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Lost In Lisbon



After 17 years living in the civilised world I returned in July 2003 to my home country - Portugal. I have been Lost in Lisbon ever since.



Updated: 2017-06-25T22:58:47.631+02:00

 



Miguel

2017-06-25T17:30:07.565+02:00

Miguel, Num texto dedicado aos teus filhos Joaquim e António, à Mafalda, e a ti diz o Pedro Strecht que 'são vivos todos aqueles que evocamos no nosso diálogo interior.' Não consigo usar a vossa fotografia que aparece nos jornais e no Facebook. Odeio essa fotografia, que te mostra feliz, com a tua mulher e os teus filhos igualmente lindos, despreocupados e felizes, porque é a fotografia que me lembra que o que aconteceu aconteceu mesmo. Desde segunda-feira que tenho puxado por toda e qualquer memória de ti com o mesmo sorriso, a rires e a fazeres-me rir, a conversar e a desconversar, em viagens e no trabalho, a dançar e a correr. Sempre à minha frente porque eu não era lá muito de correrias nem quando fomos para cima da ponte 25 de abril para os 8km dos preguiçosos, que tu fizeste em cinquenta e qualquer coisa minutos e eu em quase duas horas. Gostámos muito um do outro durante uns meses, e depois gostámos menos um do outro. Não tão pouco que passássemos de bestiais a bestas. Também mal seria, porque tu eras (grrr, 'eras', é um tempo verbal que funciona como uma mão a apertar o coração até ficar sem respiro ), tu eras boa pessoa. Bom gajo. E eu seria francamente idiota se te transformasse nesse ogre terrivel só porque afinal não gostavas assim tanto de mim. E depois de mais uns anos em conversas esporádicas acabámos por perder o contacto, e adiar conversas e encontros para um dia destes. Os luxos a que nos damos...Eras bom gajo e bom escritor. Gostavas de escrever, enchias cadernos com pequenos apontamentos, descrições de cenas quotidianas que vias. Uma história de uma mulher num café que pedia um galão e um bolo, ou coisa que o valha. E de que me lembrei quando vi esta cena num café. Espero que tenhas deixado muitos cadernos desses pela tua casa. E que ainda tenhas a cópia do Gente de Terceira Classe que te passei, porque a beleza e o pathos (ó para mim a brilhar) dos pequenos detalhes que tu tão sensivelmente apanhavas está também nos contos do Rodrigues Miguéis.E vaidoso. Que o que não gostavas na advocacia era de teres que usar fato. Então compraste um fato de veludo cotelé – castanho? azul escuro? – que usavas com uma gravata larga acho que às riscas cor de rosa bébé e castanho. (é engraçado como estes pormenores de repente são tão importantes. A cor do fato e da gravata importa porque já cá não estás para corrigir). Eu nem queria acreditar em tempos idos que tinhas sido um guedelhudo de t-shirts e bonés... A tua colecção de ténis era espantosa – e eu comprei dois pares de Gola por tua causa, achei que estava cool. Ainda tenho um par, em Arouca para ir ao campo. O outro, o das bolinhas, dei-o à minha melhor amiga, que os passou para a cadela dela roer. Mal empregados.  E orgulhoso. Tínhamos várias conversas sobre a insatisfação existencial que vivíamos na altura (oh doce inocência dos vinte anos, como se isso importasse para alguma coisa…). Uma vez, num banco de jardim em Belém, falaste da dificuldade de progressão, dos teus receios de que o escritório em que estavas não ser bom sitio para ficar. Eu avancei com a possibilidade de falar com os meus Pais para te por em contacto com escritórios mais conceituados, mais seguros, que te valorizassem mais do que o teu patrono desdentado. Eu nem queria acreditar que aquele homem era advogado, parvinha que era. Muitas vezes me perguntei se interpretavas esse meu espanto como uma reprovação tua, das tuas escolhas, do teu percurso. Não era. Era simplesmente vontade de mandar o homem a um dentista. Recusaste, querias fazer as coisas pelo teu próprio pé, e que desse no que desse. Eu calei-me, com alguma vergonha, não percebia bem de quê, mas hoje sei que era do meu privilégio.  E quando me queixei que o museu era um sarcófago em que as pessoas eram trancadas vivas para desligar o cérebro lentamente (eu queria fazer tudo, e tudo já), e que se era assim voltava para Nova Iorque, perguntaste-me se eu tinha mesmo tentado. Tentado todas as abordagens, todos os mu[...]



