Secret Life of an Anti-Hero

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLike a good novel, the character must be multilayered with a narrative perfectly answering the needs of the new audience. Last weekend I went on a date with somebody I actually really liked. He took me to see superhero movie followed by a long walk. I haven’t heard from him since.  I am suspecting my character wasn’t superhero enough. Some women are like coming of age sci-fi thriller,  I am more like post-apocalyptic teenage novel.

The society set strict rules on personal expression and prefer idealised scenes from classical mythology to anything resembling real life. People are increasingly hard to please these days. The lack of patience and abundance of choice, men and women are on the mission to find the existential eden where every one is good looking, young and successful. Life is getting tad bit too intense, we want simpler storyline, lower budget and better actors.

Number of times while I was executing my own happily ever-after story, I asked why my character had to be in a therapy? Why is she an  academic underachiever and why does she swear so much? Slowly I became my own antagonist. But then, on the second thought, world is a tough crowd to please.  No matter how hard you try to be Carry Bradshaw, there will always be someone who prefers Samantha.

Many of people we meet, arrived in our lives by accident therefore there is every chance they would leave at any moment; it is crucial they should never be made to work hard, the more familiar the storyline and the character type, the better. My heroine realised just being isn’t dramatic enough: she needed to offer something special. I struggled to grasp the concept of special.

Should my character embark on a spiritual journey beyond the self? She should embrace her neurosis, inferiority complexes and any other non-pathologised disorders to connect to other characters. She should engage in self-destructive activities, join the sub-culture or at least become the part of any resistance movement. And all of this cleverly packaged under veneer of successful and beautiful new age empowered woman! Would that keep my date captivated for at least three dates, before I unload the really heavy stuff, like how I know lyrics to all Backstreet Boys songs? Probably, yeah….

 

Secret Life of an Anti-Hero

It’s The Loneliest Time Of The Year

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Christmas time is probably the most extreme time of the year in terms of almost non-existent self-control accessorized with even less existent self reflection. I must have read a sad statistic somewhere once, probably in one of those pseudo scientific guardian articles on Facebook that the most relationships break in December, effectively me being the best example, while my friend told me a story how she got together with her ex just so she had somebody to cuddle up with on cold December nights. The idea appeared to be tempting, however I had to be realistic and question myself, even if there was a chance in hell of me bringing somebody out of the wood work, was I willing to go through 9 circles I got away from? I didn’t think so.

The thought of being alone on Christmas, yet again, seemed more unsettling this year than any other year. Perhaps it’s due to the inevitability of my 30th birthday in January, I naturally analyse things with rigorous forensic attention to detail – I don’t cut myself any slack and I even find it especially hard to entertain the possibility of any sort of harmless one night stands, because, like everything else, it no longer serves as a thrill, but a tedious obligation to your twenties, usually fuelled by alcohol and gaps in the judgement. I would much rather prefer waking up in the comfort of my own bed and weekend newspaper, than waking up to a stranger, regret and unresponded text message. This is the hell of my own making.

Medieval torture hangovers and puffy face are just a small reminders that I can no longer party like it’s 1999 and neither can I keep up with ever changing women beauty standards, credit card bills, pay gap, brexit, men chasing skirts, men wanting casual sex, men not being able to call women any more, tinder, bumble, grindr. Fair to say, I grew tired and cynical, and festive spirit hasn’t made an appearance just yet. The Christmas party glass is never quite half empty. I no longer believe in Santa Claus, but I believe in Christmas spirits – vodka, gin and brandy. Each of them have shown me the side of myself I wish to forget. This Dickensian fantasy is no more fictional than a drunken snog with your work colleague  – it happened, but nobody speaks about it.

The confession of the day is my world is suffering from vitamin and romance deficiency. My shrink said to me couple of months ago I need to stop being naive: the dating pool is getting shallower and I am not getting any younger, if I don’t make the single men train, soon I will be making home wrecker, divorcee and midlife crisis train. But she was wrong. It’s not the pool that’s getting shallower, it’s us, who are scraping the bottom of the mulled wine bottle.We shed a tear at Christmas ad, now we go and get drunk on festive eggnog cocktail, skimming over the fact that there is no-one waiting for us at home.

