picosgemeos: (Default)

We took a 2-day long helmsman course last week and we are now certified sailors, we can even sail commercial boats. We move into our narrowboat mid-October and plan on living in it for at least a year.

I’ve also given myself that nautical year to finish the first draft of my novel (not coincidentally, set in a boat.) And I plan on submitting one piece of writing for publication each month (can be flash fiction, short story, book review, and so on.)

In October, will you join me in Save Livejournal Month? Autumn is here – let’s all turn inwards.
picosgemeos: (Seahorse)

The Ponds

The hottest August bank holiday on record: we cool ourselves in Hampstead Heath’s men's only ponds.

The grass fills up with beautiful creatures of all shapes and sizes. Laughter, air kisses, speedos, nudity, picnics, dogs, ice creams, even a snake wrapped around a tight torso.

Posters announce: shooting for the documentary, “The Ponds”, is taking place. Let the director know if you’d rather not feature in it.

I see him scan the crowd with his cameraman. “He’s going to come over”, I think to myself. A minute later, a polite silver fox leans down and smiles: “can I speak to you?”

Boat Life

Aug. 23rd, 2017 04:03 pm
picosgemeos: (Seahorse)
Home in two month's time.

K and I are moving into a narrow boat in two month’s time.

A few months ago, a friend of ours kindly offered for us to borrow her boat – currently moored in King’s Cross – for a year. We’ll add our names to her insurance, pay the yearly boat license and live as "continuous cruisers" - moving the narrow boat every two weeks around London (something done by boaters who can't afford permanent moorings or don't want to stay put.)

There’s a Brazilian phrase that perfectly describes us: marinheiros de primeira viagem (first time sailors). We've signed up to a two-day helmsman course in September, where we'll learn about canal locks, double mooring, triple mooring, safety, engines, ropes and more. We are also looking at replacing the boat's diesel furnace with a coal stove (narrow boats can be freezing in winter), adding solar panels, and studying how continuous cruising will work for us and affect our commutes.

We have handed in our flat's notice and have begun to donate things to charity shops, look at what we can keep at K's studio, what we can sell and what we'll need in the boat. Ultimate minimalism is our goal.

In a way, it’s a bit like camping, but on water: quick showers, perishable foods that need to be used within 48 hours, economy when washing dishes, lighting the fire every night, clearing the ashes in the morning, and a lot of layers to keep away the cold. Luckily for me, I have showers at my office.

I’m hoping we’ll get to discover a very close knit and supportive community, get to see London through another angle after living for 16 years in tower blocks, and get to maybe even take the boat out of London for a little journey during holidays. We even have a few personal projects in mind (mine involves a novel, K’s involves drawing.)

It's an adventure, a year-long experiment. We are excited and nervous, but everyone we have spoken to says it's a great experience and we may even love it so much we’ll never wish to live on land again.

We went for pizzas last Friday with a couple who have been in a narrow boat for a year, and they not only had so much info to share, they offered to help us in so many ways. (This is apparently a very common trait of the community.) As we chatted over pizza and wine, the couple pointed other people in the restaurant: “they are in a boat. They have just moved into a boat. They are thinking of getting a boat…”
picosgemeos: (Seahorse)
Fim de tarde.#pousadadonamarica #pousadas #minasgerais #brasil

On Friday, 11 August 2017, my brother announced on our family’s guesthouse page on Facebook that the business had closed. It was my mom’s lifelong dream and it ran for just over 12 years.

I feel relived and I think my brother and mother do too. It was untenable as a business, especially in Brasil’s current economic crisis. Also, there were two disabled people right in the heart of it (my mom and youngest brother) and it was too much for my brother, who also has his own family.

The online messages from previous guests have been heart-warming and supportive.
picosgemeos: (Default)

I leave the tower block 8 a.m. on the dot. He's standing by the bus stop, a young version of Paul Simon, sunglasses on, waiting for the No. 488 to Hackney Wick station.

I walk past him and turn left, past the garden centre, Growing Concerns. On the other side of the road, cyclists and joggers wait to cross the bridge over the Hertford Union canal. A shuttered pub looms over them, the shadows of a man and woman etched on its door. In a few months this pub will be knocked down to make way for expensive flats.

