I’m gonna get dressed,for success

IMG_0916 (1)

“Prayers for the stolen” by Jennifer Clement is a harrowing read. Based on interviews with Mexican women who have been stolen,forced into prostitution, sold on to other pimps and abused to a degree that you just want to stop listening, she has written the story of Ladydi; a girl living in the one of the poorest areas in Mexico where a woman’s life is worth next to nothing. Her father has gone to the USA to work and her mother is hanging on by a thread(and a beer bottle). To keep her  from harm Ladydi is told not to wash and is dressed as a boy as long as she can, to avoid the gaze of the men of the drug cartels. It’s the same for all the girls in the area, but still girls disappear.

The worst horror is always the truth; this sends more shivers done my spine then any Stephan King novel. I’ve read a bit about the situation for women in Mexico and other countries in that area before, and it is often heartbreaking.

Clemente tells the story in a fragmented way, we get snatches of the story. Almost like a stream of consciousness, we follow Ladydi back and forth between the now and then. But it is a very intimate way of telling the story and I think it works, it isn’t too detached or told from a the perspective of a horrified outsider which could have been counter-productive. My point is that we feel with Ladydi, not for her and that is vital I think.

When I was reading this I was reminded of “The underground girls of Kabul” by Jenny Nordberg. if Mexico is a hard place to be a woman then Afghanistan is worse. Nordberg, a Swedish journalist based in New York, has covered the war in Afghanistan and came across a phenomena; girls dressed up and living like they were boys. It is not a new phenomena apparently; if the family has no boys it is thought that dressing one of the girls as a boy is best. Some think that act alone will influence the sex of the next child, others do it to protect the girls themselves. It also has to do with the view that only giving birth to girls is shameful for the mother so to save face, a girl is transformed. It’s called bacha posh.

It’s a very different kind of book; non-fiction and from Afghanistan but there is a commonality obviously; the low worth of a woman’s life and how her honour must be protected. How her behaviour is judged by others in what is essentially a rigged game where women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Nordberg has spent time with several families and tells their stories in a straight forward manner whilst providing some context and background.A very well written book that’s worth the time if you come across it.

-Suss

Books mentioned in this post;

Prayers for the stolen by Jennifer Clement

The underground girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg

 

 

Advertisements

Weekend and what punk thought me

Note; Because of a technical glitch a draft of this post got published. This is what I intended. Sorry and have a great weekend./Suss

 

I’ve been reading “Get a life-the diary of Vivianne Westwood” and it has made me think a lot about punk.

I’m too young to actually have been around when punk started but it is a movement that has had some staying power I must say. On the one hand there is the punk-esthetic that is alive and well, I see young people with mohikans on a regular basis, as counter-intuitive as that is. Wearing bondage pants and a Sex pistols t-shirt is an act of nostalgia at this point,which is not what punk is about. But it is a rite of passage I guess; it’s one of the looks that kind of personify the detachment and a “fuck it all” attitude that you are filled with at a certain age. Even in the little suburban area where I grew up a few were into it; I merely dabbled to be honest. I’ve never been able to commit to a sub-culture like that( and punk requires an almost religious fervour) as I’m always a reformer, always curious and never wearing exactly what someone else tells me to.

Which brings us to the attitude; if the punk-look is about nostalgia then the anti-establishment and D.I.Y attitude that punk made a point of has lived on. In many was electronic dance music and hiphop carry that torch today, and it’s there I kind of started. But my natural curiosity( and to a certain degree nerdiness)made me follow the traces back in music history. It’s a period that continues to fascinate many so it wasn’t hard to learn more and incorporate some of it in my life.

img_0938
7 Lessons learned from dabbling in punk

 

 1. A safety pin is a most stylish accessory

Nowadays I wear a huge safety pin, taken from my “kilt” on my lapel and it’s just right. That it has taken on more meaning this last year is another layer. You don’t have to trust me on this; both Sonia Rykiel and Hermès make accessories inspired by safety pins.

  2. Hair will grow out.

Oh the things I have done to my hair over the years; I’ve bleached it and I’ve dyed it blue. Put all manner of products in and gone at it with scissors. It will grow out again, in my case rather quickly. I still give myself bangs on a regular basis(and then I grow them out, complain for two weeks that I have no hairstyle, give myself bangs. Over and over). Hacked of split ends just the other week; it’s a trick I learned from Vogue(I think) where Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-porter, admitted to just flipping her hair over and cutting along the edges with a pair of scissors from time to time. If you do it when your hair is damp and well-combed it really works and does give as she said “amazing layers”. It doesn’t work for everybody probably but I fall back on this trick still.

3.The value of a good name.

I saw an exhibit at The British Library in August; about fanzines and stuff around the Punk-movement, and we had fun looking at all the names of bands. Shakespeare said “a rose by any other name will smell just as sweet” and that might be true of roses. Bands however? A good name will set you apart. Eye-catching is the way to go; also true of books and perfumes.