'There is life outside the canon' - Foteini Vlachou

2017-06-08T23:22:24.300+02:00

Baby girl, I don't even know where to begin. We never talked in Portuguese, so it feels weird to start now. Nothing in this makes sense - you were the smartest, the hardest working, the most driven, creative of most of us. Sure, there must have been some monk somewhere you was really into his research and more knowledgeable than you. But he'd never have your wit, your warmth, your humour, your incredible ability to zig-zag between concepts, arguments and ideas, try out a theory, think out loud and see if the idea fits. Your dress-downs were pretty great too. I laughed freely and with gusto at how well you displayed your bewilderment at 'certain situations' that shall remain nameless. Dude, through sheer work, perseverance, and waiting for the others to catch up with you and your ideas, you forged an incredibly respected career in Portugal. That enough should grant you a place in the Pantheon. Our get togethers often went beyond the dinner and the coffee, and extended into long talks in the car, outside your house, by the pastry shop where you were getting a birthday cake for your son after a lunch and afternoon talking. We'd discuss projects, things that were missing (a journal for out of fashion art historical research, of the 'I have just discovered a new drawing by this guy' kind) and that we'd go into as soon as we'd finish our current endless projects. I always left energised and thinking how great it was to spend time with you, and talk, and brainstorm. You were generous with your advice and point of view, and my meagre academic output owes your sharp mind one or two (or three or four) adjustments.  On top of all of this mountain of excellence you had a family. And now that I am about to start my own I am thinking of how much I would have liked to hear your take on the whole thing: working, writing, raising a boy to be a good man, not some random neo-macho. We 'pied-in-the-sky' a Summer trip to the Isle of Lewis. I'd proudly show you around (I knew you'd definitely get how wonderful the place is) and you'd fulfil your 'I Know Where I'm Going' vision. Talking about you today I found myself saying 'Ela era como eu mas em bom.' And I meant in the least narcissistic way. We were friends, understood many things about each other, and in everything you seemed to have a way into or out of things that I couldn't quite get. Girl, this. is. bullshit. You should be here. Not for me - for us, I think - who miss you and are angry, sad, and bewildered, but for the paths you opened, the ideas you had, and the respect, the love and the friendship that you are owed. 'O empenho colocado na concretização dos seus objectivos académicos, num contexto já de grande adversidade pessoal, impressionou enormemente os colegas que lhe eram mais próximos e todo a equipa do IHC. ''A Foteini foi uma pensadora sofisticada e uma historiadora da arte excepcional. O seu trabalho beneficiou de uma inteligência viva e de um percurso de formação singular dividido entre Atenas, Creta e Lisboa.'[...]



0 Comentários

2016-10-27T19:04:17.957+02:00

     source: http://www.stresa.netPorto 2- Bayern 1One night in 1987A family in a car crosses the AlpsIt’s late Alone, their carStands at the checkpoint And its sleepy border guard. The father saysGirls we are in Italy! This is Italy!The girls are sleeping and they mumble awaySo long they have been in the carThe night is fresh, the stars are high And the crisp moon shines through the windowsIs it one am,Two am,Five am.The girls say something.The guard looks at the green passports.(that’s how long ago this was)Portogallo? Porto ha vinto!In this quiet nightWith one bored border guardAnd the family of four. Days later they had dinnerOn the lake shores where they’dImagined the lives of the BorromeoHopped from island to islandLiked the fishermen islandThey went for dinner I saidAnd the man made the woman laughAnd she laughed with abandonWith joyAnd the girls laughed with joyAt their mother’s joy.The man made her laugh some moreAnd the woman closed her eyesAnd knocked on the tableThat’s how much she laughed.That night he was a manShe was a womanAnd, from the outside, the children only watched. And if you took away the mountainsThe civilized lakeThe crisp mountainsThe walls of the restaurantThe Italian food.You had a family. [...]



No Comboio

2016-08-22T00:07:50.441+02:00

Foi numa tarde de Setembro, pouco depois do início das aulas – ainda as tardes eram quentes, e ainda havia gente na praia do Tamariz. Na estação do Estoril, esperava o comboio para ir a Lisboa tratar de papelada.Distraí-me com um grupo grande de raparigas de mochila perto da maquina dos bilhetes – falavam alto, vinham de uma escola perto, todas usavam o uniforme da juventude de agora: calças de ganga justas, botas e uma camisola. Falavam em voz alta.Discutiam as políticas de apoio à maternidade na Europa – em que países as leis davam uma licença de maternidade as mulheres, o que faltava em Portugal. Argumentavam entre si o que era melhor para o bébé, se seria ficar com a mãe nos primeiros anos, se irem para a creche. E falavam do que queriam para si e para o seu futuro – ‘eu quero trabalhar’, ‘eu quero estar com o meu filho’, ‘ mas onde é que há dinheiro para tomarmos conta dos nossos filhos’. Naquele grupo de miúdas – se Deus quiser a anos luz de terem o primeiro filho, eu via os debates que marcam a vida de muitas mulheres, e espantava-me com a segurança com que estas raparigas, vinte anos mais novas do que eu, pensavam primeiro nelas e só depois no que os outros delas esperavam. ‘Isto é progresso’ pensei. Estas raparigas não dão nada por adquirido, e aceitam que são diferentes umas das outras, que querem coisas diferentes da vida. Ao meu lado, uma mulher sorria, se calhar a pensar a mesma coisa. ‘Que bom que é ver as mais novas a pensarem sobre estes assuntos, e a reivindicar o que acham justo’, disse-lhe. ‘Estas ainda vão ser ministras’, sorriu-me do volta. (Ilustração em http://www.europeanyoungfeminists.eu)Antes fosse. Entrei no comboio com o grupo e sentei-me perto – para continuar a ouvir,  e ver o que mais podia aprender com elas. Continuavam a discutir, com alguns palavrões à mistura, sobre a condição de amar, trabalhar, e existir enquanto mulher. O telemóvel de uma tocou, e, numa conversa rápida com a Mãe, diz-lhe que vai para casa, e lembra-lhe que eh preciso comprar Nestum. Desliga e diz as amigas‘A minha Mãe ainda não recebeu. Já no mês passado foi a mesma coisa. ‘O silêncio do grupo de cinco amigas mostra-me como o turbilhão da miséria, da vida implaneavel, se escondem debaixo do que eu pensava ser uma superfície lisa de feminismo. Depreendo que algures na linha de Cascais trabalha uma mulher num jardim de infância que não lhe paga o ordenado a horas. A rapariga continua, ‘Eles têm que baixar as propinas, cobram muito. Um miúdo na escola onde ela está é suficiente para lhe pagar o ordenado. Assim não vai lá.’ Estas meninas-adultas calaram-se  e olham para a que fala, com uma solidariedade silenciosa e impotente. E eu tenho raiva – quero dizer-lhes que não vai ser sempre assim, que a vida lhes vai trazer coisas tão boas que elas nem conseguem imaginar, desde que sejam fieis a si próprias, e não deixem nunca que ninguém lhes compre a alma, nem lhes negoceie a liberdade – nem homem, nem mulher, nem pais, nem filhos, nem amigos, nem patrão. Mas o que é que eu sei? Pertenço à geração acima delas, que olha incrédula para o que se passa, sem saber por onde começar, e a nossa inércia perante a mudança cria o vazio que permite que escolas não paguem ordenados a tempo. Faço parte da geração que vem adiando a sua vida, à espera que tudo, finalmente, se endireite. Estou a falhar a estas miúdas, que pedem Nestum (em vez de bifes).O silêncio deste grupo custa-me, em que estarão elas a pensar, e estou quase a dizer qualquer coisa, quando uma pergunta como correu o teste. Comparam as notas. Comparam os anos em que passaram com negativas  baixas. Falam das professoras que faziam os testes por elas. ‘Pois. A gente na altura achava porreiro, mas agora é que são elas.’‘Quem vai ao concerto do Boss?’. Não há guita, não há companhia, ‘o outro disse que ia mas deixou-me dependurada.’ Graças a Deus,[...]



