Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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Beyond Miami Beach…

As Advised by Great White Dog

I find myself annoyed. Am I annoyed with Miami? After eight years of living here?

Much has happened in that time. We lived here during Obama’s his entire presidency. When we arrived there were many unspoken agreements that had shaped the local culture over the twenty preceding years, from the wild-west eighties until the crash of 2009. “As long as we are having fun” was one of them. Being serious was boring. I was called a Debbie Downer at a dinner party, when I talked about water in the streets as a result of climate change (that BTW, had made every guest late for the party). Don’t get me wrong, I like having fun, but my idea of fun is  different from dressing in skimpy but expensive designer clothes, drinking outrageous cocktails, clamoring around celebs and music so intense that the only possible interaction is taking selfies with your “friends” (while hoping for one with that star).

Yes guilty, my initial blogs were all about those parties. As an outlet for my culture shock. And, after years of working in NYC and living in Milford, PA with small children, these parties were so alien, so different and took me so far outside myself, that it felt like something I needed, in the way that getting really drunk sometimes feels like a healthy dose of vitamin C. It wore off fast, the so-called glamorous lifestyle, one that I had always walked away from, in Amsterdam, Paris, London and New York. It just isn’t me. I like to drive myself hard and if I don’t accomplish stuff I set out to do, I get depressed. I do not dream of retiring, shopping and sitting by the pool for the rest of my life. I need to be heard and seen and not for gossip and what I wear. So when the party dust settled I got to work on being relevant in Miami, no matter what it took.

It took a lot… I gave it my best… I feel depleted… I can’t say I conquered and I’m kind of over trying (… plus I’m getting shit done in other parts of the world).

And yes, I realize it’s not all about me and I’m not alone. Three months into 2017 and this worn-out feeling is a national depression. Up and down the East and West Coast we aspired to be part of a wave of hope that Obama brought with him. One that I saw as a way to change and save Miami, with talks of rising sea-levels, an ocean full of plastic, recycling and up-cycling, the right for all kids to an inspired public education such as DASH, affordable housing instead of 20% occupancy in condos and private homes worth billions on Miami Beach, air-conditioned year-around.

But if it felt like I was swimming against the stream over the past eight years,  I am now swimming into a Tsunami. Will the already lavish parties get even bigger and crazier as the 1% feels empowered, emboldened in their greed and need to flaunt it, with Miami Beach as the perfect stage for competitive one-percenting? Living less than a mile from Sunny Isles, with its six Trump Towers, and the highest concentration of Russian investments in recent years, Russia’s unabashed imperialism is palpable. And after the cuts to environmental protection, the NEA, healthcare, public transportation, education, housing and human and women’s rights, what will happen to the other group, the full-time residents and working class whose statistics show that Miami’s income disparity is one of the largest in the country?

Yet it is all about me. Also. About what I can give and do and how I will spend the next twenty years of my life optimizing who I am, what I have learned and how I can reflect this back on generations to come. In another year the twins will leave for college. I will be free from the school calendar, driving and feeding and other hands-on mothering. I look at them, and how they act and feel, and I remember being seventeen and practically jumping out of my own skin with impatience, anger even at being told what to do by teachers, parents, the system. The nervous restlessness that I now recognize for what it is in my girls – their booster engines filled with ambition for their future and need for autonomy, propelling them forward. As I see this in my daughters I recognize it in myself, four decades older than they are, but the impulse is the same, I am getting ready for another shift.

So I am annoyed at Miami. Or I am just annoyed. I am practically jumping out of my skin with irritation at the status quo, and like a very old teenager I’m going to use this urge to amp it up some and get more shit done…

(But maybe not in Miami).

 

Links to projects elsewhere:

PORTFOLIO SITE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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inner voices and Dear Abby…

photograph: Robin Saidman for Harpers Bazaar, Model: Barbi

I hear voices in my head. Don’t you?

There’s my mother’s voice. She is the chief, CEO, President, mother of  the voices, although I dont think they talk among themselves all that much. They talk to me. Sometimes when I ask, mostly when I don’t ask at all. Like when I’m just doing my own thing,suddenly mothervoice will say isn’t it time you go to bed (or get up)? Or its been sunny all day and you haven’t been outside ONCE. Then there’s the Judge Judy voice. She mainly speaks up inside the car. That fuckin asshole ran a stop sign, and you have a car full of kids, he’s guilty, guilty, guilty of your wrecked vehicle (she helps me imagine the worst scenarios), he has to pay the millions of rehab bills your insurance will not pay, he is FUCKED for life! (she takes things way too far). Then there’s the Oprah voice. She has me on the show inside my head and tells me how much she likes my books, my jewelry, how much she adores ME. But she’s a quiet one. Usually just pipes up when I’m in a creative phase. Then there’s the Elle McPherson voice. (yes its Elle MC Pherson and not Kate or Giselle). She tells me how she’s aging much better than me, she’s thinner, less wrinkly, has better hair and her tummy is perfectly flat. She gloats about being invited to all the  best VIP parties and modeling the lingerie collection she designs herself. Ha, I tell her, but your love-life sucks. Fuck you Elle Mc Pherson-voice ! Then there’s my Amy voice. My friend Amy Ferris. She tells me whether I’m funny or not. She’s the one I want to hear laughing. My Amy Ferris laughter voice is very potent.

Then there’s my inner Dear Abby. Do you have an inner Dear Abby?I mean is it NORMAL to have an inner letter writing, yes and banal women’s problem Red Book style counselor inside my head? I write a her little notes and wait. She’s ever so reasonable (but sometimes it takes her a while to get back to me), and always tries to see both sides of the issue. I wrote to her, inside my head, last night:

Dear Abby, I have a problem. (of course I have a problem I’m writing to you, [thats another voice, my impatient teacher voice] get on with it already) The bed in our Miami candy land bachelor pad is a queen size, yes you’d think it would be Emperor, and the one back home in Milford is a King. By now you know I’m 6 feet long. And husband is 6.5. Well. I sleep on about 1/3 of the bed, or maybe its 1/4. I’m cool with that. I don’t move much when asleep. But here’s the problem, he moves around a lot. He’s very busy and interacts with the pillows. All the pillows. He hugs them and discards them. He loses them and looks for them. He even talks to them. He has long arms. And this is the part that I need to address: When I’m soundly asleep on my two feather pillows he slips his hand under them like a ferret burrowing a nest. Right under my ear. My sound asleep soft fuzzy, REM zone, head. Frrettt, trrt, trrttt. He scratches at the cotton pillowcase. He turns the hand over. He makes a fist. Its like a restless ferret. So now I’m awake and I carefully take his hand and put it back inside his 3/4 of the bed. I go back to sleep. But its also a persistent ferret. You get my drift? I keep putting it back, it keeps coming back, ferreting. Then, if its a very bad and busy night for the ferret, he will, yes really, he’ll suddenly and unannounced, when I’m fast asleep again, yank the pillow from under my head! Like if he cant burrow on my 1/4 he’l justt have to take the pillow back to his 3/4! This is by far the worst domestic sensation anyone can have in the middle of the night, while asleep. It makes me mad. Really really mad. So I yell at him. I wake him up. Curse and call him names. Of course he has NO idea what I’m talking about. None. A ferret? He says. What ferret, where? I guess its like sleep walking. Or Jekyll and Ferret. And it ruins the rest of our night and sometimes even the next day. So dear Abby what do I do? I love my husband and I like sleeping with him. But…

I’m still waiting for her to get back to me.