Berlin Liebt Dich

selfie in mirror in hotel room

I took this photo on the morning of February 14th, 2017 – Valentine’s day. Ironically, it was also the first night I ever spent away from the two boys I call love. The first night I didn’t sleep right next to my son, his feet in my face, and the first morning I was not awakened by the tickle of his fluffy blond hair in my nose.

19 hours earlier:

I take the Intercity from Dordrecht to Schiphol – Amsterdam’s airport, have a coffee at the gate while staring at nothing outside the walls of glass lining the terminal’s building, too dazed by the perspective of 48 hours on my own to even just pull my book out of my bag. The flight to Berlin Schӧnefeld is on time, I have only my small backpack so I skip the baggage claim area and walk directly to the S-bahn station. I take the suburban train nr S45 in direction Gesundbrunnen, get off at Südkreutz, switch to the S2 in direction Bernau, get off at Oranienburgerstraße. The hostel where I’m staying is just across the street from the subway stop. Continue reading

Dreaming By Numbers

Please God Let Me Die Naked In A Fast Car

Fast, intense, naked, troubled, terrific, exhilarating, terrible, this November has been about dreams and long awaited (feared?) turns finally coming around. Multiple incredible events took place this past month, but I will tell you about two (2) main ones.

First.

Ever since I was 12, I dreamed about becoming a novelist, AND

On the first day of November I started writing (the first draft of) my very first novel!

If you follow me on social media you must have already heard that I took part in this year’s NaNoWriMo, which means that in the past 30 days I filled up a word document with 50,000 words.

50,202 – to be precise.

This sounds incredible and much more compelling than what it actually looks like, as these 50,202 words are more like one huge regurgitated blob of disconnected thoughts and episodes and anecdotes and bits of dialogues, all written with great speed and no filters (because word count) rather than anything even vaguely resembling a novel. I’m not even half way through a first version, not to mention revisions, editing, and all the actual work I still have to do for it to start making sense. So please don’t hold your breath.

Then again, what really matters is that I found in me the fire and persistence it took to accomplish this, which is the single greatest act of support toward my Inner Writer I’ve ever had the courage to undertake. Continue reading

Thank You For The Music

self portrait with iPod

I can get quite sentimental about objects. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent many years on my own, living alone, working for myself, travelling so much, which made me learn to appreciate the company and comfort certain things can provide. Not ALL things, of course, I’m not a hoarder and actually I have quite a minimalist approach to the owning of material goods, but there are a few objects I cherish, which have been through a lot together with me, which have stood by me and kept going even when everything else seemed to fall apart (like the water cooker that’s been with me 15 years now and has tirelessly boiled water for my cups of tea across 5 countries).

If I can consider these few objects my friends, then there is one among them which has been my absolute best friend ever since we laid eyes on each other. And, as it also goes with human friendships, for reasons hard to understand and as sudden as a chameleon snapping a fly mid-flight with its tongue, I lost it. Continue reading

To Dwingeloo

mama and son playing in the hot tub

Going on vacation is no joke. Every year, when the time comes to start planning the when and where to go, we need to be really careful not to make our relationship (family) implode under the weight of this crucial decision. When you think that, in the 365 days that a year has, we can normally afford to spend 14 of those on our only vacation, you understand we really don’t want to fuck it up.

So many things we need to discuss – do we wanna fly, do we wanna drive, do we want to stay in a cheap accommodation, but for a longer time, or should we choose a better hotel and thus need to come home sooner? Do we want the beach, historic cities, museums, attractions for toddlers, decent ice-creams, or cheap booze? Also, do we want to be there with my parents, with friends, my sister and her two kids, random people we could find online in order to cut the costs and make our vacation so much more spectacular?

Because going on vacation IS a spectacle, and it IS a public matter. Once upon a time there were Continue reading

Got Wheels

child sitting on back of a bike

August has been terrific – the best month of this whole Dutch “summer” of ours, by far. And it has been terrific not so much because of the few days of actual heat, and enjoying picnics at the swimming pool, and Martini-tonics on the terrace at sundown. But because it brought many small, almost imperceptible revolutions, like the flapping of butterfly wings which circle and grow, make waves, move waves, become hurricanes and landslides. The biggest, most significant magical shift in this rather demure lifestyle we lead, you see in this photo – yes, it’s a child (our child) sitting on a child seat on the back of a bike (my bike). Nothing special? Well, to me it is.

I’m sure we all have situations like this – this sort of roadblocks we plant in our own strides and then moan as the discomfort grows, but take months if not years to take a simple step, make an uncomplicated decision, and get rid of them.

