My good friend live_life_like started this journal in Brasil in May 2001 as a way of keeping in touch with myself and another friend we had in common. Thus the name. In September that year, a week after 9/11, I left Brasil and moved to London with my boyfriend to start a new life.
This journal has been a great place to inhabit during my 12 years in London. I survived many dull temp jobs thanks to it, and met tons of people who went on to become close friends. I'd like to one day sit down and read through it - there have been some dramatic posts and some epic flamewars!
This journal will come to an end when I fly to Brasil on Friday. It brings to an end my 12 years in London.
Here's to whatever comes next!
I saw a neighbour come out of the corner shop and at first I thought she had made herself up to look like a zombie. Upon closer inspection, I realised she was just tired.
My boyfriend and I spent the evening watching Byzantium, a pretty decent vampire film set in a nameless location in the British Isles. It had a new twist to the genre: a mother and daughter were on the run because vampires were a brotherhood that did not allow women.
(Nobody knocked on our door.)
The 16-year-old daughter had been moping like a teenager for 200 years. She dealt with her curse by feeding off elderly people who wanted to die. She played the piano beautifully, which made me think of the pianos in St Pancras, with their signs "Play Me." There's one just by the Eurostar's arrival door: visitors from France and beyond, quite often, are greeted by some random traveler playing it as they roll their suitcases into London. It's quite a nice idea and I salute whoever came up with it.
I wish I could play the piano. I wish I could play any musical instrument actually (apart from the triangle.) I'd drop by St Pancras once in a while on my lunch break, sit at the piano and whip up a sonata.
Walking from the station to the nearest bus stop, I spotted an elderly man sat in the middle of the road, surrounded by passersbys and the driver of a black minivan. Cars swerved around him, cyclists slowed down to take a good look, pedestrians lost interest in where they were going or the conversations they were having on their mobile phones to stop and watch with furrowed brows.
The man, it seemed, had been jaywalking with some other people when he was knocked over. An elderly Polish lady touched his shoulder and he swatter her away. She crossed over to the bus stop and told someone: “he’s rude! He’s rude!”
The black minivan driver rubbed the old man’s back, got into her car and drove away. New people arrived and formed a human shield around the man. One bespectacled gentleman got off his bike and became a traffic warden. A few of them spoke into mobile phones (emergency services?) The old man remained seated on the cold, wet asphalt, hunched over, cradling his arm.
Buses arrived and people climbed in. I decided to wait for the next one, as did the Polish lady.
“Did anyone call an ambulance?” I asked her.
“He’s lying!” she blurted back. “There’s nothing wrong with his arm! I touch it. I touch it hard. If it was broken, he would feel pain. He feel nothing. He’s pretending.” 
“Oh,” and I looked back at the old man (now turned into a con artist in my eyes) and the group of people (suckers.)
“I was behind him when he fell. Nobody touch him. He just fall by himself. He make this to get money from the government.”
“I’m sure the ambulance crew will figure this out when they check him.”
“I fell down my building’s stairs once. I get bruises on my back. I can’t bear even a small touch. So that’s how I know he don’t break arm. I touch and he feel nothing! I know what to do in this country. You go to hospital and you get doctor to write everything down. That’s how you get money from government. But he wants people to believe what he says, and not what the doctor says. He do the wrong way.”
A much emptier No.8 bus arrived and we climbed in together. Her Oyster card was a Freedom Pass. I climbed upstairs and sat on the seat right at the front, where I could look down on the man as the bus drove by. He had now been moved to the median strip. He looked a bit confused.
 Recreation of the lady’s Polish accent may be slightly incorrect due to author’s incapability of remembering verbatim what she said.
After work, the No. 8 from Liverpool Street station because I just can't squeeze into the Central Line. All the windows facing North on Bethnal Green Rd are lit, open. Shirtless young men stalk front rooms. Young women hunch over laptops. Mixed students cook dinner together. Rooms jammed with clothes or completely sparse, just a few postcards bluetacked to the walls.
The young man sitting beside me holds his mobile phone up, trying to capture a good connection. He's on Grindr.