To my older man, too scared.

2016-08-18T23:43:42.219+02:00

Urbano died yesterday. I only told you about him inasmuch as he was one of my arguments in our conversations about starting a family. In his 70s, he had married a younger woman, and given her a son, at the ripe age of 80. He was old enough to be your father and he embraced what you wouldn’t.I knew I couldn’t convince you by invoking Hollywood fare such as Anthony Quinn or Michael Douglas. Painters and writers, especially if they were of the innocuous communist type, were more likely to catch your attention – and so it was that I talked to you about Charlie Chaplin, Picasso and Urbano Tavares Rodrigues. Artists, left-wingers, who had entered late fatherhood for a mix of selfish and selfless reasons. Perhaps of fear of losing their younger partners, perhaps egocentric bravado, perhaps one gigantic middle finger to the injustice that is death. Much as our intellectual match and our sexual intimacy made me feel we were the only lovers in the world, you would never give me what I had told you I wanted, a family. After a working life of successes, you wanted in retirement to pursue the artistic career you had interrupted decades earlier when real life forced you to reconsider your dreams. What did it matter that my dreams would remain unfulfilled? This family that I dreamed of, you already had it. At eighty years old, Urbano knew that to have a young, vibrant, sexual woman by his side, to honour the choice of an unconventional life this woman was making halfway through her own life, he had to give selflessly. And accept that you’re always alive until you are not. To deny life before you die is offensive, and to deny life to those who still have decades ahead of them an offense.And when I read about these men that had the generosity, the gratitude towards their partner to be fathers so late in life – I can’t be presumptuous enough to assume that they really want to be fathers  - I feel such rage – what did their wives know, that I didn’t? What did they say, that I didn’t? What did they do, that I wouldn’t? It took me longer than it should have to understand that you were selfish enough to keep me close by, but not selfless enough to give me what I needed in order to stay. And so I finally left, and find myself in the real world again, where men my age, struggling with what I now know are pointless fears and insecurities, are dwarfed by what we were. Perhaps we worked exactly because there was a time limit to us, and I kept pushing for some more time, hoping you’d come through. Still, we could have been so happy. What a waste of love and of life. (Urbano and his son António, photo Miguel Baltazar/Negocios, from http://www.jornaldenegocios.pt/economia/cultura/detalhe/urbano_tavares_rodrigues_hei_de_ser_comunista_ate_ao_ultimo_instante.html"From here I say my goodbyes, little by little, fighting and vanquishing my anguish, with a marvelled wave to the fresh water of the sea and rivers where I swam, to the perfume of the flowers and of the children, and to the beauty of the women. A red carnation, and the flag of my Party will come with me and all will be light."«Daqui me vou despedindo, pouco a pouco, lutando com a minha angústia e vencendo-a, dizendo um maravilhado adeus à água fresca do mar e dos rios onde nadei, ao perfume das flores e das crianças, e à beleza das mulheres. Um cravo vermelho e a bandeira do meu Partido hão-de acompanhar-me e tudo será luz.» (Preface to Nenhuma Vida, his posthumous book)(written in the Summer 2013)[...]



