Rebirth of cool

best-grunge-songsThere comes a time in every adult’s life when they have to look in the mirror and stare long and hard at themselves, asking the life-altering question, “When did I become so fucking uncool?” For me that time is this weekend (as I type this from my bed at 9pm on a Saturday night). And really, being single with no children, I have no excuses.

This has been nagging at me for a while – when I started to realize that my Google searches consisted mostly of “What does YOLO mean?”, “What’s a hashtag?”, “Who is Taylor Swift?” and “What does ‘bae’ refer to?” Still don’t understand that last one.

Let’s go back fifteen or twenty years. I was into grunge. I had pinkish hair. My friends told me I resembled Bjork. I was in love with Damon Albarn from Blur and Jarvis Cocker from Pulp. I watched edgy films. Even as I entered my 20s, I still dressed cool, had good taste in music, was a bit of a scenester. I was kind of a platonic groupie. I got free tickets, backstage passes and hung out in recording studios. I worked for a couple of musos who had toured the States with Sonic Youth and Pavement. I dabbled in illicit substances. Hell, I even drank alcohol! I wore red lipstick and high heels (no actually the heels part is a lie – too clumsy, some things never change). In my late 20s, I once flew from Seoul to Tokyo for the weekend to see friends, hung out in one of the hottest clubs and got upgraded to business class on the flight back on Sunday morning, all of this with my aviator sunglasses on. It was perhaps the peak of my rockstardom before the decline began.

I suppose the decline from cool to really, ridiculously uncool happened gradually so the changes were almost imperceptible until one day recently I found myself talking with an attractive male friend. Instead of flirting and dropping names and retelling tales of my international party girl days, I started lecturing him about the travesty that is female genital mutilation. Yeah, if you ever need a buzzkill, that’ll work pretty well. Oh, but I didn’t stop there. No, I took it a step further and segued into a rant about pedophilia. I really know how to reel ’em in. And all this in Asia where it’s hard enough to get laid as it is, without my making it worse. Needless to say, I went home alone that night, like every night. This wasn’t always the case in my young carefree 20s when I could spend Friday night with one guy and Saturday night with another. But I digress…

So, all this calls for a solid ‘recooling’. This means that I must buy some cute new clothes without worrying about the price and fact that they are made by children in Bangladesh. I won’t go on a tirade about how morally bankrupt fashion is. I will buy and wear make up like every other female on the planet without bitching about the cost or how it’s false advertising. I should listen to a wider range of music and not care if it is low brow or high brow or shit American pop music (seriously though, I don’t look like that at 7am). I shall not worry about misogynistic lyrics in rap songs. I will waste several hours of my life in a dive bar without telling the patrons about the virtues of AA. I will no longer judge hipsters. I will not use the word ‘vapid’ in relation to anything pertaining to popular culture. I’ll bust out the soundtrack from my life circa 2000. I will finally watch Singles and rewatch Chasing Amy, which used to be my favorite movie before I became an idealistic tree-hugging, polar bear-saving bore. The first mission: to sit through that new documentary about Amy Winehouse and not lecture the next person I encounter about the perils of addiction. Wish me luck.




Reclaiming the c-word

buddhacwordIt was the early 2ooos. I was a young, earnest student reading Simone de Beauvoir and Gloria Steinem. I took Gender 101. Sometimes I wore a beret and sat in cafes alone drinking black coffee or cheap red wine that tasted like vinegar and scrawled in my diary. I worked part-time in a rather cool bar. I was making connections between the personal and political and my feminist conscience was taking root.

It’s fair to say that I was quite naive and innocent (still am! gah!) and involved in a one-way street on-again-off-again relationship in which I was the very cute doormat. So I started to see that guys weren’t always nice and were actually sometimes kind of ruthless. Manipulative, pathetic, ridiculous lying dogs. But I’ll hold off telling you how I really feel.

So I was working as a waitress at this cocktail bar and this new girl started. We got along well and divulged all our deepest, darkest boy-related horror stories – the ritualistic bonding of females. Then somewhat coincidentally, we both started dating two guys who worked with us. They basically screwed us over at the same time and we were upset and heartbroken in only ways that silly 20 year old girls can be. The details are hazy now but we joined forces and created SPC which stood for ‘Strong Powerful Cunt’ in an effort to reclaim the c-word. It meant that we were stronger than this petty bullshit and could override our relationship dramas. I even held a potluck dinner at my house for women only in the spirit of SPC. See, we don’t need no man. SPC eventually died out after being reprized for an event on a ship in the name of peace and empowerment, but that is another story.

Cut to a decade later and I’m chatting with my male friend who is well-educated in such things as philosophy and ethics. The conversation turns to language and we agree that the c-word is the worst word in the English language and should never be used under any circumstances. I did not tell him about SPC. And so, I buried the word in the back of my lexicon closet and may have only fetched it out once or twice in the context of stubbing my toe or checking my bank balance.