4.Tartan is a neutral basically.

It works with everything and looks really really good with other tartans which I assume is some kind of blasphemy. I also regard leopard print as basically a neutral colour.

 5. Make up your own mind. Always.

Read the book. Don’t trust headlines. Read the fine print. See the art shows.Go to the opera. Knowledge is power. It’s said “you need to know the rules, then break the rules”. It’s the second part that people forget I think. They get to caught up in the system.

 6. The joy and power of DIY

Just like most punk bands didn’t know have to play when they started, I have very little education as far as sewing goes. I’ve learned by doing. It’s not the result that matters, it’s the journey. This can probably be transferred to making in general. I would love to see a cookbook called “The punk kitchen-three ingredients is all you need”(often punk bands stick to three chords when playing).

7. I’d rather Pogo then Go-go

I love to dance,I really do. I started ballet as a kid and even though that had to be abandoned before it got serious(I’m a clumsy cow) the idea of moving to music has been a part of my life ever since. Sadly I’m not sexy on the dance floor ; I give f’&%k all most of the time and have fun with my friends. The idea of standing at the edge of the dance floor looking cute has never worked for me; I’m first out there making a fool of myself.

For reference;

Hermes Safety pin jewelry 

Safety Pin movement

Get a life by Vivianne Westwood

That time I made a cocktail with a safety pin as garnish

 

Let’s get lit!

IMG_0803

 

There is probably a discussion going on somewhere on what really constitutes “feminist literature”; what you have here are a bunch of so called “feminist classics” and a book I’l always trying to get people to read because a)I love it and B) I’m bully like that. Supposedly I promised in the beginning of the year that I wouldn’t badger people into reading certain books etc. but that’s cancelled and I’m back to my nagging ways. It worked for Cato,right?*.

I still hope that I will make a lovely flowchart over feminist literature but it will have to wait to a rainy day.

  1. We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; based on her TED-talk from 2012 this essay will probably have an impact based on the fact that Adichie tells of experiences that many recognize and it has been widely spread. It’s a call to wake up basically.
  2. Fear of flying by Erica Jong; written as fiction it does bring up the thorny subject about women and sex. About what women want and what they are told they want. I was surprised at how fresh it sounded and how relevant much of it still felt. But then that’s kind of the human condition? Always wanting what you can’t have? Many regard this as a feminist classic, and I had heard the term “the zipless fuck” many times and  never really knew what it ment.
  3. How to be a heroine by Samantha Ellis; This book is important since our role models as children do have something to do who we grew up to be. If children books are lacking girls, or people of colour or disabled people, then how will we ever learn to really get along and “be free to be you and me”? Yes, parents have the outmost responsibility but we would be fools to think that they are the only ones who influence our young. And besides this is joy to read. Save it for a slow weekend.
  4. The second sex by Simone de Beauvoir; “you are not born a woman, you are made into one” she pointed out. A deconstruction of womanhood,feminism and the patriarchy. Sharp writing,true words. Probably has a reputation as a difficult book but  it wasn’t in my opinion.
  5. A room of one’s own-Virginia Woolf; About the creative condition or rather the conditions to create. A magnificent piece of writing in my opinion, that in a humble voice(almost surprised) show how women are always present but not noticed.

Happy International women’s day!

-Suss

*I’m referring to the statement “Furthermore, I am of the opinion that Carthage should be destroyed” that he supposedly added at the end of all his speeches. I read SPQR remember so I’ve learned new things and everything about the Roman Empire that I’ve forgotten is coming back to me.

 

 

 

A poet and a cocktail

IMG_0870

I did have a “Bobby Burns” on Burns night actually, but didn’t blog about it. Hadn’t planned that far ahead(not at all in fact). As I’m Swedish, and until recently not much of a poetry reader, I’ve been more acquainted with the cocktail that bears his name then his actual work.

Well then; more then one of his poems is is “A poem for every night of the year” so I’m getting friendly with the peasant poet too. If I rummage in the archives of my fave podcast,”In our time”, I’m sure to find an episode about him. In addition to that I recently won this lovely print. I need to find a frame and a place for it but all in good time. Let’s have a cocktail first.

The Bobby Burns first turns up in that most classic of cocktail books, The Savoy Cocktail book. However I was always taught to use twice as much whiskey as sweet vermouth. My preference is for  very smokey  single malt; I love the contrast with the sweet vermouth and the herbal touch from the Bénédictine D.O.M. However it is unclear what this has to do with the poet more then Scottish poet= Scottish whiskey. That said the naming of cocktails can be pretty damn random, as long as they taste this good nobody minds.

