Annual Questionnaire 2014

What was 2014 for you?

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I said no a lot. I went to Germany. I disagreed with my mother and didn’t feel guilty about it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t abide by New Year’s resolutions anymore. Each year is a chapter in the same book and I want there to be coherent resolutions throughout. While it’s useful to have the opportunity of a symbolic fresh start, I reject relying on a change of numbers to inspire me to progress my life. I want to be consistently inspired throughout the year. I have four focuses at the moment: travel, writing, learn French and meditate (mind and body).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not close to me, but my peers are popping out babies like popcorn.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. But funnily enough, the older you get, the more deaths you hear of.

5. What countries did you visit?

Bali, Greece and Germany.

Last Christmas, my Balinese lover invited me to visit him again. My ex had just broken up with me so it was perfect timing. I had a wonderful time. My lover was a funny, stormy, affectionate, immature distraction. We held hands everywhere. We bickered over cards. We had an impressive three fights over eleven days. He took me to his father’s village where we stayed in a bungalow overlooking the jungle. He took me to see his land with the rice-fields and warm-water spring and albino horse. We spent serene days at the beach drinking coconuts and comparing tans. I found out I was the first woman he’d brought home, the first woman he’d showered with, the first woman for a number of things. On the night I left, we didn’t talk much. At the airport he said, “I already got used to your smell.” He hasn’t spoken to me since.

I went home to Greece for the first time since I left in March 2012. All I did was hang out with my best friends (who flew in from England and Hungary to see me) and go to the beach. In hindsight, I didn’t let myself be free. I think I didn’t want to enjoy myself too much because I knew it would make it harder to leave. But god, I love my city. Athens is electric and soulful. I love the sun, my salty hair, the wine on the balcony. Days at the beach doing crosswords. I wish I’d caught up with more people but maybe I nibbled on what I knew I could handle. When you leave a place, everyone else goes on. My life in Greece has continued all this time without me, while I live another life here, and thinking about all the lives you’re not living is unpleasant to swallow. But I suppose that without limitations, we would not understand value.

You can read about Berlin here.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Honestly? Sex. I am not a casual person at all, not physically, not emotionally, nothing-ally. And I no longer force myself to pretend that sex is no big deal. It is not cool for a woman to be serious about sex these days.  It has taken me years to realise (admit) this but sex is not just sex for me. Being blase with my body does not make me feel empowered. I don’t waste my time with people who don’t nourish me, so why would I waste my body on them? I do not need to be in a relationship to do it. But I need intimacy. I need a raw connection, I need chemistry. I need to know that it means something to both of us, even if it’s just for one night. I am not often attracted to people and I have wondered if maybe I’ve just not a super-sexual person. But actually it’s just that the formula behind my attraction is complicated. It’s not a moral issue; if there is no emotional connection there, my body just doesn’t respond. But mental chemistry is rare and so, unfortunately, my body is often thirsty. There are men I wish I had never let touch me. But at the same time I would love to meet more men I’d let touch me.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

March 4th, when I went to Bali.

April 13th, when I found out my parents are separated (surprise!).

Urgh, all this remembering is making me tired.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Spending hundreds of hours working on my thesis. Not letting myself be overwhelmed by the pain of heartbreak and other disappointments. Keeping positive, just keep going. Learning to like myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Being kind to my ex even though he keeps kept finding ways to break my heart. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to tell them to fuck off. Fucking up my grades in final semester.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I think I got a cold in September.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A ticket to motherfracking India. And shoes. Now that I think about it, I bought a lot of shoes.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

All the goddesses in my life. My mother, for her strength and wit and perseverance. Her friends, for showing me how friendship should be done. My friends, Nadia, Zsuzsa, Zari, Eleni, for their constant assured thereness. My Melbourne girls: Casey, for her sweet wisdom; Danae, for supporting me even when she doesn’t agree with what I’m doing; Rachel and Lauren, for being my other sisters; Alice, for the nights we sat on my balcony and got drunk and cried over boys. My Melbourne boys, David and Richard, for never judging my vulnerability and being there for me in little ways…like giving me beer. Yodhan, for never judging me, always being there, and telling me to go to India.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

My father’s. And my ex’s. For being selfish, narcissistic cowards.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel. Coffee.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Bali. My mother. Sydney. Lentil as Anything. Greece. Finishing my thesis. New friends. India.

16. What song will always remind of you 2014?

Get Lucky by Daft Punk

Losing You by Solange Knowles

At the Hotel by Eunice Collins

Prayer in C by Lilly Wood & The Prick and Robin Schulz

Blank Space by Taylor Swift (don’t judge me!)

