Making lemonade…

making lemonadewhat’s that line? if life throws you lemons, make lemonade… well I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and you know, I think I’d rather just enjoy the lemon as is. Too much sugar in lemonade… makes you thirsty and gives you spots, doesn’t it?! Anyway lemons are gorgeous. yesterday I made roast chicken the way the mother of my childhood Greek friend used to make it… with olive oil, thyme, salt, garlic and lots of lemon juice with some rinds thrown in for extra aroma. Roasted lemon rinds are delicious! And, today for lunch it was a fresh spinach salad with tomatoes, red onion, apple, cheddar and lemon juice! I love scratching the rind and smelling the citrus oils…

And, I guess there is no sugar coating the fact that there is just no future, not even the possibility of an affair that won’t sour, with a married man either so might as well embrace the bitter-sweetness of it and try to move on… try to remain friends.

I consulted my three wise men about him recently… unanimous: ‘Careful,’ they said, ‘men don’t leave their wives without a very good reason and everything has a price.’

Love the wisemen! They are scattered about the globe, different ages, nationalities, circumstances and characters and don’t know each other so a bit weird that they all said pretty much the same thing. makes sense. Desire is still winning the war against reason though. Got to get out of the limbo of this lust funk… if i’m honest, it isn’t true love in any case. Perhaps just more a case of desiring something that another woman has: a good man and a strong family.

I’ve just finished reading “Forty Rules of Love’ by Elif Shafak. Beautiful. About a woman chosing a new life… choosing life.

She’s a fantastic speaker as well by the way. Really enjoyed her recent TED talk on storytelling… maybe more than her actual writing…

http://www.ted.com/playlists/62/how_to_tell_a_story.html

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Anywhere, anytime…

About 6 or 7 months ago I stopped reading the paper on the commute to and from work. The endless stories of tragic lives and events was difficult to digest on a daily basis and beginning to stress me out. The bigger stories come to me of course through other channels/feeds.

The Cleveland story has come through. I was horrified by the media circus around it and the comments of the ‘hero’ who helped these poor women out… kicked the door down.

What kind of world are we living in? what kind of community doesn’t notice this? for over a decade? how is it ok to deflect attention from the women by making jokes about the neighbour? Whichever way you look at it, this is a tragic, very brutal tale of violence against women and a reminder that it can happen anywhere, anytime. Very sad.

The New Yorker published an interesting piece on this story: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/05/amanda-berry-charles-ramsey-cleveland-kidnap.html

It happens everywhere though, doesn’t it… here in the UK too… every now and then you hear a story about a house that’s been raided and women brought over to UK from somewhere in sex slave trade are freed… last year a group of men were prosecuted for grooming and abusing teenage girls – all over the news here… there are no words really… plenty of organisations fighting it but really has to be the community itself which does something, doesn’t it?

I wonder if it’s a sign of the times or maybe it’s always been this way and something that will never change?!

I remember a childhood of freedom. When I would leave my house on my bike in the early morning, meet my friends and spend the day cycling all over town. We had to be home by supper time, before dark. A childhood without mobile phones. My mother didn’t know where I was, what I was doing, who I was with… for hours on end. I cannot imagine my daughter having, allowing my daughter to have, this sort of freedom now. This too is very sad, isn’t it.

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D-cups d-limit…

shape shiftMy friends and the media are all up in arms about Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO’s recent comments… whatever… not really that bothered to be honest… brands can target whomever they like… if it’s what the market wants, they’ll get the sales… this has been their strategy for years… and they’ve made no secret of it so no surprise really… it’s why the shopping experience in store is what it is… dark lighting, smokey mirrors, loud music and beautiful young sales staff… designed to attract a certain audience and discourage another… places like Gilly Hicks and Hollister are no different… Gilly Hicks bras don’t go larger than a D-cup… I walked in the other day with my daughter and was met by a very tall, athletic and sculpted young man… oh yes, sculpted! I know because he blocked my way with his half naked fake tanned torso, low slung torn jeans and flip-flops… I didn’t know where to look so ducked under his arm into the dark labyrinth filled with colourful bras… none of which would fit me… now… I was a stick insect myself once many years ago. What the beautiful ones don’t know is that sex is generally better with a few curves! And, you know, makes me laugh inside a little every time I put on my fluffy pink A&F hoodie knowing I’m not their target audience… hahaa

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Leaning out…

Tate ModernCan I really be interested in someone who declares themselves a Thatcher fan?