The Bobby Burns; yields one cocktail

5 cl single malt whiskey

2,5 cl sweet vermouth

3-4 dashes Bénédictine

for serving;

chilled cocktailglass

lemonzest

  1. Stir ingredients in a stirring glass filled with ice until chilled.
  2. Pour into the glass and zest with the lemon. Then let the lemon zest join the drink in the glass.
  3. Enjoy responsibly!

-Suss

 

Books referred to in this post:

The Savoy cocktail book

A poem for every night of the year

 

The cleaner and the choir

img_0816

Marina Abramovic is like a rock star; that she has been fictionalized in an episode of Sex and the city says something(I’m just not sure what exactly). Even people who are not into art know her name and are curious about her work.

Her thing, if we call it that, is energy. More then once I’ve heard the expression “energy dialogue” used by her when she refers to her art. One thing about it that appeals to me is the humanity of it and how she is really interested in people.

I will be honest and say that with both of her performances that I have partaken in, watching other participants have been part of the experience for me. She brings out a diverse crowd and people are very emotional and engaged in it.

The first one was in London, at the Serpentine Gallery, which she didn’t leave for three months (correction; 64 days The piece was called “512 hours”). All day, every day, there was a performance going on inside. We had to stand in line for maybe half an hour that time, but the sun was shining(it was August) so no worries. We were there when it opened and I think it was a weekday so maybe the line wasn’t that long. Going to London at that particular time had in part to do with Abramovic; I’d heard so much about her art and was curious. Admittedly you don’t have to twist my arm to make me visit London but I do like to make the most of my visits.

Inside we were asked to leave bags,phones and watches in a guarded closet. We were told to stay quiet and when we entered we saw different rooms. There was as large room where people were standing or sitting. Abramovic was walking around guiding people(as did a few volunteers) as to where they should position themselves. It was very clear that people acted and hoped that she would notice them. She has charisma in spades.

In another room there was rows of desks and at each one was a pile of rice and one of lentils. The task was to count them. I know that she has done this piece before.

The one that was most emotional for me was the third one where I was blindfolded and basically pushed out onto the floor to find my way back. I was totally disoriented and as someone who prefers to have a large amount of control, terrifying. I could still see that it was a controlled exercise where I could challenge myself. The volunteers wouldn’t let anything truly bad happen.

img_0812

The piece that I went to in Stockholm was different. The venue, a former church located next to the Modern Museum that is hosting an exhibition of her work, is now mostly used by choirs to stage concerts. This has been incorporated in the the piece; different choirs sing  from two in the afternoon to ten at night. You must leave phone,bag,watch and outerwear with staff outside. I guess that is standard with her works.

When you enter a volunteer will guide you to a chair or a place on the floor where you can stand or lie. You are encouraged to close your eyes and just be. Obviously you can move around after a while but really it’s almost like meditation. Inside was very calm and time flies, it really does. I kind of gave up because of hunger. We had underestimated the pull of Abramovic and had to stand in line,in the freezing cold, for almost 4 hours. I think that is part of the art work to be honest, at least it made waiting bearable thinking so. I don’t know if she was there, I think she has been at times during the week. I donut really care at this point, that’s not why  I went.

Both these performances have been recorded and then they become art in themselves or maybe just documentation of what happened. So there might just be footage of me snapping my fingers and kind of singing along with the choir shown at a museum at some point.

It was worth the wait I think. I’m fascinated by the effect it has on people first of all, but also the effect it had on me. Calm but energized I would say. Good art will do that to me( I do try to keep up with the mindfulness app but looking at Cy Twobly’s paintings in art books works better).

I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes and search online about her work. It is very relevant and give you a lot to think about; about art, about trust and about energy.

Her biography is on my wishlist so I’ll get back to you on that.

-Suss

Weekend and a whiff of the good life

I went into Hermès to ask about one perfume and left with samples of many. As a brand Hermès has a place in my heart and I think highly of their perfumes, even though I haven’t had that many. Un Jardin sur le Nil I’ve mentioned, I made an effort with Kelly Caleché but it evaporated on my skin so the loveliness of it was wasted. I’ve smelled the others but nothing has really felt like “me”. I think they are wonderful; some of the older ones are so chic, but I don’t feel comfortable in them sadly. Even though I’m no perfume blogger I will share my impressions with you. This blog is all about giving you information you didn’t ask for.

I stated that I was looking for something fresh and citrus-y and I was given two samples, “Rhubarbe écalate” and “Pamplemousse rose”. The latter is exactly what it sounds like; grapefruit and rose which is a scent I should love. It’s a combination I use in cocktails all the time!! And it is lovely, just too close to “Un Jardin sur le Nil” for me to really get into it, especially when it dries down( I adhere to the theory that there is a certain amount of skin alchemy involved as far as perfume is concerned which makes scents smell different on different people). It should be noted that Rhubarb écarlate is created by Cristine Nagel.

