Yes, I am back

Not that you were waiting…
I just wanted to announce that I am starting to write again. Much has happened in three years but it has truly changed me as a person and added to my experience of simply being a human.

If there is one thing I would like to emphasize is that I hope you (my reader) can find some familiarity with me, my ideas, or experiences. As a 28 year old, struggling to achieve a platonic ideal, I don’t think I am the only one overcoming this challenge. This world is beautiful, but comes with struggles, bad days, and moments where you question everything about your ideas, goals, relationships, and overall identity.

This is where I hope my blog can come in, not to provide you with answers but rather provide company at the end of the day or during a wretched day of work, interviews, or other on-goings.
So, I invite you to comment and also share what life brings you because we are all in this altogether. ūüôā

Good Bye. (but not forever).

To my friends, readers,

After doing a lot of thinking, I have made the decision to take a long break from my blog.   My energies are needed for myself and my body for healing, playing, living,  and planning for my life in the upcoming year.   By doing so, I promise you that  I will come back, refreshed, happy, and renewed to share more with you whenever, wherever that may be.

Much love.   Ally.

“He lives the poetry that he cannot write. ¬†The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.” ¬† Oscar Wilde.

Laying down

This week, in more ways than one, has been like a yoga class (make it the longer, advanced class). ¬† ¬†Last Sunday night, it was like getting ready to go to yoga class with 2 hours sleep, and very little to eat. ¬†How can I do this? ¬†So much to do, very little strength to do it. ¬†But it has to be done. ¬† ¬†I can’t stop. ¬†Deadlines, requirements, people needing things from me. Right now, ¬†I am laying on a couch, but my body feels like how it feels during savasana.

Like a long, challenging yoga class, this week placed the same demand on my body and mind. ¬†At times, I had great stretches, openings in my body and mind that I had never thought existed. ¬†As a result, I was happy, naturally high. ¬†I was walking fast, fast music, running everywhere, talking to many people, and talking fast. ¬†Okay, thats good. ¬†That means I can really go far. ¬†If I’m in no pain now, and I am able to stretch out and go deep into this stretch, I’ll be fine. ¬†Yet this high, I knew, would be extremely temporary and soon to be replaced by something opposite. ¬† ¬†Little did I know that all this energy I was exerting, my body was being worn down. Walking on campus to do an errand, suddenly I stopped at the sidewalk and everything was spinning, and I stared down and breathed, for fear I might fall over in front of all these people. ¬† I clutched on to a pole to stabilize myself because things were a dizzy mess. ¬†So scary. ¬†Somehow it passed – but it wasn’t the last time. Even sitting talking, after talking for so much, when I stopped, I fazed out, and had to put my head down.

Like in yoga, I do get hasty, to go the extra mile because in my heart I want to, and I want to move forward and push away this pain and burning that might come from slowly easing into a posture – bit by bit. ¬†But moving forward so rapidly is the wrong thing to do, and such extreme actions then lead to over-exhaustion, and eventually some injuries. ¬†This whole week has been moving into a posture that is new to me, and has resulted in a over-exhaustion and dehydration. ¬† I didn’t listen to the girl inside of me, telling me to crash mid-day, close the curtains over and lay in bed and listen to slow music. ¬† I didn’t listen to her when she said, “Ally, its okay to cry even though its the afternoon and your on a bus”. ¬† No. ¬†Because I was going and I wasn’t going to stop. ¬†I pushed the posture and now I am in pain with plans to sleep the weekend away. ¬† ¬†In my attempt to make things comfortable around me, find repair around me, I overdid it.

At one point, I was enjoying the change of season. ¬†Seeing the leaves change colour, falling to the ground, I was happy to see a type of progress around me. ¬†Season is changing, then I can change, and everything will change. ¬†But tonight I don’t feel the same way. ¬†I take it back. ¬†I’m nowhere near ready for the season to change. ¬†Tonight was the first time that I smelt that Fall smell, and instead of feeling happy about the fall, I wanted to crumble. ¬†I’m not ready. ¬†Fall means that the leaves are dying, and the greenery and the life that the summer embodied is dead. ¬†My chest felt like it was compressing my heart.