Love, Death and Hitchens

2011-12-29T14:22:50.283+01:00

On the ferry to Stornoway, June 2011Lately, whenever someone illustrious dies, I look out for their age. Were they over 50? Were they over 70? What did they die of? Was it a good death (natural causes) or was it a bad death (cancer, Alzheimer’s). At what age did they create? Were they married, did they have children, was their life relatively devoid of domestic tragedies but rich in adventure and heroic choices?Lately, whenever someone illustrious dies, I sigh with relief – death bypassed my lover, once again, and chose a writer, a musician, a philosopher, a politician. This time death chose Christopher Hitchens, whose opinions I often find in my lover’s rants against religion, power, the empty lives of the overprivileged, and, crime of all crimes, the right wingers who turn right on Great Western Road in Glasgow, and hold up traffic for the others. I sigh with relief – not him yet, we have some more time. My lover is 62. He is so young, so vital, so bursting with projects and ideas and hopes (even though he claims to be mastering the art of doing nothing!), sometimes even at the cost of just being, with me, enjoying the sweet treacle of love on a boring Sunday afternoon, that it baffles me that he could ever not be.This is the man who brought me love, possibility, a vaster, richer, purer future than the dullness of a life following the whims of the mediocre and unambitious – which I was fast becoming too. This is the man gently removes the rose-tinted glasses (spectacles!) I have on and shows me how reality is even better, even though it sometimes stinks. This is the man who mocks my neurosis and holds my hand during an anxiety attack. If he is that man, how can he depart sooner, leaving me to fend on my own, at an age when most women are yelling at their husband to take out the garbage. I try to impart on my lover the sense of urgency, so that we may live and experience in, God-willing, a 20-year period, what others do in twice the time. His will obviously be a good death, as far away in time as it can be. I put all my faith and my belief in these thoughts, sometimes bartering with God in late hours, when he is snoring away into the back of my neck, oblivious to my machinations in keeping him alive just a while longer.  It can’t come as a surprise then, that I see bad deaths as a particular blow to my plans. If giants as Christopher Hitchens just vanish at the hands of cowardly cancer, why shouldn’t my lover suddenly go as well for some stupid, unforeseen reason? Is God not listening (Hitchens’ reply: there is no God, you silly woman. Now get me a drink!)? His stance on almost anything is different from mine though I subscribe entirely to the overratedness of champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics – and, I would add, that green-coloured blemish corrector thing that is very much in Vogue. And cheap sushi. But his style, oh his style – punch after punch of the right word, the right “fuck you” attitude, the balance between knowledge and stylization. Teach me master.As for my lover, I send him some quotes that will have him roaring for their bluntness and honesty. And I anticipate my delight the next time I see him, and feel his hands on my waist, his sparkky eyes looking into mine, letting me know I am the loveliest fat girl he has ever met and pretend to be shocked for his further delight. I cannae wait. And, each time I will throw my head backwards and laugh, a part of me will secretly pray that we get to keep this banter for as long as possible. As for Christopher Hitchens, well, I shall (gasp!) have a nice, tall, gin tonic, and smoke one, maybe two cigarettes in his honour. God, do I live dangerously. Life goes on, until it doesn’t.[...]



Ya Sadiqqi,

2016-08-18T21:41:44.009+02:00

Last week, during yet another endless, and pointless, meeting, I found myself doodling in Arabic – nothing special, the usual, long-standing qalila/kabira debate – baiti qalila aw kabira? – and was taken back to our evening Arabic classes, every Tuesday on some high floor of the David Hume Tower. I recalled the older lady (I love the Middle East) who, completely confused, was trying to decide between adjectives, only to have the extremely earnest Indian girl sitting beside her repeat endlessly qalila…qalila…qalila, and she trying not too look too aggravated saying I know… clash of civilisation right there and then. And do you remember Paul, the oil rig worker, on his way to the Middle East and hoping to blend in, all 2m, 150kg of him. He sat behind us, overwhelmed, and overwhelming those old tiny 1970's chairs, sticking his tongue out as he painstakingly outlined each alif, each lam, with the smallest pencil he could find. There were times when I couldn’t even see the pencil, just his gigantic hand slowly moving across the paper, right to left, right to left. During our first language test, our earnest tension was palpable as we tried to construct meaningful sentences from a reduced vocabulary pool (bait, bint, bayna, bijanib, sayyara, zujaja, kalb) – and, from the deepest, most focused, most intense silence in that swaying classroom filled with Open University romantics, Paul's whispered frustration: “Bugger!”.I remembered you telling me that you couldn’t roll your “r”, because something was up with your tongue, you couldn’t even stick it out. I didn’t believe you and made you show me. “I don’t believe you. Show me.” And you stuck your tongue out. “You’re joking, right? Come on, stick it out further.” But that’s all there was. “Dude, your tongue’s tiny”. You weren’t happy, I felt bad for making you feel bad. I resolved to show you crappy stuff about my body (like the mole on my forehead). I recalled our teacher, the Greek yet German-looking Dr. K., whose life I idolised - intelligent, married to an intelligent man, studying interesting things, knowing exactly what she was up to. I also feared her, as I knew she could read through me and figure out that this, the learning of Arabic, was yet another project that I would not see through. I could sense her despise of me, or perhaps it was my own despise at myself. She always wore a dark green velvet headband, and never any make-up, reminding me of a Christian missionary. As the weeks went by, and winter set in, Dr. K showed up with long woolly dresses. She also took to patting her belly, which I interpreted as nothing. But you told me that she was pregnant. You noticed. Perhaps because you had noticed one of your highly fertile sisters doing the same (how many nieces and nephews you had? It felt like 10 or more…).  And so she was pregnant. I was extremely happy when she announced it – that meant a university teacher could be happily married and have a husband. What a relief!And I recalled our dinners, after class, at the Taj Mahal, for a kebab with everything. (what was the name?). And sometimes, because of my sweet tooth, we’d have a lassi – each time, you’d order it in a Scottish accent, each time I found it hilarious. Sometimes we’d do the homework as we waited for the food. (Taj Mahal - Shah Jahan -Mumtaz Maham - the grade I always wanted, geddit?)Then we’d walk home – you to Morningside, and I’d be off to Marchmont. It was perfect – I knew then that it was perfect as much as I know it now. What I didn’t know then is that it was as perfect as it would ever be. A platonic friendship filled with possibility – a commonplace, I know, but perfect. Our sharing an apartment, our long night talks, our drunken outings, our eventual falling into each other’s arms – not so perfect. Separations, letterwriting, silent [...]