The rhubarb scent was more to my liking but I’m not completely sold on it. For me it’s the wrong time of year; I’ll probably go mad for this in April/May. It smells  like the dessert I make with baked rhubarb with strawberries and orange zest. The recipe is from the Rose Bakery cookbook and everyone I know has been treated to this att some point; it’s wonderful with custard for pudding or with yoghurt as a moorish breakfast. So you see; this perfume does something for me but right now I need something that enhances my everyday mood enough to get me through to the end of April. Which brings me to the other sample I got.

Hermessence is their premium line not available everywhere. A dozen or so scents created by Jean Claude Ellena in his signature style which I would describe as “perfume as watercolor paintings”(or maybe someone else said that?). Point is that he makes very elegant and understated scents for the most part. There are people who really know perfume that have written about him and his position as in-house nose at Hermes(which is a very smart match if you ask me).

Even though I’m not a perfume collector, and not as knowledgeable as some, I know more than many and if it’s one thing I do know is that making perfume is a craft. Even though I wasn’t turned on by all of these, doesn’t mean I don’t see how well made they are. Thought has gone into them. I know this in part because I’ve read “Diary of a Nose” by Jean-Claude Ellena. A book I very much recommend.

Of the ones I’ve tried this week,Rose Ikebana,Vétiver Tonka,Iris Ukioye and  Osmanth Yunnan, the first two really had me purring and the two latter are nice but not for me.

Vétiver is earthy and sweet in the best kind of way; according to guidelines from Ellena and Hermès all the perfumes in this line corresponds to fabrics; supposedly this is wool. All I can think of though is a well worn leather jacket , one that has taken on the smell of a strong perfume and mixed with the leather created something new. It’s got that lovely “green” vibe and I love this, and prefer it to Bal d’Afrique from Byredo. However I keep thinking it’s a scent for fall.

Rose Ikebana is the complete opposite; in the description it say that it’s the mix of rose petals and rhubarb(again with the rhubarb); I do smell those things but the overall impression, for me, is vintage soaps. The kind granny uses. Of these samples this is my fave, the one that puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Suss

 

Lent & life’s simple pleasures?

img_0750

It’s that time of year again; the time of abstention.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not religious but I still see the point of a longer time of reflection and evaluation of myself and my habits. That sounds very pretentious; in reality I “just”abstain from certain things during this period and hope for the best. This year, like last, I’m not eating any added sugar for 40 days and 40 nights.

I do not have a weight problem(or maybe I do; I don’t weigh enough according to some) nor do I have an addiction to sugar. But it is a bad habit; for my skin, my teeth and for my blood sugar levels, and as someone you gets really hungry(and “hangry”) keeping those in check is a service to mankind.

Previous years I’ve been a vegan( a fail in many ways; I was tired all the time and lost weight. Totally undertand why vegans often mention that they are vegan: it’s all you can think about), abstained from dairy and given up on things related to my incessant running around like a ninny(take-away coffee etc.). It’s always an experience, I do learn something about myself, and it’s a chance to live “outside the box”.

My decision to not eat any added sugar until Easter has a lot to do with vanity and also that horrible low blod sugar in the afternoon. Some people talk about sugar like it’s the devil and compare it to drugs; I don’t. But it is a shame that sugar has become such vital part of social gatherings, that it is used in a way that many things just taste like it(it is absolutely the kind of thing where you build up a tolerance for it; like salt you need more and more to taste it). So in a way this is about recalibrating my own tastebuds.

The social things is the hardest; if I ever get an inkling of what sober alcoholics go through it’s now. I know this from last year; not having a cardamom bun when everyone else is tucking in is frowned upon to say the least.

I’m not saying that I’m morally superior because I do this, but some people act like I imply it. All I want is to stop eating sweet stuff that I don’t actually like, just because it’s there. And I do, for convenience, hunger or politeness, it is a fact that some of the stuff that effects my skin and mood in a bad way wasn’t worth it. I could just eat less of it, but that’s not how I work sadly. Adding that to the fact that it’s everywhere and often offered to me; I have willpower but not that much.

I’m not alone in this, not counting religious people all over the world that observe Lent, I have two friends that when I suggested this a few years ago really liked the concept and have done it too, but with other things. The original push came from Elspeth Thompson and her book “The wonderful weekend book-reclaiming life’s simple pleasures”. If I haven’t written an ode to it already it’s sure to come. I think  it’s a brilliant collection of advice and ideas,  like the big sister I’ve never had. Maybe it’s a bit outdated now(it was originally published in 2008) but a lot of it still rings true. If anything life has become even more hectic and demands multiplied, it’s my sorely needed slow life talisman.

So no licorice and no chocolate but fruit. No cocktails(which contain liqueurs and syrups) but maybe a glass of wine on occasion. I’ll put cheese and apple on my toast or maybe some mashed banana and a dash of cinnamon.

Will report back around Easter.

-Suss