Maybe I’m not as ready for this posture as I thought. ¬†I wish I was, I really do. ¬†But it won’t be easy. ¬†If I was on 2 hours sleep, with not much to eat, how can I be ready for a new posture? ¬†I can’t. ¬†I have to take it easy. ¬†I have to regain strength, and nurturance before attempting such a thing. ¬†More so, I have to try to accept my exhaustion, pain, sadness, disappointment in failing, and open myself to healing and resting before trying the next new posture.

Easier said than done, but I’m going to give it a try.

The Tale of the Traveling Playlist

This playlist has been following me everywhere I go, whether it be the road, down the street or the gym. ¬† ¬†Sometimes people make up ‘Soundtracks of their Life”. ¬†This didn’t start out as being that, but naturally just became that. ¬†Although I personally think my soundtrack for life would be much much longer, but meh, whatever. ¬†So here it goes. ¬†If only I could actually find sound-bite attachment to these songs, I would provide them but it be true that ¬†Miss. Ally here is no technological coinoisseur. ¬†I have indicated how I feel/most immediate memories that surface in response to these songs, hence, why they are on my untitled playlist.

1. Ray of Light, Madonna, Ray of Light   (waking up in the morning)

2. Sick Sick Sick, Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris  (dark, raw, and enjoyable to say the least)

3.  Teardrop, Massive Attack, Mezzanine  (meditative, focused and freeing)

4.  Happy Up Here, Royksopp, Junior   (happy in a real way)

5.  I believe, Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release  (hands up in the air, head is down, eyes closed)

6.  Human Beings, Seal, Human Being  (vinyasa)

7. A Cause des Garcons, Yelle, Pop-Up De-Luxe  (some power)

8. YOA (Twelves Remix), Theatre of Disco  (adrenaline, let go)

9. Strangers in the Wind, Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours   (nostalgic, and gentle)

10. Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix), The Whitest Boy Alive (night-time, 1am mojitos & cigarettes in Brussels)

11. Give it to me, Madonna, Hard Candy  (treadmill)

12. True Love Waits, Radiohead, The Best of.  (hopeful)

13. Young Folks, Peter Bjorn, and John, Writer’s Block ¬†(2006, winter house parties, shisha smoke, hugs and warm people)

14. Paradise Cove, Pete Yorn, Back and Fourth (play)

15.  Band on the Run, Paul McCartney and the Wings, Band on the Run  (my childhood)

16. Queen Bitch, David Bowie, Hunky Dory (me)

17.  Erase-Rewind, The Cardigans,  Gran Turismo (high school dances)

18. Melody Day, Caribou, Andorra   (Marianne Faithful circa 1967)

19. Paper Planes, M.I.A., Kala  (Alex swinging his cane in Clockwork Orange)

20.  Electric Feel, MGMT, Oracular Spectacular (my 23rd birthday)

21. Tomorrow Never Knows, Beatles, Revolver   (top of the mountain & the rest of my life)

22. ¬† The Drugs Don’t Work, The Verve, Urban Hymns ¬†(saying goodbye)

Love – the quiet type.

In the last week or so, I have been blown away by how much love an animal can give, without using words.

My Sita has a big place in my heart, as she is there for me in the day, and lays with me when I fall asleep.  She is extremely aware of what is happening to me and will often, if not always, be with me in the darkest of moments.

Sita’s history is not really well known, but what is known is that she must have endured a lot of fear and abandonment when she was a kitten, as people think that its possible she never had a home. ¬†Sita inspires me because she’s so strong and loves me, trusts me, regardless of her past. ¬† She still has fear in her eyes, but often there are glimpses of trust, affection, and happiness. And did I mention she is soft?