Gradiva is the story of a young archeologist who buries his desires, but of course what is repressed always returns and one night he dreams of Pompeii; it is the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, and he sees his Gradiva there, the dream image of a woman depicted in a plaster-cast bas-relief, with a particular gait that fascinates him, for which he searches in the streets. He is possessed by her ‘lente festinans’. The woman in his dream lies down as if to sleep, stretched along a broad step. She dies (it is a moment for which Jacques Derrida says all historians wish: to witness the coincidence of the event with the archiving of that event). She is like a beautiful statue and a veil of ashes covers her face and soon buries her. In 1907, Freud published his essay on Gradiva and delusions and dreams. It is also a ghost story, unstable and distorted, its happy ending uncertain even when resolved. 
In that same year, Freud wrote a postcard from Rome to his wife, Martha. "He invited her to think of his joy in encountering––or re-encountering––after a long solitude, a beloved face. It was, however, as he remarked, a rather one-sided recognition, for the face to which he was referring was that of the bas-relief of the Gradiva, a figure stepping lightly, high up on a wall in the Vatican".
106 years later, to the date, I step into a building near Paddington Station, London, for Punchdrunk's latest production, The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable.
( Contains spoilers... )
 &  A London Fantasy, by Sharon Kivland
Sounds banal to say it but when you're not busy scrolling through your mobile phone you start to notice life around you. Like the amount of homeless and drunks in the Eastend. The amount of people walking while texting. The amount of people driving while texting.
I turned off roamer on my mobile phone so I wouldn't get push notifications (temptations.) I'd catch myself during the first weekend wanting to check something, or thinking up a tweet/LJ post/Facebook update. I started sleeping for longer periods, with less interruptions. I wrote more in my journal. I read more. Ideas for short stories and novels flooded in. My decision to never do NaNoWriMo again wavered.
Bliss: no idea what was going on with my family nor with my work. Days stretched away - a week felt like two weeks. I began to dread having to check my emails again - in fact, by this last Sunday I had terrible insomnia/anxiety. Woke up exhausted and compulsively went through all my notifications, updates and emails (mostly junk.)
A lot of my physical problems can be traced back to the internet: insomnia, r.s.i, bad posture. I personally don't think we as human beings were meant to be digitally connected 24/7. A few hours a day - maybe OK. More than that? Not good. Social networks are the processed cheese of the 21st century. And Zadie Smith was right about the internet being terrible for writers. Some writers.
The internet is my alcohol and it doesn't help that I work in a distillery. But I need to keep taking these breaks, so I'm going to try Friday night to Monday morning from now on. Save the weekends for non-digital stuff. Follow Henry Miller's suggestion that you should always finish what you started.
Yesterday, I joined LinkedIn.
I'm about to go on holiday! I've taken a week off though I'm not sure if I'm going anywhere. I'm definitely not getting in a plane as my boyfriend really doesn't like them (neither do I, to be honest.)
What I'm sure: I'll be off email, social networks and my mobile phone for the whole time. I want a complete digital break (though I reserve the right to playing a bit of Wii if I get bored of my books and letter writing!)
The last time I went off the grid was during a week in Crete a few years ago with king_prawn neenaw and wink_martindale It was momentarily interrupted when NeeNaw's mom called to announce Wacko Jacko had died.
What to do with my spare time? Day trips outside of London? Horror and sci-fi novels? The local pool? Zombies, Run? Sleep? Creative Writing? Perhaps a few nights in a B&B? Art exhibitions?
Going with the flow.
Sitting in a pub on Bethnal Green Rd, drinking cider and listening to classic soul. About to watch Matt Damon's (read his name as said on Team America) Elysium. Took an hour to walk here. Spent 707 calories. Boyfriend is nearby, writing in his journal.
The people looking from outside are just looking at their own reflections... or taking selfies.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Z, a young woman from a small village in China, is offered a trip to England by her parents so she can learn English and improve her prospects in life. She arrives in London during a typical grim winter in the mid-noughties, oblivious as to how to behave and comprehend this Western capital. Her hostel is dire and the students in her English course label her a pariah because of her inability to behave in a "Western" way.
Z spends most of her time trying to decode this new world with a Chinese-English dictionary - and the novel itself is also divided this way, with each chapter starting with a word and its dictionary definition (relevant to the chapter in question) that sheds light onto Z's uncovering of this world. Often, Z's misunderstandings are meant to be humorous, but because Z is such a nutter - and a slightly unsympathetic one - the humour is a misfire.
