Speed-Dating: OkCupid-Style

Speed-Dating: OkCupid-Style

Click. Click. Rome. Click. London. Click. Somerville. Click. Open in a New Window. Click. New York. Click. Click. Click. Milan. Click. Perth. Click. San Francisco. Click. Open in a New Window. Click. Click. Click. Click.

The faces blur into one word: No. They blur into an action: Click.

They blur into forgotten memory like many paintings seen only once. I try to assign human names to HotRod4U or CumCMe or BigTits2Day or DownNDirty or MuyCaliente or some similar thing in Italian.

I try to use my long dual-language profile to screen out unnecessary messages and sexmails, and even end it on a quasi-diatribe on exoticism.  It’s been working. Sort of.

Click. Block. Hey. Block. Wassup? Block. Got Chocolate? Block. U Busy L8r? Block. Le donne nere… Block.

I’m blocking out the words that counter my usually empathetic mind as I scroll and click pass over a thousand men with their barely-covered genitalia on display.  It’s not working.

I read Mark Manson and try to understand the male psyche. I decide it must suck balls to be male, even if they supposedly have everything.  There’s not much they can do to express themselves.  Men are should-burdened into thinking themselves to be robots, or worst still, sex machines.

Or worst still, pathetic.

It’s shocking what the internet unmasks about society: apparently, a bunch of sex-crazed, racist, narcissistic…wait, I just got a message.  It’s amazing how excited you can become when someone treats you like a human being.

Click. Profile. Click. The Two of Us. Click. Unacceptable Answers. Scroll.

  • “I strongly prefer to date people within my race.”
  • Glance up at the European-ancestors-face. Scroll.
  • “Women are obligated to shave their legs.” Scroll.
  • “I don’t mind racist jokes.” Scroll.
  • “I don’t like tattoos on women.” Click. Block.

I’m not shocked. It’s just another day in online dating, about which I have come to understand a couple of things.

  • Some men, particularly in Italy,
  • like to wear Speedos.
  • and take pictures spread-eagled.
  • Some women, particularly in the US,
  • like to wear lingerie,
  • and take pictures of their breasts.
  • ………………………………………
  • Some people don’t have faces.
  • Some people use other people’s faces.
  • Some people don’t live where they say.
  • Some people are sad to say where they live.
  • Some people are just people who are too busy.
  • Some people are people who just want to get busy.


Until Next Time,









A New Poem: The girl with the light eyes said,

The girl with the light eyes said,

The girl with the light eyes said,
“I would never have the courage
to marry another woman.”
She’s staring at me in awe,
though I don’t know why;
her light eyes even lighter
after she speaks and then waits,
enduring the space of silence
between us,
though I don’t know why;
I’m a lesbian, I love women.
I’m a lesbian who sleeps with men
every now and again
or so it seems in 15-year increments;
who is curious about others’ disbeliefs
sometimes distorting the face

from uninteresting,
from mediocrity,
from youthfulness,
from gullibility
marring the face
of commonplace society

of man plus woman,
of white against black,
of old envying young,
of bigotry and misogyny.

Still I am a lesbian, I love women,
could love all women,
prefer the company of women,
would live and die for a woman,
would give all I have for a woman,
because I am a woman and am worthy
of being loved by women,
of being able to commit myself to one woman
for the rest of my life.
Words that pass absently through mind.
It’s a library where we're standing
by a copy machine and I am photocopying
in entirety a book that I have no option but to read
like the face of this girl standing before me
and my face becomes distorted as I search
for mockery or untruths—
“Why not?”


Hair, Sexuality…Weight (Part 2 of 3)

Disclaimer:  The following thoughts are simply my own.  I do not and cannot speak on behalf of any particular group.  These thoughts also address issues concerning weight fluctuations and its impact on self-esteem.  If this type of topic causes discomfort, please do not continue reading.  It took me a great deal of time to decide to address this issue…and thus, I do not do so lightly.  I only hope to share some of the experiences in my life journey that have brought me to this point of whom I am, i.e. a person I love most dearly.


Untitled (self-portrait,taken with camera phone, S - 148190348542769Hair 101:

Since childhood I understood something quite clear about the value of hair as a woman. Perhaps it would be better to state, “as a Black woman.”

