A New Dawn in Albion

I’ve been in London now for just over a month. It’s a new beginning for me in this country, in a new field of study, in returning to school but in a different time and system – all unfamiliar, though oddly not as strange as I’d have thought.

In the week I arrived, I managed to find a flat in Camden Town, a place where I have some experience, as I was once in love in Camden Town. It seemed like a magical place – somehow it seemed bigger then, too. Perhaps that was in part why I was drawn back here. Not the only reason, of course, because I also wanted to be near my university. Camden Town started as a separate village from London, fed by the useful Regent’s Canal and connecting to the rail system. It is still village-like, in a way, and I find that that has held true even without the magic of love to sprinkle her additional charm over it all. It just glitters a bit less now, like the sparkling sucrose crystals gone from a box of frosted flakes. The cake without the frosting, the sundae without the topping. Ah c’est la vie, I suppose, that’s just how it goes when something slips away and you don’t know why, like my dream of a houseboat failing to materialize. But I’ve mostly been too content with my flat and too occupied with studies and visits from dear friends to dwell too much on what’s missing.

The first weekend – indeed the day after – I moved into my flat, Sarah came a’calling and I was happy to have a place to host her. We explored the city in a way I haven’t done in a few years, and then I was being guided – almost never on my own and certainly not giving a tour! We wandered hither and thither, visited Camden Market and Harrod’s and Selfridges and went out one night with our good friend Kim, exploring the local pubs.

 

I had lovely meetups with friends who live in London, including New York friends and some friends I made at Nora’s wedding in November – Natasha and Pritish. We went out for a delicious vegan feast at a local place called Manna. It was delish and great to see these wonderful women again!

Soon I got a visit from Mary Caton, in London for a conference! What a treat to have double doses of my besties! All we were missing was Nora, who was due to have her first child any day – and did, not long ago! A joy to know that she and her beloved Anders have brought baby Jack safely into the world and their lives – all our lives! I can’t wait to meet him! MC and I had several afternoons together to roam and eat tasty meals and drink delicious drinks and just enjoy London before my classes start. She was staying very near to UCL and it was nice to show her my campus and my neighborhood. We had one last night together in Camden Town and enjoyed ourselves before going to rather early bed, as I was coming down with a cold and she had to catch a noon flight back home.

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MC in town!

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The Handel – Hendrix House

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Bloomsbury beauties!

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The Horse Stables Market

Since she left, I have been working on reading and school stuff in general with some nights spent reading at a local pub, mingling with the townies. London is a friendly town, in many ways. I’ve been drinking tea and cider and visiting my local charity shop, Mind in Camden – which I am sort of in love with. I visit on days when I do have classes and often find just what I need for my little flat – a silverware holder for the dish drier, a teapot, pepper grinder, framed print of Victorian England, crystal fruit bowl, silver serving tray – even a laundry hamper from a rather shi-shi store. I’ve also been to Brick Lane market several times and really enjoy looking through the flea-markety tables in one area – they also have some Turkish tiles and bowls I’ve been thinking about ever since I decided not to buy one!

I have gotten to go to some lectures and an exhibit about the Scythian people I have long been interested in – an excellent exhibit at the British Museum of artifacts and many textiles. It was right up my alley.

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In the Park studying on a sunny October day

Friday was my 36th birthday, which I intended to be a gathering of friends (plural), but ended up a night out with my singular friend Vilde. We volunteered together in Molyvos, on the island of Lesvos, and it is good to be able to swap stories and memories about our experiences, as it was such a surreal time.

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Birthday cider!

After dinner and pints of cider (and a few more pints), we headed back to my flat for a couple of Red Stripes and I read her tarot cards. It was a very powerful reading and really full of information about some major changes coming up for her. I hadn’t read anyone’s cards in a while and it felt good to do it – like visiting an old friend.

I thought to treat myself to finishing off my new Philip Pullman novel or watching something on Netflix, but I was both hungry and tired, so I heated up some leftovers and ate them as fast as I could and then went pretty much straight to sleep.

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The Book of Dust! Already devoured it!

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A red sun during a recent hurricane induced dust storm

Fridays are the most exhausting day, as I have class from 11-1:30 and then again from 3-4:30. I was out like a light, but awoke rather early this morning, feeling compelled I suppose, by the sunlight through my little window. I have had vivid dreams lately, in my London bed. Hard to tell what they signify, if anything, outside of my own desires and questioning.

I am of two minds – that of moving forward and past what’s passed and toward all that is new and promising, and that which reflects and looks back, that which still appeals to me, like a call I hear off in the distance. Is it just an echo, fading, or is that persistence a sign of something that is still pertinent, valuable, remarkable?

