Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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january 2010 sucked

OK. so. I havent blogged. Lamely I blamed it on the weather. And you must’ve been thinking that I was having such a fabulous party time that I just forgot about it. Of course  you weren’t thinking anything at all. Confession: I was getting into a daily drudge already, here on the beach, after four months. Maybe my lack of inspired blogging is evidence that after four months in a new city the baggage catches up. Like lost luggage it was delivered at my Aqua  front door, I signed for it, and there it it sat. Or maybe it was Santa who brought it. Christmas has a tendency to bring my old shit no matter where I am. So. I was stupid enough to open the old bags and take a rummage. See if there was anything I’d missed. I got hooked in. I did my thing. I lost my improved Miami self to an older more familiar me, one I truly thought I could leave behind. One part victim. One part bossy bitch. One part I’m getting the fuck out of here…

Not much humor in that baggage. Not much blogging inspiration.

So lets forget about January 2010. Relapse month.

Hey. Hi. How’ve you been? How was your January? Shitty too? Or do you, like a Hallmark card, get positive energy and inspiration from that brand-new- year thing? I wish I did. The downside of expectation gets me every time, just about around the fifth or sixth. but I wasn’t gonna talk about January…

Bye bye January. Hello February.

Top five good news things:

1.My mother is here. My own sweet, beautiful, eighty-two year old mom from Amsterdam arrived a few days ago. She flew from Schiphol to London, where she changed to Virgin, sat cramped for nine hours next to a man with halitosis and B.O., and like a hero, arrived here, in my new paradise home. It makes me happy. She completes me. Now I can show her all the things I told her about in my mind over the past four months, for real.

2.My agent sent back my last edit.Line edit and notes. And I finished the final draft of my novel. The BlackBerry Diet. More about that in future entries. Do you have any idea how long it takes to write a book? And the waiting for people to read it? Its teaching me about patience. Slowly, which I hate. Anyway keep your fingers crossed.

3. I am working with OCEANA, the largest international Ocean  Environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans, to introduce them to Miami and establish a fundraiser for them. I’m putting together, curating, a show which incorporates aspects of the ocean, then, now and in the future, through the work of photographers, artists who use pollution and repurposed garbage in their work, and local art students. It gets me connected with people here, brainstorm and be inspired.

4. Iona is applying to two local magnet art schools. DASH and New World. She’s worked on her sketchbook, portfolio and ten art pieces. Five paintings and five photographs. She is good. Seriously good and into it. I’m proud of her. If she gets accepted we may have to stay here. I think I like the idea…

5. The weather is better and Leila said:

Mommy, I like it when winter only lasts a week….


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writing and plastic…

photo: iona gordon

There’s definitely too much to read.

Oh for the predicament of writers, as per Facebook, where 99.9 % of my friends seem to be professional authors. Writers get a bum rap. We all agree. Publishers are dying while writers are multiplying. Nobody gets paid. No one who’s not somewhat famous gets published into a real hardcover book. And surely there are more words on the internet than have been written in the history of mankind.

Still.

I like to write. Its like giving those voices in my head a clothes line where they can flap about in the sun rather than be cooped up in my dark and dank head all day long. I never have writer’s block, unless you call what the fuck is the point of being a writer a block. Like those voices, even if I give them plenty of sun and air, still want better. They want to be heard, they want to be read, they want to be seen, they want to make an impact, they have big ego’s, and they always want more more more.

Writing is lonely, but blogging is not entirely. Lonely. Well, at least I get to see my daily stats (the chart that shows how many people have been on my blog). My daily stats are my ego mood meter. When it goes up my voices are pleased, but when it goes down they are pissed. My agent is lucky that I have stats. If I didn’t have stats, which tell me two hundred people read my latest blog within the first hour, I’d be on the phone with my agent all the time. Love me, love me, tell me you love me. Tell me I’m good. Tell me that my last novel is funny, will be published, will make me famous. Oh shut up already. Go work with the homeless. Go save the oceans. Those are my other voices. My who the fuck do you think you are? voices. Do you have those? I think they’re Dutch. The Dutch are not supposed to desire much. I’m Dutch. But I left Holland. I think I left because occasionally I take myself seriously. I have ambition, a really dirty word in Holland when I grew up, in the sixties, those I’m gonna be a social worker and save humanity sixties. That’s why, apart from writing, I also need to save the world from plastic pollution.

Yes.

I collect old plastic trash from the beach, bring it home to my garage, where I forge jewelry from this trash. I sell the jewelry and I’m just adding bikinis with ocean trash plastic embellishment to the collection, just so the plastic can get back to the beach and lie in the sand, only now on the sexy tan bottom of some Miami babe who paid (a lot) for the trash that she left behind a year ago.

That’s just the kind of thing I like. It makes me laugh and gives me something to write about, because even though I do take my creative ambition seriously, it makes me feel like I actually do not take myself quite so seriously.

Thus the conflict inside my head, my murky voices, my modus operandus, my reasons for writing.

the collection at Las Tias, the Miami store


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“please leave my name in merry christmas,” – jesus

Tiesto bachelor candy land tree

Sorry for the lag but I couldn’t blog over Christmas. I had to let go. Suspend. Lose control and be cool with that. Aye, the crowds, the action, the emotions and experiences. All too layered and intense to let me sit, be still and write. What is this different mind-space? The spirits of Christmasses past? The family isolation ward? The expectation of perfection? In gifts, food, love, friends, giving and receiving with equal grace while ingesting too much alcohol, too much sugar, too much fat? Kids spinnng out of control on candy highs, disappointment and greed, while husband and I fight because on some cellular level we remember our own parents fighting, getting drunk, leaving (forever) and coming back and ex wives and step brothers and sisters suddenly demanding equal opportunities in our perceived second-family-fun?