I understood that the relationship I would have with my hair would be one of constant struggle.  I watched my mother, my sisters, aunts, and friends go through the battle of having to straighten their hair.  Not only that, some even went to task of getting weaves, whether by sewing or glueing.  All in an effort to have that ever-coveted “long, flowing, hair.”  I didn’t understand it then, and it some ways I still don’t.

I only knew that,between my mother’s desire for me to grow my hair long and society’s expectation for me not to look androgynous, I could not cut my hair.  Well…that was until I turned 15. 😉  What changed?

Acrylic on canvas, 9X12, 1998

Acrylic on canvas, 9X12, 1998

Well, I began to embrace my sexuality.

While still living in Jamaica, at the age of 11, I knew that I was “different.”  I write “different,” because at that time, I did not know the word “lesbian.”  After all, I grew up in a highly patriarchal and homophobic society, and had beenand  attending all-girls Catholic school for some years as well as living in a convent–even though that last point might make you wonder how I hadn’t learned the word.  But enough kidding around.  Seriously, I had no idea.  I simply knew that I liked girls better than boys.

At the age of 13, I did have a pseudo-boyfriend…I suppose because it was expected of me.  Still, I didn’t feel the expected spark or any type of magical feeling when I thought of or spoke with him.  Of course, that would all change after I moved to America and met my first girlfriend at the age 15.

You see, when I moved to Florida, I was still struggling with my relationship with God/the Universe and my growing understanding that I was “different” (a.k.a lesbian).  I spent time studying with the Jehovah Witness, the Mormons, and even the Moonies–yeah, I was that serious! ;).

I wrote letters to Catholic organizations, and even received a heartwarming pamphlet called “Pastoral Care for the Homosexual,” which basically told me that God/the Universe didn’t hate me, I just needed to remain celibate for the remainder of my life.  Right.

at sixteenAfter lots of studying, writing, many tears, I decided that these Christian religions had it all wrong.  I believed, rightfully so, that God/the Universe doesn’t make any mistakes…and God/the Universe surely didn’t make one by creating me.  So, I cut my hair…

Wait…I know it may seem like a leap.  But you see, I was ready to claim my sexuality.  I was ready to shed the heterosexual norm that had been dominating my existence up until that point.


Homosexuality 101:

You see, I had somehow zoomed my way through Cass’ Sexual Orientation Identity Formation Model:  going from identity confusion to identity pride.  I cut my hair, donned some flannel (see above picture), bought Melissa Etheridge cassettes/CDs, learned Indigo Girls songs on my guitar, started pointing out every lesbian I could to my mother, cut out every article I could find about lesbians and/or lesbian life, signed up with various Youth LGBT organizations, and even began volunteering at L.U.C.H.A (an HIV/AIDS Care Centre).  You get the picture.

With my decision to walk away from my Catholic/Christian faith, I no longer felt the need to pander to societal expectations.  I didn’t have to concern myself with what it meant to be a “woman” or even a “Black woman” per se, because it seemed to have very little to do with me.  I had simply to work on creating me, a “me” not bound by any restrictions of heterosexual society.  In essence, I became a social” nomad, without a sense of belongingness.


Weight 101:

At that young age, I hardly saw images of lesbians beyond the famous ones, singers and politicians.  I didn’t see images of young lesbians like myself.  If anything I understood that the lesbian community had long modeled itself on the heterosexual community, i.e. of having dominant/submissive role relationships a.k.a butch/femme.  Of course, please understand, that that was in 90’s and also my exposure to the LGBQT community was very limited prior to going to university.


So, what does any of this have to do with weight?  

at twenty-twoWell, the reality was (is) that in my household “long hair” was not the only concern, “being thin” was too.

References to how thin someone was or should be was a constant in my life growing up.  Furthermore, I happened to be the tallest girl in the family as well as the thinnest (a result of both nature and nurture).

My weight was constantly observed and lauded (alongside my academic achievements).  It is no wonder that there was and still is such a huge distance between my sisters and myself.

Being thin, however, had its advantages for me being a young lesbian.  I wore masculine clothing with ease.  I could look and was androgynous when I chose.  I was more able to attract the attention of other young lesbians (whether out or not).  In other words, I had chosen to externalize my sexuality in the most obvious way.

Again, this refers to that time and I am not saying that sexuality can only be externalized by dressing androgynously.


College Years

Then something happened.