I walk alongside Victoria Park's eastern edge – past families dropping off their children at the Montessori school, past builders about to spend a long day painting and plastering, past the middle-aged going for a run or standing by their window, a cup of tea in hand, watching the world wake up. I then turn right onto Cadogan Close and a few steps later I’m up on the metallic bridge over the A12 motorway, breathing in the fumes.

I watch the cars for a moment speeding north and south. A giant poster on the other side of the bridge tantalises drivers with the image of a cool bottle of beer propped on a Caribbean beach.

There’s a mattress and duvet underneath the eastern pedestrian ramp, newspapers and books scattered around it, like a Tracey Emin art piece. Two of the legible novels are David Baldacci’s The Escape and Angela Carter's A Night at the Circus. It was once the home of a black man, always asleep whenever I walked past. He’s moved on, or been moved on.

One day, I notice young Paul Simon following me from the bus stop. I feel self-aware as I take my usual route by foot, as if all my movements are being carefully watched. Maybe he realised taking the 488 bus to the station didn't buy him any more time. Maybe London’s summer is finally nice enough for him to take a little walk instead of relying on public transportation. Maybe he's just looking for a short cut.

I catch him looking in my direction on Hackney Wick’s platform. I can’t see his eyes behind the sunshades.

In the evening, I stop on the other side of the bridge and take a photo of the A12 motorway and the ramp. I then post it on Instagram. When I click on the image’s A12 location, to see what other people have posted, I find a photo of the homeless man on his mattress. The person who took the image comments: ‘How can this man sleep with all the noise?’

Another Monday morning and young Paul Simon is by the bus stop as usual. He looks at his watch with some annoyance. When he looks up and sees me, he spins around and takes off. When I reach the bridge, he’s already on the other side, walking down the ramp with his hands in his pocket.

First published in The Fractured Nuance: Place, issue #4, May 2017


Apr. 15th, 2017 09:27 am
picosgemeos: (Default)
Gay Russia

I have also moved over to Dreamwidth, like most people on my Livejournal's friends list.  Don't know if this is another false alarm - like the many in the past when changes took place and people on Livejournal freaked out (and wasn't the creation of Dreamwidth one of those?) - but I thought this time I should do it, just in case, to back up my journal, but also to show some solidarity to the LGBT community in Russia.

Crossposting for the near future.


And my journal before that: https://commonpeople1.dreamwidth.org/

picosgemeos: (Seahorse)

I had at home two books related to Bologna, which I decided to bring with me as holiday reads.

The first is a French band dessinée, "Journal d'Italie, Trieste Bologne", by David B. The clue is in the title.

The second is film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's "The Way of the Tarot". Though nobody knows exactly where or when the tarot originated, some academics believe it was in Bologna.

picosgemeos: (Seahorse)
Spring#london #cherryblossoms #spring

We Brexit by train this Saturday 1st April, for a week. We’ll spend one day in Zurich, three days in Bologna and two days in Turin.

We are going because my boyfriend was included in the Bologna Children's Book Fair, but also because we need a break from London.

I’ve been writing a novel off and on for the past 4 years. I now wish to complete its first draft within the next three months.

I also gave up caffeine and alcohol in March, for charity. Can’t wait to have an Irish Coffee as the train pulls out of St Pancras.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
On Friday, I took some time off in lieu in order to visit the Society of Authors, to attend a talk on "Getting Started in Translation." I've been thinking for a while if I want to have a career in marketing for the rest of my life and I decided that I don't - not exclusively at least. I've been contemplating for some time now whether I should go back to school, and if I should do something related to Brazil (some years ago I looked into an MA in Brazilian Studies at King's, but it didn't go anywhere.)

I've noticed that all brazilian books translated into English are done so by non-brazilians. Usually they are spouses of a brazilian, or they lived there for a few years. They love the language and they love writing, but they are not brazilians... and this to me seemed like an edge I'd have as a literary translator. I'm pretty much fully bilingual and I know there are many brazilian books still waiting to find the right publishing house and distribution in the English-speaking world. Also, I wondered if translation would be a good career for later in life, when I've retired - something I could do well into my old age, as I really have no intention of quitting work one day.

