Last May, annual inflation in Venezuela reached 24,600 percent. In one abstract, swift declaration, my mom’s monthly university professor salary became the equivalent of a dozen of eggs, or $2.70 US.
I grew up in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Bordered by Lake Maracaibo and the humid rainforest of the Sierra de Perijjá, Maracaibo is a city of heavy smells, heavy sun, heavy heat, heavy clouds. It could not be further from the cold waters, lush and cool forests, and thunderless rain of the Pacific Northwest. Bad Endings, a short story collection by Vancouver writer Carleigh Baker is a book set firmly in the Northwest landscape, one where lead coloured skies, chilling winter rain, and the proximity to wild and majestic nature are part of the everyday palette of sights and experiences.
I deeply believe in dedicating time to the things we love; it’s the name of this blog and the life philosophy I credit with giving me a second chance at a happy life. There is no “getting over it,” “you are too old for this,” and specially, “you are a mom, so you should not be doing x or y…” Motherhood, on the contrary, was one of the catalyst of my decision to not only never abandon the things I was passionate about—music, movies, reading, writing—but to pass these passions along to my son as the most beautiful gifts of being alive.
In Venezuela, dreams are shared, often over coffee first thing in the morning. In a quiet voice, before the sun is up, we share our inner world, the rich lives we live at night, with our eyes closed.
I once wrote, without really believing it, that perhaps laughter is finite. I was once the chubby kid who danced in the middle of the kitchen to make her parents laugh. But I had forgotten what deep, carefree laughter sounded like, and for a while, it really felt I had used mine all up.
If I were to make a video of what it feels to listen to Phillip Phillips’ new album Collateral, it would start with a needle touching the black groves of a vinyl disc. Deeper and deeper, round and round we would go as the music would start to slowly unfold, revealing its promises and much awaited secrets.
Everyday, women of all ages around the world look in the mirror and hate what they see. As women, our criticism of our bodies is often ruthless; our rolls, dimples, stretch marks, and cellulite a reflection of our laziness, carelessness, our excesses. In an unending cycle, we hate, try to lose the weight, become overwhelmed by the difficulty, give up and then start all over again. This hate is not innate; rather, it has been ingrained in us from an early age through a culture that measures the values of girls and women through their bodies, each pound gained, and year aged, lowering that value.
This post was originally published in PhillPhillcom.
Last summer, after five years of following his music and career, I finally met Phillip Phillips. The meeting was set up by his tour manager, and took place during a meet and greet session after a show. Phillip’s generosity with his fans is well-known, and during the very early years it was common for him to come out and informally meet fans by his tour bus to take photos and talk. Last year, Phillip and his team started to build the meet and greet experience into most of his shows, which finally gave me the chance to meet him.
I grew up on classical music and progressive rock. I also grew up in 1990s Venezuela, where musical cliques were so closed-off in their own lanes, it was almost considered treason to listen, or even to admit to like, anything that was considered to be outside the approved bands within the genre. While in later years these cliques began to open up to a more general appreciation of all that could be considered “rock,” I grew up never listening or learning anything about entire genres, from pop, to soul, to hip hop, all the way to punk
I moved to Canada when I was 19. It all happened because of love. I married my husband Sebastian, 21, and five days later I left my family, my friends and my country forever. The marriage was a condition for me being able to move to Quebec, Canada, where Sebastian’s family had moved a year before on a family immigration program. The day Sebastian told me that the papers from Immigration had arrived and that they would be moving in just a few months, I started crying. I didn’t cry because I knew I would be away from him, I cried because I knew right there and then that I would be leaving my family to be with him – there was no question in my heart that this is what I would do.