Latest Posts

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

OBI WAN


I had a moment last night with the King – well, an evening really – that left a profound mark. Let’s just say in ‘Inside Out’ speak (SEE it if you haven’t), it is now a core memory. It was one of those surreal moments where you not only truly see your child as his own entity that has formed into this unbelievably impressive creature, but you realize that you won’t always be there to witness this fact (yes, I may need copious amounts of passionflower to get through this one). And the surprising thing about it was that the moment wasn’t simply maudlin, it was quite powerful to connect to the King in such an adult way (as well, he’s 5) as the majority of one’s time with a five year is telling them to put on their shoes and stop waving their behind in people’s faces – or is that just me?

As most of you know, we lost Bowie a few days ago. The King and I had been talking about it most of the morning and after school when I picked him up. Of late, due to Star Wars funny enough, the subject of death has come up a lot in our house. There is a scene in the film when Obi Wan fights Darth and (if I’m spoiling this for someone, dear god, it’s WAY past due for you to see these films) during this fight he tells Darth he is much more powerful in death than in life, then he crosses his arms, turns off his light saber and lets Darth kill him. This scene pretty much made me lose it and caused some confusion within the King. I of course started verbally dancing to soften the blow and re-emphasized that Obi Wan’s power in death was that he was now a spirit, a force in the universe to protect all that he loved even though he wasn’t alive anymore. Of course I was trying to make a parallel to myself and the fact that if a bus ever hits me, gosh darn it, I would be omnipresent in the King’s life like Obi Wan and Yoda.

Anyway, back to Bowie. So after school, we came home and the King wanted to hear as many Bowie songs as I could play him. So we hunkered down in the living room and started going through his prodigious catalogue. Now I must digress and say that I have a very musical child – (god help me). He gets a melody, remembers a song and has a mean vibrato. His immediate response to hearing Bowie, aside from loving it, was what the man could do with his voice and how from song to song it changed. From there, he brought out some string (no clue why, it just seemed like the thing to do apparently), and started decorating the room with it and then dimmed the lights. Then he asked me to light a candle and proceeded to dance around telling me how nice it was to celebrate someone’s life after they have died. Yes, that mere sentence slayed me for its maturity.

That’s when reality struck a bit. He once again returned to the subject of death and asked again how Bowie died, and if he was old, and then of course when he and I would die. I of course tried to handle these questions as deftly as I could without wading too deep in the uncertainly of life. But for a moment the dancing stopped, and he looked at me and worked out that he was indeed very young, and well, I wasn’t, and that meant…well, there is no amount of alcohol in the world that could get me through the next few seconds. He looked at me with that slight lip tremble and said, ‘But Mommy, if you’re older and you die first that means’…and those killer silent tears started to roll down his face. And he just said, ‘But I always want you with me.’

UM yeah, UTTERLY SLAYED. I tried to appear like my insides were steel and not Jello when he just curled up and burrowed his head into me. I mean honestly, how I did not start sputtering like an idiot is beyond me? I of course told him that like Obi Wan, in death or life, I’d always be there…especially when he’s up to no good! And then I told him how beautiful it was that he could feel all these things and talk about them (as more men need this quality). [On a side note, one of my favorite things about the King is that he is big and brawn and goofy like a one man party in search of a hot pizza and yet he is as sensitive and thoughtful as they come. A damn good combo if I do say so myself].

And then of course I turned up ‘Rebel Rebel’ and did my damndest to let Bowie dance us into our happy place. You see, sobering. And yes, life gives you those moments, not to send you to the pharmacy, but to thank whomever you thank that you have people who will miss you this much and bring such poignancy to your life.

As Bowie’s wife so beautifully said the other day: “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

Monday, 11 January 2016

THE ICON


We lost another icon today. A visionary really, and in this world, we don’t have many of them left. I think this is the hardest thing for so many people of my generation to grasp.
Obviously our first thoughts go out to David Bowie and his family, as losing someone to cancer is a brutal journey to undertake. And then it hits us – not only has the musical/art world lost one of the true greats that pushed every boundary out there, but there will never be another one like him. And that explains so much about the times we live in and the generations that have come before. Today we are awash in X Factor ‘winners’ and overly produced and packaged replicates. There are very few visionaries who define the trend of the day and not merely follow it.

I was in the kitchen with the King when I heard it on the radio and I actually gasped. The King of course asked what happened and I tried to explain that one of the greatest singers ever had just died. This of course spawned a whole litany of questions on his part about death and if and when I was going to die, or for that matter he (he then told me as he was 'quite new' he didn't think he was dying any time soon). As I hadn't had my coffee yet, I deflected and told him that I could play him Bowie's greatest songs so he could experience them. The King just looked at me a bit confused and said, 'But if he's dead mommy how are you going to do that?' Note to self: re-emphasise to the King that the radio and the singers on it do not sing in real time.