Overcome

2016-08-18T21:43:52.950+02:00

The news of Bin Ladin's death surprised me this morning. Soon after hearing it on the radio, my mother called: "They got him! What great news!” For those who know me, my mother's joy is fully explained - on 9/11, I was home, a few blocks from the World Trade Centre. Along with thousands of others, I was evacuated and lived as a refugee in a very modern city. Luckily in my case, this was only for two weeks.The impact of the events was lasting. Decisions that to this day affect my life were made back then. My mother's joy betrayed her hope that this death would release me from sadness and melancholia that should have never been mine, from the residual guilt of being so safe when a few blocks away, 2606 lives were burnt, crushed or vaporized. (Even today, just writing the number of dead fills me with anxiety - what if it isn't accurate? What if they have forgotten to account for someone who died there and no one knows? Am I complicit in erasing the memory that this person existed?)And I must confess that, at first, I felt some relief. Finally! Finally they got the guy. Finally, they killed him! Finally. Then, almost immediately, the sadness returned, with the realisation that it would never really go away.  This man, who so publicly barged into people's lives, who so violently interfered with the lives of some of us, eventually died in an anonymous confrontation, and was buried anonymously. Did he realise he was going to die? In that millisecond before death, did he grasp the magnitude and horror of what he did? Did he feel regret?Make no mistake - it is for people such as Bin Ladin that I agree with the death penalty. I do not cry for his loss, and I do not care for his suffering. What pains me, as a survivor (I hate this word), is that he was spared what for him, I presume, would have been the most humiliating and vile treatment - a trial, with a defence lawyer, in the Hague Penal Court. I feel that I have been cheated. As I was cheated when Slobodan Milosevic died, even though he was in custody; or when the British sent Pinochet, and the Scottish sent al Meghrahi, back to their home countries to die peacefully. As I feel cheated when I think that Fidel Castro will never face those he oppressed. But, obviously, in the case of Bin Ladin it feels much more personal. I feel cheated of my closure, my very personal closure. And especially of the vindication of the social system in which I believe, in which I have unwavering faith - democracy. Failing and fallible yes, but that awards me a louder voice, a wider choice and yes, greater freedom, than any other system. And an integrant value of this system is the concept of Justice. I never yelled for a Dead or Alive Bin Ladin. In fact, Bush's cowboy language was one of the greatest difficulties I found during my post 9/11 life. I always very much wanted Bin Ladin Alive, so that he could be tried like a man, defend himself like a man, and die like a man. This stripping of the human condition makes me sad and uncomfortable. Even though I feel - I know - that he received just punishment, I cannot put a full stop on this subject. And now, these events will always be a part of me; they will drag alongside me forever - the unreality of what went on, the loss of lives, of energy, of all the creation that could have happened since that day. The loss of faith in the values of absolute good, of protection of the state, of just reward for a life well lived. This loss is present, it resurfaces, and now, with this "hidden death", will continue to resurface for the rest of my, of our, lives, In a few months, we will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the events. I had planned, after that date, to never mark it again, to finally let this behind me, to pack it away in my storage box of memories, having paid my dues for having[...]



2 Comentários

2011-04-13T01:44:11.462+02:00

(image)
Monte Estoril, 12 Abril 2011

Suddenly Spring arrived. The bare trees, their branches held up to the sky were gone. My window a Fauvist canvas for all shades of green, on all shapes of leaves. A domestic jungle of my own. A lush, gorgeous explosion of greenery.

This time last year I was in South Africa, driving through the Karoo, marvelling at the beauty of God’s creation. It was during that time that my grandmother went into hospital.

My Year of Magical Thinking is ending. And this greenery outside is telling me what everybody knows, but that, until that first time when your world shifts irrevocably, you never quite grasp – it’s time to carry on. Life is beckoning and the only way is forward - even when it's circular.

I sit by this window and look outside – I’ll wait for night time, when I can lie down on the sofa and look at the sky. For the first time this year, I will fall asleep looking at the stars, at the pitch black sky, wrapped in a blanket, because it is just that hot.

While still remembering how my Grandmother’s hand felt inside mine as she napped, I stretch out my other hand. É de quem a apanhar.

There’s a Portuguese children’s song about three doves flying. One is mine, the other is yours, the other is for whoever catches it. É de quem a apanhar.