17th March was a lovely Friday, which I started off with a swim at the London Aquatics Centre (I've been kicking myself for not visiting it earlier - it's amazing), and which I hoped to finish with a visit to the David Hockney retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain.[1]

The Society of Authors is deep within Chelsea. What sort of art organisation can afford the rents there? (Unless the building was bequeathed to them by some benevolent patron...?) It was a dusty and warm place, with drawings of old authors on the walls, books and envelopes spread out across messy desks, and friendly staff all too happy to point the way to the salon with tea, coffee and biscuits, and the room beyond where the talk would take place.

There were two literary translators who had just "broken through" invited to talk - Anne Marie Jackson, a Russian translator, and Paul Russell Garrett, a Danish translator. They were introduced by Ros Schwartz, a figuredhead in the British literary scene (she was awarded the Chevalier d’Honneur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her services to French literature, with one of her most recent translations being The Little Prince.)

The main things I learnt from Anne Marie and Paul's talks: literary translation won't make you rich, but if you are passionate enough, dive head first and you will eventually find work; you don't need qualifications to do it, just committment and then proof that you can do it well; and that having a network is really important, and that there are certain steps you need to take in order to approach publishers and work well with them.

I'd seen some YouTube videos already of Ros Schwartz talking about how to be a literary translator, but it was still good to hear her talk through all the key points - she even handed out a useful step-by-step guide. There were about 15 of us in attendance - some with already some background in translation, others finishing their MAs. There were plenty of questions from everyone, including myself.  I was the only one who had brought a friend along ("for moral support", Ros gently joked.) I left feeling quite inspired: I'm going to start looking at what's happening in Brazil's literary scene, work on some short pieces for practice, maybe try to get something published in literary journals. It will take time but if I start now I can slowly build myself up to eventually taking on a large commission and stepping away from 9-to-5 office work. I could potentially end up working from anywhere in the world and surviving from translation (literary and technical) alone (one can dream...)

#Chelsea #London
Chelsea, London

Yesterday, I woke up at 4am to get ready for an event in Regent's Park on behalf of the charity I work for. I stood around from 6am to 2pm, helping carry boxes, lift marquees, set up desks, receive supporters, take things down, put things away, etc. By the time I headed home, I was knackered.

We had plans to see an animation at the BFI's Flare Festival (London's LGBTQ film festival) followed by drinks with some friends and then a club night dedicated to Duran Duran. I figured I could just about manage the film, Torrey Pines, which I'm now glad I did go see as it's a wonderful "queer punk coming-of-age tale, taking place in Southern California in the early 1990s".

I love this festival. The South Bank gets filled with all sorts of queer characters, mostly mature cinema goers, and there's a sense of the queer community coming together in a very peaceful, unstressful way. A lot of the films screened never make it to Netflix so it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see them on the big screen.

The tickets had been bought by a good friend who had brought along his new boyfriend, a handsome australian who is a professor of literature (and who doesn't like books, but I don't know if he said that because he's tired of teaching them...) After the screening, Clyde Petersen, who is a transgender stop-motion animator, talked about how the film was shot during 3 years in his basement flat, with the help of many queer artists based in Seattle. The film is based on Clyde's own experiences as a 12-year-old coming to terms with his sexuality while living with a schizophrenic single mother.

One of the evening's pleasures was watching the film accompanied by a live band, Clyde Petersen's Your Heart Breaks. The soundtrack was originally recorded in former Death Cab for Cutie member Chris Walla's studio in Seattle and there's a host of musicians attached to it, including Kimya Dawson (from the Moldy Peaches) who sings as Whitney Houston in one of the film's funniest scenes.

Piney Torres is a lovely, boldly colourful and touching animation, worth seeing if you get a chance.

[1] It was unfortunately sold out, so we walked from the Tate Britain to the South Bank and spent an hour in the Royal Festival Hall drinking hot chocolates, people watching and writing in our journals.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
#camden #london #chemtrails

A link from Twitter leads to Jack Kerouac’s thoughts on writing and living in the present. Soon, I'm lost in thought watching the crows outside our living room, hopping from one Victoria Park tree to the next.