Family, they fuck you up, they say, but I dont want to  have the kind of family that fucks anyone up. I take this mission seriously. Especially over Christmas. So what happens? I fuck mysef up. I twist myself into a pretzel of perfection. I will have the best food, the best decorations, the best gifts, the best dressed kids, the heirloom decorated tree, the funnest boxing day party, you get my drift. You probably drift in that same direction yourself. Nothing new here you are thinking. Well, this year with our change of scenery, palmtrees instead of evergreens, weather : sun @80 degrees instead of ice and snow @15 degrees, the impersonal designer bachelor candyland pad as our new home rather than my 200 year old farmhouse with beams and fireplaces, I thought it would be different. I went into denial, no, I actually believed that if I closed my eyes and wore a swimsuit Christmas would pass me by.

WRONG!

I have kids. Kids with friends. I have a husband who is a romantic.

They were gonna get the tree without me. Let them, I thought, I won’t be a control freak. A tree appeared, three days before the actual event, and the last strings of lights gathered from a variety of Walgreens, CVesses and Target. One pink, one green, one that blinked (!) and two white, and the last few boxes of leftover multicolored balls and silver streamers. I planned cinnamon salt cookies, but fuckit nothing could save this tree, which looked remarably like the one in the lobby of the Wachovia bank on 41st.

finnan haddie

Christmas eve we went to Vicki, our warm embracing super-hostess friend, who served the seven fishes. So bring a fish dish. But in my newfound, I’m-not-a-control-freak personality, I did not cook. Husband did! He made the most delicious Finnan Haddie. We feasted in the pre-Christmas gift chaos of our friend’s dining room by a tall tree which was obstructed by more gifts than my kids had ever seen, while another stack of presents lay as yet bare in the wrapping corner of the room.

Just before we left Vicki (mother of two young girls) whispered to us: “We’re off to get the kittens.”

That did it.

“This is our worst Christmas,” the twins wailed in the back of the car. “Why do Rebecca and Suzy always get everything? We never get what we want. WE WANT KITTENS!”

Fuck Christmas.

Santa, for lack of a chimney or anything else that resembled such in our candy-land-bachelor-pad, left our stockings in the elevator. In our astroturf, daisy covered mini elevator. Clever Santa. It was lovely. Husband, the romantic, had discovered the Aventura Mall and had shopped like a true trophy wife. He got me Gilly Hicks underwear, Jo Malone  glorious smelling body stuff, and my own Ipod (finally).

click to see a full size Gordon

Everyone in our consumer household was content while at the same time contributing to the health of our economy by spending 60% on clothes, 20% on lifestyle, 15% on electronics and 5% on other.  Kiki and Leila got twin bikes and learned to ride them, like good little Dutch daughters, within 30 minutes. Looking heartbreaking in their too-large helmets, long skinny legs and wobbling handlebars. I cooked Christmas lunch while they went to the beach testing the new boogy boards.  I decided to serve the feast by our communal Aqua pool.  Eat out in our bathing suits, our wet hair dripping in the cranberry sauce, I fantasized, but instead we had our first Russian Christmas, because, out of 120 deck chairs on all four sides of the pool a group of super wealthy Russians descended by our dining table with several bottles of champagne, caviar, choice drugs and proceeded to show us what a MERRY Christmas really sounds like (without a nod of recognition or toast in our direction). Fuckem. I had to leave anyway. Pick up Natalie, Iona’s best friend, from  Fort Lauderdale Airport.

aftermath

“PLEASE LEAVE MY NAME IN MERRY CHRISTMAS,” – Jesus.

The first billboard on our trip to Sarasota, taking a break from Miami Beach on Siesta Key Beach, started with this quote by Jesus Christ himself,  at the start of the Everglades National Park, aka Alligator Alley. How unlike the holy one, I thought. How un-Jesus to bitch about his credit  in Christmas like it was some reality TV show. I mean we all know who he is, like isn’t he the biggest brand in history?  Don’t get me wrong, I too think Merry Christmas sounds nicer than Happy Holidays, and personally I leave his name in.

As we exited Alligator Alley there was another enormous billboard: Mommy take my hand, please don’t take my life. A tiny newborn hand reached over the edge of the sign. What about Daddy ? I wondered. Is Mommy all alone in this unwanted pregnancy? What would Jesus think of that? But wait, wasn’t his mommy Mary said to have done pregnancy all by herself..?

A few miles along my question about Joseph’s/Daddy’s participation was answered. Vasectomy signs, like rows of Dutch windmills, sprung up alongside the highway. No Scalpel, No Laser, they boasted. Pro-Vas.com and Vasnow.com. Alternative birth control in retirement alley, where Grandpa, hard on Viagra, can now have endless happy holidays without sperm.

SO.

Those were ten days of Saturdays. One blur without structure. Tomorrow is Monday. First day of school in 2010 and I can finally resume being a control freak.

And you know what?

I like it. Being a control freak actually works for me…

christmas lunch