Beyond words

2016-08-18T23:40:30.792+02:00

Last Sunday 13th June, I went to sleep with a slight sense of trepidation. Just back from a 3-day long roundtable on centres and peripheries, where I stomped through the debates with my usual charm and tolerance, I had returned reinvigorated, ready to take on the world or, failing that, the local authority that currently employs me. Not alien to my sense of trepidation was the young man I had met there, who happened to tick most of my boxes. Straight (a welcome plus), intelligent (he had me at “positive differentiation”… or was it “differentiated positivism”?), self-deprecating (“yes, I was a young idiotic right-winger”), and, most importantly eager to hear what I had to say, he seemed to perfectly combine a rigorous train of thought, hard-working ethics, unpretentious expression, and, most importantly a non-judgemental, yet moral, stance on life. All the things that matter.Certain issues needed of course to be resolved before he actually realised that I was a woman, an available one at that. Firstly, he was in a committed long-distance relationship. Being utterly unable to do anything about that (that’s my moral stance on life) I was resolved to wait it out and, in a few months, reassess the situation. Secondly, he didn’t live here. Something which I could easily solve by moving to wherever he was. Yes, I am that kind of feminist. Then, there was the physical incompatibility, him being lithe and limb and I being, well, the stomping kind. Nothing some long overdue exercise on my behalf and a hipercaloric diet on his behalf wouldn’t remedy.Resolutions in place, his words echoing in my head, why are you complaining? You want change? Go be change! Do something about it!, I felt shamed into action. Yes I would do something about something in the upcoming weeks! Yes I would embrace change! And I would begin by twisting his arm into meeting me for coffee the next day, as he was about to fly half-way across the world.Hence my feelings of trepidation on June 13, as I went to sleep.At 5.20 am I was awoken by my aunt, who was at the farmhouse up North. “You know what I am about to tell you?” Partly because I was asleep, partly because I wanted to delay her saying it, I said no.“Grandmother died”.I can’t remember how the rest of the conversation went – only that, in spite of my aunt’s instructions that I get some sleep before I got into a 3.5 hour drive on my own, I could not sleep. To fall asleep then seemed preposterous, almost sacrilegious, disrespectful towards my Grandmother. My father was unreachable so it was up to me to keep trying his phone. So, for some three hours, I walked around the house not knowing very well what to do. It was almost 8am when I was able to tell my father that his mother had died. By then I still hadn’t cried and I didn’t cry on the phone to my father. Actually, I was surprised that I was handling it so well.Because I hardly ever wear black I went shopping for mourning clothes with a friend, then went to Lisbon to my aunt’s house to get her and my uncle their mourning clothes. The experience was surreal.I didn’t make it to the farm until the end of the day, having picked up my sister, flying in from Brussels, at the airport. That night and the following day were lived in a complete sense of insulation from the rest of the world. A war could have started we would not have noticed, and more likely would not have cared. My Grandmother’s casket was laid open in the formal living room, the double doors opening into the garden and the camellia. That evening, and the following morning and afternoon, sunrays of different colours, bluish in the morning, golden by the afternoon, filtered by the leaves, made their way to the stone doorway. That evening and the next day, before we left to church, time stood still for us.I was [...]



To a lady who lunches

2010-05-26T04:38:28.657+02:00

Tara Lynn, na V (Primavera 2010) por Solve SundsboLady, for the hypocritical reasons that dictate life in Portugal, I have to have lunch with you on a regular basis – and by regular, I mean more than once a month. For a year now, I have said nothing while you explained, very much unprompted, and in the presence of third parties, the make-over you had in store for me - because you have such a pretty face. Two weeks into my job you had in mind a diet, a trope that has been recurring in your discourse. In fact, you have followed my weight fluctuations with greater ardour than I ever could muster. Today, you insisted several times, in two different settings that I should have highlights done – grey hair makes you look older and drearier, Lady, you could be my old aunt, and my parents taught me to respect my elders. So I have subtly tried to indicate you that you are being beyond inappropriate. Changed the subject, smiled feebly, and vehemently explained that I like how I am, to no avail. And the more I think about your petulance, the more irritated I become. So, lady, and others ladies in this category, it turns out I do have something to tell you.I am barely 33 and I have lived in four different countries, speak three languages fluently (plus all the other ones I can sort of guess at), and have managed to learn good lessons from all the places I have been. I have been a refugee in the same city in which I was living, and I have travelled to places that as child I never even knew existed.Barely 33, I feel passionate about what I do, grateful that people recommend me to their peers as a knowledgeable and reliable museum professional. I have curated exhibitions, published, taught and am so lucky to have access to archives with a wealth of untapped information that reveals individuals struggling with their creative process, their place in the world, the righteousness of their quests – showing me that these essential questions are truly timeless. How comforting to know we ar enot alone.33, and I have had the pleasure of having people come to me and tell me that I made a difference, in the way in the way they work and, even more, in the way they see the world. More importantly, I have had the true delight of telling people that they have changed the way that I see the world, the way that love, the way that I work.Only 33, and I work sufficiently hard to ensure that the only reason why I'll ever need a man is to love and encourage me, not to pay for my face creams.If I died tomorrow, two books would be left behind to explain my views and my reasoning with the world in which I lived. Hopefully, these would be read, dissected and critiqued, in the same manner as I do in my learning process. So, even if I died tomorrow, I would have taken a chance and put it out there. I know that what I do makes a difference and has a ripple effect.Lady, how much do you think I actually care for your views on me being obviously not on a diet?I have had the luck of meeting everyday people with extraordinary stories – some were accidental encounters of two people who were engaged with the world around them, others were absolutely sought after by me. I also was able to meet and, in some cases, befriend, writers, poets, academics, community leaders, in museums, at university, at friends’ houses, on the street. These were people who took time out of their lives to show me other ways to live, other ways to think, who inspired me by their own willingness to risk the opprobrium of people such as yourself, by exposing themselves, their doubts and their quests, to the world.I have crossed paths with academics who are world-wide authorities in their fields – most of them true humanists, completely unpretentious; generous with the information they had, absolutely aware that the on[...]



who would I grow? *

2009-10-15T00:02:53.838+02:00

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* James Spader (in character, as E Edward Gray, Attorney at Law)



0 Comentários

2009-10-07T00:55:56.666+02:00

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(...)
Já repararam nos efeitos tremendos que a música tem nos brônquios e nas laringes do nosso respeitável público? Vai-se ao teatro, ou ao cinema, e a saúde da população parece ser absolutamente normal, fora um ou outro catarro próprio da estação. Mas vai-se ao concerto, seja qual for a altura do ano, com chuva ou com sol, com frio ou com calor, e é uma desgraça: espirros, roncos, tosses de arrasar, narizes que se desentopem a tiro de canhão, é um tal cortejo de faringites, laringites, bronquites, sinusites, tuberculoses pulmonares, tosses convulsas, alergias ruidosas, que corta o coração! Sem falar nos casos de flatulência e de dispneia, que também abundam. Ora o que eu ainda não consegui determinar é se só vão ouvir música os doentes crónicos das vias respiratórias, ou se é a própria música que dá cabo da saúde aos frequentadores dos concertos. Aqui peço a ajuda de algum médico melómano para me tirar desta perplexidade. É que o problema é grave, não só porque diz respeito à saúde pública, como até porque tem sido motivo de espanto e de dó por parte dos artistas estrangeiros que nos visitam.

