Saturday, April 10, 2010

David Lynch is directing my dreams

Ok armchair dream decoders, try this one on for size. Maybe I can blame it on the (possibly) hallucinogenic combination of white wine and snus, but whatever it was, David Lynch should try it instead of transcendental meditation to come up with his next storyline.

My dream last night was set, very late at night, on Kingsland Road in East London.  This is a pertinent detail, so if you don't know Kingsland Road: imagine a street in Hackney where the flow of gentrification money hasn't quite cleansed away the grit and the stains of 'Murder Mile' as it was known in the 80s.  The most common sound is police sirens, pretty much any person on it after 7pm is drunk, there are a lot of council estates and angry young lads the Daily Mail would refer to as "hoodies".  Although I have to add there are also delightful all-night parties spilling out of the Caribbean hair salons, a string of truly excellent Vietnamese restaurants, a chaotic fruit market and the best independent cinema in East London.  It is a familiar place for me, the site of many a dreamy walk home.  In this actual dream however, it was decidedly sinister.

I am walking home very late at night.  I sense three old men in trenchcoats following me.  One of them grabs my wrist.  The other two melt back into the shadows, but with their backs to us like a Magritte painting, standing under a silhouetted, wintry tree.  It's very dark, but the one who has grabbed my wrist has an almost supernaturally white face. He is hunched over, mouth open wide, eyes showing their whites like a lunatic, that cavernous mouth approaching my finger which I am pointing at him accusingly. Just before he bites my finger off, he pauses with his mouth open, laughs and runs off with his cronies.  I try to scream for help but no sound comes out.  I try to run in the direction of home. And then I sense three old men following me in the shadows... this sequence repeats until I wake up in terror...

Freudian interpretations aside (he'd have a field day), I wonder what this means.  Maybe I feel I'm walking the same roads again and again, ultimately alone, or "trapped in the void between two worlds", as my Swedish friend poetically expressed it.

Or maybe I should just make sure I never miss the last bus home. And it definitely means I should never, ever combine white wine and snus again.  Well, maybe just until Lynch releases another film.

p.s. My best friend finds this dream infinitely hilarious. (I suspect it's because of her Finnish genes.) I guess that's why I love her.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Sum of All Fears

'You can't solve all your problems by shooting someone or setting a stranger on fire' - Liz Lemon (although I think she possibly meant 'can')

Despite feeling fairly miserable the last few days, I have noticed a strange phenomonen to my bouts of depression. While I revel in horror movies or at least dark and beautiful things (A Clockwork Orange being the latest brain orgasm to temporarily comfort me) and am propelled towards bad food, depressing sagas, blacker than black comedies and even the news - because, after all, there is nothing more depressing than BBC World-  I suddenly get cravings for manufactured, super slick, disposable pop.  Lady Gaga, La Roux, even - dare I admit it - Kylie Minogue suddenly push Fischerspooner, Sia Furler and Depeche Mode off the playlist.  I think I have listened to Telephone, which even has Beyoncé (I mean really, Beyoncé! Beyoncé! What's next, Kanye Bloody West? Justin Goddamn Trousersnake?) in it, about 100 times in the last two days.

The only way to explain why I am feeling depressed, other than supreme displacement and the whole unrequited thing (as I said to Irina over several very late glasses of wine last night, I'm so sick of being the girl sitting there thinking, pick me! It's demeaning) is that it's like there is some kind of disturbance in the natural order of things, and I seem to be at the centre, like that building in Ghostbusters. Several other unfortunate events have added up to what my friend calls, 'The Sum of All Fears' (if indeed, he is my friend. I'm not sure. Ironically, that's one of the unfortunate things).  To make it even worse, I am so sick of thinking about it. And writing about it. And yet here I am writing about it.

I have lost perspective to the point that I was very (very) seriously considering throwing it all in and flying to New York this morning, since that is my usual escape route.  (I think this stems from when I was a child and dreamed of being Sigourney Weaveresque and living in an apartment in New York, with groceries in a brown paper bag and one of those very 80s eyeshadow palettes.  Perhaps I should have pursued such an achievable dream).   But here I am, alone in Stockholm of all places, for the Easter holidays.  Me and what, Christina Aguilera or something. Oh my God, I hope this passes soon so I can listen to some decent music again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Ghosts. Apart from a scary incident in a school elevator when I was 16; a forced excursion with my ballet class to the eponymous Patrick Swayze movie; and my residency in a former monastery in Amsterdam which I fervently hoped was haunted (it wasn't), I have only vaguely wondered about the existence of ghosts.  But the last few weeks in Stockholm have taught me about an entirely different sort of ghost, the sort where you can't help feeling a dreaded, omnipresent sense of deja vu in everything you do. (I know I have been sounding increasingly esoteric in these last posts, but bear with me.  I am not denying I may be well on the way to Crazy Cat Lady.)