One evening, she strikes conversation with a much older man in a cinema and very soon she's his lover. He's a van driver and part-time artist based in Hackney. They fall madly in love, things get kinky, summer arrives, she travels across Europe under his suggestion (to improve her understanding of the West)... then things get complicated.
The novel is based on Xiaolu Guo's own experience of moving to London in 2002 and keeping a journal. There are some pleasures to be found in its description of Hackney, and an interesting twist relating to the older lover. The cover is deceptively chick lit - this novel is anything but.
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It's a dying scene though. Always the same (old) faces. Everybody stuck in the same decade. Thatcher is gone but we still keep dancing. As soon as it hits midnight 31st December 1989, we get thrown back to the start of the decade. Everyone else moves on.
On Saturday, I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness on 3D. It was fun, or maybe I was just too gobsmacked by the £17.50 ticket to see it for what it was. No wonder downtown cinemas are dying. The meagre audience had a good chuckle when the screen said after Fast and Furious 6 "reserve your tickets now and avoid the rush." "What rush?" asked the woman beside me holding the tiny £5 popcorn bucket.
I've been going for runs in Victoria Park during week mornings and, last Sunday, I returned to the local pool after a year away. I've been reading loads, working loads, working out loads, wanting to go out loads... but broke.
I'm supporting Norway in tomorrow's Eurovision.
Last time I went dancing was last summer, at the disastrous Old School Indie. And before that was The Cure night at Electric Dreams. My dancing days get shorter and rarer, which I find very sad. I'm not ready yet to give them up!
There were four of us and we ended up leaving early (some were tired, some had run out of money and some needed to work in the morning.) I got a good dose of the dancefloor; my leg muscles tingle today.
On our walk back to Liverpool Street Station I luxuriated on my comfort despite not having a scarf. My friend Bia pointed out how Electric Dreams is unusual for its lack of pretention and its variety of people: tall and short, large and thin, old and young, alternative or business-suited, men and women. Nicely split in half, all for the music.
We walked past a homogeneous group of bankers who'd left a posh bar and one of the women had just finished vomiting at their feet. They didn't have an ounce of the fun we had.
My boyfriend and I are now bundling up and stepping outdoors for a walk and some lunch. The sunshine promised during the week failed to materialise.
Fede Alvarez, Evil Dead, 2013
I was invited yesterday to a press screening of Evil Dead. This was exciting because I don't go to the cinema anymore for horror (hardly anyone wants to go with me) - and especially not in a big one right at Leicester Square, with free beer and pizza served beforehand (and your mobile phone bagged just before the entrance, in case you have any ideas about filming the screen.) There was a buzz of excitement, with a long queue snaking outside the cinema's doors - seemingly all of London's horror reviewers and aficionados in attendance.
I'm no horror expert, but I know when a film stinks. The dialogue is too expository, wooden and boring. The film's pace has no suspense, acting is flat and you don't care about the characters. Every horror cliché is rolled out and it feels like you're watching just a bunch of splatter scenes cobbled together. You wonder why nobody in this project watched the recent Cabin in the Woods, a successful horror-satire on exactly this sort of horror movie.
I don't remember much of the original Evil Dead - I saw it when I was 12 years old - but I do know that this new Evil Dead is pointless. I can recall the original's macabre sense of humour, its maniacal energy, its uniqueness - no matter how low its budget. Bruce Campbell was perfectly cast for it. This new Evil Dead is just a studio exercise via various screenwriters on how to gross out teenagers who haven't seen much of anything. The actors are poorly cast and forgettable, moving around like videogame characters in a plot mashed from the original and Cabin in the Woods (with J-horror thrown in at times.)
Someone on Twitter agreed with me; he said that a good horror must get under your skin. Evil Dead is so forgettable that it was completely out of my mind by the time I took my Tube ride home.
The weather was grim throughout his visit. On Saturday, I walked with him down Regent's Canal to Broadway Market and we perused the books in a new barge/bookshop that popped up in the area. The market itself was unusually empty - we had no trouble finding seats inside L'eau à la Bouche. 
Later, I spotted Michael Fassbender with a friend walking through the market. They were both wearing hoodies and battered jeans - very dressed down and non-descript. Then they walked past us again holding hot dogs.