At the age of 17, I entered Stanford University.  In a span of a year, I watched my hair grow by the miracle of extensions (braids), my academic abilities plummet, my weight increased by double digits, and my overall self-esteem shatter in fragments so microscopic that I was certain that I would never recover those pieces (which ended up working out okay after all…because that wasn’t actually self-esteem).

I returned home at a weight that I consider to be still below average.  I was hardly overweight.   The result of this gain, however, was the gift of my being signed up to take personal training sessions at a local gym.  I went once or twice to appease the powers that be.  Then I did the next best thing:  I ran away.

Well, not really.  I simply chose to spend a good portion of my summer vacation away from home.  And I continued that practice all throughout college.

Acrylic on Canvas Board, 18X24, 1997

“Is This Your Weapon?” Acrylic on Canvas Board, 18X24, 1997

Interestingly enough, it was also at that time (after coming out to my mother on a cross-country road trip from California to Florida) that I decided to keep my extensions and try giving the heterosexual dating thing a try once again.  And I did…to spectacular failure.

Many, many awful things happened that are best left undiscussed at this point.

The result was that by the time I returned to being true to myself, the damage that I had inflicted upon my body was quite severe.  Thus, in the span of three years, I had gained upwards of 60 pounds and the number kept climbing up to and beyond graduation.


Letting Go of/Creating The Image

I wore braids until mid-October 1999.  I was living in Berlin at the time and my study abroad program had travelled for the weekend to Weimar to visit the city as well as to see the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and the Bauhaus School of Art and Architecture.  It was during that trip that I decided to remove my braids and let my semi-formed loc’s embrace the air and light of day. 🙂

It was the best feeling in the world, i.e. letting go of something that was not naturally a part of myself.

My hair had grown long enough for me to be able to manage it and I was excited to see what it would do and how it would grow.

After graduating, as I stated before, my weight had already taken on a life of its own.  I failed to take responsibility for it, using it instead as an emotional shield to warn people away from me.  I decided then that I would do whatever it took to return to a healthy physical state.

Just as in my teenage years, I felt I had the freedom then to reinvent myself.  And it would not be the last time.

at twenty-fourIn 2002, with the help of my eldest sister, I started working at fitness club.  First, I started just as a desk attendant, but was happy to take tips from the trainers and also to have free use of the equipment.

In time, I became a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and a spokesperson for the fitness club.  I became a fitter and healthier version of my former self.  I was neither the thin/fragile-looking teenager, nor was I the heavy/tired-looking college student.


Graduate School

2004 I entered graduate school with my hair, body, sexuality, and self-esteem intact.  How I would leave it…that would be another thing.

All the discipline that I had learned while working as a trainer were tossed to the wayside and replaced with the discipline of study and working full-time to make ends meet.  My long-time girlfriend from Florida had moved with me to Boston and our relationship grew further apart the more I worked and studied…until it finally dissolved.

In 2006 I graduated, and was elated to find myself already employed and dating the woman who would later become my life-partner, April.  My health was steadily deteriorating just as steadily as my hair was growing.  Finally in 2008, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia; and April and I married.  It should have been the happiest day of my life.  It wasn’t.

The night before my wedding had found me in the hospital, barely able to move, and suffering unbelievable amounts of pain.  My wedding day was a medicated fog tinged with worries about the final details and dealing with family concerns.  My weight too had been skyrocketing.  Eventually by March 2009, I would reach my highest weight ever…193.  What happened next would change my entire life…

Until Next Time,


On the number 23…

The sound of Italian fills my ears as I stand, tired and sweaty.  The number 23 bus is too crowded, and somewhere nearby there is a baby crying.  I look behind me and see the tear-streaked face of a little girl, whose dark skin and dark eyes reflect my own.  Her hair is artistically decorated with many colourful bands, separating her carefully combed hair.  Even as her mother hands to her a small bottle to help calm her nerves, the little girl’s eyes glance around at the many strangers, who tower above her–How scary we must all seem.

In whispered and loudly spoken words, those who speak Italian say of the little girl, “Che bella…” and “Che carina…”  Her mother is busy speaking on the phone and does not seem to notice the admiration that her little one has inspired.  I am made to smile in the moment, because I can see that those around me are trying in their own way to show appreciation for diversity in beauty.