Although I’m pretty sure my parents were more liberal or left leaning and didn’t vote ‘conservative’ or ‘republican’, I did grow up in a fairly capitalist leaning home… a child of immigrants who arrived on the shores of the new world with pennies in their pockets and dreams in their hearts… who made good through hard work, entrepreneurship and small business ventures… and property… It’s not foreign to me, in fact this outlook is probably part of the fabric of my personality. all labels? is it ever as cut and dried as that?

I just struggle with someone like Maggie. She’s ‘awesome’ in the truest sense of the word. This woman was a warrior who, whether you agree with her politics or not, achieved relatively ‘great’ things and was in fact an example of a ‘great’ leader. But this is the woman who had tea with Pinochet and branded Mandela a terrorist. A woman quoted as saying,  “I owe nothing to women’s lib. The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.” Wtf?!

For me this harks back to that thought I had about generational issues in the gender debate. Great that Maggie, as a woman, was such a success and really she could not possibly, with any intelligence, argue that decades of feminist activism was not, at least in part, responsible for opening up the opportunities which allowed her to become a leader of a nation. Like many of my older colleagues though she rose to power by behaving as a man in a man’s world. It was the 80’s after all.  Her approach and methods reflect a ‘masculine culture’. It’s this I struggle with, more than her politics I guess. Don’t really know enough about British politics in that period or what exactly Maggie stood for apart from a move to greater privatisation – not such a bad thing really in my view. But could she have succeeded in that period with a more ‘feminine’ approach? Unlikely. I hope we are moving beyond this now and it is possible for new generations of women to succeed by being women in a more gender-balanced world. Meryl Streep paid tribute to her in a recent article of her: To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable. Well, I’ll give her that!

Maybe it’s less a case of ‘if you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t sleep with them’ and more a case of ‘if you go home with someone, check out what kind of books are on their shelves’??? The heart may want what it wants but I may have to rethink this little obsession of mine… or not…

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Leaning in…

http://www.artflakes.com/en/products/female-figure-with-leaning-tower-of-pisa-as-hat

How Far Do Women Have to Lean In? check out some thoughts on this debate at the Big Think here, provoked by Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In :

http://bigthink.com/big-think-tv/how-far-do-women-have-to-lean-in

I like the iron triangle concept. Gender on the Agenda being hotly debated in my organisation at the moment. What worries me is the huge complexity around these issues… It’s not just about career paths and support to women as their social roles evolve through lifestages. It’s not just about women and men or male vs female… we also need to separate out the sex vs gender issues… explore issues around the masculine vs feminine, issues which may transcend the sex of those involved… organisational culture and leadership styles… and what sort of impact and role dimensions like generational differences might play.

We had a panel discussion with three senior members of staff the other day called ‘gender on the agenda: do we have a problem?’ which generated a lot of interest from staff spread around the globe. A lot of the discussion focussed around terms and conditions, the more practical support that organisations give to female employees. Nobody mentioned age or organisational culture and gender issues relating to generational differences. Really struck me listening to one of the panelists, as she talked about how for decades women had fought hard and made significant incremental changes, how foreign this may all be to our young graduates both male and female entering and changing the DNA of our staff profile.