This time it went like this. Continue reading

My Pop-Up Studio

the desk in the guest room

Ever since the very first day I became serious about my writing (about 8 years ago), I’ve been dreaming about a studio. An office, a room of my own, a place exclusively dedicated to my writing work, where only I had access, so I could leave my notebooks lying around without worry that anyone would accidentally read them. In my imagination’s eye, this space is cozy but stylish (in a retro-shabby way), filled with light coming from a large window  which offers the additional bonus of an inspiring view. Piles of books, photo albums, bunch of notes cover most of the free surfaces, post-its with summaries of the scenes I’m developing hang in colourful patterns on the walls alongside photos, magazine clippings with articles pertinent to my newest projects. The solid but slim desk is of course the heart of the studio, with its perfect writing chair (ergonomically shaped in Scandinavian wood), but my favourite place secretly is the soft armchair in the corner, with the lamp next to it, the warm plaid draped at its feet, my reading nook. Of course there is also a plant or two, a candle here and there, some nostalgic frames displaying the sheepish smiles of past lovers. Nothing fancy, as you can see.

Well, in my eight years as an on-and-off professional writer, I did not yet manage to make this dream come true. Continue reading

To Pizza Or Not To Pizza

toddler not really eating juicy pizza

For me, eating pizza is a lot like going on “vacation” to my parents’ house. The dynamic around the two processes looks virtually the same. First, I think about it – Hey! Why don’t I go get me some lovely pizza? It’s been so long since I ate pizza! Mmmmm, pizza! – which every time sounds like the best fucking idea, because pizza is so awesome! Everyone loves pizza, few things in the world are tastier and more comforting than good pizza, one of those made with the heartiest ingredients and baked in a real wood-oven like they do in the country I come from – Italy. Pizza is warm and soft, it smells like yeasty roasted heaven, and it tastes even better, that simple yet perfect combination of tomato sauce and melted cheese, topped to perfection by fistfuls of what your palate loves most – olives? rucola? grilled aubergines? salami?

Just please no canned pineapple. Canned pineapple on a pizza is some strange brand of heresy.

The problem between pizza and me, though, is in the mozzarella. I shouldn’t eat real, juicy mozzarella because I’m Continue reading

The Wash Bar

Little V playing the piano

The image you see was taken at the beginning of May in a very special laundromat in Antwerp, Belgium. If you look closely, in the top right corner you can see two of the many laundry machines lining the walls of this really hip joint, which also offered a wide choice of drinks and cakes and, obviously, had a piano too. We stopped there after spending the whole morning at the beautiful Antwerp zoo and then wandering for a good two hours across the city’s center.

This photo is very dear to me for multiple reasons, but let me just tell you about the two main ones. Continue reading

Drama

cut out dolls in home theater

April has been teary. There have been tears, small drops of salty moist, and there have been tears, slight rips in the structure of my emotional fabric. But also, there have been many rainy days. Lazy showers, thunderstorms, drizzles, hammering hail, and all other precipitation the sky can afford. Being stuck indoors with an electric Toddler displaying great appetite for turbo movement is not easy. Especially when it’s for days upon days and you’re too low to constantly come up with entertainment methods and time-killing techniques.

My beautiful child does not harbor much inclination for the fine arts. I gave him pencils and coloring books, he threw every single one of them down the stairs. I gave him play-dough, he rubbed it into the carpet so fervently I don’t think I will ever be able to get it out of its fibers. I gave him crayons, he ate them, I gave him chalks and a small blackboard, he crushed them into fine dust then rubbed it all over his mug. But then, by absolute accident, we discovered theater. Continue reading

Back To Bass

the bass guitar is back

This past month has been rich in memorable events. The beginning of spring, crocuses and snowdrops under our feet, new haircuts and very wet out of town trips, head-colds, outdoor playdates, Easter with its many boiled eggs and slaughtered lambs, my parents’ (still ongoing) visit, days at the zoo. Also, numerous blasts of toddler emotions, an intensifying need for closeness, greater manifestations of naughty, the mind-blowing development of language which, in the past weeks at least, is nothing short of a true explosion. Colorful doodles on the toy kitchen blackboard, feeding ducks on chilly afternoons, reading books together wrapped in a blanket, on the balcony, in the gentle sun.

But the event that most made my month, this March, is something altogether else. It’s the story of me finally making my way to that corner Continue reading

After Dark

blue doc martens shoes

Deep deep down, at the very heart of my gut, I am a lone wolf. Before I had the blind luck to meet the man who dazed me with his love, made me a mother, and gave me a home, I spent seven years of my life (in a row) on my very own. But mind you, I was not a sad spinster and I have seldom been scared to face the world all alone. When I was on my own, I enjoyed each day by doing exactly as I pleased and I’ve never let the fact I was missing an entourage stop me from going wherever I wanted to go, even in the middle of the night. Continue reading

At Fault

selfie at the film festival

One of the best teachers I ever encountered on my way to who I am now once told me that FAULT is the most important element of a language. FAULT comes from personality, cannot be measured, is the form in which unsolved human thinking presents itself to our understanding – as a crack in a structure. Through that crack, all what is the essence of humanity (emotions, inspiration, sensation, content) seeps into our conscious to captivate, unsettle, fascinate us. We need a structure not because we need a solid form, a mechanism that won’t let us down. No, we need structure so we can have FAULT. Continue reading