The elderly gentleman next to me leans over the little girl and tries to ease her worries, speaking to her in Italian as I have not experienced it before.  His voice is soothing and kind with a rich tone that makes every word that he speaks that much more exquisite.

“Non si preoccupi…non si preoccupi…non si preoccupi..”

The little girl’s eyes stare at him with wonder as the corner of her lips curve into a smile.


Until Next Time.



Ugly D…

Unmasked, self-portrait by Diedré M. Blake (October, 2010)

I am not a beautiful woman.  At least, this has been the feedback in one form or another that I have received since the start of the year. You may wonder why I would choose to write about such a topic.  Well, the reason is simple.

I am amazed by 1) the audacity of people to believe that they have the right to give feedback, whether positively or negatively perceived, on other people’s physical appearance, and 2) the ability of men (specifically in this case, Italian men) to reduce a woman’s worth to the rating that they believe they have the right to give her physical appearance.

I have decided to present this image on the right of myself, without make-up and with my face fully exposed as well as others in the posting in order to explore the issue of my physical appearance.  After all, if the point of this blog is self-exploration.  So then let’s have at it.  Indeed I have, time and again, written about my feelings and thoughts, so why not my physical self.

Some say “Ugly…” 

Yes, my nose is wide, and my lips are full, and my forehead is indeed a Tyra Banks four-finger, possibly five, high.  My eyes are almond-shaped and my left is smaller than my right eye.  My right eyebrow is seemingly permanently arched, because I am always arching it in response to something or another.  Of course, my features may have something to do with my mix of African and Asian ancestry.

I have scars…

I have a visible scar on my forehead on the right side.  I have scar marks by my left ear from when I had the chicken pox at age sixteen (a horrifying and mortifying experience, I can tell you ;)).  I have scars under my chin from having fallen as a child and also as a teenager from once when rollerblading.  I even have a small scar on my nose from when I was 18 and felt a need to be rebellious and got a nose ring, which didn’t end up being such a great idea in the end.  I decided to stick with tattoos thereafter.

Imperfect teeth…. oohh and facial hair 

Waiting, photography by April Rivers (Fall, 2010)

If I were to smile, you would see that my top two front teeth have small chips on either sides from when I had fallen during a field trip to the pirate city of Port Royal.  I am predisposed to facial hair and like most women I tweeze my eyebrows–no, they don’t just grow like that!  Thankfully I do not have a moustache like some women do–that would be extra work that I would rather not deal with.

Kinky, Nappy hair… Now short!

Until November 26, 2010, I had very long dred locs, which I had been growing since September 1999.  I cut my hair in mourning the loss of my dog, Petie, who died on Thanksgiving Day 2010.  Being without my hair has made me painfully aware of the existence of a “hair bias” in the world against women with short hair.  I do not believe I had ever really noticed it before.  My hair grew over the course of the past year, but I chose to cut it again on January 1, 2012 to the previous length in order to start the new year fresh.

Tattoos, cellulite, muscles, stretch marks, flat-chested, large thighs, and an ample derriere… I like saving the best for last! 

I am a person who believes in change and in letting go of the past and of that which not longer serves a purpose.  I am also a person who has undergone many changes, some self-imposed, some that have been imposed upon me.  Due to my genetics, age, health, my love for tattoos and changes in my lifestyle (see my c.v.), my body has changed and I have had to adjust  to these changes.  That’s life and I do not make excuses for the way that I have lived it.

The reality is that our bodies will all age.  What “beauty” others may perceive that we possess will change or be perceived as having “faded.”  It is no wonder that cosmetic companies, plastic surgeons, health clubs, diet programs make so much money.  They prey upon the insecurities that have been planted within the minds of women (and men) about their appearance and its relation to their worth as human beings…  Truly, given the onslaught of advertisements in a variety of forms of what one ought to look like, no one really needs to spend their time giving feedback to anyone else about their appearance (unless this person is actually an undercover agent for the ad company, or for the beauty industry, or any of the others already mentioned… then drumming up business by destroying self-esteem makes perfect sense).

D. for dichotomy

Self-portrait, August 2010, photography by Diedré M Blake

Thus, this body is the canvas upon which I paint everyday… because, in reality, I see dressing oneself as  a process of creating art.  After all, why bother going through the process of dressing if not to make it interesting for oneself?