I must admit, I cannot tell. My heart still dwells on an old amour, yet I am simultaneously sure that I’ve gone down this road before and it led me to darkness, sadness, and despair. I thought I did my best to sift through the ashes of that old burnt out affair to make certain nothing was left to salvage. I tried to test those waters, just to make sure there wasn’t a baby hidden in that bath before I tossed it and moved on. It seemed that there was no “there” there. There, there, little heart. She heals but slowly and sometimes there is a need to return to the scene of the deed just to verify that it’s done.

I suppose I should read the cards for myself and see if they have any light to shed on me. It is funny how sometimes I encapsulate so many different things inside one being. Parts of me tend to stay hidden, though unintended messages surface. I cannot quell the part which whispers of the mystical and inquires after curiosity, clings to the arcane and eschews merely mundane explanations.

I love looking after mysteries, but still I remain one to myself. Often, my desires take aim and fire before considering the repercussions. I fell before without concerns for where I’d land, and ended up a heap when my trust fall failed. I don’t want to be untrusting, but not do I want to be a heap.

I keep thinking about the story of Eros and Psyche. It came up in classes at the Carl Jung Institute in Manhattan. Psyche falls for Eros without really knowing or understanding who he is, and on the condition that she not attempt to look at him. Everything’s happy until, encouraged by her (jealous) sisters, she peeks at his sleeping face and sees that he is beautiful, but she wakes him with dripping wax or oil and he runs away.

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Eros and Psyche

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A pot depicting Aphrodite, Eros and Psyche

She then spends years looking for him everywhere and ends up at his mother’s house – Aphrodite in the Greek myths but she hearkens back to the old Mountain Mother, who’s priests were castrati. With Eros imprisoned inside her castle like Rapunzel, Aphrodite assigns Psyche to complete four impossible tasks, which she eventually does, with help from different animals. Still, she is defeated by a trick of Aphrodite: Psyche is sent to retrieve a certain box from the Underworld – a place of no return – and told that it contains the elixir of youth. She is warned not to look inside the box, but as before, she goes against instructions, because she just has to know. Instead of eternal youth, she finds eternal sleep inside the box and passes out for good until her beloved asks Zeus to revive her.

Eros and Psyche end up happy in the end, but it is a story which carries both historical and allegorical seeds which fascinate me. The tale of her descent into the Underworld makes me think back to the story of Inanna’s descent into the Great Below, her deep sleep is the parallel for Inanna’s death at the hand of her sister, Ereshkigal, who smites her with the “eye of death” and hangs her from a meathook. Like Psyche, her curiosity, her desire for power, have led her to a state of unconsciousness – death of the soul. The butterfly struck through, stuck to a velvet lining.

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Psyche taking a close look at her love – notice her butterfly wings

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Inanna Queen of Heaven

But in Inanna’s story, her lover is not faithful – he was not the one to plead to Zeus for his beloved – it is Inanna’s friend, Ninshubur, who goes to ask for help. She is the one who keeps vigil for Inanna, while her beloved seems unconcerned with her disappearance, even sitting on her throne. When Inanna returns, she is angry with Dumuzi for his lack of faithfulness. There was a price to be paid for her return, and Dumuzi, through his betrayal of his queen, has earned himself a place in the Great Below. Through an exchange, he would return seasonally and bring the green of spring along with him,  – and when the seasons turned the women would weep for him, gone again to the Great Below, leaving the Queen of Heaven alone.

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Inanna

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Inanna and Dumuzi

Three years on and I’m wondering what, if anything has changed? The day after my birthday was the three year anniversary of the last time I saw the man I was in love with in Camden. I happened to see him again, the day after my birthday. It didn’t occur to me to mention it

Love and miss and happy Halloween! I’ll leave you with a pic of my pumpkin and my recent altar for the New Moon. Nice to have my flat feeling homey!

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Kira

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Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.

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The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.

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Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!

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It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,

Kira

Someplace State of Mind

It took me a little longer than anticipated to get back to Brooklyn. Dad and I decided to drive down for a visit with my aunt in Miami and I didn’t mind indulging in a few more days of sunshine before returning to New York winter.

I stopped through North Carolina and visited with Mary Caton and her crew for a couple of days. Already, the weather was bitterly cold.

Since returning to the city, January passed quickly and I have been up to my neck in my memoir. I finally got to the end, and then began the process of refining, shaping, editing. It is painstaking work and occupies my endless days while the wind howls outside and the snow visits some mornings, blanketing the world in white for a while and then melting away in the next day’s sun.