Quite coincidentally, the night before I’d had a conversation with my teenage daughter about ‘feminism’. She came out with the line ‘all feminists are dykes’. Shock horror! Out of MY daughter’s mouth! Not sure where, when or how feminism and lesbianism became synonymous in my daughter’s mind. We’ve not talked much about this before and I always, I guess, just assumed she got it and was a feminist herself. Needless to say we had a conversation. So much of those early struggles and the achievements along the way seem to be taken for granted by new generations. In a way, it’s a positive thing if women’s equality is accepted as the norm by our children; can’t help but think though that we need to be more mindful of the changing face and perceptions of ‘feminism’ with new generations. Ensure we retain some appreciation for the women (and men) who fought so hard to get us this far and a recognition that the journey is not yet over.

It’s particularly evident in some markets and sectors that equality for women still has a long way to go. There’ve been quite a few items lately in my news feed relating to gender bias in science, including the gasp from the science world that the person behind ‘i fucking love science’ on FB is a woman! Seemed clear to me all along it was a woman… anyway, whoever’s behind it, I love ‘I fucking love science’!

A few interesting pieces on this issue of gender bias in science here… kinda makes a woman want to make a career change and go into science just to make a difference…

http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/29/op-ed-the-still-tolerated-gender-bias-in-science/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/courtneystanton/a-woman-walks-into-a-tech-conference

http://adventuresandjapes.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/dell-and-sexism/

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La maja desnuda…

la fox desnudaSo, the Tate was asking on FB this afternoon which artwork reminds you of your childhood… been thinking about this for the past few hours now… we had a large Renoir coffee book in our entrance hall all through my childhood and when I was a young teenager my father gave me a book on the Impressionists… I loved it… it was around the same time I first got glasses and I used to joke that Pisarro’s fields and Monet’s lilies was how the world looked to me without them…

The artwork that made the most impression on me as a child though was an exhibition I saw in Mexico City… Goya… in particular ‘la maja desnuda’. I don’t know if it was so much the painting itself or the concept of it, the maja desnuda and the maja vestida… intrigued me somehow that someone would think to paint that…. those two perspectives.  There was a little humour in it for me. It contrasted so much with the other paintings in the exhibit… the mad old women with the crazed eyes. It was a strange day in any event which perhaps added to the dramatic impact. A tropical storm with torrential rain. The heavy smell of oiled wood contrasting with crisp clean tiles and cool, leafy courtyard gardens in old colonial buildings…

Reclining nudes have always caught my eye… male or female… I very clearly remember the first time I saw my first Modigliani reclining nude… struggling to remember where exactly but in my mind can still picture the room which had deeply saturated cerulean blue walls and richly warm hardwood floors… and the museum cafe that I sat in afterwards with a little espresso. It was a stunning and very peaceful sculpture garden. I’d got tired of circling the gallery while my husband squatted in front of Rothkos.

It was quite possibly on a trip to New York while he was an art student. His art college owned a loft near Canal Street and a dozen or so of us piled into a vw van and drove down to stay there for a week in early spring. A 16+ hour drive. We got caught half way in a blizzard and camped overnight in a church hall. Oh, those were the days… good memories… endless galleries, museums and art art art… we got lost one night and found a fantastic little bar with live blues on the edge of Alphabetville as it was called then and still a bit rough in those days… grabbed egg muffins for breakfast from the food street stalls in Chinatown… ran into Diane Keaton, dressed top to toe in white complete with white turban and dark shades, in a little Soho gallery and laughed as the tutor with us tried to ‘secretly’ follow her… found a book of Robert Frank photographs by a dumpster… and a weird, disturbing memory of waking in the night on the loft floor, in my sleeping bag, reclining but not naked, and seeing one of my husband’s friends staring intensely at me…

The image here is a portrait my first husband, the painter, made of me in our youthful days… it’s a sort of collage on coloured card of different textures with pastels…

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The new adventures of Courasche… prologue

CourascheSo, dear readers, a new adventure is about to begin… I’m being posted to Africa… the deep dark heart of it… a regional job that will have me foxtrotting from one coast to the other across the continent…

