December 24, 2013

Je bricole

“So, you ride too?”

This just after I’ve told the story of the last time I fell off a horse to a bunch of professional riders. My rambunctious pony had decided that it was a good day to gallop out of formation and shake me off while he was at it. My stirrup got detached from the saddle, my hand got caught in the reins and I ended up with my arm in a cast and a nice black eye from one of his back hooves. Luckily for me, ponies don’t wear shoes. And I got a month of not having to write any notes or homework in school. Score.

“Um, no, I was ten when this happened.”

“Hey Chris, do you still sing?”

“Um, not really, I stopped taking lessons like thirteen years ago.”

Not that ships and sailors aren’t sexy, but I had to wonder: I used to be this creative, passionate amateur, dabbling in all sorts of things. When exactly did I turn into a Fachidiot of academia and translation? And how beautiful that people still associated me with athletic and creative endeavors, even though I abandoned them decades ago.

And then it arrived. My new joy.

Me: “Honey, I think I am going to take up F L A M E N C O.”

Murdoc: “Come again?” [he actually said something else but I’m censoring it]

Me: “Yeah, I’m an angry little woman stamping my feet all the time as it is. Don’t you think it would be perfect for my character?”

Murdoc: “Well if you’ve put it that way, yes.”

So, yes. I have been dancing.

Twice a week I pack a duffel bag with shoes, skirt, water bottle, leg warmers and other dancer paraphernalia. We practise braceos, marcajes, taconeos. We do ballet. We do the tangos choreography for fun and the fandangos for keeps – we are performing it in February [hyperventilation, thy name is moi]. We laugh our asses off and get yelled at. We do balance exercises in animal slippers. Forget the cheap loud celebrations of soccer chants and French matadors: the olé is something you slip in huskily between steps, a bridge between pleasures, an indication that the fun has only just begun. Planta, tacón, gólpes. Planta, tacón, gólpes. Faster. Keep the beat.

I thought you had to be three years old and bendy to do turnouts and grand pliés. You don’t. I thought my bad posture and nonexisting abs would get in the way. They did. I am inherently musical but have never trained professionally. The newly self-aware middle-aged skinsuit has its limits, its knots, traumas and inhibitions. But the body is such a grateful little instrument. And there is that moment when, with the help of a broomstick, you learn how to bend from the rib and not the waist. When that attitude comes out just right, knees open, feet brushing through the first position, coupled with perfect floreos and a flick of the chin. When compáses stop being something you count, but just dance instead. When you feel your body firming up from the inside, wrapping tighter around itself. The gym makes you bulgy. Dancing makes you spindly. Look Ma, I’m an athlete now. I give the world attitude with a sweep of my skirt. Bam.

It is pure yang. Not everyone would agree. There are many different styles and incredible dancers out there, some very feminine, and I’ll be damned if Eduardo Guerrero isn’t one androgynous little Gitano. But it is pure yang. You have to be soft and explosive at any single time, firm and limber in the same motion, tempered yet ready to pounce. If you appear light or gentle, it is because the yang has allowed it. It is a masculine kind of elegance.

Our bailaor has this down to a T. It is enchanting to watch him move. He does with the body what I do with language. He can do the same braceo in three different ways, and you will be able to tell which one is tangos, which fandangos, and which soleá. He can repeat your mistakes effortlessly, with just a sprinkle of caricature on top, so that you can see what you’re doing wrong. Dancing is always a little schizophrenic, he says. You’re always imagining resistance where there is none.

A few years ago I saw a documentary about the former Formula One champion, Alain Prost. After retiring from professional racing, he found an amateurish kind of pleasure in cycling. There was a scene in his garage, him fiddling with wrenches, bike wheels hanging on the walls, spare parts all over the place. He seemed no less devoted to cycling than he had been to car racing, but he was more playful. Je bricole, he said with a smile.

I tinker.
Carmen Amaya

December 16, 2013

It's yours.

I don't know if you've noticed, but after a wee bit of a hiatus, my man has started writing again. And I am so proud that I just had to share it here. The post that follows below is meant to be read with his "Merry Fucking Christmas" (don't you love it already?). We didn't exactly write them together, mine was more of a response to his, so please read that one first. How many installments of long-distance amour can one write? I guess we'll have to wait and see, because there is no breaking point for a good love.


There are three clocks and two watches in my bedroom. Only one of the clocks ticks. The rest are silent.

He heard my voice before he knew what I looked like. It was against the background of a ticking clock and images from another life. He fell deeper in love.