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Eat, Pray, Love: Nurture, Devote, Re-awake

I started reading my favourite book again this weekend. ¬†As cliched as it may be, it truly is my favourite book that I have brought with me everywhere I go. ¬† ¬†It really is a biography, I guess, about Elizabeth Gilbert (who is she?), a women in her 30’s that is finding herself in a restricting North American environment. ¬†As her personal life crumbles, her marriage, her overall well-being, she seeks a release and takes a year to travel to Italy, India, and Bali. ¬†She spends four months in each country, she eats (nurtures herself, eats again) prays (practices daily yoga at an Ashram, meditates, fasts, forgives) ¬†and loves (finding spiritual love with others and more importantly, herself).

In the last few years that I have owned the book, I find myself connecting with it hugely. ¬†Not so much in a way that I idolize her actions or want to follow her path of leaving my surroundings and family for a year of personal discovery, but in a way that makes me feel better about things in my life. ¬† ¬†When this book came out, it was irritating to see the mass following of the book, or as I like to call it, the Oprah- crazed- fan following. ¬† Oprah featured the book, and had Elizabeth Gilbert come onto her show. ¬† Most of the audience members, who happen to be wives and mothers, suddenly wanted to do exactly what Elizabeth had done, without really, should I say, getting the “point” of her story. ¬† ¬†Although the story is one that entails escape from hardships, and escape from pain that surrounds your life, Eat, Pray, Love’s intentions is not some sort of uniform recipe for personal fulfillment. ¬†It was a recipe for Elizabeth’s fulfillment, but not everyone’s. ¬† ¬†As a matter of fact, Elizabeth refused to reveal the name of the Ashram she practiced and lived at, in order to protect the privacy of the place. ¬† It was kind of sad to see her story to fulfillment become some sort of female-dominated commercial success. ¬†I found out recently that she was actually given a grant before she went to these places, which means that it is possible that certain struggles, like her crumbling marriage, and affair could have been slightly exaggerated. ¬†Exaggerated or not, it still is a meaningful story.

Another thing that really bothers me is when people have said in response to her situation, “At least she is healthy” or “At least she didn’t have a terminal disease”. ¬† I understand the need to compare her situation to make it not look as bad, but I think that is most insulting because it is impossible for someone, who may be struggling with depression or struggles, to know what it is like to be sick or close to death. ¬†It is all relative. ¬† Yes, we can take joy in be thankful for health, family, and friends, but that in no way diminishes pain we feel from something that has hurt us. ¬†Therefore , there really is no point to put your struggle in comparison with another’s struggle, because no matter what, you will have to face it and it won’t go anywhere. ¬†By someone saying, “at least your not sick”, that will not erase the pain you have in your life.

After escaping the chains of grueling divorce settlements, fighting, and depression, her first place is Italy. She always wanted to learn Italian and live in Italy.  So she does it.  She rents out a flat, eats pizza, and cries.   She makes friends, but comes home alone every night, possibly the more difficult parts.  She learns to write to herself and talk to herself.  She gets in tune with the woman inside of her, that is alive and well.  The most heart-wrenching part is when she documents a letter (one of many) she wrote to herself when she was verging suicide:

I’m here. I love you. ¬†I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long. I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it — I will love you through that as well.(….) I am strong than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me. (p. 54).

Later she writes, “Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognize yourself as a friend”.

I was taken by the notion of getting in tune with the person inside of you, and letting them speak, and letting them be your friend. ¬†How come I have never done this before? ¬† I ignore that girl’s voice inside of me all the time. ¬† You may disagree at times, and struggle with conflicting intentions (e.g., what you want versus, what he/she wants) but its true, you have to listen to yourself, even if you don’t want to.