I call myself “D.”  One of my professors says that I am a minimalist.  Perhaps, perhaps not.  “D, ” however, is a construction of myself.  It is an aspect of who I am and not my entirety, because it is only recently (in the last 8 years) I began calling myself “D.”  It has been an evolution (see pictures below).  One that has resulted on an image of myself that is to my liking and which I find most representative of who I am.  It is unfortunate that it is hard for some people to balance the seemingly dichotomous images of “D.” and “Diedré.”

Constructing D.

Self-portrait, Winter 2011, photography by Diedré M Blake

But who or what is “D?”  Simply “D” is my expression of happiness, whether felt or not.  I dress in bright colours to bring a smile to my face when I feel like doing anything but smiling.  I put on make-up to remind myself that even the bleakest of days can improve.  I wrap my hair in bold scarves, shape them in intricate fashions and wear them like a crown to remind myself to hold my head high with self-pride throughout the day.

Every article of clothing I choose, from my undergarments to my dress, or my skirt, my shirt, or my pants, is chosen with care and consideration for the body with which I have been blessed.  Some people have been endowed with an ample bosom, I was not.  This is why there are stores like Victoria’s Secret and things like the miracle bra and the wonder bra, etc.  Some people have been granted rock hard and narrow legs and can wear freely the short skirts and shorts that are craze of modern fashion, I was not.  This is why I wear vintage clothing from the 1930s to the 1980s.  Some people have small feet, I do not.  I wear an Italian 39, US 9.5.  Thus, it is typically harder to find shoes in my size and also in the styles of my liking (typically vintage-styled).  Constructing “D.” is an act of self-love and care, and an expression of joy as well as celebration of my body.

Learning to love and laugh at myself and life in general…

The journey of my life has been the process of learning to love myself through learning how to accept myself in all aspects, from physically to emotionally to psychologically.  I believe each day that I take a step closer to achieving this.  At the very least, at this point I am quite happy with who and how I am, imperfections and all.  So, for those people out there who find me either ugly or beautiful (some have even said “spooky”), truly there is no need to offer me feedback as I am quite aware of what I look like and of who and how I am.  If you do choose to give me feedback, please think about from where within you and your own “stuff” your feedback is coming, and consider well if your judgement is wise and your feedback constructive enough to share.

Images from starting from top left to bottom right, ages 16 to 33.

“My idea of the perfect woman is… A) she’s gotta be hot!…”

(from the documentary “America the Beautiful”)

— Please, visit the link.  Unfortunately, I could not embed the video…

and please notice the man making this comment!

Until next time!



Emotional Capital: It is what it is…

"Zed" photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Entering into the world of academia again, although enlightening, is quite time-consuming.  Thus, I find myself overdue to write my blog.  Beyond my frantic search for time, being a student has reminded me once again just how costly education can be (I am thinking about the numerous books each student must buy… After all, we are told not to share.) Whether spending in euros or dollars, the process of unnecessarily parting with my money leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.   This is not dissimilar to how I experience unnecessarily parting with my emotions.

In previous blog postings, I have discussed repeatedly how emotions are triggered or caused by our thoughts or perceptions.  Thus, if one is able to have awareness of one’s thoughts and to reframe one’s thinking successfully, then ideally one should be able to adequately manage one’s emotions.  Right?

Well… I believe even the best amongst us might not be able to pull of the feat of always successfully managing his or her emotions.  In effect, at some point in our lives, we will all struggle with being emotional spendthrifts.

Now, this is when you might say, D., what do you mean by ’emotional spendthrift’?  To put it bluntly, we waste our time (read here: ’emotions’ and ‘energy’) on people and/or situations that are nonbeneficial to our self-growth.  And why exactly do we do this (and you know that you do…)?

Well, the reasons are many.  Oftentimes, they stem from repetition compulsion, i.e. the unconscious act of reenacting past traumatic experiences, perhaps with an unconscious hope of a different outcome.  (Please note: the word ‘trauma’ is being used in with a more generalized denotation.)

Take a look at your past (and perhaps present) romantic relationships.  Are there any similarities in the personality types of the people you have chosen to share your intimate time?  Is there something familiar about the way in which each of your significant others have treated you?  Do you ever find yourself wondering at the end of a relationship, “Why in god’s name do I keep doing this (i.e. date the same type of person, get into the same kind situation, etc.) to myself?

