Sunday, 31 July 2016


Senior year was a waterfall of university applications and exam preparations, assigned readings stacked knee-deep and writings presented with a prompt. Entire daydreams were dedicated to the books I’d read and the words I’d write the moment freedom kissed my fingertips. Summer was the arms of a hug into which I sprinted, and it hasn’t let go since. And while senior year might be over, life has slid into its place. Turns out freedom hugs tight.  

If I had to pick a word to describe the past two months, I would be incapable. From girly holidays in Mykonos to guy weekends in Ibiza, from pre-planned theme park trips to spontaneous science museum visits, from card game evenings to morning ears still ringing with the soundtrack of the night before. Sleep became a non-existent priority, little other than wishful thinking, while hobbies were postponed for “lack of free time.”

Guilt is inaccurate, as it implies summer’s memories should be stripped of their sun-kissed smiles and buried under a sea of clouds. Although some moments are blurrier than others, none will be regretted. And the sky, as far as I can remember, was cloudless.  

Writing is nothing without experience.

How can an author choose the appropriate adjectives to describe a kiss without tasting another’s lips between their own? What’s the point of documenting an argument if one’s veins have never burned on the brink of eruption? A beach sunrise cannot be captured on paper without one’s eyes having first seen the snapshot in person. If fiction were a flower, the petals would be the sentences – seductive, yet superficial. The thorn of a rose or the stem of a daisy. It’s the roots that keep the plant standing, the invisible yet crucial thought between the lines written. An imagined emotion is just that, imagined.

Fantasy cannot compare to reality.

There are three components to the craft. Reading, to learn from the talent of those inevitably more talented, and to become aware of what to avoid from the books published as a bad example. Writing, to practice the techniques borrowed (or stolen) from others. The third is the most neglected. It’s life - the one that slips in unnoticed between the words read and written.

So notice it.

Say yes to the opportunities that’ll later transform themselves into stories, not the stories that rob you of every last opportunity. Write to taste life twice, instead of swallowing fast and forfeiting the flavour. Seize a spontaneous invitation, surrender your spot on the sofa and go out with unwashed hair and no plan for the night. Laugh until your lungs split (metaphorically) and let your heart decide for you (theoretically).

Life was not meant for hunched backs and numb bums, sitting at one same desk to scribble away about other worlds. Neither was it intended to be lived in solitude, exposed only to the recurring voices inside one’s head.

I want to write. But not without living first. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016


The 14th of July, 2016. A night to remember, but for all the wrong reasons.

A crowd with firework eyes and faces radiating innocence – a snapshot that will now never be replicated. Eighty four lives – stolen, the thief accelerating without daring to look back. Two kilometres, two thousand metres, two hundred thousand centimetres. Depends on the perspective.

That night, the crackle of the fireworks was the shattering of thousands of universes. Leaves sinking through the broken branches of a family tree – ten children robbed of the chance to climb, as lifeless as the plastic dolls that slipped from their hands. Dolls that mimic the bodies they lay beside, the absence of heartbeats deafening. When one’s last word is a cry for help, you know that there was more to say. The echo of the lives unlived will haunt us. All of us.

Celebrations melt into devastations with the fire of echoing screams and sounding sirens. Unprepared hospitals present nurses with wide mouths to match their round eyes. Doctors struggle to inhale hope and exhale doubt. The world takes the same breath, but our lungs have thickened with dust, the aftermath of living in constant expectance of another attack, waiting to see which city will deserve the next hashtag, which flag will follow in rippling through social media. We measure our empathy by the popularity of our internet posts, sizing one life up against another in comparing each attack. Maybe if we stopped seeking differences we’d see the similarities blinking up at us. For I am the Russian student on a graduation trip with her friend, and I am the sixty year old mother of seven. I am the American tourist father and I am his son.

The more I discover about this world is the more foreign it becomes for me. For we have evolved into humans without humanity. It doesn’t take perspective to see that.

Terrorism is not without explanation: a psychological desperation to belong, an economic wound caused by battling sans sword or shield. But no amount of clarification will ever help me understand that one moment. The finger as it tugs at the trigger, the foot as it presses into the accelerator. The instant in which one human chooses to murder another.

Maybe all that goes wrong in this world is the product of a misunderstanding. For what kind of sick species encourages its predators to hunt its own prey?

My eyesight offers little to be proud of, but it doesn’t take perfect vision to notice the grey ahead. For now the misunderstanding has momentum, it’s grown a pair of legs and it can pedal without stabilisers. It’s a monster we’ve created and lost control of. It’s a cage we unlocked and a key we’ve misplaced. It’s a perpetual blindness, a permanent deafness. The world was created for us but we will be the ones to destroy it. 

We’ve already begun. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


When a yacht sails, it leaves nothing behind - cruises through the waters like there is nowhere it would rather be. Its sail directs instead of being directed, tickling the wind as the mast stands straight with pride. We, however, left a part of ourselves on that boat. At least I did –doubts drowned in the Mediterranean, insecurities drifted along with the breeze – those wafts that belong to either late night or early morning, those that stroke our skin and inch us into risks we might have otherwise not taken.   

We were told from the beginning that the yacht would be sold, that caution was required as time was limited. We went for it anyway, warned to leave the place the way we found it. I’m still not convinced it’s possible to leave anywhere as it was found. That boat will keep the breaths I exhaled and the words I dared speak. I tattoo myself over places just as I do people, not leaving anywhere, or anyone, the same. Nothing means anything if it isn’t done with passion.

Maybe we weren’t the boat itself, but that last night on it – intoxicated with the absence of tomorrow, swimming in a storybook plot while we had the chance, all the while our tongues burning with the proximity of the yacht’s sale. It feels wrong to call myself a writer when I’ve never understood the meaning of the word bittersweet until now.

While the stars sketched themselves onto the still ocean surface and our legs dangled over the dock, the words got caught in my throat. I couldn’t say them not because I didn’t want to, but because three is not enough. Neither is two. My sister once asked me what the word paradox means. It’s this: every day together we’re a day closer to coming apart. It’s a tick tock until the inevitable expiration date.

Expire is defined as coming to the end of a period of validity. So, like most of the words I’ve attempted to use to describe this, expire doesn’t quite fit. Because it implies you and I will stop being valid. I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be others later but, right now, it’s the freckle on the middle finger of your left hand and it’s the brown patch of your right eye. It’s you.

They say every writer sprinkles a little of themselves over all that they create. I’ll apologise then, because I can’t involve myself without implicating you too. I’ve always preferred realistic fiction, and this is as real as it gets.  

The next morning, our clothes already sticky with the July humidity and the smudges of yesterday’s makeup circling my eyes, I said a yacht would make a good setting for a story. I smiled as I did so because my mind flashed forward to piles of coffee cups and a desk drowning in loose papers. In the daydream, my thoughts flashed back to that night on the yacht, paradoxically seeking a spark of inspiration. I won’t pretend to predict the future, but I have a funny little feeling that that story, our story, will be written someday. Some things are predetermined that way.