As any one knows or who has followed the life and career of the Thin White Duke, David Bowie was not just a singer/composer; he was a true artist (and I don’t use that term lightly), a chameleon, a creator of personas and incarnations in ways that most other musicians simply couldn’t wrap their head around (what do you mean? we don't just stand here and sing?). His music and style spanned genres and generations and there was truly no one else out there doing what he did (oh but did they follow). He was achingly enigmatic – which for me is always the most attractive of qualities in a musician or actor, and he pushed the envelope politically, artistically, lyrically, sexually...you name it really.

I discovered Bowie later than most with the release of Scary Monsters – having heard him in dribs and drabs from my older sisters and what was on the radio at the time-  and then of course it was all about ‘Let’s Dance.’ I remember playing that album (and yes, I had the actual album) to tedium and he was one of the first artists whose lyrics I actually dissected. He actually beckoned this of his listener, demanded you take note and ask questions of his artistry. I was of course also a child of MTV when it first hit the airwaves and was actually a video music channel. 'China Girl' was on heavy rotation and you simply never had seen anything like it. All this of course led me to delve into Bowie’s back catalogue from the notable to the esoteric. And that was thing about Bowie, he was not one to shy away from a melodic pop song, but certainly was keen to delve into the weird and wonderful (Oh Labyrinth soundtrack, how do I love thee).

I suppose for me – like many – Bowie had it all. The voice, the look, the artistry, the weirdness, the ‘I don’t give a shit about conformity, I’m here to channel what needs to come out of me’ spirit. He will not only be missed, but as will the time and possibilities of the era in which he lived.

RIP David.

“And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They're quite aware
of what they're going through...”



Tuesday, 5 January 2016

HAPPY 2016


Happy New Year’s to everyone! To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I posted a blog. I could of course check, but I want to give you my undivided attention after such a long absence. My only excuse is that after many MANY years of renting, my husband and I finally moved into our first (purchased) home. Saying that still sounds weird and makes me want to hide my wallet under the sofa.

As many of you can attest, moving, renovating and purchasing a home is a total minefield that is all encompassing and tests one’s sanity (and marriage) in a multitude of ways. On the plus side, we’re in and its home! Woo hoo!!! And most importantly, aside from the King pointing out that he has to go down one more flight of stairs than we do to use the bathroom (his room is on the top floor in the eaves), he has given the house his stamp of approval. What’s more, he is the envy of his friends who think that living in an attic style room is the greatest thing ever. So he of course milks that for all that it is worth.

For my husband and I, it has been a whirlwind of intense learning, mistakes, and expenditure of the likes I have never experienced; I am by nature very, ahem…frugal, so to have to spend money like this to fix unanticipated problems, charges, taxes and the like, well it’s sobering at best. Probably why I spent all of December popping homeopathic calming remedies wishing my body could tolerate profuse amounts of alcohol (it can't). The renovation alone highlighted our absolute naiveté as we of course like most, under budgeted and did not anticipate the many things that can (and will go wrong). Not to mention, as I've stated before, English property laws are an utter mystery to an American.  The whole freehold, leasehold, who owns what and who needs to approve what for whom can lead one wanting…well, more alcohol.

To my husband’s credit, the man is a skill sponge. By the end of the demo work, I felt confident he could not only become a builder, but project manage just about anything. [Note to those of you out there still in the market for a partner – find one with a variety of skills, with the potential to pick up even more skills. It makes life a lot smoother]. And luckily, we had found two builders (Romanian guys who oddly enough spoke fluent Spanish; which of course I don’t speak a word of. So I just walked around with Google translate open, uttering "Mui Bien" like someone with Spanish Turrets) who were unbelievably efficient and by the end of it, I was hugging them goodbye, not wanting them to leave. 

Then of course came the moving in and creating 'a home.' This is where I of course kick it up three notches and turn into some hyped up organizational animal. The place was pretty well sorted by day four to my friends' utter amazement - but not surprise (someone with OCD cannot live surrounded by mess and boxes. There are not enough calming aids in the world). This whole process also awakened the ‘spending’ beast in my husband (he is NOT frugal and could win awards for his zest for purchasing things) as he excitedly decided we had to hit every single post Christmas day sale - with King in tow - along with the thousands that had swarmed to the West End. By the fourth day of schlepping around shops looking for the world’s perfect toaster, he could tell he was losing me. The man’s energy rivals the King’s, especially when it comes to finishing a project and doing it to a meticulous degree (You see, skills. Got to have skills). At this point my friends want to borrow him to go shopping with, as they’ve never met a man who is so passionate or knowledgeable on the subject.