Happy Holidays.

It’s The Loneliest Time Of The Year

The Parisian Sensuality

e8357271cd0cc6adfbea61ce1caea9ffAfter yet another long break, I am back with a new post about Paris. So yes, I am obsessed with this city! Paris is the city of my dreams and I take it in with all it’s poverty and flamboyance, arrogance and sensuality, and let’s just throw in a dash sleaziness for the good measure.

Couple of weekends ago my friends and I, yet again, jumped on the train and traveled to the city of love. We had 4 fabulous days ahead of us, full of great events and lots and lots of wine. Although I have been making little Paris trips every few months, I never really experienced Parisian night life.  Except may be that one time when I tried to go home with a Belgian equivalent of Spartacus, which happened to be a total fiasco on my part as he decided not to get involved in a dysfunctional ménage à trois with me and my friend, calling it the act respect to my male friend as opposed to blinding rejection. Anyway, new year – new me. This time I finally got to go out in a chat friendly environment where I felt my french was strong enough to introduce myself at the very least.

7433e3597a6294b9d124a2fa99a18fb8Saturday night was the opening of the club night season at the l’ Opera Garner restaurant La Boumette. Hello glam of my life! The event itself was organised through a french version of the meet up. To this day I still don’t know whether we walked into a mingling event or was it a pure coincidence we were mobbed by four parisian guys within minutes. The event was held sur le ciel du Paris in a fashionable L’Opera area.

Parisian events are slightly different to London. You still have your mixture of rich arabs and their blond bombshells girlfriends, but you also get creme de la creme of the parisian style front runners who look like they have just stepped down from the Montblanc ad campaign – perfectly groomed, sleek looking and of course, the look wouldn’t be complete without vintage tortoise shell frames. They all look equally nonchalant and self aware at the same time, which was incredibly pretentious and sexy. Perhaps parisian social scene hasn’t moved far from 19th century Dandyism which has always put image ahead of morals, the scene inspired Baudelaire himself.

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Of course, I didn’t get to meet any of these classy guys that night. As it usually happens, there was another type of men who prefer to overcompensate their absence of creativity with pushy enthusiasm and sleazy confidence which cannot be combated with anything except for a change of location. Efficient yet very impractical. These guys don’t wait around bombarding you with subtle hints, they go straight in for the kill, latching onto any possible flare of interest or mere politeness to spark the proverbial flame of passion. It was like a romancing the stone on my part. Despite my best efforts of assuming the role of cock block in vain hope I may have a chance to have a great night with the girls, I lost the battle to the latter group.

Despite all that drama, what is refreshing about parisian men, however, is you can have a pretty decent conversation, which can be both a fun banter and an existential debate. I got relatively lucky with one of guys at the party. Ryan was a half french half Arabic blue eyed blond hair mec who had quality flirting skills, who also introduced himself as a stripper for Chippendale. It wasn’t hard to believe because he certainly had the body for it. After 10 minutes of conversation and vivid x rated fantasies (taking place exclusively in my head!), he finally announced he works in marketing which left me both aroused and furious, but I didn’t mind to be played like this at all. As the night was getting busier, I found myself talking to new men who were all equally interested in me. If it wasn’t the dating event after all,  I would definitely say, in Paris, we were more popular than a kebab place on Saturday night. I was on fire! Trailblazing across the room, feeling fabulous. All a gal need to shine is a guys attention.

This may as f6a8641fcb42540d6881c9669306699cwell be a parisian thing. And just as other parisian things I like, I like the straight forwardness and confidence which parisian guys have. British guys may have a great sense of humor (which is a truly great advantage), but when it comes to making a move, it’s usually so subtle, almost like a metaphorical dog whistle perceived only by a certain type of women, if any at all.