I feel a bit like a madwoman at this stage, fiddling compulsively with my manuscript. But I know there is much to be done. Step by step, I’ll help this story emerge from the stone and dust of daily toils.

There was no Fashion Week for me this year as I start to tear free of the ties that bind me to New York. The truth is, I moved back here with hope in my heart and this book on my mind. Now that the book is nearing completion, and the hopes I’d had for reviving lost love in this city have long since dissipated, I can start to see my next steps forward. In July, I plan to go west as far as the Great Lakes and Detroit, and I thought, why not go farther?

I do so love the freedom of the road.

It isn’t a life or a career. A journey rather than a destination and all that. I’m just starting to peep my eyeballs over the setting suns of days past and look into the future again.

It feels refreshing to be on the far side of the last few years. On the edge of newness again. The days lengthen by minutes and the light lingers longer in the evenings.

My freezer bulges with bread and fruitcake from my father, sustaining me through the chill of the still raging winter.

Love and miss,

Kira

Happy Birthday to Me?

It’s strange. Last year when I was in London for my birthday, I learned a lot about myself, though I came to regret staying there as long as I did. While it didn’t do my relationship any favors, it did show me how I re-enact my mother’s rejection of me on my birthday, creating situations in which I feel somehow hurt or slighted, especially as it relates to food.

Funny, throughout my childhood, my parents would always make whatever sort of cake I wanted (they owned bakeries); I always had big slumber parties and lots of fun. My high school sweetheart and I kissed for the first time the morning after my 16th birthday party. I’ve had so many good birthdays. But last year was one of several I’ve had where I attempted to spend my birthday with a partner and things do not go well.

Once I flew to Sarasota for my birthday, to be with an artist I (thought I) was in love with, only to find it felt all wrong. He wanted the fantasy he’d built of me from a distance, and vice versa. In reality, he was shorter than I recalled, his voice more effeminate. I was not the submissive he’d imagined. I found out about his new gf on good ol’ fb.

A couple of years ago, I met a Spanish artist (pattern? ha!) and we decided to take a roadtrip to Niagara and Toronto together around my birthday. On the day itself, he sweetly brought me flowers and earrings he bought for me. But during the trip, we got in little bickering fights, which escalated on our last morning in Toronto. He didn’t like where I had left my boots. Sigh.

Last year’s brief but intense relationship – with someone I thought of as an old friend, perhaps erroneously – forced me to look at many issues related to my mother and myself. In most ways, I’d say I’ve been able to find a positive outcome. I’ve had to look long and hard at myself and examine what seems to set off my sensitivities related to my birth.

Last summer, I went to a hypnotist for the first time, wondering about a fearfulness and lack of confidence I sometimes felt. Through the course of the session, I remembered that it was the moment of my birth when I was emotionally wounded. I don’t, of course, have any conscious memory of the moment, but I think the scar from such an early, elemental trauma, stayed hidden underneath all the happy birthdays that came later. I don’t blame my mother, because I know there are times in our lives when we simply cannot control our reactions – when we cannot reign in our sadness at a reality different from what we’d envisioned.

I’ve not been a stranger to sadness in this life, though I’m certainly no Job. But depression hit me hard in my teens, and I felt it in college, too. As an adult, I’ve been fortunately even-keeled, though last winter was a test of my equilibrium.

This year, I’ve done little to ring in the new cycle of the sun. I worked at local costumed sex party, reading tarot cards as a gypsy.  I’m hopeful for a clearer future ahead, with the ghosts of the past laid to rest.

Regardless, I see the purpose of the past, or a glimmer of it, anyway. It isn’t at all like I once hoped, but then I wouldn’t have made the choices I did if the stakes hadn’t seemed so high.

I have now officially outlived my big sister, Erika, who died at 33. I always followed in her footsteps, but it’s been four years now, since she took a step. I’m older than she will ever be.

Erika loved “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. I wish, in a way, we’d grown up in those more civil times.

Erika was good at bringing that sense of magic into family situations, especially as she got older and Christmas became more about giving than receiving. I’d like to be better at bringing that magic home with me, sharing it with my family.

As a baby, I had no control over my situation and surroundings. It is common for Americans to assume that babies are unaware of their surroundings – that they can see little and understand even less. But we are highly attuned to facial expressions, eye contact, loving vocalizations, touch – it behooves us to realize how much these things affect a child’s brain development, if we ever think of having children ourselves, or if we want a greater understanding of our own makeup.

Here’s to another year of learning – let’s hope this year’s lessons are of the gentle variety.

Love and miss,
Kira