It’s tale that began some time back but embarking on this new wave of adventures, I think I’d like to chronicle it… to reflect on what it is to be a single mobile working mother today, on the global stage, on the fields of the multinationals… a new strand to my blog postings…

Through the ages there has always been a Courasche… she is every woman really, isn’t she… I wrote my masters thesis many years ago on Courasche that old 17th century Grimmelshausen character who later inspired Brecht’s Mother Courage, reinventing her in a 20th century context…  so herewith begineth the new adventures of yours truly in the role of an early 21st century Courasche… and the challenges of protecting my child and earning a living on this modern day battlefield… will see how it goes anyway…

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Poetry and dream…

Poetry and Dream, TateFor the second weekend in a row I’ve made my way along the treelined Southbank in the spring rain to see the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern… I still haven’t seen it. It’s a popular one. It doesn’t matter. I love this building. This space. I love roaming through the exhibits. Poetry and dream…

The hours melt away in this space. I developed a love of art galleries early in life. My father was a painter. My first husband was a painter. I’m just a tourist. Many hours spent over the years in the peaceful spaces of museum cafes and sculpture gardens waiting for them to finish staring at canvases, analysing brush strokes. It’s a more sensual and spiritual experience for me. Less about the actual art and more about the space. The vast, open, almost decadent spaces. The heavy smells of paint. The lighting. The silence.

A space to dream…

‘dreams are necessary to life’ ~ Anais Nin

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Cet amour…

Gabriel Pacheco 1973 - Mexican Surrealist  Visionary painter - Tutt'Art@ (2)you may dream of other things… but you should know that i dream of you… i thought it would pass. i was wrong. maybe one day.

now… your voice, written or spoken, swirls around me…  sweetens my dreams.

that is all.

Cet amour
Si violent
Si fragile
Si tendre
Si désespéré
Cet amour
Beau comme le jour
Et mauvais comme le temps
Quand le temps est mauvais
Cet amour si vrai
Cet amour si beau
Si heureux
Si joyeux
Et si dérisoire
Tremblant de peur comme un enfant dans le noir…

~ J. Prevert

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Bande a part…

louvre scene goddard_2I woke up this morning with a dream still vividly playing on my mind. A slightly bizarre and somewhat hysterically happy dream. I’m sure I laughed out loud in my sleep.

It was a bit like Alice in Wonderland meets pub crawl meets Euro art tour… I was heading into the cinema with my daughter and a couple I know when an old friend appeared… next thing he and I are in a horse and buggy going round NY central park laughing, throw-your-head-back deep belly roaring laughs, then we’re giggling and sneaking into the back entrance of the Louvre… running around old ruins and gardens until we’re out of breathe but still laughing… it was ridiculously funny really… we were having such a good time… all quite innocent… like two naughty truant school kids…

I told this old friend about my dream and he said it sounded like ‘Bande a part’… an old Godard film which features a dash through the Louvre…

My dream was a little more Alice and less Kafka-esque than Godard’s but it did have a similar feel to it…

Such comfort and joy in old friends… We’ve day-dreamt lightly a few times together about running ‘away from it all’…

We were once a little bande a part ourselves I guess for a short while… when we first met. We worked together with another woman… a little trio we were. We were all in relationships with other people but had an immediate and close bond and hung out after work frequently… After one rather wild evening which ended hazily with tequila shots, we found ourselves on the sofa at the other woman’s house and I discovered in the morning that she and he had become we… sometime before that evening in fact… oh the betrayal… Strangely I was never upset with him, only with her. Upset that she’d spoiled this beautiful, perfect trio of ours. That she’d said nothing to me. We disbanded quietly, without drama. I just withdrew and lost touch with them both although he did come to my wedding the following year.

He and I found each other many years later and long after he and she had gone their separate ways… We don’t talk about her and I have never told him of  how betrayed I’d felt.

I am so grateful for this man, for his friendship and the light he brings to my life now in so many ways.  A very special person and a dear friend who always, whether near or far, holds my hand and runs through the Louvre with me in spirit…

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