(...)

MARIA DA GRAÇA AMADO DA CUNHA
Desenho de JOÃO ABEL MANTA
da "GAZETA MUSICAL e de Todas as Artes" nº 112/113 de Julho/Agosto de 1960
Texto completo no blog da Associação Guilhermina Suggia: http://suggia.weblog.com.pt/



0 Comentários

2009-10-01T23:19:22.090+02:00

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Portrait d'une négresse
Marie-Guillemine Benoist
1800, Musée du Louvre


Endechas a Bárbara escrava
Aquela cativa
Que me tem cativo,
Porque nela vivo
Já não quer que viva.
Eu nunca vi rosa
Em suaves molhos,
Que pera meus olhos
Fosse mais fermosa.

Nem no campo flores,
Nem no céu estrelas
Me parecem belas
Como os meus amores.
Rosto singular,
Olhos sossegados,
Pretos e cansados,
Mas não de matar.

U~a graça viva,
Que neles lhe mora,
Pera ser senhora
De quem é cativa.
Pretos os cabelos,
Onde o povo vão
Perde opinião
Que os louros são belos.

Pretidão de Amor,
Tão doce a figura,
Que a neve lhe jura
Que trocara a cor.
Leda mansidão,
Que o siso acompanha;
Bem parece estranha,
Mas bárbara não.

Presença serena
Que a tormenta amansa;
Nela, enfim, descansa
Toda a minha pena.
Esta é a cativa
Que me tem cativo;
E. pois nela vivo,
É força que viva.

- Luís de Camões

endecha : composiçã poética de tom melancólico e triste em versos de cinco ou seis sílabas agrupados em quadras segundo os esquemas rimáticos ABCB, ABAB ou ABBA




3 Comentários

2009-09-29T19:51:55.561+02:00


Às vezes, passo horas inteiras
Olhos fitos nestas Traseiras,
Sonhando o tempo que lá vai;
E jornadeio em fantasia
Essas jornadas que eu fazia
Ao velho Douro, mais meu Pai.


Que pitoresca era a jornada!
Logo, ao subir da madrugada,
Prontos os dois para partir:
Adeus! adeus! é curta a ausência,
Adeus! rodava a diligência
Com campainhas a tinir!


(…)


Depois, cansados da viagem,
Repoisávamos na estalagem
(Que era em Casais, mesmo ao dobrar... )
Vinha a Sra Ana das Dores
"Que hão de querer os meus Senhores?
Há pão e carne para assar..."


Oh! ingênuas mesas, honradas!
Toalhas brancas, marmeladas,
Vinho virgem no copo a rir...
O cuco da sala, cantando. . .
(Mas o Cabanelas, entrando,
Vendo a hora: "É preciso partir").

(…)



(image) Arouca, Setembro 2009

(...)

E a mala-posta ia indo, ia indo.
o luar, cada vez mais lindo,
Caía em lágrimas, — e, enfim,
Tão pontual, às onze e meia,
Entrava, soberba, na aldeia
Cheia de guizos, tlim, tlim, tlim!

Lá vejo ainda a nossa Casa
Toda de lume, cor de brasa,
Altiva, entre árvores, tão só!
Lá se abrem os portões gradeados,
Lá vêm com velas os criados,
Lá vem, sorrindo, a minha Avó.

(…)
Ó Portugal da minha infância,
Não sei que é, amo-te a distância,
Amo-te mais, quando estou só...
Qual de vós não teve na Vida
Uma jornada parecida,
Ou assim, como eu, uma Avó?




Viagens na minha terra

António Nobre, in



A une passante

2009-09-25T02:36:42.188+02:00

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La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait.

Longue, mince, en grand deuil, douleur majestueuse,

Une femme passa, d'une main fastueuse

Soulevant, balançant le feston et l'ourlet;


Agile et noble, avec sa jambe de statue.

Moi, je buvais, crispé comme un extravagant,

Dans son oeil, ciel livide où germe l'ouragan,

La douceur qui fascine et le plaisir qui tue.

Un éclair... puis la nuit! — Fugitive beauté

Dont le regard m'a fait soudainement renaître,

Ne te verrai-je plus que dans l'éternité?

Ailleurs, bien loin d'ici! trop tard! jamais peut-être!

Car j'ignore où tu fuis, tu ne sais où je vais,

Ô toi que j'eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!

— Charles Baudelaire




2 Comentários

2009-09-24T00:38:51.104+02:00

(image) Praia da Poça, Estoril - Inverno 2008

L'Homme et la mer

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n'est pas un gouffre moins amer.

Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l'embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
Homme, nul n'a sondé le fond de tes abîmes;
Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!

Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables!

— Charles Baudelaire



while you worry whether Rihan(n)a was the victim...

2009-02-10T01:07:21.535+01:00

... just get in your car and listen to this.


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Alison Krauss, Robert Plant
Killing the Blues



we're on the road to nowhere...

