Saturday, February 19, 2005

recently I found that I am becoming obsessed with being looket at, being watched. Even when I'm immersed in the deepest depression, a stranger's gaze carries the promise of lifting my spirit. It happens most often on the train (locked in one carriage on the 12 minute ride to London Bridge). I don't make a pretty sight when I'm on the train - with my winter cycling gear, light reflector jacket and the like. But when there's a person there i'm intersted in, i find myself taking off my crush helmet, my wooly hat; looking through the window, and hoping that the eyes are resting on me, even for a little while. Sometimes the look of mysterious beauty - direct, flirtitious, examining - comes without warning, unsolicited, when all around me is black water. I think this obessession intensified since i started life modelling.
Life modelling is really interesting. I've been drawing for years but only two months ago I crossed the lines and found myself on the other side of the canvass. It was very strange. Suddenly I felt the dynamics of power at work. I am the only person naked; around me, circling me, are dressed men and women. There are moments I feel enraged, powerless, used. Other times i feel empowered, i'm loving it. I'm asking in my head: why am i the only one naked? why would most of them not even consider taking their clothes off to be drawn? why aren't they interested in makeing themselves present in front of others, in beiing seen by others? one of the best things about being a model is that moment in the break, when I go around and I see how they made me. I learn who i am; sometimes it's harsh and upleasant, sometimes more easy to deal with.
It's a job. I get paid to do this. So even when I feel reclusive and all I want to be is a hermit crab, i have to slip out of the shell, cycle down the hill, go in there and take my clothes off. To be a good model, I think you have to engage with the people around you with your presence. you can't really hide. in this sense it's good for me - and it usually makes me feel better. but then i'm worried, if these looks and attention are not just shaking my balance, and making me dependant on them, a slow addiction starts.

Friday, February 18, 2005

when the time is ripe, anything can bring you down. Yesterday it was the doors of King's College Library, which closed with a big bang in my face because I forgot to bring the right card. Today it was a confrontation with G. in the morning over his excessive noise levels. in both cases, the feeling that someone treats you like scum is - in my present condition - dilapidating. I feel like cycling into a truck might be the best thing to do.
i imagine him as a major in the British Army, in Simla or some other hill station, a Raj relic. with his hat covering an almost bald head, his short moustache and reserved and disinterested manner. He must be at least 70 years old; of course, not quite old to have been in Simla.
the class - at the college, not far from the Elephant - takes place every Friday. I am a newcomer; most of them have been coming for years. When he read the names on the list (we are all sitted on our back heels, it usually comes halfway through the class) he doesn't wait to hear the 'yes' to know they're there. I am almost the only non-British student, but I'm not the only one finding his 'quintessentially English understatement' amusing, the giggles make me suspect it is deliberately exaggerated; When we struggled to keep our feet in the air, he said once "now lower the feet to the ground, almost reluctantly".
Today, as we were doing rotation movements from a half-lotus position, he said - be careful, we don't want to cause any unnecessary - what's the word?
pain, someone suggested.
He pondered for a few seconds.
no, distress, he said finally. That's the word. We don't want to cause any unnecessary distress. Now if you're happy with this half-lotus position - or at the very least not terribly unhappy...
and so on.
very often, his classes are the only refuge from the chaos in my head.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

it seems like the initial report was wrong: the update is that court ruled that the grove cannot be pulled down, only 'trimmed'. I hope this doesn't mean mangling. sometimes things don't take the worst possible course. no reason for optimism, but the trees might be spared. and this is good.
it is an ongoing dillema, how much i want to relate - in this blog - to political questions regarding the Israel/Palestine "situation" (as it is referred to, in Hebrew, in Arabic). It's not because i'm not there so I don't care. The main reason for my reluctance is that i want to avoid is to let politics - in the sense of what we hear about in the news, which is actually just a narrow slice of what is really going on - take over. I've seen it happen in other blogs and i don't like it much. the power of blogging is that everything comes from your little corner of the world, your desk, your perspective, your eyes. This is what gives it validity, this is what makes it interesting. once you start quoting and linking and arguing... well, you just get swept into discussions which force you to use other people's words. They frame your mind and it's a trap very difficult to free yourself from.
on the other hand, it's difficult not to say anything. like everybody from that place, I have strong views on the situation, I often find myself enraged, terrified, despaired. I feel i need to say something, i ought to say something. So I will give it a place here, but i'm not going to let it take over. pledge¬
maybe when i ever get to work on the design of this blog i will give it a seperate column box or whatever. it's mainly going to be links to other places: read for yourself and see what you're thinking.
i read today that the israeli supreme court approved the uprooting of a grove, owned by an old palestinian woman, which happens to be very close to the house of the Israeli defence minister, Mofaz. The Israeli military say that the grove is a good hiding spot for possible attacks on his house. The israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article about this grove a few months ago (see here). There's absolutely nothing nice i can say about Mofaz, or about the place he lives in, an elitist sleep-village, the american suburban dream, which happens to be in israel. There's much nicer things i can say about orange, tangarine, and guava trees, and about a 72 year old woman who fights for them.
forestation used to be an important part of the zionist ethos of colonization. the green valleys on the israeli side of the 67' border were always compared to the barren hills of the West Bank, giving israelis a sense of superiority and moral justification. i wonder if this line was dropped after four years of systematic uprooting of citrus and olive groves. but i've said enough. read for yourselves.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