711 and Grown Woman by Beyonce

Quelqu’un me dit by Carla Bruni

17. Compared to this time last year, are:

a)happier or sadder? 

b)thinner or fatter? 

c) richer or poorer?

Happier.
Fatter.
Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I’d danced and laughed more. I wish I’d had more people to talk to. I wish I’d written more. But, you know, I did the best I could and so I am satisfied.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I suppose I could have cried less. I cried a lot.

Let me rephrase: I wish I’d cried less over my ex. I regret having suffered so over someone who maybe love me deeply but clearly does not care about me (yes, there is a difference). He is not who I thought he was and I am so much more than I thought I was. In short: I overestimated him and underestimated myself. And acknowledging both truths is a challenge. Perhaps the bitterness of breaking up derives from the realisation that your love was frightfully ricketty and ordinary. On my stronger days,I am grateful for my capacity to love. It has taken me a year of crying and yearning and missing and wondering to begin recovering from this relationship. On my weaker days, this makes me feel pathetic– how foolish to weep so many nights over someone who values me so little he doesn’t even want to talk me*. But I’d like to think that there some people that appreciate this about me. Boy, do I love hard.

I wish I’d watched less tv shows too.

*What is it with men not wanting to talk to me this year? As if I am a fire that they sat too close to and now they afraid they will get burnt. Or maybe my twenties has zapped my bite and now I am a dull, ordinary woman that they find easy to leave behind. I miss my electric, impetuous, immature, emotional, intense, obnoxioux young self.

20. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Yes. I embarked on the most important love-affair of my life: I fell in love with myself. But the more I like myself, the less compulsion I have to entertain and the less people are drawn to me, and then I get sad. It’s a very confusing circle.

21. What was your favourite TV program?

The Mindy Project got me through the dark days of my thesis. Brooklyn Nine-Nine. True Detective. I finally watched Community. And they cancelled it? What the hell?!

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Kind of. I’m on the border of not caring about/not hating my ex.

And I don’t know whether it’s age or bitterness from hardships, but I find myself becoming increasingly misanthropic.

23. What was the best book you read? 

The Silver Metal Love by Tanith Lee! I am currently reading Answered Prayers by Truman Capote and it’s witty and pretty terrific. But by far the best thing I read was The Other Woman by Lorrie Moore.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Beyonce. I know, I know, I’m late to the game.

25. What did you want and get?

A job at H&M where I have met so many lovely people and have laughed a lot and been appreciated and made lots and lots of dineros. I wanted to find a snazzy place to live with groovy people and I did. I wanted lots of things and I got them, I don’t know, man.

26. What did you want and not get?

I wanted M back but I didn’t get him. But now I don’t want him so I guess that all worked out okay. I wanted closure and I didn’t get it. At least, not from him. Sometimes it’s not about letting go of things, but getting used to not having them. Maybe that’s the same thing.

I wanted to feel like I belong and I still don’t. I’ve never consistently felt part of anything so I am beginning to think that loneliness is a perspective rather than a reality. I suspect I will always be a lonely person. And because of that I am forced to face myself, forced to like myself, which may be the good to come of this. But god I’d love to feel part of somewhere. I want, when asked for an emergency contact, not to hesitate and consider whom I’d inconvenience least.

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don’t watch many films. Probably Third Person.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I invited everyone I knew to a beer garden. I ended up spending five minutes with everyone and not much time with anyone. it was a lot of fun though. I took the Twinkie home. I made him stir-fry and we made out a lot.

29. How you would describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Feminine, womanly, preppy, bohemian.

30. What kept you sane?

I did, through perseverance and meditation. .

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Meh.

32. Who did you miss?

I miss everyone all the time. If I let myself think about, I’m exhausted from missing people (the ugly side of the nomadic life). Sometimes when they’re next to me.

33. Who was the best new person you met?

George: the male, rugged, gay version of me who says things I don’t even realise I think.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Everything is temporary.

You can’t rely on anyone but yourself, and sometimes not even that.

It is harder to stay soft than to harden.

Endings don’t always some with a bow.

Most of all, sometimes life is shitty. It doesn’t mean it’s fair or easy or right. It’s just the way it is. But really, what else do we expect? How can life be constantly smooth? That’s irrational. And as soon as you accept the shittiness, the suffering eases.

35. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up
Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up
And when he tells you you ain’t nothin’ don’t believe him
And if he can’t learn to love you you should leave him
Cause sista you don’t need him”

–Tupac

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The Unexpected Heartbreak

My hair is full of Balinese salt. The ocean. His sweat. His tears. I can’t bring myself to wash it all out; I’d rather be dirty. I didn’t cry for the first twenty-four hours. Then I wept until I slept. I was happy before I left and now I’m stamping my feet. Pouting. Yelling, I don’t want to be here! The knots in my shoulders are back. I’ve lost my appetite. My tan has already started fading.