Yesterday I received an email from none other than The Norwegian.  Longtime readers of this blog will know him also as The Little Dutchman -- my long lost unrequited love from an ill-fated Lost In Translation Experience in Tokyo.  We are friends now, if you can call bi-annual emails being friends, but I couldn't help but think perhaps the universe was trying to warn me about history repeating.  He might as well have accused me of tearing a hole in the space time continuum. 

This has been going around in my head ever since: here I am again, trying to start a new life in Stockholm (again),  blighted by unrequited love (again), contemplating a future as a crazy cat lady with Irina (again), in temporary housing provided by the absolute kindness of friends (again) and wondering if I should have moved to New York or London (again).  Ironically, it all feels almost comfortingly unstable. Quite possibly I have actually discovered the secret of time travel, and if so, I think like any other form of travel it probably requires quite a lot of red wine and Xanax to survive.

Upon boarding the plane to Stockholm from a recent trip back to London (me and of course one of the people who I think the universe is warning me about, a nomadic kindred spirit which means trouble, at least in my head) we were confronted with a set of three HSBC ads featuring wedding cake couples with FATE, FEAR and FAIRYTALE printed on them.  'Which one are we?' he joked.  I immediately said FEAR,  I wanted to say FATE.  But there wasn't one that said OH FUCK, and I don't think FAIRYTALE is in my cards.  Although, I guess that's up to cruel FATE...  

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Wash day afternoon

After getting over an acute attack of culture shock at Stockholm airport (where was the grit? the edge? the seething mass of Hackney humanity? The scantily-clad, orange-tinted women, the streets paved with chicken bones, the malfunctioning public infrastucture, the all-pervading stench of alcohol at 7am on the 149 bus? The dilapidated library staffed by my lovely enthusiastic council worker, our smiling Caribbean security guards, the tube workers commenting loudly but cheerfully on my lipstick of a morning,the little Turkish store on Curtain Road - an all-hours supplier of chocolate and beer... What had I given up?) I have managed to begin to adjust to well-ordered Swedish life.

In this spirit, today I obediently managed to book the Tvättstuga (washing room). This one takes it to a whole new level: it has an electronic lock that banishes you from the laundry should you dare to be late, leaving you with a week of fashion crises.

I plotted my laundry strategy all through my friend Hanna's gratisloppis, where you go over for coffee and cinnamon buns and leave (hopefully for her) with a bunch of free stuff she is keen to dispose of before moving house. Irina and I left with 8 extra-extra-large wineglasses, an Apple keyboard, two Swedish cookery books and a muffin tray. I told Hanna that now I could cook any potential Swedish boyfriends some proper Swedish food and get the poor unsuspecting boy drunk on a single, bottle-sized glass of wine. (Hanna informed me that any potential Swedish boyfriend should be doing the cooking himself, while I drank the wine.)

The laundry went relatively smoothly, due to meeting my friend Jack's laundry buddy Matti who also books the Sunday night graveyard shift. Seems this Tvättstuga is far more social than my old one. Matti and I chatted as we transferred our laundry onto drying racks. As I talked I suddenly realised that due to having worn every item of underwear I own in the washing hiatus I was chatting away while elegantly displaying the laciest, most delicate of smalls. Matti was kind enough to avert his eyes, but embarrassed I hurried back to the flat to the safety of my favouite Swedish detective series ...and an extra large wine glass.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Diskbänksdrama in Sweden

The ominpresent signs of IKEA in my flat, where I am staying due to Jack's endless kindness

Well they said I'd never do it, but I'm back in Sweden (take that, psychic who said I'd be married and popping out Australian kids by now. Ha.). Hence, normal service will return to this blog (now with added photography!) Stand by.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Psychic Dutchman

Yesterday, Veronica, Suzan and I embarked on a quest to unlock the mysteries of the universe, with a psychic reading. Obviously this required a pre- and post-psychic pint where we could compare notes.

My opinion on psychics is hopelessly contradictory. On the one hand I realise a lot of amateur psychology is involved. I mean, what woman in her early 30s isn't probably struggling with career and/or romance if they have chosen to talk to a psychic? You're hardly going to go in there and say "actually everything's fine, I just felt like paying 35 quid for you to tell me all my concerns are completely unfounded" are you?

