Fill yourself up

I just read this, and absolutley get what Annie Leibovitz is saying when she talkes about filling herself up:

“I was having a tough time and needed to clear my mind and fill myself up again with what I care about. I have learned over the years how to look after myself and my work, and know that at a certain point it’s good to go off and find a different road. It is a matter of stopping and refuelling, filling yourself up again before you lose all feeling. Bringing yourself back.”

Being in artist is not just about creating, but also about how to take care of one’s instrument. Don’t forget to fill yourself up. We all have our ways to take care of our our artistic selves. I listen to music, watch movies, go to museums, travel to a place I love. I haven’t yet learned exactly what makes me tic, but I’m getting closer.

Here is the rest of the article published yesterday in The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/nov/22/annie-leibovitz-best-shoot-okeeffe

Good read!

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Best thing ever

It’s wonderful to be in a grown up relationship. I’m so glad the dating period of my life is over (good god, it was a nightmare…) Still I remember one particular feeling. I remember being super interested in some guy that I thought I couldn’t get. We all hate it when that happens. Then, a couple of years later, I end up going on an amazing date with just THAT guy. This has happened to me several times, and has been a source for numerous songs. Best thing ever!

How do you write about that kind of rush? I’m still not able to. Anyway, this song by the Norwegian group RAZIKA conveys well, if not that particular feeling, definately that period in a girls life. Here with a brand new video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is5XvkUhCYE&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

Also, I find that every particular crush has it’s own soundtrack. Sondre Lerche’s Phantom Punch is the soundtrack to one of the worst crushes I’ve ever had. Although I’m SO over the guy in question, the album still reminds me of him (unfortunately…) GREAT album though, worth a listen.

Take care of your vocal chords!

It hurts!! What hurts? My voice. It has been hurting on and off for four years. The chest area is my problem, and I’m not breathing right. When you strain your voice it’s like when you get tendonitis (which I also have, in both my arms, from office work), it just won’t go away. Yes, I have seen a voice doctor, and it helped. It also helps to have a good singing teacher, but I left mine behind in Oslo (I miss her so much…). I have started singing in a choir (I’m so sick of singing to the wall, alone), and the problems have gotten worse since then (it’s all about German baroque music, which I love, but it’s very demanding). I am going to see another voice doctor in a couple of weeks, and hope she’ll be able to solve the problem. She’s supposed to be the best one in Paris.

So people, take good care of your vocal chords (and your body as a whole). Once the problem is there, it’s hard to get rid of. Also, it’s good to know when to stop working/practicing, and not to be stressed. Take breaks often, especially if you work in an office.  If I had been calmer, my voice would be like it used to, and I would be able to play piano without my arms hurting.

Now I never practice without warming up for at least half an hour. There are lots of good exercises out there, just ask a singing teacher.

Here is an article from the New York Times today about the dangers of straining your voice: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/19/arts/music/why-voices-of-singers-like-adele-and-john-mayer-are-stilled.html?src=tp&smid=fb-share

Here is another one for those who know French:
http://www.lexpress.fr/informations/voix-attention-fragile_620510.html

Why I had to learn French, and the repercussions it had

Yes, it is true. I often find myself being quite negative towards France. Quite young, I passed through Paris on my way from Barcelona to Norway. I had to wait a while for my train to leave for Hamburg, and I spent some time walking around the city. I’m don’t remember exactly what happened, but I was alone, eating in a restaurant not far from Les Halles, and was suddenly struck with an intense feeling of sadness. I had left my best friend behind in Spain, and my boyfriend was on another continent. There was no one there to console me, and I felt more alone than I’ve ever felt. I swore that I’d never go back to Paris, blaming my moment of depression on the city. I didn’t see the beauty, nor the history, I just felt this heavy, dark atmosphere threatening to strangle me. I got out of there as fast as I could.

A year later I decided to study French at the university. As I was sitting at my desk reading today, looking towards La Défense in the horizon, I suddenly remembered why I started to study French. It was after having read Proust. À la récherche du temps perdu quickly became my bible. Obviously I had to read it in Norwegian at the time, but the translation was very well written. I had never read anything as beautiful in my life, and I sympathised with the main character in so many ways. The very intense emotional life he had never appeared to me to be over the top or hysterical, I felt like I could understand his feelings to a certain extent. The language, so sumptuous and sensual, like the softest music, like waves coming and going, like a windy afternoon on a beach in Normandie. I just had to read Proust in his own language, and now I can.

During my first year of French, I spent a couple of months in Caen. I learn very intuitively, and it didn’t take much time before I spoke the language fluently. The secret is to make mistakes, over and over again, until your vocabulaire slowly adjusts and you speak without thinking too much. It is also important to read. Unfortunately I am too obsessed with English and American literature these days, but I’m trying to get serious and get through a couple of French novels as well. I am now reading Jean Santeuil, a book Proust started as a young man, but never completed. It is lovely to be spending time with Proust again.

When I returned to Paris while writing my Master thesis in Comparative Literature (on Proust among others), I suddenly found it difficult to leave. I did go home after a year, but only to move back to Paris again after 6 months in Norway. I don’t know what happened. It was a happy time. I studied, I fell in love, I had plans, I had friends. Life was easy. Finally I decided to stay, and found a job as a waitress while a student.