Yes, I miss the heat. I miss the white sand and cerulean water. I miss the plethora of coconuts and papaya and avocado. I miss the rice-fields. But most of all, I miss him. The way he sings all time. The constant constellation of kisses on my forehead, my shoulder, my thigh. His hand like a gentle anchor in my hand, on my back, on my leg. His bitchy moods and the way he does a 180 when I call him out on them. His headful of wild black curls. His casual gracefulness. The way he appreciates my details. The way he isn’t afraid to argue with me. The way we bicker. The way we tease each other. His disgust for pretenses. His patience with my anxious indecision. His raw desire for my body and my mind. The way he talks about his father.

On the day I left, we fought. It wasn’t our first fight, but this one was different: it was born out of frustration, I think; it was an outlet. The last hours were punctuated with a constant, alternating chorus: I don’t want you to leave and I don’t want to go. But, other than that and gripping each other slightly harder, we ignored the imminent hole of my departure. We didn’t promise each other anything. And that speaks of the gravity of our emotions; shallow trysts make weak vows.

Back home, people are skeptical. I was too. But combusting into tears speaks buckets. When you are with someone 24/7 for eleven days, you get a quality idea of who they are. And this man is so unapologetically open with his ‘flaws’: his ridiculous patchwork way of expressing himself; the way he pretends to accept his shortcomings (but then loops back and tries to make amends); his stormy temperament. I miss the whole chunk of him, the parts that made me laugh, the parts that made me feel beautiful, and the parts that made me bite my fist out of frustration. Under the umbrella of a temporary romance, we let ourselves be vulnerable, we let ourselves be seen. We let ourselves be intimate in a way that terrifies us back in our respective homes.

The first time we met, we planted a seed. This time, we are a sapling. I don’t know for certain that we could become a tree. But, even when I’ve washed the salt from my hair and the Melbourne sky bleaches my skin white, I know that I’m willing to walk around with a watering can in my pocket, waiting to see what grows when we meet again.

In the Nucleus of a Balinese Night

I didn’t remember it until the next morning, but in the middle of the night, half-asleep, he pulled the blanket over my bare body. He is named after the god of war and weather and it suits him, with his rocky eyes and stormy hair.

I fell asleep at 8pm. He tucked himself around me when he got in. His hands are so big that they can cover two sides of my ribcage. Am I that small? 

He wakes up in the middle of the night to kiss me. I don’t want to sleep with him yet, but my body surges. He roams me. Hungry. He doesn’t care that my mouth is thick with sleep. When I put my hands on his chest–no–he lies down next to me immediately. He curls himself into my side and doesn’t complain when I twirl his curls in my fingers. 

Annual Questionnaire 2012

What was 2012 for you?

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

I went vegan…ish.
I had a holiday romance.
I wasn’t afraid to say NO.
I decided I liked dates. The fruit. AND EVEN FIGS. DRIED ONLY.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make any resolutions. This year, I am launching a Happiness Project. It is the second day of the year and I still haven’t decided on the themes but, you know, whatever.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No one close, but people I know.

5. What countries did you visit?

Bali, baby! Baby coconuts, electric-green rice-fields, cocktails, temples, monkeys, surfers, nom nom nom, getting a good feeling, sunsets, thunderstorms, offerings to the gods, speaking Indo, private pools, accidental bikini wax duets, mani-pedis, the list goes on…

6. What would you like to have had in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Kisses! And moneyyyy. And partying! I will NOT be saying this in one year!!

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

March 13th when I moved to Australia. November 13th when I went to Bali. The birth dates of my lovers. The last three guys I dated had birthdays while I was with them. That’s funny.

I gave a much more detailed account of this last year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I suppose I should say getting into Melbourne University. I applied on a whim.

But actually, my greatest achievement this year has been finding the strength to hope again, to keep trying to do life, whatever that means. Also, I am learning how to give more without sacrificing myself. I became a lot more assertive this year but  also more accepting.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m not sure I believe in failures anymore. But for the sake of the question, I would have to say that I didn’t manage to keep my body in shape.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Some stomach issues. Unforch. Several times.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

J’adore my iPhone, Xavier. Some much needed clothes. And my bindhis.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Every beautiful soul I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this year. And the beautiful souls that stick around. For loving me and holding the space. And my mother’s, always, for listening without waiting, for giving without expecting.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

No one’s. If someone lets me down, I try to let it go. No point in holding on. No expectations, no disappointments.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel. Good food.Bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

BALI!! And uni. And new friends.