Cut to a few years after that conversation. I’m sitting in a beautiful Balinese restaurant with opulent marble floors where there is a live band and salsa dancing. I’m waiting for some guy to ask me to dance, but alas, that is never going to happen because we’re in Ubud where the ratio of women to men is 45:1. But, I spy to my right another white woman, perhaps around the same age with ridiculous cheekbones circa Hollywood 1940. I almost see a smoky haze emanating from her. I overhear that she’s an anthropologist. I’m giddy and inch my way over. We start to chat and were still talking when the band has long gone and the waiters are practically kicking us out.

Over the next week, we become inseparable, like long-lost BFFs. We engage in the ritualistic bonding of females and vomit out our worst heartbreaks, show each other our life scars. Hailing from Norway, the peculiar thing about my new BFF and perhaps the thing I like most about her is her perfect cut-glass Oxbridge accent which was acquired, funnily enough, while she was living in Bali doing fieldwork. The second best thing about her is the way she spits out bad British words like a sailor. Before I know it, I too am saying ‘shag’ and ‘wanker’ in every sentence. And then we start to say the c-word with abandon in all different contexts. It feels very cathartic to say this taboo word in relation to all manner of things that really get my goat. There is power in this word and joy at transgressing by using it.

Then there comes the reality check – back in Seoul I drop it in the middle of a conversation with a group of female friends that I don’t know that well. It goes down like cold sick. Oops. So, context is everything. Next time I trawl it out, it will be in the presence of my new BFF. She gets it. And god, it just feels so good and deliciously politically incorrect to throw the c-word at someone that has wronged you. May the c-word prosper (in the correct context of course).

Bye bye rationality, hello another healer

water_lillies_black_and_white_by_sugartasticvalentineIn Ubud everyone, especially the foreign travelers (i.e. rich white people) are seen first as potential customers, second as people. It’s like you’re some kind of defective muppet in desperate need of more yoga, more dance classes, more detox, more healing. My friend told me of an interesting healing experience he had with an Indonesian friend of his (“He barely touched me and I was thrown onto the floor!”). This man, who I would later learn is a well-known, award-winning documentary producer hailing from the island of Java went through a five day awakening and was apparently given superhuman powers. Before the end of my coffee date with my friend, he had sent me his name and number and told me to call this guy. My friend’s girlfriend, who has also had a session with him claimed, “He’s the person who knows me the most in the world.” That actually sounded quite terrifying to me (you know me that well so now I have to kill you).

But of course my insatiable curiosity won out over my rational brain and within a week I had contacted and made arrangements to meet this man. He came to my guesthouse, in his hipster black jeans, boots, t-shirt and obligatory man bun. He told me a little about his job and his family. Hard to believe that someone so young was married with three kids. I made him wait out on the balcony. “Wait here, I need to quickly clean my room,” I ordered. “Don’t worry, I’m going to see all the mess inside of you anyway,” he chuckled. I nearly choked.

The session got underway as I lay on my bed and him perched on a stool next to me. He told me that he didn’t heal people per se but talked them through their own healing. I’m not ill so I don’t really know what I needed healing for, but I guess he works on an emotional/subtle energy level. First we sat in silence. “I’m accessing your files,” he said. And then what he said next was unexpected. According to the information he received from his cosmic database, I had a twin when I was in my mother’s womb that died and was absorbed into the placenta. This means that I have attachment issues and experience separation anxiety more than most people. The grief from losing my twin means that I have been holding onto this emotion for a long time. He told me that one in eight people have this experience and that he also lost his twin in the womb. Consequently, he met a woman who he had a very strong, primal connection with and his relationship with this woman threatened his marriage. Luckily, he found out about this phenomena and felt that she was his long lost twin before his marriage imploded and now they share a familial rather than romantic bond. Apparently, I’m going to meet my twin next year (he was reborn from a different mother, and it’s a ‘he’ because I’m the feminine energy, so he must be the masculine energy). He wanted to make me aware of this because he said in his experience it was very unsettling and I should be prepared to be emotionally thrown by the encounter. Ooohhhhhhkkaaaaayyyy.

We went through the motions of him talking me through clearing what he perceived to be some blocks in my energy, letting go of particular feelings, letting in others. It went on for well over an hour. I have to admit that I lost track of time and went into a kind of light sleep state, although still conscious. I like to think of myself as open minded and open to new experiences, but things like this I am skeptical about. But then, near the end of the session something weird happened. He said he kept hearing a name in his head of someone that was close to me. He said the name aloud several times and I was slightly freaked out because indeed, this person had been very close to me but was no longer in my life, although my grieving had not ended. He said that he would sever the ties energetically so that I could get closure. I have to admit that I found this freaky and felt weird afterwards. After two hours of lying on my bed I really needed to pee. I opened my eyes to see him moving his fingers over me before I got up off the bed and stumbled to the bathroom. I peed for what felt like five minutes and then when I returned we slowly finished the session. He gave me some good advice about giving love in relationships, about following my heart and setting intentions. Who knows the value of this stuff. I don’t want to be a die-hard skeptic, but I don’t want to be a gullible sucker either. Let’s see if my supposed twin appears in my life. I’ll keep you posted.