Parisian sensuality felt like a breath of fresh air. In a modern world, plagued by extreme feminism, seduction has become closeted part of romantic interaction to the point where men decided to skip it all together. Of course, french guys don’t linger too long on platonic chit chat either and they don’t call if french banter after all. It wasn’t really my intention to meet anyone that night because I only had 2 days left in Paris and I wanted to spend them wandering the streets, drinking wine and daydreaming about how one day I book my one way ticket to Paris.

 

 

The Parisian Sensuality

Keeping it real in Manchester

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My jaw literally dropped open this morning as I realised it has been 21 days since my last blog post. 21 days is like a very short month (or a very long one when you had spent all your wages in the first week) and I can hardly come up with an excuse. Although I have an excuse, but it’s embarrassing to admit that I haven’t had a date or even remotely an invitation to go out since my last dangerous liaison with Houdini. However yesterday I was stopped by a scruffy punk guy in Manchester who thought I look very eastern european and that’s why he decided to chase me down the street and talk to me. Sometimes I look back at my stories and wonder why did I follow dating rabbit hole and didn’t stick with politically charged content for my blog?

Anyway, Manchester. I wouldn’t necessarily say “eastern european style” exists by definition, meaning we don’t walk the streets wearing traditional folk attire, but I’d say eastern european style differs from from say, London fashion (to be put lightly). Still, somehow, wearing gym bunny trainers made me stand out form the crowd. As I walked the crowded shopping alley of Manchester, I couldn’t help but notice how well groomed and glammed up everyone is. Not surprising, I was in the northern capital after all. May be it’s because they don’t spend as much time in public transport trying to get from point A to point B, but rather, use their time to make them cheekbones highlighted. I, on the other hand, woke up at 5.30 am, spent 2.5h on the train, hardly wore any make up and shamelessly paraded my gym outfit (once you get into sweat pants, it’s hard to get out) and I’m not the person who can pull the sexy gym look.

I can’t do that.

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I recently remembered an article I read somewhere, as it turns out it was Daily Mail  (don’t judge me) but the headline summarised my suspicion

“The make-up of Britain: Northern women like to slap it on while Southern girls prefer the ‘natural look’ (with the exception of Essex)”

 

Being a guy in Manchester must be tough. Despite being flattered by the sudden interest in my appearance on the street, I still wonder, was it because I didn’t look threatening for a guy to approach me and there wouldn’t be any particular sense  of regret in the event of rejection? And, on the other hand, if I were wearing 5inch heels, 3 layers of make up, shimmering in the sunlight like Edward Cullen and having donned my Sunday best, would he still walk up to speak to me? And it’s not the first time, contrary to my  adopted belief, I get chatted up more often on the street when I look washed out. If I actually ever listened to my intuition, I’d say i discovered a secret to meeting guys – avoid meeting them.

I’d say i discovered a secret to meeting guys – avoid meeting them.

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In How to be a Parisian book, written by four sulky Parisian femme fatales, according to film producer, journalist, a model, and an actress – true Parisian girl always needs to be ready (meaning clean waxed, wear makeup and have spare pair of heels in her bag) because you never know where the night may take you. That’s all very empowering… You know, like a superwoman,  one moment you are insignificant human being wearing glasses, and the next, you are you seductive ass kicking Glamazon. I’m already feeling 5inches taller just by picturing it. Fortunately for me, I usually know my night will take me home, to my own bed where I can be as ugly as I want without running the risk of being labeled as “hairy marry”. I wouldn’t completely disregard the Parisian advice, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, or however the saying goes.

The moral of the story, the more you sweat it, the less likely you are going to succeed. Eastern european style or no style, heels or no heels, doesn’t matter, as long as you are enjoying yourself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway, you can’t win! have a great Sunday!