16. What song will always remind of you 2012?

Je Pense a Toi by Amadou and Mariam.
Get a Good Feeling by Flo Rida.
We Found Love by Rihanna.
What Reminds Me by Royskopp.
A Good Year for the Roses by Elvis Costello.
Acapella by Kelis.
The Art of Noise by Cee-lo and Pharell Williams.
Rainbow Warriors and Terrible Angels by Cocorosie.
Ugly Girl by Fiona Apple.
Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell.
Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn.
Gravity by Sara Bareilles.
Baby It’s You by The Shirelles.
Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover by Simon and Garfunkel

17. Compared to this time last year, are:

a)happier or sadder? 

b)thinner or fatter? 

c) richer or poorer?

Happier.
Fatter.
Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Been kinder to myself. WORKED OUT. Yoga and meditation. Laughed.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Watching TV. And procrastinating, GOD. Stressing.

20. Did you fall in love in 2010?

No, but that’s okay.

21. What was your favourite TV program?

Offspring.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No!

23. What was the best book you read?

A Spy in the House of Love by Anais Nin and Answered Prayers by Truman Capote.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

See above.

25. What did you want and get?

To get into uni. A holiday romance. Score!

26. What did you want and not get?

For life to magically get easier. To be saved. But I don’t want that anymore. At least, not in the same way.

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don’t think I watched any. The Bachelorette maybe.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 27. For the first time ever, I decided not to celebrate. I think I wanted to see what people would do. The answer is- not much. Now I don’t even remember what I did. I’ll make up for it this year!

29. How you would describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Colour, colour, colour! I dress younger. I experiment more. I’ve also gone back to my boho roots.

30. What kept you sane?

Meeting people who GET IT. Writing. The idea of perseverance. Awakening.

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Whatever.

32. Who did you miss?

Most people I love.

33. Who was the best new person you met?

Karin, Ellie, Sarah, Indra, Talitha, Hamish.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

That all you can do is to keep going. And you do that by taking it one day at a time. Also, I’m not weak- life is fucking hard. And it’s not about being happy, but being alive.

35. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Uhm… Can I get back to you on this one? And by that I mean: I am going to ignore this question like I did the other years: 20092010 and 2011.

Courage

Image

At my age, it should be okay to spend the holidays away from home, but I’m a self-professed mama’s girl, and beyond that, it’s the first time I know so few people in one city. Homesicknesses isn’t ageist.

I opted to spend my first Australian holidays in Sydney. I assumed that being with my sister would make everything okay. It didn’t. She is a person with many wonderful qualities… it’s just that they don’t really extend to me. According to her, I am spoilt, irresponsible and self-involved. Which I am. But I know that I am also more.

There were two rounds of arguments. 

Round I took place on Christmas Eve and ended with tears (mine) and some heads buried in sand (hers). A 5 a.m. call to my mother, and a gin with my beautiful aunt later, I waltzed into her other family’s party like nothing happened. 

The peace lasted for 42 hours. 

Round II was impressive because I actually got her to tell me why she’s angry with me. Kind of. She yelled at me for minutes- I should have done my Christmas shopping earlier, I use ’I’ too much, I have no patience for political conversations. I am obviously a sinner. Naturally, I started to defend myself.

And then I stopped. Because I do not need to defend myself. I spent the first half of my twenties half-heartedly trying to do what was expected from me and no one was happy. There is nothing wrong with office jobs and mortgages and saving for rainy days and shit. It’s just not me. It doesn’t make happy. That kind of life is like I’ve got a dead dog that I’ve beat the shit out of. It’s like my sister is saying that it’s better to have a dead dog for a pet than a llama.

The funny thing is that that argument didn’t make me feel lonely. I realised that this is exactly what they mean when they say that it takes courage to live unconventionally. I realised this and I felt empowered. I don’t have anything to prove.

And neither do you.

We can lead whatever lives we want. I am one term into my degree and I’m already looking at work in Bali and India in case I want to pop over next year. Crazy? Sure. But why not? Stability is wonderful…if that’s what you want. 

Friends, you do not need to defend your life-choices. Ever.
You do not need to listen to the one negative voice in a choir of positive ones.

Go on spontaneous holidays.
Cry when you need to.
Smile at as many strangers as you dare.
Laugh when they call you a hippy like it’s a bad thing.
Let them be impatient with your neuroses.
Always try to see where they’re coming from, even if they refuse to move.
Don’t be afraid to look cute boys in the eyes.
Don’t bite your tongue, just let it go.
Wear tiaras to breakfast. 
Don’t worry if people think you’re nuts.
Be kind to yourself.
Remember that THIS is what they mean when they say that it’s difficult to be different. 