"Percy Shelley..." photograph by Diedré Blake (2011), Rome, Italy.

Emotional Capital: Keep on keeping on…

It took many years for me to understand my behavioural and thinking patterns (a.k.a. repetition compulsion) in relation to others as well as to myself (and I continue to learn…. Trust me!)  😉

Throughout the years, however, I began to recognize and acknowledge that I spent a great deal of my time in emotionally futile conversations and situations to my own detriment, physically and emotionally.  In essence, I was allowing others to lure me into conversations and/or situations that ‘took away from’ rather than ‘gave to me.’  I had a just keep on keeping on mentally towards myself and the person in my life.

I believed that if I continued to endure, then I might be able to change (read: danger! warning! achtung!…) the situation, person, and/or myself for the person.  I was unwilling to accept the reality of my relationships, and thought if I gave more of myself, then all would be well… And so I gave and gave and gave.  It took me a long time realize that I did not examine whether or not the other person was giving too, or rather whether or not I understood myself to be receiving.

So, you might ask at this point, What did you give, D? Well, I thought I would make a list and even ask for suggestions for what other people have given in their relationships that has left them feeling/having/being a lot “less than,” rather than basking in the wonders of feeling/having/being “more than.”

Ten Things That I Gave That Increased My Emotional Deficit:

  1. Energy
  2. Time
  3. Money
  4. Friendships
  5. Physical Space
  6. Interests
  7. Hopes/Dreams/Goals
  8. Principles
  9. Pride
  10. Physical Self

Ask yourself, what have you ‘had’ (chosen) to give (up) in the name of a relationship? What are you giving (up) right now?

It is what it is….

I may have mentioned this before in a past posting, but when I first arrived at McLean, I made a sign for my office (a.k.a. the expressive therapy studio).  The sign wasn’t an artistic masterpiece, it was fairly simple and on it was the sentence, “It is what it is…”  In general, I believe this sentence summarizes well how to look at and to accept reality.  It’s basically that old idiom “There is no use in crying over spilled milk,” but in plain speech.

Do I regret having given the ten things listed above? No.  The reality is that in any relationship one has to learn how to strike a balance with the other person.  It may mean giving more of yourself at times, or for the other person to give more.  And the fact is having given so very much of myself (perhaps to an extreme), I had to learn how to achieve a balance-I am glad to say that I am solid path to do so and I am enjoying balancing my emotional checkbook.  Especially, when I realize that there is a surplus of positive emotional experiences. 😉

What I am writing about is when you are the only one who is giving and you know it or sense it.  It can also be about when both people are giving, but neither gives what the other person needs or what the relationship needs.

Like all creatures, human beings are given an enormous amount information through their bodily experience.  For example, if your skin becomes too hot, your brain understands to send the appropriate signal to get the body to move away from the source of the heat.

Finally, information can also be gathered from the body in emotional situations.  For example, when you feel constantly and inexplicably tired (or get headache, or some other suspiciously psychosomatic ailment ;)), when dealing (e.g. having to talk, confront, spend time, etc.) with your relationship(s).  Your body allows you to know what ‘it’ (the situation/ the reality) is for you.  Your body tells you simply if the situation that you are in is either…


After that the issue is simply one of choice.

How wisely will you spend your emotions?

To whom will you give them?

How will ‘it’ (the situation, etc.) benefit you?

To what end?

Well, I leave you to it here… but a small gift of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone.” –Best of regards, D.

“…Oh, Well hold up
Listen partna
I ain’t no cheap thrill
Cause Miss Badu is always comin’ for real
And you know the deal
Everytime we go somewhere
I gotta reach down in my purse
To pay your way and your homeboys way
And sometimes your cousin’s way
They don’t never have to pay
Don’t have no cars
Hang around in bars
Try to hang around with stars
Like Badu
I’m gon’ tell you the truth
Show and prove
or get the boot…”
( Lyrics from “Tyrone” by Erykah Badu, taken from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/erykahbadu/tyrone.html

Next Time: Men… and other thoughts. 

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr

Silence is golden…and a night of passion.

Night sky (View out of my kitchen window), 2.17.11

It’s late… very, very, very late.  Tonight, however, I have been transported back in time to any one of the many college dormitories, I had the pleasure of residing in during my undergraduate years… I don’t know what your college experience was like, but mine involved a lot of screaming adolescents and young adults at all hours of the night… and day too! 