 

Keeping it real in Manchester

The Earthly Comedy

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I thought I would break away from writing about dating and once again write about the absence of it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Recently I came across an Instagram account which was solely dedicated to celebration of being a single woman in her late 20s. It’s a satyrical mash of very tongue in cheek and sometimes crude and brutally honest memes, precisely depicting the grotesque reality of single girl’s life including such delightful routines as full body shave, staying in with your BFFs, celebrating phallic symbology, and of course – a great abundance of wine. Kind of what Bridget Jones was to women in 90s, howling to All By My Self in her pyjamas with a bottle of Shiraz on Saturday night.

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I got to thinking that may be people are taking relationships (or shall I say the absence of it) tad bit to seriously. Humour is much cheaper alternative to therapy and there is no better therapy than reversal therapy, which is why I could relate to this Instagram account. While Bridget Jones was educating women of the 90s that being a 30 year old ditzy woman who wears“mini skirts when they don’t have the legs for it” (Kristin Scott Thomas) is OK, it took the pressure off the pursuit of perfection, we are only humans and effectively it made us laugh, even though, it was a laugh through the tears. If you do it long enough, it can become a very valuable life mantra. The only way to stop oneself from wallowing and dying of a chronically broken heart is to laugh at it. Wouldn’t you agree? Not that I spend my days obsessing about being single, but I recognise the blunt fact that sometimes it makes more sense to be in a couple, both emotionally and financially, when you are in your 30s. It also means you can get laid on a regular basis at the very least.

It isn’t the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh – I really think that requires spirit.
It’s the kind of character that I am going to develop. I am going to pretend that all life is just a game which I must play as skillfully and fairly as I can. If I lose, I am going to shrug my shoulders and laugh – also if I win.”
― Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs

What is even more important, the number of people who can relate this this mantra. With solid 3 million followers on Instagram, laughing at yourself pays good cash. Bachelorettes are the new generation of women who fully embrace their sexuality and freedom to make bad decisions without the fear of being accused of unlady like behaviour,  however sometimes, I think, it projects an unhealthy message. Being a bachelorette in film and media is all about embracing male traits such as excessive drinking, promiscuity, objectification of the opposite sex, public urination, and generally antisocial behaviour. In short, turning a desperate situation into hopeless. May be it’s funny but I struggle to grasp a connection between comedy and idiocy. Real bachelorette doesn’t need to deal with hollywood style hangovers, health issues and of course, lets not forget unplanned pregnancy.  I may be going back to my victorian school of good manners, but lets just say, keeping within limits is still a better judgement call. Laugh may not be panacea for a broken heart or loneliness, however, it can certainly take the pressure of being imperfect creatures we are.

The Earthly Comedy

Gone In 60 Seconds

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Back in January, I found myself sitting in the cafe in a vain hope to cure my hangover with a litre of coffee and medium sized bowl of French fries. I was traveling solo to Paris for my birthday again. It was rainy Sunday morning and nothing was wrong about it. This year I spent my birthday in a rented AirBnb apartment hugging a bottle of champagne and listening to chansons. Getting old is a traumatic experience and that’s precisely why I celebrated my last birthday as a 20 something by hiding from the world in the attic in Pigalle. I could, on the other hand, stay in London and get drunk in the bar but I’ve been doing it through out my early 20s. It got old, just as me.

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It wasn’t entirely my choice to spend my birthday solo in the foreign country. Sometimes the force of circumstance can make you reconsider your plans, especially when they clash with other peoples plans.One thing I learned to appreciate with age however is optimism. Instead of mourning the last year of my twenties, I chose to venture out on my own and see what surprises the universe will throw at me. Any thing could happen. Who knows, Paris is a city of love.

I was supposed to catch a train back to London the same night. I love Paris and leaving it feels like leaving a warm bed on cold Monday mornings, however I am always intrigued by a possibility of a random romantic rendez-vous with a destiny in a form of a handsome single guy. That serendipitous moment when you realise that your entire life could transform forever, simply because, you were at the right place at the right time for a change. Like on that one night when I met a finance guy on the train from Camden to Waterloo. We were both drunk and he offered me a french fry from the box he found on the seat next to me, it was hardly romantic, yet I appreciated the momentum and remained appreciative until he stood me up on the third date. My life didn’t transform, yet I had one less frog to kiss.

f52d897a60419fa2568432e0b5756368On my way back to London, against all odds, I learned that I was sat next to rather handsome guy in his early 30s. He was half french half English and residing between Paris and London. I had to pinch myself. The whole encounter was exciting. We developed fondness of each other within seconds. It was a match made in heaven. Ten minutes into the journey we found out we both like same books, unfulfilled love stories, existentialism and festivals. Twenty minutes into the journey, we were drinking champagne and toasting to my birthday.