We wandered down to Brick Lane and just near Rough Trade East I spotted Marianne Elliot with a friend. I turned to him and said "that's the director of the original War Horse! One of the best british stage directors!" He gave me a blank look that stopped any further conversation.
My boyfriend was sick throughout his visit, with a fever that soaked his clothes at night and a weakness that left him tired throughout the day.
I've run twice this week in Victoria Park, breaking a personal record by achieving over 5K in both runs. I love what my iTunes coughs up during these runs - one morning it was the Cocteau Twins and I swear the trees looked like they could speak.
Life is mostly work and home, work and home. Reading books in between, watching the occasional film, listening to a lot of music.
I heard the new David Bowie yesterday - twice - and I really like it. It's beautifully produced and reminiscent of different epochs in his career. I also like that Yoko Ono turned 80 and feels like she hasn't done enough. It's a weird inspiration for myself, especially as I see older people in my family falling apart due to illness and depression. And so I run more and more, chasing the endorphins that will keep me afloat...
 He found the experience cool but strange: in Canada (at least in suburban Ottawa), he says that this sort of market is attended mostly by the elderly. Sitting inside delis and drinking coffees is apparently not for the young in that part of Canada.
We were on the same sidewalk as them so I stepped behind my boyfriend to give them way (there were three young guys followed by a couple - all in their early 20s). I got this strong feeling that they "spotted" us - their conversation stopped, they all looked at us. It happened very quickly - one of them said to me in a very effeminate way "oh hi honey, how are you" and made this move to touch me.
We just kept walking. My boyfriend didn't even hear very well what he said. As you can imagine, all sorts of scenarios started playing in my mind: that I said something back, that we got into an argument, that we got into a fight.
All in all, it was a tiny little incident. Nothing compared to what many people put up with everyday. I have a gay friend who is harassed all the time; even had someone punch him in the face once for no reason and then walk away (right in Piccadilly, with tons of people around.) And when I hear of what some guys have said to my girlfriends...
Living in the East End, you'd think I'd get this annoying stuff all the time, what with marauding Muslim gangs supposedly controlling my area, but it's never even crossed my mind. I was starting to forget I was gay! There are more and more gay people living in the East End, and this has made "us" feel more visible and part of a silent community - a group that doesn't need to feel so displaced and alone when in public (though I've also heard that homophobic attacks are on the rise here exactly because of this community's growth.)
We were in Parson's Green last night, a posh bit of West London. The home I would imagine of people with good education, who are past this sort of stuff. But I suppose young and dumb white males will always be themselves?! I felt after this encounter like everyone we walked past was a giant asshole. And very straight. The whole rah rah crowd thing.
I've been thinking since then what it must be like to get this sort of harassment fairly regularly. Either you grow a tough skin or… I don't know. What do you do with that rage and sense of unfairness inside of you?
The Silent History sounds like something just down my alley. Is this what fiction and literature will look like in the future?
From what I understand, it's an app only for iPads or iPhones (but I may be wrong.) You download it and every day it gives you a new chapter on the story of children being born across the U.S. (the world?) who suffer from a mysterious condition where they are completely silent. Each daily chapter is through the point of view of someone related to the epidemic - one of the main characters, doctors, parents, etc.
There's an additional feature, the Field Reports, which are GPS tagged and entered by the authors and readers - they can only be accessed when you are near them. Which has, supposedly, led people to travel across the U.S., and now even to London, to unlock them (though they are not essential to the comprehension of the main story.)
The story comes to an end one year after you download and start the app.
I've been thinking for some time now about storytelling that is interactive with social media and gadgets - in line with some of the stuff Secret Cinema does as well as other arts organisations in London. My own idea revolves around a bus route in London and how different aspects of the story related to it can be unlocked/viewed if you: travel the route; visit certain houses near it; read certain newspapers; etc.
But my idea didn't include contributions from the public - it would be purely my creation and perhaps involve some film making with actors. I like though The Silent History's use of the public's imagination - I'm tempted to download the app right now and start filing some of my own "Field Reports" around my neighbourhood, adding to The Silent History's "myth".
Imagine the implications for other genres... a horror story, for example! You could unlock a segment of the story once you visit a church after sunset. Or a walk through one of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries in London. The possibilities are endless actually, and they can be used to comment on a load of things. It could also be a wonderful way of teaching history, languages, social concern.