When Elizabeth is in India, this is perhaps the most moving part of the book. ¬†She finds a Guru, who is not to be mistaken as some sort of life coach, but instead an individual, who drifts in and out of her life. ¬† When she was living in NYC, she happened to meet him briefly in a line of people who were followers of him. ¬†Her friend had coaxed her to go. ¬†When she found him again in India, he remembered her name. ¬† ¬†After spending most of her days washing temple floors, eating little, she finds herself loving herself again. ¬† Through meditation, her haunts come up, her ex-husband, her family everything. ¬† One evening, she climbs the onto the roof of the Ashram and had a set of “Instructions for Freedom” that was written by a friend in the Ashram. ¬† As she was on the roof, she started laughing and smiling as she went through the instructions, but then took them into heart. ¬† She located the one thing that had been hurting her, and that was seeking forgiveness from her ex-husband, who she had left abruptly for a variety of reasons. ¬†She then had a conversation with him, not actually with him, but to him from her, even though he was far away. ¬†She said what she had to say to him. ¬†This part grabs me every time. ¬†I think that one of the greatest struggles that most people have are being able to say something to someone who is far away from you. ¬† You can do it, even though they won’t hear it. ¬†Just expressing your thoughts and words is enough. ¬†After she was done her conversation with her husband, they parted ways with forgiveness and contentment between the two. ¬† ¬†My favourite part is when she does a handstand on the roof to express her strength and liberation. ¬† ¬†It’s ¬†bittersweet really.

Elizabeth’s final trip to Bali, is a part of the book, that I can’t read yet. ¬†I have read it but at this time, it is too difficult for me and I’m just not there yet.

As much as her story is one of escape of issues, running away, and finding herself, I argue that the same can be done for yourself, without going away to another country. ¬†I would love to move away to Paris now, study there, learn French, and start a new chapter in my life, but I can’t. ¬†Not sure that I should. ¬†Even if I could, should I do that? ¬† ¬†I can apply to study there, ¬†but I cannot impulsively pick up and leave. ¬† Instead, I have to find my own “Paris” in my own apartment, in the work I do, at the grocery store, the coffee I drink, and in my relationships with people. ¬† In many ways, I believe that is Elizabeth’s point in her story. ¬†Yes, she physically escaped her problems, but you can do the same thing, find self-repair and fulfillment in front of you.

I am so scared that I won’t be able to find it, and that I will only find true release and renewal when I physically leave where I live for another place, another city, possibly another country, but I am going to have some faith right now, that I will. ¬† If it be through talking for hours and hours through tears with close friends across the ocean, then that is what it is. ¬†If it be letting people cook for me, then that is what it is. ¬† If it be re-connecting with old friends, forgiving others, downloading new music and changing my bedroom, it is what it is. ¬†If it be sharing sharing a bottle of red wine with my friend till 3 am, celebrating her first review, it is what it is. ¬†If it be going home, and hugging my mom, then it is what it is.

There is no better escape than becoming closer with the things around you.

A Poem – Yes.

After investing a lot of time devoted to ‘constructing’ and developing some sort of ‘goal’ for this blog – I have given up. ¬† ¬†I am choosing to think about no borders in terms of expression. ¬†As a result, today I am sharing a poem. ¬†It is one the closest to me and has been like a friend for many years, actually. ¬† ¬†The title is ‘When I have fears’ by John Keats. ¬† I won’t recite the whole poem, as it is on the back of my hand but instead more meaningful parts. ¬†To my understanding, he wrote the poem as he struggled with TB and was quite young when he passed. ¬† This poem had much to do with his acceptance of death and darkness.

When I have fears that I may cease to be, before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, before high-piled books, in charact’ry.

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power of unreflecting love! –

then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Thank you Monika Lee for sharing this with me in your  lecture.  I will never forget you taking us out for walks in February in the forest in behind Brescia to gain the stillness of the cold and the warmth of the words we brought to each other.

Yoko and John meet Kemp and Sean

Recently, Sean Lennon and his girlfriend, Kemp, re-created the classic Leibovitz portrait of John and Yoko Ono, where he is naked and clinging to her.

This time, its the other way around. Kemp is naked clinging to a fully clothed Sean.