The rest of the journey was filled with deep meaningful conversations. Instead of feeling like the first date it felt like we’ve known each other for years. All this time however, I had a nagging thought which sounded pretty standard – this all seems to good to be true. I tried really hard to shake it off. To be fair, it’s not that all women are crazy and paranoid, usually it’s symptomatic of their past dating experiences, not their personality. And while everyone around me is slowly transitioning into the coupled up life, I couldn’t help but hope that may be it’s my time, may be, for once I will be able to come to a party and stop being looked at like I ‘m after literally everyone’s boyfriends, because, apparently, so many single women are…..

So there it was. After 2 months of casual dating something happened. The romantic french guy I met on Eurostar disappeared into the ether. Of course, in my mind, there could be only two reasons – either he died or lost his phone. Neither of these theories proved to be true. He’s well and sound, still glued to his phone and I still got no validation explaining 2 weeks of silence. Naturally, it’s not the first time a guy pulls Houdini on me, I already know that any attempt to get any closure would be in vain. I  may never be able to explain such mercurial change of his heart, neither I know how to be noble or wise about it so I went ahead and wrote this whole experience off as cosmic fuck up. Moving on dot com.

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Note: A month later a doomed text message came though and against the general opinion it carried no sign of remorse, regret or explanation of the unprecedented absence, instead it carried a nonchalant tone and a candid invitation for “Netflix and chill” or to be even more precise “Mubi and chill” because he is a classy guy, just like his actions. Of course, being as classy as I am myself,  I used this god sent opportunity to invite him to piss off (in a much classier choice of words of course) and get my much needed closure, which in an ideal scenario would have followed by a hand gesture. Since emoticon version of the hand gesture wasn’t robust enough to my liking, I decided not to spoil my revenge fantasy and left it to his imagination. Also, against the popular opinion, I also decided not to follow up and left it for better of for worse. The shift in power itself was a validation worth thousand word anyway. I can now put this tragic story to bed and look forward to my next trip to Paris in May! 

Gone In 60 Seconds

The Time When I Fell For The Fictional Character

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Writing about dating when, in fact, you haven’t met anyone in a while can be a very tedious task. However, when you eventually meet somebody of interest, special attention must be paid. If you really like the person it’s even more exciting. If you know you like the person for all the wrong reasons, expect a blog post. Normally I would write about the negative aspect of the experience, i.e. bitter lessons, eye opening realizations and cautionary tale confirmations etc. This time it’s not an exception, even though I kind of wish it was.

THE EVENT

Couple of weekends ago my friend and I decided to take a time tunnel and treat ourselves to a night of classical salon performance and poetry. As it turned out, 19th century Parisian salon experience was just as dramatic as Hollyoaks. Despite the unusualness of the event, I was very touched by the beautiful classical piano pieces and delicateness of the violinist’s performance. Slowly my mind carried me into the time when sensuality was so delicately hidden, even an accidental touch of hand could send your heart racing through the roof.

THE POEM 

Charles Baudelaire

The Vampire’s Metamorphoses

The woman meanwhile, twisting like a snake 
On hot coals and kneading her breasts against the steel 
Of her corset, from her mouth red as strawberries 
Let flow these words impregnated with musk:
— “I, I have moist lips, and I know the art 
Of losing old Conscience in the depths of a bed. 
I dry all tears on my triumphant breasts 
And make old men laugh with the laughter of children. 
I replace, for him who sees me nude, without veils, 
The moon, the sun, the stars and the heavens! 
I am, my dear scholar, so learned in pleasure 
That when I smother a man in my fearful arms, 
Or when, timid and licentious, frail and robust, 
I yield my bosom to biting kisses 
On those two soft cushions which swoon with emotion, 
The powerless angels would damn themselves for me!”