So, now, life is slowly moving back to normal. The world’s perfect toaster (that just burnt the toast) sits on the counter, the house is pretty much done (although I can see my husband’s hawk eye looking around aching to tweak something) and the King has told me that despite his long journey to the bathroom, he now likes this house the best. 

Thank god, as another move may just kill me.

Happy 2016 everyone.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

SANTA SEES YOU



It’s that time of year again where the King and I have that inevitable discussion about Santa and the veracity of his existence. To be clear, I was always on the fence about lying to the King in the first place and telling him that a jolly dressed fat man breaks into your house and gives you gifts if he so deserves it. Fine it's a white lie (did a lawyer come up with that phrase?), but it's still a lie. 

As sentimental as I can be, it always seemed counterintuitive to teach my son not to lie in the general scheme of things whilst blatantly lying to him. But like any parent a mixture of factors - peer pressure, sentimentality, and the Christmas spirit - overcame me. Hence, Santa Claus became a presence in our house, as he is in most Christmas celebrating households. But of late the King has been asking me if he’s real and as a parent you’re dealt with that moment of do I burst this little 5 year old’s idyllic view of the world or do I lose a very good bargaining chip and serve the King a dose of hard reality.

I of course chose the route of the psychotherapist – or cowardice – and instead of answering him, asked him if he thought he was real? (I’m sure as he ages he’ll object to my insistence on answering a question with a question) He usually takes a minute. Says, yes, then no, then back to yes, then wants to break down it down as it seems far too enticing to still believe in this man. But like any 5 year old’s brain, it’s not without its issues for the King. First and foremost, he’s never been sold on the fact that Santa gets to enter your house. When he was old enough to digest this, he pointedly asked me if Santa could just leave the gifts at the door and not come in while we were sleeping. Fair point. He also knows that we’re a no shoe household and you know Santa has been trudging in reindeer sh*t in those big dirty boots.

Secondly, he’s fascinated by how Santa physically sees him. Does he have a crystal ball, a TV, a special ring that he can zoom in on the King’s whereabouts to see if he’s being naughty or nice? Moreover, the King is keen to know if Santa is watching him ALL the time. (Or are there windows where he’s not watching so he can get in all his mischief in one go). In the bath? At school, while he’s sleeping etc. I suppose I don’t blame the child. Not only are we telling our children that this strange man he’s never met hurdles down the chimney into your house, but he’s watching you all the time like a creepy NSA agent to keep an eye on how you behave. Sounds ominous when you describe it like that.

Of course ominous can also be helpful when your child is misbehaving at school as the King has been lately (I have chalked it up to a testosterone surge as opposed to overt malicious aggression, as well, he’s 5. The child is goofy and nuts but malicious is not a bone he has in his body). I blatantly told him that Santa is going to hold back on his Lego cargo ship if he acts like a crazy person in the classroom.

And of course that suddenly made the large man in the red suit feel very real. Ho ho ho.

Friday, 6 November 2015

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME


The King has a nose like a bloodhound. I’m not kidding, it’s a thing of beauty, and let’s be honest, sometimes a thing of extreme annoyance. Take mint for instance; he hates it and if he smells it within a half-mile radius he will sniff it out and tell you to get rid of it. We have an ongoing war over chewing gum (you’d think he would be championing to chew it, but alas no). He’s the chewing gum police and I sneak it like an addict until he smells it, calls me out and demands I spit it out. Obviously I tell him who is boss when I feel like it, but he actually does me the favour of not looking like a bovine animal.

Funny thing is, I’m starting to realize his bloodhound nostrils are a genetic trait. I’ve always had a keen sense of smell (which was a nightmare in pregnancy and when living in Manhattan) and such acute sense memory when it comes to scents and my childhood. Certain shampoos, foods, types of trees, you name it, and I’ll be catapulted back in time like I’m trapped in some studio film. Which being a writer, I quite like. Not to mention, I also have sensitivity to other smells that I simply cannot be around – obviously dog poop and garbage go without saying. Perfume for starters has to pass a litany of tests in order to make it onto my neck and most of course, don’t.

Funny enough, when I met my husband, he was also huge on smell (as you can imagine, finding the perfect candles and diffusers for our house take us weeks as my husband likes to literally smell 100 of them before making a decision). When we were looking for a flat, he'd walk into a room, say it smelt like damp as if he was a building inspector, turn and leave without another word. He was also as equally as picky as to what he – and I – put on our skins. There is nothing worse than being told you smell like something NOT desirable to keep you from buying it ever again. Well actually, there is something worse and that’s when your husband and your father end up buying the same cologne. IT’S JUST wrong.

