbon stories – the cold shoulder episode, saved by the happiness of strangers and a wise beyond her years long distance friend, Chasing walls, 3 a.m. dinners and the warmth of platonic love, Boots, Songs about boots, Good concerts with the same cool friends and some more, Drafting fictional memories, “For once the disease of reading has laid upon the system it weakens so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing. ” Flying high and falling hard: Considering emotional exile, Soap bubbles as reality filter
December “São tudo fantasias que o cinema projectou no meu olhar” (They are all fantasies that the cinema projected in my gaze): Letting someone else’s clothes and music do the talking; Being called a pearl farmer and realizing that every once in a while casting pearls to swine is no big deal; I’ll still have plenty left. The circus, moments of pure joy, remembering my Grandparents, because they were the ones who used to take me when I was a kid, Sharing heartbreak stories during the storm with a name, pretending to be Mia Wallace and then dreaming of being Vivian Rutledge, better yet, Florence Carala (there was enough mist for that), If only I was Jackie Demaistre, Facing lost possibilities, Befriending misfits while drinking coffee and talking for an hour at gas stations, Going back to the classroom and considering that I might actually enjoy teaching, Midnight strolls during Sagittarius birthdays, Playing diva with the Diva, Holly Golightly gifts for breakfast, Christmas Day at the movies, making up gangster stories at Turkish restaurants, Bumping into Pedro from school and being 9 again, ivory colored letters in real envelopes with real stamps, feeling connected while trying to disconnect, Synthesizer freaks, being Alice but not in the city, time lapsing, picking up where we left off, So many ways to be (“no olvides que solo eres real cuando tocas y te tocan“), the Clear Insight, Incredible Patience, Undivided Attention and Unconditional Love of old Friends. Braga doing more for my sanity this year than any shrink could have ever done. “And the rest is rust and stardust.”
I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past
I think this is the first time I try to write some kind of “memory”. I am not very good at describing events, everything that has happened seems to have only a translation in how places, books, movies, plays, poems, music, little details, events, actions and the words of others have made me feel. And, in 2017, most of them have hurt me deeply. This year, I celebrated New Year, for two whole days. On December 30 I went to a punk rock show and decided not to move away from the mosh pit as some sort of “shock therapy” and it felt good. I spent New Years Eve with my best friend and his family and even though we had not thought of going out, we did and danced the night away until morning. And all this might not solve anything, but just giving myself away to music makes me feel both hugged by the world and ready to restart.
The appeal of inebriating oneself.
The appeal of the dance and of the shout,
the appeal of the colorful ball,
the appeal of Kant and of poetry,
all of them . . . and none of them resolves things
Today (January 1st) I went back to the circus and felt like crying during Duo eMotion‘s act. Real life is never this perfect. Or beautiful. And then, sometimes it happens. I went for coffee at my favorite place in Porto and wished by favorite waiter a Happy New Year and he just called me my love and kissed me. These little details end up, in a way, making up for a lot of the mistakes and disappointments of the previous year.
Unspoken feelings are unforgettable
If you set them free by writing unnecessarily long posts they might just go away.
Vladimir Nabokov, Marcel Proust, William Shakespeare, Clarice Lispector, Virginia Woolf Anais Nin, Samuel Beckett, Carlos Drummod de Andrade, Andre Tarkovsky, António Variações, The Twilight Zone
I am not, nor have I ever been a focused person. My attention is always distracted by some real or imagined connection or possibility. This obviously means that I’m the least efficient person I know. I get things done when they need to get done because I do not like to disappoint those who depend on me getting things done and because I procrastinate until I really have no other option. But, in general, inspirational quotes and sayings on how “things will happen if you stay focused” do not resonate with me. Staying focused will not make everything happen. Or, maybe it will, I just haven’t tried it.
I am not even one of those “existentialist pessimists” who thinks that all hope is an illusion. No, I do cling to hope and believe things will get better. If I just wait. They don’t. They haven’t.
You are only excused for happiness and success if you generously agree to share them. But if one is to be happy, one should not worry too much about other people – which means there is no way out. Happy and judged or absolved and miserable.
Albert Camus, The Fall
And now that I realize this and that this certainty seems to occupy my mind whenever I’m awake and sometimes even in my sleep, I can’t keep on waiting because it would be absurd. Although I should, by now, be way past the age of existential crisis, it does appear that sometimes it takes too long to build up the courage to become who you are and own the mistakes you have made while trying to convince yourself that you were different.
No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!
Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer as Educator
Trying to stay focused on being ” my own story” seems to be hard enough at this point but it’s better than waiting or just refusing to see what went wrong.
Getting started, keeping going, getting started again — in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm not only of achievement but of survival, the ground of convinced action, the basis of self-esteem and the guarantee of credibility in your lives, credibility to yourselves as well as to others.
Photo: Words on Walls, Lisbon, September 2017 ( Running aimlessly is to wait in movement)
Photo: Braga getting into Noites Brancas, September 2017
when Whitman wrote, “I sing the body electric”
I know what he
I know what he
to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.
we can’t cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take
it will have known a victory just as
A song with no end
Photo CPF (September 16, 2017). This was the last place, the exact last room where I saw O. for the last time. I don’t know if he liked Bukowski. I hope he did because I seem to be having a Bukowski moment and this poem made me think of him.
Não há nada que resista ao tempo. Como uma grande duna que se vai formando grão a grão, o esquecimento cobre tudo.
Ainda há dias pensava nisto a propósito de não sei que afecto.
Nisto de duas pessoas julgarem que se amam tresloucadamente, de não terem mutuamente no corpo e no pensamento senão a imagem do outro, e daí a meia dúzia de anos não se lembrarem sequer de que tal amor existiu, cruzarem-se numa rua sem qualquer estremecimento, como dois desconhecidos.
Essa certeza, hoje então, radicou-se ainda mais em mim.
Fui ver a casa onde passei um dos anos cruciais da minha vida de menino. E nem as portas, nem as janelas, nem o panorama em frente me disseram nada. Tinha cá dentro, é certo, uma nebulosa sentimental de tudo aquilo. Mas o concreto, o real, o número de degraus da escada, a cara da senhoria, a significação terrena de tudo aquilo, desaparecera.
Miguel Torga, “Diário (1940)”
Nothing can stand the test of time. Like a great dune, growing with each grain of sand, oblivion covers everything. I’ve been thinking about this for days, I do not know prompted by what type of feeling or affection.
Take the case of two people loving each other so madly that they did not have in their bodies and thoughts anything but the image of the other, and in a half-dozen years they will not even remember that such a love existed, when they walk past each other without any shudder, like two strangers.
This certainty, today, has become even more rooted in me.
I went to see the house where I spent one of the crucial years of my boyhood life. And neither the doors, nor the windows, nor the landscape in front spoke to me. I had in me, of course, a sentimental nebula of it all. But the concrete, the real, the number of steps on the stairs, the face of the landlady, the earthly meaning of all that had disappeared.
The translation is mine and it doesn’t do the original any justice. I saw part of this text written on a wall in Leiria two weeks ago, yesterday I felt what it meant. I walked through the streets of Viana do Castelo as a tourist. It didn’t feel like the city that was almost my second home at a time when I too seemed to be “madly in love”. No emotion, and the “sentimental nebula” was just the sad realization of that void. I walked to the theater to buy the ticket for the opera recital. The lady in front of me was asking a lot of questions, she was afraid she didn’t know her way around the building anymore. She had danced on that stage when she was young. Her memories felt comforting.
Photo: Teatro Sá de Miranda, Viana do Castelo