When she had sucked out all the marrow from my bones 
And I languidly turned toward her 
To give back an amorous kiss, I saw no more 
Than a wine-skin with gluey sides, all full of pus! 
Frozen with terror, I closed both my eyes, 
And when I opened them to the bright light, 
At my side, instead of the robust manikin 
Who seemed to have laid in a store of blood, 
There quivered confusedly a heap of old bones, 
Which of themselves gave forth the cry of a weather-cock 
Or of a sign on the end of an iron rod 
That the wind swings to and fro on a winter night.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

THE HEART

In the middle of the show, I spied with my little eye, a very handsome chevalier impersonating my every fantasy: good manners, eloquent speech, period dressing and ability to recite Baudelaire. Of course, I was well aware I am lusting after a fictional character, yet, I couldn’t help but gasping for air under my imaginary corset. Long after he finished his poem reading, I came to my senses and realized the only rational thing to do was to leave the venue before I was unwillingly and against my better judgement drawn into a conversation with Mr. Rake. But of course, leaving the party early is not my style so I went out on a limb, looking for trouble.

THE RAKE

The Rake is an expert of seducing. For anyone interested, The Rake comes from a book by Robert Greene, called The Art Of Seduction. He loves the idea of the women, he’s extremely charming, he has a “devil may care” attitude towards life, he never apologises, and is extremely persistent. To put the rake in the modern world contexts means to depict a male which every woman fantasizes about and fears with the same intensity. Mr. Rake is a prevalent breed of men who identify themselves as the modern age romantic martyrs looking for love which they are unable to sustain because their life is too tragic to share it with another human being. This explained my overpowering gravitational pull towards this guy. On some subconscious level I picked up a rampant vibe  of unavailability and all he had to do was to give me couple of dirty looks before I let my imagination floating light years away.

 THE DATE

I was excited and infuriated at the same time. Despite my very modern and mature attitude towards dating and partner selection, I was still drawn by the allure of the romanticism of the 19th century. I am hopeless romantic. After being the only single cat amongst coupled up pigeons for literally  years , I decided it would be a great idea to be seduced by Mr. Rake, have few glasses of wine, get to know this flamboyant character, and have a snog if the date doesn’t go too terribly. Of course I went on a date with him. To my surprise, my Shakespearean Romeo wasn’t delicate in displaying affection, soon enough he moved on from serenading to whispering sexual innuendos with a subtle hint of upgrading this date to a more intimate level. Speaking of dangerous liaisons. Under normal circumstances I would suggest of his inappropriateness and cut the date short, but provided my circumstances, I brushed it off as part of his character. The things good looking men get away with right?  After few glasses of wine who the hell cares anymore, the Rake, Shakespeare, Mr. Darcy – the man can recite Baudelaire. Fourth hundredth time lucky…

THE OUTCOME

Unfavourable. After 3 weeks of intensely fulfilling conversations on the Facebook, without even the hint of meeting again, I recognised myself as a victim of my self fulfilling prophecy. To my surprise, I wasn’t surprised. I made two errors in judgement. First of them was thinking that getting involved with a jobless actor who lives with his mother was actually a good idea, second, giving him proverbial space to avoid being labeled as needy. Anyone who is rational enough would say that 3 weeks of space giving is like trying to order a drink after the last order which was half an hour ago. I would say, it’s symptomatic of my disastrous dating experience as well as my infantile romanticism which evidently in the 21st century is just as good as writing a letter to Santa. I was put off classical music and victorian poetry for next couple of months. I recovered from it swiftly, thankfully, without any significant bruises to my ego. Next time I see a handsome actor wearing a waistcoat and a shirt with a high stiff collar reciting Baudelaire, I’ll know what to do.

 

 

 

The Time When I Fell For The Fictional Character