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Hmmmm I kind of like the original. ¬†You see the love a man has for a woman, whereas the other one seems more like forced a photo op. ¬†Maybe its also because we I don’t know who Sean and Kemp were. ¬†John and Yoko were a classic love tale of the late 20th century. ¬† ¬†I even like the colours more in the original, very vintage and warm, inviting. ¬†The contrast between Yoko’s black top and hair with the white warmth around her is stunning. ¬†The second one seems more like Marc Jacob’s ad. ¬†Nice, but just not the same.

Music for the Week – Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

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My first encounter with this album was in my parent’s basement when I was 15. ¬† Curious as I was, and craving a visit to the past, I uncovered this album. ¬†The defining pyramid on the front, which became an emblem in classic rock history, was so new to me. ¬†I thought I would be turning on a more electric sounding album. ¬†Indeed it has electricity in its energy and its intentions, but it was soft.

I put it on the record table, fiddled with the record needle.  Finally after struggling, placed it on the first track.   There was no sound, but the record was moving and turning.  What?   No sound.  Suddenly, heartbeats.  What is this?  Boom boom.  Boom boom.  It got louder and louder, and finally as the sound heightened, it broke through and eased into this serene relaxed and airy track, Breathe.  I still exhale when I hear the song.  Breathe, breathe in the air.   This was like nothing I had ever heard before.

The really cool thing about Dark Side of the Moon is that the album is really one song. ¬†Each song turns into another song and there is no stopping. ¬†From the minute you start it, you end it. ¬†It’s hypnotic and takes you literally on a journey. ¬† ¬†In one respect, as stated by Roger Waters, it takes you on a journey into the unconscious. ¬† As each track invites you in, you don’t know what you will feel during the album, but you will feel something – yourself and your own emotions. ¬†The album gained a reputation and often was accompanied (and still is) by smoking weed to enhance the sounds of the album…to try and make sense of it, but I found in my own experience you don’t need anything or any substance to let the music affect you.

Each track is followed by a different paced, different emotion than the previous track. ¬† “Great Gig in the Sky” screams liberation, power, and is a song that means much to me. ¬†The strong voice of a woman singing so loud, screaming at times is a song that I could always envision a woman breaking out of a cage. ¬†The song erupts into a climatic point. ¬†The woman is tired, has made her point and is done. “Money” is high-paced, all out rock ballad then tags after with a more peppy cocky sound, but is then followed by “Us and Them”, highly sentimental, ¬†endearing and hopeful, but really sad. ¬† “Us and Them” is a song that always lets me slip away into memories, experience strong pangs of nostalgia, followed by tears.

So many themes about society emerge and are so apparent. ¬†War, the individual, escape (“On the run”), liberation (“Any Colour you Like”) conformity (“Us and them”), consumerism (“Money”), freedom (“Great Gig in the Sky”), and so much more. ¬† There is this impending feeling throughout the album that screams “things have to change” both worldly and musically. ¬† ¬†The approach taken to writing the album is unorthodox as it integrated heavy synthesizing sounds with light guitars. ¬†As mentioned before, it really is like one song because there is no ending. ¬† The album is also a musical. ¬†The many moods combined with the pauses of silence, heartbeats, ticking clocks resembles that of a musical journey. ¬† There is path, but we are to stay on the path because it will take us somewhere but we have to listen to it all to find out where it will take us.

Contrary to what many speculated, especially given the time-period, the Dark Side of the Moon was not the creative result of substance or drugs.  David Gilmour once said that they were sober when making the album.  He continued to say that Dark Side of the Moon would not have existed if they had used drugs during the writing, composition and production of Dark Side.

As it was and is my father’s favourite album, ¬†I find so much emotional connection with it and attachment, as it bonds my dad and I. ¬† It’s a family heirloom. ¬†A gift passed down from my father to me. ¬†Since I was 15, ¬†the album is a huge part of my life. ¬† I never get tired of it, and it comes with me everywhere. ¬†There is a song that fits the many emotions. ¬†Whether I am feeling angry, excited or depressed, the album is there and used to accompany those moments. ¬†In the end, the album is all about you.