A hundred and sixty-nine days since we last slept in the same bed.

Fifty-three days since his birthday.

Thirty-eight till mine.

It is two in the morning, the clock ticks in my bedroom somewhere across town. I am standing on the kerb, dressed in lucid untipsiness, scanning people and cabs. It’s happy drunks tonight, no bad vibes or danger for a single woman returning home in the middle of the night. Friends have left and will check up on me later. For a moment, a sense of entitlement overwhelms my privileged heart: shouldn’t someone, a loved one, be coming to pick me up?

Baby girl, love isn’t logistics. And you are not a puppy but a Rottweiler in her prime who can get her sweet ass home. Friends don’t owe you pity and the world is paying you a compliment by letting you take care of yourself.


Seven hundred and thirty-nine letters.

We are tied together by invisible strings, reaching across the ocean. When he twitches, I move. When I hurt, he feels it.

It is two in the morning and I am standing on the kerb. I feel like I am being steeped in cold, starting with my toes and moving further up. It is gradual, irrevocable and about to completely take over my body. Some people are attracted to Alaska, or Italy, or the Moon. I was born in French Polynesia lifetimes ago. I walk with grains of beach between my toes, quiet flaneuse born to be a taboo kanaka, to live in the space between, to connect the unconnectable all around and across.

The man can fucking write, I think as I rub my legs together in third position, cold and horny. His letters seduce me anew every time; his blog posts are familiar rooms, fireplaces, paintings, armchairs where I make myself at home. Sometimes he tells me the same stories all over again, and I listen. I never want to stop listening. I take a moment to close my eyes and compose my next letter.


I will always want to write to you. Always.


Four hundred and ninety-one days since we first kissed.

I tried writing about that kiss. Several times. And scratched every time. Perhaps I will get it right some day. Perhaps it is one of those things that cannot ever be written.

I will be in bed by three. He will be at choir practice, leading the lost boys home. We will chase each other across time zones. He will write to me while I sleep. I will respond before he wakes up.

My body will convulse under the covers. No longer sleeping but not fully awake either, I feel my transoceanic strings tugging. My seat of power is deep in my belly, but this I feel in my solar plexus. It is him. He is writing, calling. I curl up underneath the sheets, collecting myself around him.

I hover over the house that is my castle, where I am present only in voice now, and the regalia I left behind. I find him over the telescope, scheming and aching, and wrap myself around him.

Lock the door and pull up the drawbridge if you wish, honey.

You are King.

Load the shotgun, growl and roar.

Dance and sing your heart out, and I will sing with you.

Don’t you know that everything is allowed to those who hear the big music?

It’s yours.

It’s all yours.


Seventy-eight days together. How many more left, to wait and to live? How many uncountables in this love, so outstretched and strong? How far can we go this time around, and what will be left for the next?


I will always want to write to you. Always.


December 5, 2013

The Scorpion and the Dragon Queen

We fight to the tingling of Raindrops keep falling on my head from a passing ice-cream truck.

I curse and yell in a language that is not mine.

“Where did you come from?” I ask, as if I did not know.

He read my call and turned his house into a pulsar.

He came on a cloud of synchronicity, strewing galaxies from his pockets like marbles. Thumped his chest with specters from beyond the pale – the offer of a graceful bow-out, all the freedom I could want. I shook in my boots as I circled around his black wings but gave him that smarty-pants Joan-of-Arc look that said

I am not going anywhere.

He sees me in my language. I come from far away, and he is not of this world. Billy Pilgrim, unhinged in time, I, his inverse double. Aeons are Baoding spheres in his hand. I can stretch seconds into lifetime bubblegum strings before I chew them anew.

He asks if he can get into bed with me. Tells me he loves the way I kiss. His hands, throbbing with calluses, find me in the dark. The Scorpion tail is put to rest and wrapped around me in the softest lovers’ whisper. This magnificent beast has chased me and caught me. You with your New England ways in Old World skin, with ghosts pacing about in the middle of the night, with your uncompromising majesty of patient returns, tell me: am I your redemption?
Just love me.

I do. I do sleep with a dagger, because there is no greater honor in this world than watching over him. There is nothing light, simple or easy about us. We are egos, wit, and intellect. We are lust, tenderness, and pathos. Dragon Queen of this Nation of Two, I embrace my cosmic exhibitionist soul mate. I have chosen and claimed him. I crave him. I give in to his protection, and will never let him fall.