sometimes it rains for hours, she said, and sometimes, it rains for days on end. There's not much you can do about it then. I noticed - for the very first time, I think - a red band holding her hair together.
we spoke about presence, manifestation. I used the word emergence. For months now I've had the image of crossing a threshold in my head. I thought of it as stepping inside. What it is then, this thing that is stopping you, she asked. Does it become easier? suddenly, what had been a transparent but impenetrable wall became painfully visible. I thought of it as a ball of clay and stone, turning to rubble. Yes, I felt it disintegrating, and it hurt.

the moment of awareness, she says, is something to hold on to.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Medina sings the blues. Behind her, a National Geographic Political Map of the World. The light reflects on the wall, creating a shining spot which covers East Africa, where M. spent almost a whole year. Just as well, I think: I resent the globe in this form, sliced up and annotated. This map makes things look simple: colours, borderlines, names of places; oceans, islands, states. Everything labeled, everything simple, everything too neat. She sings the blues. the soundman calls himself planetman; but the sound is not much better than the political map.
She's a natural performer. She makes jokes with the audience. she forgets her own lyrics but she doesn't get confused. She starts over-melodramatic, but she eases into it; when she sings "I will survive" the audience is all hers; the last song, 'No More, is super-catchy, a sure hit. I wonder if there will come a day when her face will be on bill boards.
It's a small pub off King's Cross. Surprisingly cozy, stacked with book-shelves and armchairs. The crowd is mixed: her schoolmates from SOAS; Muslim connections; housemates like us, and other admirers. Everybody seems beautiful to my happy-eyes, but i'm just in a good mood; even the approaching fight with S. - one that we ended up not having - does not get to me. i just feel funny, hiding in the corner, just hoping no one will insist on introducing all these people to me.

Monday, February 07, 2005

love peckham

I've often wondered if the graffiti was meant in the descriptive, as in we love peckham, or requestive, imploring you, commanding you even to love this place which my spanish housemates used to call "pecan". This ambivalence is part of why it works, for me, when i cycle down and up Rye Lane.
Pete once said how he always has to bring oneself to the right state of mind before setting off to Rye Lane. and it is one of the only spots in london resembling a city which is crazily alive. the computer game feel, when at any minute anything can jump in front of your bike - a take-no-hostages bus driver or a man with unkept beard dragging a Neto shopping troley full of onions. it's the kind of place where shops are named "bit by bit" and "unity". it's the indian music from the shops and the police can-you-help-us signs on the pavement. peckham, for me, is a place i cycle through to go to town, to come back home. i think i'm beginning to love it.
i cooked today for my house mates (after a long time) - made Guivech, Tubelah salad and Tahini dip. Guivech or Giuvetsi is turkish/greek word, i think it originally means simply "cassarole". I had it in the Pilyon in Greece 13 years ago, it's the local speciallity there. the night before we walked the streets of nowhere town, and everybody was wearing Dead Kennedies T-shirts. anyway it's a really nice dish. Here's the recipe, slightly improvised to make it vegeterian.

Olive oil 1/2 cup
one onion
4 garlic cloves
one pack of 'rice' pasta (find it in Greek/Cypriot shops) - 500 gr
250gr Soya chunks - soaked in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes
1 kg fresh tomatoes or two cans if you're a mink like me
500gr Feta cheese (or less)

a nice heavy cassarole pan; earthenware pot as well would be excellent never tried

Action Poetry
Fry one onion and 4 chopped garlic cloves in lots of olive oil. Add soya chunks and fry for 10 minutes or so. Add tomatoes, pepper, salt, cinnamon bark and bay leaves and cook for at least half an hour.
Heat the oven to 180 celsius. Heat up some marg/butter in a separate pan, and add the pasta, cooking it for about a minute until it becomes brown. Now add the pasta to the cassarole dish with enough water to cover. Cook in the Oven for about 30 minutes. Check occasionaly to see that it's not drying too much and if the pasta is ready. Then sprinkle Feta cheese on top (heaps of it - 500gr is good) and leave it in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

unexpectedly, the train will depart from platform 4

michael made an amazing Gado Gado for dinner. this indonesian dish included something like eleven different ingrediants, and an outstanding peanut sauce. the man is a genius. he also (almost) finished fixing the drains today. this, actually, was a mammoth project, and it definitely will alter the way we live in this house. i feel like something is coming to a close. i'm not sure i'm ready to live with flush-toilet again. flushing your pooh with water? what a sick, strange idea.
Michael can also bring back to life burnt out light bulbs - or so he claims. he said it's all a matter of tilting it very gently until the threads inside reconnect. i don't think i know anyone else fixing light bulbs. he says neither does he.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