Once my thesis was finished, my exams done and I received my degree, I still didn’t want to go back home. I stayed, working as a waitress, trying to get a proper job. That never worked out. After a year, love was gone, I hadn’t been able to find work, and being a waitress seemed more and more as a waste of my valuable time. As I saw my friends and colleges from university go on to get interesting, well paid jobs, I felt more and more like a failure. I didn’t fall out of love with Paris at this time, but bohemian life didn’t suit me. I was neither writing, nor doing music, and I thought it was time to move on. I didn’t want to leave Paris, but I had to. There was nothing for me here anymore.

Beat, battered and blue I landed in Oslo. It was a terrible time. I had no desire of being in Norway at all, I just thought it was the best thing to do. I found a job quite fast, but it wasn’t really qualified work. I found another job, which was qualified work, but the work environment became unbearable after some time. People were either depressed or on sick leave most of the time. I was so stressed that I got sick with tendonitis, and now – four years later – I still cannot play the piano for more than half an hour. I don’t know why I keep ending up in those places. Finally, while visiting Paris, I suddenly realized that one of my best parisian friends was (is) the love of my life. I quickly agreed to move back to France with him, and that’s where I am today.

Yes, I know. When I look at my life now, I see that one of the reasons why I don’t have a career today, is because I never had a plan. I thought everything was going to work out, but it never did. Also, I never wanted to admit to myself that writing and singing was what I wanted to do. Maybe I should have stayed in Norway and gotten a proper job instead of being a waitress in Paris, but done is done. The point is that I am now back in Paris. What is it about this place? Destiny keeps pulling me back to this particular geographical spot in the universe. Why? What am I supposed to do here?

As I’ve said earlier, I still have difficulties finding qualified work. I speak the language well, but my written French is not perfect. I suppose it’s going to work out sooner or later, but my patience is wearing thin. I know that writing and music is supposed to be the most important thing, but I cannot bring myself to serve coffee anymore. I have a student lone to pay.

What I do need to accept is that I’m here for a reason. Proust brought me here. I don’t know why yet, but I’ll have to make the best of it. Being tired and confused, and having trouble integrate in this city, has made me fall out of love with it and out of love with the French. I am hoping that the memory of Proust can help me fall in love with it again. It’s Paris for god’s sake – the most beautiful place on earth! And Paris is so present in La Récherche. I am contemplating going to his grave and asking him what to do. Do I stay here? Do I bring the love of my life with me to Norway? Do we go to another continent?

All we ever want as human beings is some occational peace of mind. I hope I can find mine here. At least I see the Eiffel Tower shine from my bedroom window in the dark. That’s at least something to hold on to, while I wait for the proustian magic to make this city my love again.

Being a writer and working on the side

In the column “Ask the Paris Review” today, someone asked for advice on what job a writer should have (to keep food on the table). This is a problem I’ve been struggling with for years. How does one keep the balance between being creative and being able to pay the bills? Every job I’ve had has been too demanding for me to be able to do anything but eat and sleep when I got home. The dilemma – for me at last – is that I feel like I have a good diploma, so I’m not able to to work as, say, a waitress (been there, done that) or in telemarketing etc. It may sound snobbish, but just cannot do it. If I’m going to be working for eight hours a day, I at least need to be challenged a little bit. Well, that was until I moved to France.

Of course, perfect people have a job in publishing or in a magazine while they also write novels. Once I went to a book party for a guy who had just released his first novel. He was a doctor! AND he was a father (to an infant child). I mean, how does he do it? When does he find time to write?

It’s complicated to find “qualified” work when you don’t live in your own country. Living in Paris, my French would have to be perfect for me to get a job in publishing (even though I have a Master of comparative literature). Well, guess what. Written French is worse than Chineese, so I still have a long way to go. I have been trying to get a job in a book shop, but in this economy no one is hiring. I also have this plan to work in a library, but then I’ll have to take another Master, and who can afford that?

While my pocket book is becoming thinner and thinner, I’m getting more and more desperate. Then,  out of the blue somone calls me, and I may be able to start working next week. The job itself doesn’t sound very intersting, but it’s very good money. The need to pay the bills obligates me to swallow my pride for some time, and just take whatever job I can get my hands on. The problem is that I’ll be in an office every day between nine and five. It will also take me an hour to get to work from where I live. But I’m thinking, what the hell. When I don’t work, I worry so much about money that I’m to stressed out to be creative anyway.

I don’t know how I’ll do this, but I was thinking of getting up early to write an hour before work, and then go to bed early again. I think, whatever happens, one just have to find a way to work around the day job. If writing is important, one will always find time for it. Right?

Here is the link for the Paris Review post: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/11/11/work-frustrations-social-climbing/

David Lynch, the purest inspirational force of all

“Writing a song is much the same as writing a film, he explains. It’s all about chasing ideas; about telling a story or letting the story tell you. And this, it turns out, is about as far as he is prepared to go in discussing his working method. “Because none of the things are yourself, not really. The ideas come from someplace else. It’s like fish,” he says.
What’s like fish? “The ideas,” says Lynch. “You didn’t make the fish. You caught the fish. Now you can cook it in a good way or a bad way, but that’s as far as it goes. The fish came from someplace else. And sometimes …” His eyes take on a faraway look. “Sometimes it talks back to you. Tells you how it wants to be cooked.”

Here you can read the rest of the amazing interview in The Guardian: 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/nov/03/david-lynch-crazy-clown-time?CMP=twt_gu

Feel the inspiration flowing towards you!