See

I turned the tap and asked him his temperature preferences. This man has been inside me but I don’t know how he takes his showers.

‘Cold,’ he said. ‘Always cold showers in Bali.’

I like my cold showers during summer time too but not on this day. He stood in the corner. He didn’t want to share, probably doesn’t know how. I turned the tap to warm. Then warmer.

Suddenly I said, ‘As a teenager, when I felt distressed, I would take hot showers. And slowly I would tweak the tap until the water was boiling, and sit there, hot and hurting, almost meditating, I guess.’
His face scrunched up. ‘You like pain?!’

And I felt exposed then. Because he didn’t get it. Or maybe because he was uncomfortable with pain at all.

I shrugged and told him that yes, perhaps I did. But I turned the tap to cool anyway.

It was our last morning together. It was also his birthday. The night before involved me accidentally getting too drunk to talk to his friends, us popping a shit pill, dropping into a techno club full of prostitutes, and ended sitting on a dirty beach. When we sat down, I was very quiet. This was not the romantic goodbye-night I had had in mind. He asked me what was wrong but I could only speak with my eyes. Eventually he pulled me in and I let him. He said, ‘I like you.’ And I reciprocated. He said, ‘I see you,’ and I nodded weakly because, uhm, NO. It’s a beautiful thing to say but it wasn’t true.

I have an adore/abhor relationship with pain. That sounds complicated. But it’s not. Emotionally, I have suffered simply because I have an aptitude for self-destruction. That’s the bit I resent. But throughout my life I have sought out physical pain too. Along with the scalding showers, I had a nasty cutting habit that took me years to shake. If I couldn’t get my hands on a scalpel, I would dig my nails into my skin, or pull my hair, or even slap myself. And when I did these things, I felt good. Because a cut or a bruise is legitimate pain, pain you cannot ignore. If was hysterical before cut, afterwards I felt calm. And if I was cold before, afterwards I felt the sadness and cried. Self-harm was an escape. Then, those cuts were what I needed to do to survive. And now, I am who I am because of my pain. And even though I’ve modified the escape routes, that pain is still there.

My Bali-boy was sweet, and I know he liked me. And I know he believed it when he said he would commit to me if we lived in the same country. But he couldn’t see me, only the idea of me. And that means that he couldn’t see the other empty-promise scars or the diet-decalration holes. He couldn’t see how much words mean to me, or how I think every kiss is sacred. He couldn’t see the therapy in romance, or that shallow encounters are not worth my time. He couldn’t see my roots, my pain, ergo he couldn’t see me

Is There a Word for Laughing and Crying at the Same Time?

I stay in bed for 27hours. In that time, I catch up on my shows, I read a letter, I cry, I write, I cry again, I consider eating, I don’t eat, I write some more.

I wake up super late feeling muffled. I watch another show. I cry. I think about that letter. I get up. I unpack. Almost everything is dirty. I feel guilty for not buying presents. I realise I came back with a lof of books. I don’t realise that I am making a pile of things that smell like Bali. I stop every now and then to smell them– the lemongrass soap, the sweat, the incense, the palmtrees, the heat.

I shuffle around the room, still muffled, with a tan that makes my skin feel more like home. What happened just before the moment  threw my arms up and said, ‘I want to live, damn it’? I don’t know. But I did it, I said it. Is this what I am mourning? How easy it was to feel alive in Bali? Am I mourning the freedom of devoting so much time to my happiness?

A while ago, someone I love deeply stopped talking to me. I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t think about it at all. It hurt too much. I just learnt to live without her. But she wrote to me last week and she asked me how I was and I told her the truth. Rather, the tip of the truth, which is that  I am better, but being better means reconciling with not trying to be happy. It’s too hard and devastating to try and be happy. I think I’ve kind of given up. Can you only kind of give up? I have accepted that joy does not come to me naturally. And because of that, I look closer. There is no point in tripping over everything in the attempt to reach some distant light.

I guess Bali freed something in me. I guess that’s the best souvenir. I think maybe that’s the key– not to try to be happy, but to try and be alive.

And the moment I was about to post this, a song came on, and I laughed, because barley sounds just like Bali. I laughed and held my hands up to my face and then I wasn’t sure what I was doing, laughing or crying. But I don’t care which one. It is what it is and I was doing it. Is there a word for laughing and crying at the same time?

Fields of Gold by Eva Cassidy