Fast forward to tonight, to me… sitting here in my little studio in the beautiful city of Rome… and to my neighbours, both the Italian locals and the American college students, screaming at the top of their lungs and slamming their doors.  Why?  I don’t know.  Moreover, I don’t care.  What I do care about is the time… It’s after midnight.  It’s actually 1:30 in the morning…

Listening to the carryings-on my neighbours (and from the little bits that I am understanding, I think there is a break-up in progress) and feeling my level of agitation growing (because of how late it is and that they are choosing to go through all of this at this time), I am struck with a thought – I am getting old.

My shadow (Trastevere, 2.14.11)

You may say, “Yes, D, everyone grows older with each passing moment,” and I would agree whole-heartedly with that statement.  What I am talking about is not a chronological shift, because that is happening no matter what (even though time is a man-made construct… but I will talk about that another time)!  I am more focusing on an emotional/psychological shift –  I realize that I have lost some of my joie de vivre … or perhaps never really gained a true foothold in experiencing it. 

Thus, the passionate exchanges of younger people (whether this argument here in my building, or the carousing late at night of the young people and the young-minded people from Trastevere to Campo dei Fiori) have begun to feel like an inconvenience rather than something to celebrate and appreciate.   I know there are some of you, who may think, “But D, you’re right!  This behaviour is highly inappropriate!”  And yes, on some level it is, especially for the not-so-young people.  On the other hand, this is the process of youth, i.e. to experience and learn the intricacies of love, disappointment, excess, and emotional disaster. 🙂  Also, this is an experience and an expression of passion... Something, it seems, that I have grown rather tired of hearing… Well, at least when it is 1:30 in the morning.  Still, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to explain in the morning to my young American female neighbours that there is great wisdom (on sooo many levels in the case!) in the old adage “Silence is golden.”



Over the last few years of my life, especially the last several months, I have been accused of being a dispassionate person – And rightfully so!  I have worked hard to get to this place of objectivity and emotional control (for the most part 😉).  As a therapist, it has helped me in my work to see beyond my own “stuff” (as one of my favourite fellow therapists would put it), and focus in on my client.  In my personal life, it has also helped me to see beyond the “stuff” of the moment, and focus on what needed to be resolved.  In all of this focusing and control, however, I realize that I lost a vital part of myself, i.e. the part that feels things deeply, the passionate side of me.

Artist studio, Eughen (Trastevere) 2.15.11

There are many sides to who I am as a person.  Beyond the therapist, and now blog writer, I am also an artist, a poet, a singer/songwriter, a musician, a crafter and a designer.  I also dance and act, and I have a wide array of other interests, to which I continually add.  These abilities have all been a part of me from a very young age, and I cannot imagine myself without them.  There was, however, a short period of time not very long ago when I was not able to use my hands well due to my fibromyalgia symptoms – This experience was emotionally and psychologically devastating, but it set in motion a series of internal and external experiences that brought me to this moment in my life, i.e. sitting in Rome writing this blog.  For it was in experiencing the fear of losing my ability to create that forced me to confront myself.  I had to look at who I was becoming and what I was doing to myself.

And what I was doing was trying not to live.  Now, I don’t mean in the sense that I was trying to die.  I mean that I was trying a sort of “nobody moves, nobody gets hurt” kind of policy, trying to keep still in my own life, in order not to cause trouble for anyone, myself included.  What I realized, however, was that no matter how still I stood, the people around me would still experience hurt (this was out of my control).  Furthermore, in standing still, I was only causing hurt to myself, because I was not living. (I recognize how cryptic some of this may sound as you read it, but to be more explicit about my meaning would be unbeneficial.) 

Flowers found on Via di Ripetta, 2.18.11

Life is meant to be beneficial.  Why we are here is not for the purpose of being dragged down into the gutter, in order to be made to feel unworthy of life.  Why we are here is not for the purpose of being made to stand still, in order for others (and ourselves) to feel safe because they know where we are.  Why we are here is not for the purpose of being elevated so high that we have no concept of the ground below us, in order for others to have someone to feel proud of and/or to knock down.  We are here to experience, to feel, to learn, to meet, to grow… to feel passion.