On the Overground to work, I listen to The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and watch the faces of fellow passengers. Sun pours into the carriage, spring a week early.

A letter sent off at lunch time, a walk through Camden in the glorious sunshine. Chemtrails cover the sky, homeless people congregate outside high street bank branches. Very reluctantly, I return to my desk.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
Going home.#camdenroad #overground #london #trainstation

5.30pm, Wednesday 28 December, and I’m standing on the platform at Camden Road Station, waiting for an Overground train to take me to London's East End. It’s cold, the sun has set about an hour before and there’s hardly anyone about – not surprising during a week where most people choose to stay at home.

I usually wait for the train right at the end of the platform, where the last carriage stops. I notice a man walk slowly past me and nonchalantly move into the “no entry” area which leads to machinery and the bushes that run alongside the tracks. He’s dressed head to toe in black and carries a backpack with neon green stripes.

At first I think he works for Transport for London (TfL). Then I wonder if he’s just someone needing to piss. But he takes his time back there and when I check again I see that he’s moving deeper into the bushes, as if planning to walk home beside the train tracks.

I go down the platform in search of a TfL member of staff because now I’m thinking “what if there’s something in that backpack meant to hit the train?” There are no staff members around. I go back to the edge of the platform and look over the fence.  I can see him now and he’s standing right at the edge, waiting for the train to come.

I shout “Hey!” He turns around and slowly walks back to the platform.

“Do you work here?” I ask.


“What were you doing back there?”

“I was looking out for the train.”

“It’s a strange place to wait for the train,” I say. All his answers are delivered flat, without any emotion. I can see now that he’s a white English guy in his 40s. “Were you going to jump?”


“There is help out there if you need it.”

“I know,” he says, still emotionless. He returns to the edge of the platform, just by the barrier, and looks out for the train.

“Are you going to jump?” I ask again.

“No,” he says and moves away from the edge.

I repeat that there is help out there for him and again he says that he knows. A few other people stand near us but they are oblivious to our conversation - too absorbed by their phones.

We notice the train pulling into the station. I look at him and he looks at me. My heart’s in my throat because I know I’ll have to grab him if he makes a dash for the edge. The train stops, the carriage doors open, and people step out. He lingers behind everyone who’s boarding, as if waiting for me to go in first. I don’t move, waiting for him to get in. Once he does so, I step in after him and sit down one carriage away.

I chat with friends on WhatsApp and post a question on Facebook about what I should do next. The consensus is that I should find a TfL member of staff.

The train reaches its destination, Stratford. Everyone gets out and I see him lingering by the stairs, as if planning to turn around and get back inside the train. When he sees me watching him, he joins the crowd leaving the platform. I go after him but lose him in the human flow.

I find a young woman who works for the TfL and tell her what happened. She asks me to follow her and says she needs to report it. We go into a small office on another platform and I give her as best a description as I can of the guy. She says there are many suicide attempts this time of the year and that she’ll put a call out across the network to look out for him. She thanks me for reporting it and I say goodbye.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest --- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Albert Einstein


Oct. 21st, 2016 03:01 pm
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)

I'm failing at this Save Livejournal Month... been a few days without updates and now I'm heading to Bristol for the weekend and won't update again until, probably, Monday.

Anyway. Have yourself a lovely weekend! My boyfriend and I are celebrating 18 years together tomorrow. I think it will involve tapas. ❤️

picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
The Power and the GloryThe Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish my book club had suggested this book during wintertime. Then I could have approached it in a suitably dark mood. As it was, they suggested it at the tail end of a very nice, sunny summer in London, where my thoughts were more on fun things I could do outdoors then on bleak hours I could spend in the company of a nameless “whisky priest” on the run from police officers.

Graham Greene is a master stylist, one of the best writers in the English language – perhaps even the best? But he’s not the kind of author you can pick up anytime. You have to approach him in a certain frame of mind, in a certain mood – at least if you want to get the most out of his prose.

From John Updike’s introduction you learn that Greene wrote this novel after spending a very short time in Mexico, but his ability to capture a place and time was so successful all Mexicans who read the work afterwards felt immediately transported back (unhappily so, probably.) It’s a testament to Greene’s talent as a writer that he can conjure so much – write so evocatively – of a land he wasn’t raised in.

