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

Disgrace, Princess of Monaco

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Nice Panorama

Traveling is both an agony and the ecstasy. Everything is a pain in the arse until you get to your destination, and once you get there – everything is rainbows and unicorns. Last week I set off to explore Cote D’Azur. I desperately needed a break on my own – an escape to a fantasy land where every step has a potential to grow into adventure of a life time. Being a francophile as much as I am there was no need to wreck my brain about which destination to go for.

Early on Wednesday morning, I kissed the moody London goodbye and jumped on a plane to Nice. Only a short sleep later, I woke up to the most beautiful dream I ever seen. Recent weeks in London weren’t the best weeks I had since arriving in UK ten years ago. With the impeding gloom and doom of brexit which was progressively getting worse with each news headline, it was effectively completed with perpetual rain which was affecting me on the emotional level. This trip was so overdue, I was ready to run away.

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Côte d’Azur

Mediterranean air instantly brought me back to life. I craved for nothing else than to stretch out on the beach and forget about everything that burdened me over the past six months. Like a new born baby, I baptised myself in the Mediterranean sea, smeared some sun lotion and reborn as a pilgrim on the journey for inner peace and fulfilment. I had six days of freedom and I was going to use them to the max potential.

Like any brit tourist who hasn’t seen the sun for the past 100 years, I was doomed to get coup de soleil within first 3 days of my beach session. I also granted myself a permission to do two things which I rarely allow myself in London  – smoke and drink to an excess which came naturally in Nice since smoking and drinking wine even in AM hours was a conventional thing to do. Long walks around the city, the promenade, the train journeys along cote d’Azur  were soothing.No wonder this region was favourited by worlds elite and royalty over the decades. It’s picturesque landscapes and vast horizons became synonymous with happiness and good life. It has a certain quality of indulgence, a permission to celebrate each day as a gift, rather than living in struggle hoping for the better times ahead. Living in a moment has never been easier, better yet, it was inescapable.

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Monaco, Côte d’Azur

Of course, I was aware of my budget and I could not deny the fact that in order to live the life of fairy tale which is so beautifully advertised on instagram, you must be wealthy. Wealth is another synonym of cote d’Azur. It’s hard to be oblivious of it because it’s stares you directly in the face where ever you go. Luxurious hotels, cars, yachts, designer shops, restaurants, fancy dames with pampered pooches, villas with private swimming pools – all makes a fantastic parallel universe which is equally attainable and lightyears away for ordinary human beings. Yet I have never been to a place which would motivate me more to pursue the good life, to follow my dreams and to make cardinal life changes. And I wasn’t the only one.

There are always two sides of the coin. I was always susceptible to harsh truth which I still greeted with pragmatism. While I was feeling completely free and independent enjoying this trip alone, I had to endurea certain level of abuse which was totally underserved on my part. Not many people will relate to this because majority of people don’t travel alone, but I felt constantly subjected to a judgement which only a young woman can be subjected to on the occasion. I discovered that people in Cote d’Azur have a rather savage perspective on female travellers, especially if they arrive unaccompanied. In my case, I was constantly seen as a prostitute which was at first infuriating to the point I wanted to hide in my room just so I don’t have to explain another man I don’t wish to have his home address or pretend I didn’t hear how group of guys just called me une pute. Must say, you do get used to it after a while.

While I never had to face this type of judgement while living in London since the concept of the prostitute can only be applied to women in west end night clubs, a guy I met in Nice explained to me that south of France, especially places like Monaco and Cannes, is a magnet for women looking to gnaw the piece of that cosmic wealth accumulated in the region. C’est terrible after dark. Meeting a wealthy man is an aspiration for many women and while the cinderella phenomenon was possible few decades ago before dating apps came into place, now it’s so rare, it’s practically impossible. However it doesn’t stop flocks of young Eastern European women from traveling to Monaco looking for a better life.

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Streets of Monaco, Côte d’Azur

This realisation repealed me from even entertaining the idea of meeting the prince charming with a yacht on this holiday. Even if I could compete with model looking  courtesans, I would be seen too unsophisticated in my appearance and attitude, leave alone my hostility towards this exchange economy. What I saw instead, under the veneer of endless luxury and sophistication, lies rotting culture of exploitation and objectification. I stayed walking around Monaco until the dusk and left right before, once I again I was subjected to further abuse.

Cote d’Azur still puts me in a dream like state. If you choose to close your eyes on everything what happens in the privacy of luxury apartments, you will witness the beauty of the landscape, joyful holiday makers, and never-ending celebration of life which is so appealing to people around the world. I came back refreshed and full of ambition which I never had before. I am not the one to demonise the wealth, it’s not the money that’s bad, it’s what you can do with it. Princess, Grace of Monaco is a wonderful story indeed which is still being seen as the greatest cinderella story there ever was, but in the changing world we must look for new stories. Stories where women are able of creating their own fairy tales by creating a dream life for themselves without having to sacrifice their ambition or dignity. Until next time, Côte d’Azur! Merci and à bientôt!

A NOTE:

This post  was written day before tragic events in Nice this Thursday so please don’t treat it as insensitive. I was still deeply in my holiday mode when I heard the news. I am experiencing immense sadness and regret for all the lives lost. The fact that was walking down the promenade des Anglais only two days ago was the closest I have ever been to a tragedy. Every one I met on this trip are safe and sound. #prayfortheworld

Disgrace, Princess of Monaco

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

How the Modern Approach to Dating Has Come Back to Bite Everyone in the Ass

Modern dating rituals are heavily saturated with social media. It’s not a surprise for anyone. In fact tinder and Match.com soon will become synonyms for finding love (or at least a date for the night). Something like google did with word “search” – we are no longer searching words online, we google them. Rules of dating have changed, and unfortunately for me, a dating dinosaur, I was kicked out of the dating game a long time ago and if anything comes along on my horizon, it would only be a learning experience, not an actual manifestation of love. I thought I’d share an event. Almost as rare as a solar eclipse, a supermoon, and a spring equinox – all happening on one day. I was asked on a date. And I said no.

I thought I’d share an event. Almost as rare as a solar eclipse, a supermoon, and a spring equinox – all happening on the same day. I was asked on a date. And I said no.

Long gone are the days of Victorian chivalry. It’s a statement. Not a sigh. Despite the romanticized version of 19th century, belle epoch and Anna Karenina, it’s very unlikely any modern woman would like to take a trip down the timeline to meet Mr. Darcy for a cup of tea. Regardless of how noble notion of love may appear in classical literature, woman’s life was wasn’t exactly a romantic novel. To cut to the chase without going into too much detail on history, let me say this – there was a good reason for feminists of the 20th century to break down the walls imposed by society and although it still may feel like we are fighting windmills, dear ladies, we have made a progress.

A young woman of today virtually have no boundaries when it comes to dating. We no longer have to wait for a guy to make the first move. We are strong independent ladies who have a right to go after anything we want, without anyone’s permission. No more waiting by the phone for the text to come through – if I need it I can send it first. Female emancipation has brought many positive changes to modern woman’s life but where does it leave men? Taking power into our hands just because we don’t like waiting for anything and because we *think* we have more courage than guys, doesn’t exactly spell success. If it’s so easy, then are there so many single women waiting for a guy to ask them out and guys never do? I had my answer last week. With women being so proactive and forward thinking, it never even occurred to me that there are young guys in their early twenties out there who literally have never asked a girl out – girls would always do it first.

Female emancipation has brought many positive changes to modern woman’s life but where does it leave men?

I’m not suggesting that women should suppress our fundamental right to practice our free will, I am saying that by taking away the pleasure of pursuit from men, we are training a generation of guys who need to go through 9 circles of hell when being faced with a reality of asking a girl out. And it’s not because guys aren’t brave. They are! Just some of them have no idea how it’s done. I mean if the antelope is coming straight into your pawns, why bother hunting? And I wish I was making this up.

Last week I witnessed the most heartbreaking attempt of asking me out ever. A guy, who’s name I won’t name for privacy reasons, nearly had a stroke trying to put words in his mouth which sounded pretty much like that – Yuna, will you go out with me? The guy looked in physical pain and it was almost just as painful to watch as it was for him to say it. What’s my problem you may ask? A guy asked me out, I should be flattered not horrified.

The problem was the following. For a handsome and fairly successful lad in his early twenties getting a girl is not a brainer. Sometimes I am really surprised by the audacity of younger guys approaching me in the most nonchalant manner, but this guy, as opposed to the latter, never had to do it. As I mentioned before, women are so unorthodox in the matters of the heart, it leaves no room for pursuit, for game playing or any proverbial mystery for that matter, and it’s not a good thing. I have said it before. I am old fashioned and I believe in gender role play. Despite adopting a feminist point of view, I am still a firm believer in pursuit. I also think that a guy should never be experiencing THIS amount stress when asking a girl out.

But may be I’m too conservative. May be I’m resisting the change, I mean I’m not even sure how this works in gay relationships. All I know, there is a whole new generation of young guys and girls who are inventing new relationship rules and I am just having hard time understanding it because I was born in 80s, who knows. The bottom line is, men and women roles in the society became blended and sometimes it hard to tell who’s supposed to do what. However I think it would still be nice if a guy asked me out in a way that does not give him a panic attack. Or may be… let’s just scrap the whole blog post because Katherine Hepburn put it much better in a fewer words… Who cares about rules anyway! In love – there are no rules.

Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.

– Katherine Hepburn

How the Modern Approach to Dating Has Come Back to Bite Everyone in the Ass

Angels and Average Women

I promised myself I will try to stay away from ranting as much as possible because it means I am taking myself and life too seriously. While some people find ranting as a form of validation of their ego (like I have an opinion and therefor I disagree with everyone), I find it unnecessary waste of personal energy trying to be upset about trivial things like Whole Foods ran out of edamame beans and now I have to eat regular beans (speaking of first world problems), but this recent encounter with my own shadow side knocked me out. I had to set it free.

A little background story. Couple of weekends ago I went to Paris with a friend of mine who happens to run catering for the Victoria Secret  fashion show 2014 in New York. It’s kind of a big deal for me because despite not owning a single Victoria Secret item, this pompastic celebration of  female shape is probably the only thing that sends me straight to the gym without any inner debates. Personally, I would pay 10k to sit at the front row just so I can validate my belief that *paraphrase* from  The Sex and The City – proximity to beauty makes me feel more beautiful. Unfortunately when you come too close to the light, chances are you will crash and burn. For me the light source was called my overdraft. So as a girl who recently had to get out a bunch of stuff onto e-bay just to pay her credit card minimum payment, I came to a conclusion that beauty won’t save the world, however, Victoria Secret angels will most certainly save all regular girls from roaming male fantasy for the significant part of their waking hours.

A long time ago I made a promise to myself that I would not be intimidated by seemingly genetically superior bunch of women who can wear mom jeans and still look sexy as hell. I was doing great. That was until I found myself having a dinner in a group of three “almost” single straight guys talking Victoria Secret Models. Verdict –  within first two seconds I accomplished the impossible – I became the invisible woman.  20 minutes and 4 cigarettes latter, a faint outline of my figure has appeared to one of the guys when he asked me what my dream car was. Shocked by the emotional value of this conversation, I had to act fast in order not to tumble down the scale of self worth even more. As I was getting sucked into this male fantasy, dominated exclusively by Victoria Secret models, conversation gained more depth of unattainable – luxury car topic. I had a choice – cough on my own cigarette smoke or mention some bad ass vehicle just to keep the testosterone going.  So I mentioned Mercedes SLR. I received a nod of approval.

Strange thing happened after we returned to the table. Although I was the only girl at the table, ironically I was transformed into “one of the guys”.  I wasn’t sure whether I should be upset or flattered, however I knew between Miranda Kerr and SLR, I did not occupy any fantasy at that moment, except for my own fantasy – being in bed with a bottle of vodka eating a cake.

As I snuck out yet for another fag after drinking the whole bottle of red tout seul, I stood staring at my own reflection in the tea shop window. I knew it was a huge mistake, however being totally self indulgent on that particular day, I allowed myself a little self pity party  (which I won’t lie later in the night turned into full blown emotional break down). I was looking at the person who was below average height, size 8 healthy looking “youngish” woman with mild skin problems. And this wasn’t pure objective observation.

When you compare yourself to a perfect human being, observation can turn into self loathing. To add a philosophical shade of grey to my misery, I quietly admitted to myself  that I’m not getting any younger. This drunken analysis of everything that was wrong with me escalated so far, my inner “know it all” voice confirmed it – I’ll end up forever alone.

How did Victoria Secret topic resulted in this? It was a work of mad evil genius, called my mindAlthough this sounds like a revelation of some self loathing, insecure and neurotic woman in her late late twenties, most of the time I would say I make rational decisions in life and I am not that easily intimidated by other women. However, can I jump the gun and suggest that many confident women are feeling this way time to time. Why is this bothering us? Despite the statistical evidence that physical attractiveness and sexuality do not guarantee happy marriage or successful career, why these women still make us feel inferior?

If Victoria Angels can awaken our inner demons, then I believe that media is doing a great job creating hell on earth by suggesting  impossible standards of beauty or reality in general. Sadly while some men (even if it’s only 3 of them at that particular moment) out there think that a model strutting down the runway in sexy lingerie is a desirable standard for what woman should look like, the rest of us who aren’t 6 feet size 0 glamazone are reducing themselves to a set of physical features that stand somewhere on a scale of cuteness, at about 7.  You can posses all the rationality in the world, however when it comes to self criticism, nobody can escape the feeling of not being good enough.

After giving it another though the next morning also equipped by a splitting hangover, I condemned my self for putting me in the victim’s position. I was so blindsided by my own episode of vanity while staring at that shop window that I forgot that none of it really matters to me that much anyway. One of the keys of succeeding in life is playing the game you can win, even if it means inventing it yourself.  I knew perhaps I won’t occupy any man’s head today or tomorrow, but I was happy for being where I was – in Paris – country of cheese, wine, patisserie, carbs and gorgeous men, who despite of fantasising about Victoria Secret models before going to bed, still go out to fish for regular girls and drive Citroën cars. With this particular thought I ordered myself fattest chocolate eclair. I still knew I had to run it out on the treadmill, however I knew in the game called me vs. supermodel, i’d definitely win the patisserie eating round. Oui oui.

 

Angels and Average Women