Store-front (Campo dei Fiori) near Via Arenula, 2.14.11

             In coming to Rome, I have made many realizations… and perhaps this is why I love this city so very much.  Rome is not a quiet place. 

Rome is “grungy” (Isobel agrees with me on this) and raw.  Rome is sex, food, art, and wine.  Rome is male and female in their purest forms… and all protesting about something!  Rome is laughter, shouting, crying, and cold staring.  Rome celebrates the process of life into death… and back again, plus the “stuff” in-between.  Rome is constantly teaching its residents… its visitors… and me that both within and without… therein lies one’s passion, joie de vivre, and raison d’etre. (My apologies for all the French terms… I know I am in Italy.) 🙂

And so I am off!  It’s sunny out today… and who knows what the city has in store for me. 😉

Woman at demonstration (Piazza Navona), 2.18.11


Charlie Chaplin (Piazza Navona) 2.18.11

Just when I thought hell would have to freeze over… Demonstrations in the streets!!

I will tell you, there is nothing quite like thousands of women and men shouting the English word “bullshit” all in unison!  No… really!  Especially, when this is done with strong Italian accents, it really makes you smile, and feel proud to be an English speaker! 🙂 

Women's Demonstration against Berlusconi & the Government (2.13.11)

Okay, there were many other reasons to feel quite proud today, and they had nothing to do with being an English speaker.  They, however, had everything to do with being a woman!  Yes, that’s right!  The women of Italy must have heard about me complaining in my blog, or somehow psychically felt my ever-growing disgruntled pms-ing energy pervading the universal ethers (because everything is really all about me – No, really, I know! 😉), and decided to show me that the women of Italy knew what was up!  And what was up was their dander!

"Al sesso, bello, sporca, tutto, un capo brutto" Women's Demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)

The very same thoughts that I have been sharing over the last few days about my observations on the behaviours of Italian men, or at least the structure of the Italian patriarchal society that so highly influences its men’s behaviours, was being reflected back to me by these angry and highly organized as well as mobilized women!  They shouted for respect and equality!  They asked not to be seen as just sexual objects to be used and abused by men such as Berlusconi, the current Italian president.  They asked for all Italian women to be united and to stand up for themselves, and to demand their place in society, rather than be treated as second-class citizens!

"If not now, when" Sign at Demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)

I was amazed, dumbfounded, and humbled.  I realized that I have had the misfortune of only having had the acquaintance of Italian males, and did not understand at all the experience of the average Italian female.  In my independent, liberal-minded, feminist, American arrogance (Yes, I said, “arrogance,” because it was true.), I had made the assumption that the Italian woman was okay living in this system, and had quietly acquiesced to her place of submission –  I was wrong, and am truly glad for this discovery.

Women at demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)

What is equally amazing is that I would not have known anything about this demonstration had it not been for a man.  Enter Giuseppe: a politically-minded, middle-aged, professional.  He along with a number of many other Italian males were participating actively in the demonstration and screaming and shouting along with the women, and applauding the female presenters!  This was highly encouraging to see.  After all, up until this point, I had all but decided that Italian men were… well, let’s just say, not quite enlightened.

Men at Women's Demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)

The cynic in me, of course, is always able to point out the many people who are, what I call, “token” activists.  That is, they come to a demonstration here or there, but otherwise do nothing, or actually do everything to thwart whatever the movement is. 

These “token” activists are able to say, however, that they believe in the movement because they went to a demonstration.  It is like people who say they do not exhibit any racist behaviour because they have minority friends, yet still they may make stereotyped commentary about minorities (all under the guise of “It’s just a joke.”)

I suppose this is my fear –  That these men might just be “token” activists,

Berlusconi Flyer (Given out at the Demonstration), 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)

and do not actually believe in the cause, or will not actually do anything to help the women further it.  That these men, in essence, are there just for lip service and to be a “token” display of gender alliance. Well…  I will choose for today to look at the glass as half-full however… and be happy for these women, and happy for myself too, to have been witness to this event. 






It is not lost on me that the women chose to hold this event on the day before Valentine’s Day… Especially as I have been told, Valentine’s Day is not much celebrated here.





"Indignant!" Banner at Women's Demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)










"Enough!" Banners at Women's Demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)

Thousands gathered, Women's Demonstration, 2.13.11 (Rome, Italy)