The novel’s nameless narrator is one of the last remaining clergymen in a Mexico run by a government that has decided to burn all churches and execute all priests. But he’s no saint: he has a daughter he loves more than anything in the world (and who hates him), he loves a tipple (hence the “whisky priest” nickname), and he often has uncharitable thoughts about others. The landscape he travels through is one of desolation, poverty, struggle – one he feels at times responsible for, at times disassociated from. All the while, the police are closing in on him, cutting off his escape routes.

I was reminded of Cormac McCarthy and his brutal worlds, in particular “The Road”, which also features a nameless man travelling through a barren landscape. Both novels show characters and animals pushed to the extreme when humanity and the rule of law have disappeared – when the question of God’s existence is at the forefront of everyone’s mind as it seems only He can deliver them from their living nightmare.

Greene’s flawed priest is aware that salvation is perhaps not even available for himself, and if he notices the similarities of his own predicament with Jesus’ story (the mule he escapes on, for example, or the bread he breaks with the man who will later betray him) he doesn’t show it. He tries his best to bring some Christian comfort to the people he encounters, but it’s so tinged with his own imperfections the reader begins to wonder if salvation is available to anyone at all.

View all my reviews
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
The beautiful season.#victoriapark #fall #autumn #london

He runs in the park on weekends. The sunlight pouring through the red and golden leaves brings a silent thanks to the universe for letting him be alive and healthy.

He takes a bath in the dark, just a small white candle for company. He calls upon all his dead ancestors, and even a few pets, to watch over and protect his family.

Then he lies on his bed and watches the clouds speed east. He sends a silent prayer to the ones he loves, wishing for them complete happiness on Earth and that all their dreams may come true.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
Young and old.#victoriapark #fall #autumn #london

He wakes up to the smell of coffee and the sound of his boyfriend in the kitchen frying pancakes and bacon. After they are done with breakfast, he looks outside and thinks: “it’s a writing day.”

He types handwritten notes for a few hours then showers. As a reward, he gives himself a walk through Victoria Park.

He stops to eat a bagel on a bench facing the pond. Each tree warmed by autumnal light begs to be photographed. A passing old man watches a young couple kissing in a rowboat.

One day, he realises, he will only have memories.


Oct. 14th, 2016 12:33 pm
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)

As part of Save Livejournal Month, are there any topics you'd like me to write about, or questions you'd like to ask me?

Please leave a comment and I'll write a LJ post on it.

picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday LifeSidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the movie The NeverEnding Story, a boy accidentally ends up in a mysterious bookshop, where he borrows a book without the owner's knowledge. As he sits in an attic reading the book - which tells the story of a warrior on a quest in some fantastical land - he realises the book is aware of him, and speaking back to him.

My experience with this book was a little bit like that. My boyfriend gave it to me as a birthday gift because he knew I had an interest in synchronicity (or maybe the book "fell" on him in the bookstore? This is apparently a very popular "starting" point for synchronous events.) As I started reading it, a few topics discussed on its pages happened to be random topics I was already reading about elsewhere.

Robert Moss paints the world as a place filled with symbols that are waiting to speak back to us, if only we'll pay attention to them. Then, what we do with them, is a matter of how creative we want to get. Moss' style is conversational, very easy to read, and the book has plenty of exercises to activate synchronicity in your life.

I decided to play one of his games by asking my Spotify playlist a question and letting a randomly selected song give me the answer (or guide me, as Moss would say). The song that came up was Madonna's "Cherish", with lyrics which actually fit perfectly what I was asking. Just as I was listening to the song, going down Camden and paying attention to its lyrics, I walked past a young woman dressed like Madonna circa 1980s. From then onwards, other coincidences started to appear related to that song (mostly to do with the song's reference to Romeo and Juliet). I'm not really sure what it all means except, perhaps, that the universe has a sense of humor (or maybe it's just our own mind's comedic power when it focuses on something?)

View all my reviews


Oct. 12th, 2016 09:57 pm
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)

Updating LJ every day is a tad difficult.


Oct. 10th, 2016 08:39 pm
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)

"Beauty fades, dumb is forever." - Judge Judy


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