S. put in the fridge a jar, with the label "S.'s cunt treatment. Do not use!" it's actually just sourcraut, which is supposed to be really good for fungi. other methods in this war against fungi are garlic clove (leave in your cunt overnight) and no-sugar-no-yeast diet.
the only positive thing seems to be that i'm sleeping well these days. long, deep sleep. somewhat disturbed dreams though. two nights ago i dreamt my acupancturist was working for some revolutionary group/government as a doctor, and she was linked to torture. i saw her signature on the back of postcards, with some strange code, and i understood this was a way to get her approval for torturing certain people during interrogation. the postcards themselves were nothing special, the usual mediterranian resorts port towns kind of thing. i don't know why i thought this. or maybe I know and i don't want to think about it.

did absolutely nothing today. woke up late. wasted some time writine emails. when all the world seemed to collapse on my head, managed to drag myself outside and go up the hill. went there to collect leaves for our compost heap. i do this now weekly; it's not just fresh air, it's doing something in the fresh air which is good. I absolutely love collecting leaves. my favorite mix is plain tree leaves (dry, large, majestic looking) and oak leaves - which are usually wetter and compost more quickly. I usually collect a sackfull and then bring it down the hill, imagining myself to be carrying coal for heating or something very useful.

i might put pictures soon.
they're slowly disappearing, the leaves. of course, this is the best bit about them, that they just disappear without a trace. but in a month i'll have nothing to collect.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

four o'clock is when children leave school and go home. i'm rarely out in the streets that time, that is, here, in almost-suburban london. so the sight of uniformed boys and girls, ties and skirts, always strikes me as strange, exotic. today, cycling on a side street, i saw three girls walking. Excuse me! one of demanded. and again: excuse me! they were 14, i guessed, but wore make up. i slowed down.
"she fancied you", pointing to her friend. i picked up my pace. oh the sweet childhoos of inner city kids. oh blessed innocence. is there something about the way i look that makes me look like i'm interested in 14 year olds? i shuddered. trying to chase away any tiny drops of possible smugness - after all, not everyday i'm said to be fancied. aaaarghghg. creep.
and the strange use of the past tense. only someone who hasn't got an idea of what it is could use past simple.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

i'm hiding in my room. for the first time ever i think since coming to London, i've been hiding in my room for the past three days. i go out to the communal areas of the house only when i have no choice. trying to stay most of the day outside the house.
it started with a picture in the toilet. there was a photograph of a toy-monkey sitting on a cash till. the story of the original photograph goes back more than a year ago; maybe i'll tell it some other day. but now it seemed like someone had tampered with the photograph; the head of the monkey was replaced with my head. smiling, unshaved, i looked like a griffin. when i saw this first i pretended to be cool about it. i said it was funny. and i went to bed.
i woke up feeling awful. i hated it. i was sure G. made it. i was so angry. i felt horrible. i took off from the wall and put it in his room, writing on the back, asking if he intended to hurt me.
but it wasn't him. it was michael. and when i realized it, late that night, it all felt like the tritest comdey-of-errors. unfunny, boring, the taste of dead ashes in my mouth. now i felt even worse. i wanted to die. i don't know why. the picture was quite cute, i think. i know the last thing michael would want is to hurt me. one day i'll think it through; why is my reincarnation as a griffin, sitting on a cash till, made me feel like all my wounds are open and gaping, like all my weaknesses are visible for everybody to laugh at. one day i'll need to think about it, to find something about myself. maybe i'll even put it up on my wall, to work it through. but not now. all i can do now is to hide here. Sara is the only one to come in and out of this room. my only human contact. i'm glad she's back. her presence is doing me good.
i eat in my room, drink tea, listen to music. there's something nice about it. it feels like my safe place in the world. i want my room to be this place. i've not spent much time here in four months; bringing myself here (to read, to write). was always a struggle - the lounge always seemed more exciting. now i 'm discovering it: my little corner in London, where i have a deep blue armchair, a school desk to write on, something that functions for a stereo, my books, my scrap-book-wall.
in a way, it's not so surprising. i've been living in communal houses for two and a half years. now living with 11 people in one house; as i am slowly emerging from my summer depression, it's not unlikely that i will freak out. maybe the real question is why it didn't happen before. but no, gloom gloom go away. do not give in: maybe it's just my winter's retreat. we all need to be alone sometimes.