Very curious now about other apps/stories like The Silent History currently in development.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The main selling point (or interest) of this short novel for me is its representation of immigrants from the West Indies in London during the 1950s. The mood is set from the opening page where we meet Moses on his way to Waterloo to receive a new arrival from Trinidad, the eccentric Galahad (who feels hot during the English winter and cold in the summers). At first it seems like this will be a story of how Galahad experiences culture shock in London while Moses - already a resident for ten years - helps guide him through the city's society.
But "The Lonely Londoners" - narrated in the same accented voice of the characters - is also about a cast of acquaintances to Moses who try to get by in the rapidly hostile English society with varying degrees of success. Tolroy who suddenly has to find space in his small room for a large family descending on London; Lewis, in search of the lost wife he constantly beat until she'd had enough; Cap, who gets by on hustles; and many more.
There are no chapters, just tales on these different immigrants and how they try to stay afloat, gathering in each other's stuffy bedrooms, never a shilling to be found for the radiators during the winter. The scenes in well-known parts of London (such as Galahad hunting for a pigeon to eat in Hyde Park) stand out for me amidst the gray and lugubrious mood.
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Later, when he walked past our table after visiting the gents I realised it was Michael Fassbender. Cue five minutes of me trying to explain to Bia and Lila who he was, complete with descriptions of X Men and Shame, and the obligatory iPhone Google search.
A woman in the table next to ours leaned over and asked: "is that the certain Hollywood gent I think he is?"
She rubbed her face in surprise and shrunk back into her boyfriend. "He is THE number one... my number one star!"
Just then, Fassbender picked up his jacket and left with his friends. A search through Twitter informed me he'd been all afternoon in London Fields, causing a commotion with his naked torso. He joined some random BBQ with his friends and talked about chicken hearts (he likes them) with a brasilian girl who only clued in who he was once he'd left.
Other celebrities I've spotted since I've gone on annual leave: Boy George (as mentioned before) and Ulrika Jonsson window shopping for specs in Covent Garden (the shop where Johnny Depp usually buys his.)
This gorgeous sunny weekend also involved an unsuccessful trip to Old School Indie, a club night at the venue usually used for Feeling Gloomy (but still run by the same people.) The idea was apparently to do F.G. but with "happier" songs. It was complete rubbish. The DJ played Rolling Stones after The Cure, amongst other barbarities. Bob Dylan is apparently indie too. RUBBISH. And there was nobody there.
While everyone in London was celebrating the athletes parade this afternoon, my boyfriend and I were at the Tate Modern, enjoying the Edvard Munch exhibition.
It's a beautifully put together show on his life work, arranged thematically. I recommend you use the multi-media guide if you visit: it gives you really good commentary on key work as well as an overview of his life and the key historical events of the time.
Sadly, The Scream is not part of the show (maybe they were scared of another attempted theft?) And my only tiny criticism would be that Munch's photos and experiments with film are almost presented as worthy artistic pieces, whereas they are more like studies of themes he was interested in (self-portraits, ghostly bodies, and other things the moving camera made possible for artists at the turn of the 19th century.)
I forgot to mention another "celebrity" I spotted this weekend... Maeve from Dalston Superstars! She was working behind the counter at the Haggerston and she looked well tired. (Or was there a camera secretly following her around for Season 2?!)
Don't know if I can be bothered to write it again. Here's a photo of Grand Marnier's Bubble on the roof of the Brixton Clubhouse (which also houses "Taboo".) The sun is about to set and naturalbornkaos and I are inside it with bloggers and party hostesses, being filmed and getting tipsy on free cocktail drinks:
I don't like musicals and "Taboo" didn't really change my mind. It was nice to see Boy George so close (he introduced it and explained that it was just a dress rehearsal and things might go wrong) and spot the 80s references on stage (no wonder the musical bombed in the US - it's so English-centric.)
The guy who played Leigh Bowery stole the show. Was surprised to learn later that it's a contestant from The Voice UK!
Plans to visit Hampstead's Ponds today have been scuppered. Might do it Monday or Tuesday if weather allows. Latest plan is to visit Edvard Munch's exhibition at the Tate and do the whole shebang: full price entry, electronic guided tour, cappuccino in the bar.