On the other hand, I have always been somehow convinced that there is more to life than what we can see, even if it's quantum physics or biology.

So, when Veronica and I met up this week to share our woes over a vodka cranberry, we decided now was the time.

When I went in to see my psychic, the first thing I thought was the rather unspiritual, "haha, I think he's Dutch". Considering my experiences in Holland were less than brilliant and much of last weekend was spent with my ex-boyfriend constructing a "GERMAN BORDER POLICE DUTCH IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM", this was funny in itself, and seemed oddly like some sort of sign.

But I've come out of there even more confused than when I went in. The kindly Dutchman tried, but I suspect he sugar-coated what looked like a pretty painful set of tarot-cards. It looks to me like I am destined for a bunch of pain and heartache, not as bad as I had before though, but will meet my soulmate within the next two years (who is most likely someone new, or could be at least a new situation with someone I already know - but in any case it will definitely be a new start.) Even then though there will be struggle, and I will have to stand up for myself and fight for it. He said in the next two years I'll transform my life. He also said there could be something there with an ex but asked if I wanted to pursue it.

Now if we apply a bit of BBC-standard journalistic analysis to this, it seems to me that that is pretty much standard advice that could apply to absolutely any situation, anyone and their ex, and anyone and their future. In fact Veronica, Suzan and I all got pretty similar advice really, when you get down to it (although only Veronica's going to be raking in the cash. And at least I wasn't told that my ex-boyfriend is evil, unlike someone who shall remain nameless!)

So in short, I'm not sure what the hell to do next. This kind of thing is also dangerously addictive - "just one more reading then I'll believe that one..." It's taken a lot of willpower to not whip out the (banned) credit card and send off for an online reading from a random woman in Australia.

I think rather than trust in psychics, I'm going to apply the advice of Dr Emmett Brown in Back To The Future III, when Marty says, "But what does it MEAN, Doc?" And good old Dr Brown replies: "Your future hasn't been written yet, no-one's has - your future is whatever you make it!" Sorry Psychic Dutchman, I'm sure there was a lot of truth in what you said, but there is also a lot of truth in the words of a fictional scientist with an awesome DeLorean.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I have come to the conclusion that there is no-one in the world worse at budgeting than me. Puzzlingly, budgeting is part of my job. When I'm at work, it all seems to go fine (probably because it's someone else's money, so I can remove myself from the emotional turmoil and don't get heart palpitations when I go to open spreadsheets).

But at home, it's another story.

No matter how many well-meaning spreadsheets I create, iPhone apps I download, meal-planner supermarket shops I painstakingly devise or credit cards I hide from myself, I have come to accept that I am terminally, utterly hopeless. I know people who earn a lot less than me who seem to flit endlessly around the planet without a care in the world: which means it's all my fault.

It's very depressing. I think I need a husband to manage my salary and only give me an allowance every month.

The current potential solutions are:

1 - Become a millionaire
This would be, on the face of it, the ideal solution. I'd rather not rely on someone else, so having my own million in the bank would work. Obviously, the question is how to bring about this state of affairs, unless the million is referring to rupees or monopoly money.

2 - Marry a millionaire
While not as satisfying as being a millionaire in my own right, still an acceptable solution. Probably more likely to actually maintain the millionaire status as well.

3 - Marry an accountant
This would possibly help me to remain solvent, if not quite a millionaire. However, no offence to accountants, but I suspect it wouldn't exactly be an exciting marriage defined by unbridled passion and a common love for adventure. So it probably wouldn't last very long, and would leave me back at square 1.

4 - Turn our dog into a cashcow
This has been an idea kicking around for a while. Our dog, Chad, manages to incite people to pull faces in the street, and consider starting their own charities or robbing their grandmothers to secure the cash to buy an identical dog. We have even been asked to breed or clone him, something along the lines of a "dog factory" (sadly, since the canine in question can't reproduce, this isn't an option). So far however, Chad has failed to provide for us, other than procuring some free chicken bones from the security guard downstairs.

5 - Reject the actual concept of money-based value
Since all previous options have failed, perhaps a life as a hippy on the streets of Delhi or as a monk in Tibet may hold the answer. But since a nomadic hippy lifestyle probably doesn't include a new Macbook Pro, satisfying career prospects or regular visits to my beloved friends in Stockholm, I'm not sure it's a realistic answer. Plus a girl needs new shoes every now and then.

I think constantly failing at this aspect of life also causes me to fail at others - for instance marrying anyone, let alone a millionaire. So perhaps defining myself by anything to do with money is a fatal mistake. Money can't buy everything after all.