2009-01-17T02:08:51.887+01:00

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o Estoril versão subúrbio

2009-01-17T01:11:41.167+01:00

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Sometimes French comes in handy...

2009-01-14T00:52:00.933+01:00

... like when you are at the Louvre, in the Mesopotamian galleries walking down memory lane, remembering the dipshit archaologist who, before trading my heart for some Sumerian cylinder seals, set the bar so high that everyone else is just plain boring, and you come across this little one, living proof of Lavoisier's law (you know it, you know it, you KNOW you know it):

Le « juste souffrant ». Époque paléo-babylonienne, règne d'Ammiditana, 3e successeur de Hammurabi. Babylonie (Iraq)

« ... Que ton coeur ne soit plus mauvais...
Tu as goûté à la détresse retenue sur toi peu de temps,
Lorsque tu eus porté ce lourd fardeau, on t'a remis
en liberté... ta route est libre...
Désormais, n'oublie plus jamais ton dieu, ton créateur
Je suis ton dieu, ton créateur, ton secours...
Ne sois plus endurci... Donne à manger à qui a faim, à boire à qui a soif...
Que le mendiant gisant goûte à ta nourriture, la consomme et l'emporte...
La grande porte du bonheur t'es rouverte : rentres-y
librement, sois en paix. »

http://cartelfr.louvre.fr/cartelfr/visite?srv=car_not_frame&idNotice=24699

I'm sure that some archaologists will dispute this translation - too lyrical, perhaps, not Marxist, not enough info on crops and the like - but it is beautiful. (yeah, yeah, yeah I know that beauty is an irrelevant concept for arahcologists. whatever).



Things I have learned (I)

2016-08-01T02:12:33.271+02:00

If your wax lady knew the difference between an isosceles and an equilateral triangle, she'd be a geometry teacher.



Dia do Pai atrasado...

2008-06-30T12:45:16.379+02:00

SUGESTÃO: para quem não gosta de música clássica, ouçam enquanto lêem. para os outros, não é preciso. se por acaso o Rui Vieira Nery estiver a ler este post, pelo amor de Deus vá-se embora.Comecei por gostar deste morceau porque me lembrava a música do genérico da série do Sherlock Holmes. O Beaux Arts Trio era na altura o staple lá de casa - a culpa é do Barry Lyndon, filme de que só recordo uma cena numa banheira por causa da nudez - e que feliz estava o meu Pai por eu gostar de música clássica que não fosse vesões fílmicas da Traviata e da Carmen (quando se tem 9 anos nos primórdios do VHS, fazer o rewind da morte da Violetta vezes sem fim é hi-la-ri-an-te). Para não o desapontar, transformei o Trio nos meus melhores amigos imaginários. e já me via de vestido de mousseline branca de corte empire, grinalda de flores no cabelo, saltitando por prados verdejantes (têm que ser verdejantes, se forem alentejanos, fico menos virgem e mais criada)... com o Trio ao fundo a tocar Schubert.Quando fiz 12 anos, as minhas prendas (presentes, menina!)foram, por ordem, o meu primeiro par de meias de vidro (para quem odeia collants, what a prize!), a minha primeira antiguidade (e, até hoje, única, porque com o divórcio os meus pais deixaram de se preocupar em tornar-me na teenager mais pretenciosa do hemisfério norte), e... um bilhete para um concerto do Brendel com o meu Pai (admito que adormeci, mas também estavam lá uns quantos velhotes que não conseguiram resistir. um até ressonou). Ah, a minha primeira antiguidade... um cofrezinho de pau-santo com embutidos de marfim, onde não consigo guardar rigorosamente nada. Que ficava lindamente no meu quarto em cima da cómoda D. João V, ao lado das camas D. José e D. Maria (qual é o mal do IKEA?! e, já agora, dos edredons?!). Claro que na altura eu preferia ter recebido um par de jeans, um estojo de maquilhagem e um CD da Kim Wilde. Mas se assim tivesse sido, os meus Pais tinham tido um ataque de coração, os meus coleguinhas da Escola Europeia tinham perdido mais uma oportunidade de zombaria, e eu seria apenas mais uma Valley Girl Bruxelense. Há uns meses fui ver o Beaux Arts Trio à Gulbenkian, parte da tournée de despedida. Fiquei toda comovida quando tocaram o (inspiração profunda) Trio nº2 em mi bemol Op.100 2º movimento - andante con molto (porque é que não dão nomes mais fáceis a estas músicas, como sei lá, Thriller ou Hound Dog ou Michelle, Ma Belle, assim uma coisa mais fácil para o ouvido). Lembrei-me de ouvir este CD de kilt escocês e meias até aos joelhos (eh toi! eh toi avec les chaussettes rouges! t'as pas vingt francs?) saltitando pela na sala, com o jardim em flor, uma explosão de Monets enquadrada pelas três portas duplas de vidro nas duas semanas que constituíam a Primavera-Verão daquela terra. Aquele jardim, que ainda hoje floresce para deleite de mais uma família de expatriados, foi provavelmente o único projecto familiar dos meus pais que funcionou. Isso e um residual interesse das suas filhas pela música clássica. E pelas antiguidades. E, no meu caso, em vez das meias de vidro, das hold up opacas. [...]



time is a bitch

2008-06-24T03:33:35.629+02:00

Quando era pequena e via este vídeo ficava com saudades da adulta que eu seria. Agora tenho saudades da menina com saudades da adulta que eu seria.

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and here's to the california supreme court!

2008-06-18T03:52:01.355+02:00

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