Equally fitting, when I’m away from the King or my husband, the first thing I miss is their smell. It’s a strange subconscious thing, but if I can smell them on a t-shirt or item in my possession, I somehow feel more grounded. On that same note, I am that strange mother that often smells the top of their son’s head, or the back of their neck just to get a hit of that something that makes me feel more sane. And no, it’s not always the good smells that I covet. The King’s morning breath for some reason I find adorable (I never said I was rational).

Apparently in the realm of relationships, scientists have tested it, and one can actually smell compatibility. According to a famous study (that I’m too tired to look up), “human beings are capable of sniffing out certain parts of our potential partners’ DNA that make up their immune system, called major histocompatibility genes (MHC), to determine whom we’re compatible with.” Furthermore, we tend to be attracted to people whose MHC compositions are different from ours so that our offspring's immune system covers as many diseases as possible. It’s not exactly romantic, but it would make sense as we’re just mere steps above animals. And what do they do all day but smell things. 
Back to the King and his great smelling neck, I’m not sure if the smell of his adorable boy sweat means we’re compatible, but it definitely makes me feel like my blood pressure lowers by a few points. Maybe it’s not fresh cut grass or rainfall, but I’ll take it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

FOR SALE

We are buying our first house (hopefully by the end of this week, it will be bought instead of 'buying'). Wait, let me clarify, we live in London, so you have to be an oil baron to buy an actual house. So, we are buying our first flat. Which is a feat in itself considering property prices in this city are rising faster than a Kardashian’s hemline.

To be honest, it is not something I ever thought we would be able to do. As most of you know that have secured a mortgage in the last few years, you now have to practically promise your first born child, pee in a cup and dance like a monkey in order to get a bank to look at you. Ahhhh gone are the good old days when they gave you a mortgage for simply showing up (I kid; that wasn’t the answer either as it turned out). To make matters worse when you’re self employed you may as well walk into the mortgage advisors office and tell them you’re a prostitute, because that is about as much credibility being self employed gets you. But alas, after several exhaustive months of mountains of paperwork, we were approved for a mortgage – I was getting acupuncture (to CALM down) when my husband called to tell me the news, if that gives you any idea of my current stress levels.

After approval, as you wait for the property to get surveyed, approved, & blessed by a team of anti-damp shamans (I wish)...you move into the glorious phase of, 'okay, we have this place, now what on earth shall we do with it considering it looks like it's been lived in by a bunch of unruly frat boys.'  I quickly learned that not only do I know very little about actual design, but after a few paint swatches, my eyes cross, and my husband has to wake me up from a colour induced slumber. Let’s put it this way, I definitely know what I like (and more importantly what I don’t like), but the journey through thousands of paint, tile and carpet samples - that just make me sneeze – to figure out that I really just don’t love carpet is pretty damn fatiguing. Then of course you realise the difference between reality and 'laughable never gonna happen-ity' in terms of budgeting any sort of house renovations. There is what you want it to look like, and what you can afford it to look like. Two very different things.

The other thing that an American quickly realizes (obviously I knew this years ago, but as I wasn’t a home owner I simply scoffed at the lunacy of it) is that things over here are done very differently. When you start saying things like Freehold and Leasehold to a foreigner like myself, we look at you like you’ve literally lost your mind. But in nutshell, if you buy a leasehold property in England, you own the flat, but not the land it’s sitting on. Yes you heard me. So in order to do any alterations, additions or anything structural to the flat, you will need permission from the Freeholder. In our case, we are part owners of the freehold as we own a flat in a period building of three flats. This sounds promising doesn’t it? But wait for it, as we’re only part owners of the freehold, we still have to ask the other freeholders if say we want to put down wood floor in our flat, or put in a new bathroom; so essentially, you own the dress, but you have ask the neighbor if you can zip the damn thing up. From where I come from, if I buy a house/apartment and want to put in a strobe light and wood floor down with the Presidents face etched into it, I can (gosh, so many presidents, so little time). 

So needless to say the last few months have meant I’ve slept for about twenty minutes as my husband and I have obsessed over the minutiae of how, what, where and what colour (& let’s be frank, at this point I have my sister on speed dial as my husband and I have deemed her the 'style guru'. Cause, well, she is). Of course the King - in the midst of all this - has now decided he likes black carpet and purple walls.  I just smile, nod and then politely tell him in our relationship I’m the freeholder, and the freeholder says no. 



Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed